Crucial Ballistix 2GB PC2-5300

Aron Schatz
December 4, 2006
DDR2 is very mature. It has been out for a couple of years and the timings have really come down to make DDR2 a prime choice for overclockers. How does Crucial's Ballistix stand up? Find out here...

Page 1: Intro, Stuff


As I am sure most of you know Crucial is a name that you can trust. I have personally used Crucial and Micron memory since I have built computers back when I was much younger than I currently am. It was not until recently that Crucial began to offer chips that had overclocking potential in the brand lines. This started with the new Ballistix line of RAM. In the past, Crucial had a stance that their RAM was for stability and not for overclocking, even though many people used it for both. Crucial RAM is rock solid, if you run it at the rated specs. Remember that overclocking is a variable thing; we shall see how Crucial stands up with their 2GB kit of PC2-5300.


Remember that the jump from single data rate to double data rate memory effectively doubled the available memory bandwidth that the computer can use. DDR did this by not only transferring data on the rising edge of the clock tick, but also the falling edge. This simple (though, not as easy as it sounds) change allowed DDR to surpass SDR relatively quickly. DDR2 had a different birth. Remember that DDR2 is just like DDR. It still only has two transfers per clock tick. The difference is that DDR2 runs at twice the 'speed' of DDR. For DDR at 100MHz, the memory bandwidth would be 1.6GBps. For DDR2 at 100MHz, the I/0 clock is doubled to 200MHz and the bandwidth jumps to 3.2GBps. This does not work out in the real world due to the higher latency that DDR2 initially offered. AMD chips really noticed the difference in latencies while Intel chips wanted to have more memory bandwidth. This is the reason that Intel jumps on DDR2 and AMD lagged behind. DDR2 technology has finally come to terms with tighter latencies and DDR is effectively dead.



Crucial has always packaged their memory in a brown shipping box with individually wrapped RAM modules separated in the box. This keeps the memory safe during shipping.



The modules themselves are very nice. They have a gold color heat spreader attached to both sides of the RAM as well as the signature black PCB. The PCB is wasted due to the largeness of the heat spreaders. Since the RAM is perpendicular to any window in a case, having really fancy RAM is basically useless. I hope that overclockers are more concerned about speed than looks, regardless.


The RAM is rated for DDR2-667 which is PC2-5300. JEDEC only standards DDR2 RAM up to DDR2-533. Every other module is not to any standard and anything should be treated as such. The reason I say this is because these modules are running 2.2v! TWO POINT TWO VOLTS. The standard voltage for DDR2 is 1.8v. The problem with using RAM that requires this voltage is that many boards may not be able to handle it. I have seen many Intel produced boards that refuse to work with RAM that requires higher voltages than 1.8v. Be very careful when buying RAM that is over 1.8v. Make sure your board can pump its voltage up.


This does not change the fact that many boards that can even support the voltage will just not work correctly. The good thing about Crucial is that there are multiple SPD values for each speed setting. Hopefully, one of them can be used at a low enough voltage so you can set the voltage higher for the rated spec. You would really think that RAM running at 2.2v would have tight timings. This is not the case when looking at the SPD values. The SPD values are set for 5-3-3-15. The RAM is rated for 3-3-3-12. Allowing the RAM to run at relaxed timings also gave it the ability to boot up at 1.8v. The RAM was unstable at this voltage, though. Since I was able to get into the BIOS and change the voltage, this is not a big deal. Make sure that you set the RAM to run at the higher and tighter timings. AMD platforms will thank you.


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