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Although quite recent, it seems the bar has already been raised since our memory mega-roundup. Both the Crucial and GeIL modules would have certainly stirred things up and a first and second place finish in that test may well have been on the cards looking at their pricing.

In that roundup Crucial was perhaps the biggest disappointment of all with some very mediocre scores that even the low price couldn’t compensate for. Ballistix however is a whole new product that shows what Micron can do when it puts its mind to it. The fact that Ballistix comes with Crucial’s keen pricing makes it all the more tempting and it should certainly offer enough of a balance between price and performance to do very nicely, even among the big-name competition.

GeIL has once again set new levels of value for money. At just over 20p per Megabyte the performance was simply mind-blowing, and while I can’t say for certain that this is indicative of every Ultra-X module on the market it certainly bodes well. The inability of this module to run properly at its rated timings under SPD however, means less experienced users may well get a lower performance than they should unless they’re prepared to fish around in their BIOS. Also, its limited headroom at 2-5-2-2 and huge overclocking margin makes it more suited to the hardened overclocker in some respects. Once overclocked, our particular modules threw out the highest memory scores I’ve ever recorded in these benchmarks, a fact that must surely count for something if overclocking is important to you.

Buffalo’s Firestix were, on balance, a bit of an anti-climax. Don’t get me wrong, the performance is on a par with many of the similarly specified memory modules out there, but that’s just it, there’s nothing special here. The overclocking isn’t impressive enough to win over the enthusiasts, the stock performance isn’t good enough to win over the savvy buyers and there’s no flashing LEDs or eye-catching cosmetics to win over the modding crowd. It’s just another stick of reasonable fast, reasonably good-looking memory like so many that went before it.

There has to be a winner, and on this occasion it’s quite a simple task. Impressed though I am with GeIL’s Ultra-X and its 290MHz FSB overclock, this isn’t much use to someone who has no intention of ever venturing beyond 200MHz, and at this speed Crucial’s Ballistix is marginally faster and marginally cheaper. Of all the parameters tested we must treat overclocking potential as the biggest variable and therefore place less weight on this than we do on other, more repeatable performance results.

With that fact in mind I’m prepared to put my head on the block and pronounce Ballistix as the fastest memory I’ve so far tested at 200MHz. Add to this the accurate SPD data and sub-20p/MB price and Crucial must be congratulated on a barnstorming debut at the elite end of the memory market.

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