Crucial Tracer Red 6GB Triple PC3-12800 BL3KIT25664TR1608

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
March 23, 2009
Manufacturer
Crucial
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62609
Crucial Tracer Red 6GB Triple PC3-12800 BL3KIT25664TR1608
Looking for RAM that will turn heads? The Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red 6GB kit is the answer for you with good performance as well.

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Page 1
Intro

There are only a limited number of memory manufactures that ASE Labs recommends to its members and Crucial is one of the few. Even in a global down turn, it is important to buy the right tool for the job the first time. Only buy memory from manufacturers that offers a lifetime warranty. A quality product should stand up to the test of time. Crucial is no fool, though. The computer enthusiast is always looking for that extra edge. It wasn't too long ago that ASE Labs looked at the original »Tracer Red DDR2 kit and we were impressed at the design.

Fast forward to today, the Core i7 platform has introduced new triple channel memory support and memory manufacturers are stepping up. Perhaps this was the reason the Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red 6GB PC3-12800 kit (BL3KIT25664TR1608) took so long to be released... Crucial was waiting for the right moment to release the DDR3 version of the Tracer series and it was worth the wait.

Shipping

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Crucial's outer packaging has been a generic soft envelope folded over. It is what is on the inside that matters.

Retail Box

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Interestingly, it seems that Crucial has updated their lines to support retail kits. This is the first time ASE Labs has seen a retail version of a Crucial product. Perhaps Crucial products will be sold at computer hardware stores. It would be good to see.

Modules

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Just as the original »Ballistix Tracer Red kit, the new DDR3 version looks great with its laser etched logos and cool accents. We feel that heatspreaders are nothing more than show when placed on RAM, but these modules are sure to turn heads when in use. Not only do the modules look great by themselves, a brand new light pattern has been made specifically for the DDR3 version of the kit.

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Crucial used to only provide standard RAM for use in systems. While many enthusiasts used the RAM provided by Crucial, it was only guarantied to work at JEDEC speeds. It wasn't too long ago that Crucial started to provide overclocking kits of its Micron memory. The result is a win-win. Consumers get a solid performing module and Crucial enjoys better margins on the high end. This DDR3 triple channel kit is rated for 1600MHz (PC3-12800) at 8-8-8-24 (2T) running at 1.65v. Many DDR3 modules in the past have been pushing the voltage higher, but the new limit imposed by the Core i7 dropped this to 1.65v max.

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Since this kit is properly paired with a Core i7 platform, the modules contain easy to use XMP profiles for automatic setting of the correct timings and voltages without hassle. XMP is the easy choice for running the memory at the rated speed. The SPD is set to JEDEC speeds of 1333MHz at 9-9-9-27 with the standard 1.5v that DDR3 specs provide. This allows the system to at least boot up. There have been many times that modules were set at such a high speed that the system would boot the first time due to lack of power. It is good to see most memory manufacturers placing standard speeds on the traditional SPD.

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Red isn't the only color this time around. Consumers have the choice of red, blue, and green kits. The standard black kit is also available. The heatspreaders are bonded to the ICs of the modules and the LEDs at the top of the module (middle) can be seen. The entire kit looks fantastic in red and once it is in use, it is that much better.
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Stability

ASE Labs views stability a bit differently from most publications. At ASE Labs, RAM is only stable if it passes Memtest86+ and a plethora of memory intensive applications for a few hours like mprime and doing continuous compiling of specific programs. Just because the memory POSTs and runs doesn't mean that it is stable. Linux users may find memory errors by having errors in compiling (very common) to errors in tar as well as segfaults. Windows users can expect program faults and BSODs. Memory stability is very important. When we say that a specific specification of RAM is stable, we mean it!

Using an Asus P6T-Deluxe, the Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red 6GB kit was up and running on XMP settings without issue. The first XMP profile set the RAM to 8-8-8-24-1.65v and was stable as can be. Core i7 users with proper XMP support should be looking for XMP modules to make their systems work the first time around. The modules run stable at 1T as well.

Testing

Previous memory articles have shown that benchmarking memory is not a proper thing to do since the system will be running at different speeds on different components. At ASE Labs, we believe that a baseline should be kept consistent with testing and it is improper to give overclocked memory scores in comparison with anything. If the components elsewhere in the system are running at different speeds, the test is invalid.

A second XMP profile was set on the modules of 7-7-7-24-2T. This profile was unstable. Many memory manufacturers put a second profile of tighter timings on their modules. Don't bother using it, though. It just doesn't work.

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About the LED pattern; Unlike the DDR2 version of the Tracers, this kit has a more "progress bar" type of pattern. The LEDs are lighted from the center of each module and go out to the end and repeat. The "running lights" on the bottom of the modules do give the memory sockets a nice glow, though. A video supplement is attached.



Overclocking

The primary focus on memory reviews is a few things. The first is stability, the second is price, and the third is overclockability. Leaving the kit at the rated speed of 1600MHz the absolute lowest timings that were achieved was 7-8-8-21 1T with the rated 1.65V which is a few ticks below the rated timings. Setting the modules to the rating timings and upping the speed yielded results as well. The fast stable speed was 1728MHz (FSB 144MHz). Anything higher and the system would eventually lock up after a few runs of memory intensive programs. While we're sure these modules can handle higher speeds at looser timings, we'd recommend you check out our sister publication\'s review for the hardcore enthusiast.

Conclusion

Compared to »other kits of the same speed, the »Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red 6GB kit is on the high end of the spectrum of pricing at near $300. While we believe that memory prices have fallen to more reasonable levels, you will be paying a premium price for the Tracer Red series. If these modules are too gaudy for you, Crucial offers traditional Ballistix triple channel kits at a »more reasonable price point.

Regardless, this kit will surely impress people at LAN parties or the like. Crucial's memory works well and comes with a lifetime warranty. If you are looking for that extra bit of splash for your next Core i7 build, the Crucial Ballistix Tracer Red DDR3 kit will serve you well.

ASE Labs would like to thank Crucial for making this review possible.

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