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Crucial Ballistix PC3200 CL2

Price listed above is per 1x 512MB module.

Price Per MB - 18p

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The fact that Crucial made any kind of move into the enthusiast memory sector came as a surprise to a lot of people. As a company that has thrived on supplying high quality, high value mainstream memory that never attempted to push beyond JEDEC’s rather conservative timings, nor to offer any level of support for overclocking of products, the appearance of Ballistix on the market came as a bolt out of the blue.

The Ballistix came packaged securely in a cardboard shipping box and sat in sealed anti-static bags. Each module comes with a rather nice Ballistix sticker and a small adhesive Ballistix badge. Installation instructions are also included.

The modules are finished with a fetching matt gold heat spreader which, to its credit, features the Crucial URL, the Ballistix logo and the batch and part numbers. These appear to be manufactured in aluminium rather than copper as seen on GeIL’s heat spreaders.

Adhesive thermal tape is used between the memory chips and heat spreader but they are further secured by a pair of spring retaining clips per module. The underlying PCB is black, or to be more accurate a dark chocolate brown colour. The use of a heat spreader made it impossible to verify the memory chips used but it was quite clear from the little I could see that they were Micron chips.

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Testing of the Ballistix modules was a genuine pleasure. Using the SPD setting accurately set the motherboard to run at the rated 2-5-2-2 timings. The rated voltage is an unusually high 2.8v and was set manually from the BIOS.

The performance running at a stock 200MHz was extremely high, matching or exceeding that from our previous roundup winner, Corsair’s excellent 3200XL Pro. All tests including the 12 hour burn-in test completed with no hiccups.

Overclocking was an equally rewarding experience, though at SPD I hit a rather premature ceiling of 215MHz and optimism that I’d get much further was fading fast. At 2-7-7-3 I progressed on to 225MHz before easing off again to 2.5-7-3-3, which got me to a more respectable 235MHz, and then 2.5-8-4-4, which eased me to the 240MHz mark. At our usual, much more lax setting of 3-8-4-4 I hit the eventual ceiling of 265MHz. In actual fact I was able to browse windows and run a few benchmarks at around 272MHz but not with any great degree of stability. 265MHz was the highest bombproof setting. Increasing the voltage beyond 2.8v didn’t help me progress beyond this level either.

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