New memory kits from Crucial rarely have premieres but they are always something different than we are used to seeing from other brands. Lately more computer enthusiasts are looking for fast, high density, and low-profile memory. Why not to combine all these features in one memory kit that will also work at low voltage? Crucial Ballistix LP is probably the only series on the market that includes all above features in one product. In this review I will focus on the Ballistix Tactical LP 2x8GB DDR3-1600 Kit.
A note from Crucial about this memory:
“Low profile design. High-performance efficiency.
The Ballistix Tactical series offers modules in a low profile design to bring you more clearance around your system’s CPU cooler and lower voltages for increased energy efficiency. Designed for performance enthusiasts and small form factor builders who have limited space for cabling and airflow, the Tactical LP memory option features all the benefits you’ve come to expect from our Tactical series—just in a smaller package that features advanced thermal dissipation. Not only are Tactical LP modules up to 16% lower in height than competing modules, their power requirement is less, too. Using up to 10% less power (1.35V) than standard modules (1.5V), Ballistix Tactical LP memory helps reduce the heat in your system and keep it cool.”
- Product Number: BLT2C8G3D1608ET3LX0CEU
- Rated speed: DDR3-1600 / PC3-12800
- Density: 2×8 GB ( Dual Channel )
- SPD Profile: 1600 9-9-9-24 2N 1.35 V
- XMP Profiles: #1 – 1600 8-8-8-24 2N 1.35 V, #2 – 1600 8-8-8-24 2N 1.50V
We’ll start with a screenshot showing how our testing motherboard sees this memory.
And another screenshot showing the CPU-Z and ASUS MemTweakIt windows.
As we see on the above CPU-Z screenshot, the timings table shows more available profiles that will run as low as DDR3-1333 and 1.28 V.
Both XMP profiles are the same except voltage settings. The first profile has 1.35 V and second 1.50 V. The latter is probably programmed for compatibility purposes, as not all motherboards will work at 1.35 V.
Closer look and packaging
The packaging isn’t anything special, but is solid enough to protect the contents during transport time. It also includes all the information we need, such as the product number, a summary of specifications, and the Crucial support email address.
Crucial’s heat spreaders are made of aluminum and are a bit taller than the memory’s PCB. The heat spreaders case are more for protection and good looks than cooling, as this memory is not going to get hot. Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP is Low Profile memory, which means it’s designed to work with large CPU heatsinks that tend to block memory slots. Here I added some photos that illustrate the size difference I am talking about.
The above pictures also show us how the Ballistix Tactical LP looks against some other popular memory. On the first picture there are two sticks of ADATA Gaming Series (lower one has exactly the same design as Xtreme Series from the same brand), and one stick of G.Skill TridentX. On the second picture there is Patriot Viper 3, Geil EVO Veloce, and Kingston Predator. It would be hard to use any of this memory with large CPU heatsinks, except the lower version of ADATA, and of course Ballistix Tactical LP.
Performance & Overclocking
- Intel Core i7 3770K @ 4 GHz (Overclockers Approved!)
- ASUS Maximus V Gene ( Overclockers approved!) BIOS/UEFI 11.01
- Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600MHz
- PC Power&Cooling 1200W 80+ Platinum PSU
- Crucial M4 64 GB SSD ( AHCI )
- Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1
- SuperPi 1.5
- 7-ZIP 9.20 benchmark
- Maxxmem v1.95
- CPU-Z 1.62
- ASUS MemTweakIT 1.1.7
- memtest86+ 5.00 b1
Stock results and XMP testing
As I already mentioned, there are two XMP profiles that differ only by the voltages set to them. The reason for this is to provide wider compatibility with motherboards that won’t run with memory at 1.35 V. I added results from only one XMP profile because both will give exactly the same results. Stock setting results have been added to total result list, which makes it easier to compare them with overclocked settings.
- All below settings have passed memtest86+ 5.00b without errors.
- XMP settings are marked in tables with orange while best results are red.
MaxxMem v1.95 performance
2133 MHz at 10-9-10-24 1N timings was the fastest setting in MaxxMem. For both maximum transfers and latency, it was the best option that also works on low voltage, 1.50 V. The Ivy Bridge memory controller clearly likes higher clock over tight timings.
There are also some performance differences because of command rate. The default for XMP profiles is 2N just because it’s compatible with all available platforms. On Ivy Bridge it can work at 1N without any problems. As you can see, I added 9-9-9-24 1N timings that were able to work at 1.25 V, and because of the 1N command rate, it’s a bit faster than the 8-8-8-24 2N XMP profile.
SuperPi 32M performance
SuperPi 32M is a popular benchmark that really likes fast memory. Again, we see that 2133 MHz @ 10-9-10-24 1N timings is the fastest setting. Results are similar to what we saw in MaxxMem. Here again, command rate is helping a bit to achieve a better time. TRCD also seems to work for the 2133 MHz setting, as even 2200 MHz clock couldn’t beat its time.
7-ZIP 9.20 performance
7-ZIP is a benchmark based on compression and decompression. In this benchmark I used 256MB test file, which loads memory to about 75% capacity. Once again, the 2133 MHz setting is the fastest. Even though difference between each setting isn’t big, results are about the same as in previous tests.
The fastest setting in all the tests was 2133 MHz @ 10-9-10-24 1N timings, and using 1.50 V. This is an unusual set of timings and I was really expecting a bit different scaling with voltage. As you see, there is only one result at 1.60 V. This memory is just not scaling much above 1.60V and setting it higher didn’t help reach higher speeds. The maximum clock achieved on my setup was 2200 MHz @ 10-10-10-28 1N timings, using 1.60 V. Loosening timings or setting higher voltage didn’t help, so I wasn’t able to make it work at 2400 MHz at all.
As was mentioned earlier, this memory has programmed profiles for 1.28 V. I wanted to check how low I could actually set voltage. Keeping the 1600 MHz memory clock, I was able to set 9-9-9-24 1N timings on 1.25 V. That is a pretty good result. Lowering the kit to 1333 MHz, it was able to work at 1.20 V, which is the lowest possible option my motherboard provides.
I’m sure there is faster memory on the market. I’m also sure that there is cheaper memory, but is there anything similar to Crucial Ballistix LP that can overclock as well for a kit based on 8GB modules? I think that the overclocking on this kit is really good. It’s not scaling too high with voltage, but it can achieve really good results even on lower voltages.
The low profile design, together with low voltage and high performance, makes this memory a good option. This should hold true for enthusiasts, gamers, and anyone planning a small form factor computer. Price isn’t really high, as it’s listed on Newegg for about $110 which includes free shipping. Maybe not really inexpensive, but a fair price for all that this memory offers.
- Easy to configure using XMP profiles
- Good overclocking for 8GB modules
- Low profile
- Low voltage
- Low work temperature
- Price could be lower