Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666 16GB Memory Kit Review
All the way back in June, Crucial - the consumer arm of semiconductor giant Micron - announced their Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory modules. These sticks boasted fairly standard speeds of DDR4-2666 and DDR4-3000, but what really caught our eye were the heat spreaders. Frankly, they were sleekest and most badass heat spreaders that we had ever seen, and combined with the black PCB it made for an unusually eye-catching stick of RAM. Not only that, these modules featured built-in thermal sensors that allowed for real-time temperature monitoring via a custom Ballistix utility. A fast, great-looking memory module with sensors and its own utility? Sign us up!
Following that initial announcement we heard nothing for a over 6 months, and then in mid-January we finally got a notice that the memory kits were going to start hitting the retail market, so we claimed one. Since the DDR4-3000 modules haven't yet made an appearance, we picked up the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666 16GB memory kit, known as model BLE4K4G4D26AFEA.
This 4x4GB kit features a DDR4-2666 clock speed with 16-17-17-36 timings at 1.20V, and is backed by a lifetime warranty. These are not great timings - they are a little looser than the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 16GB kit that we reviewed earlier - but based on our previous testing we know that Crucial is extremely conservative when it comes to specifications and that Micron ICs are capable of some impressive feats.
Given these facts, we do have high expectations for this product, especially considering its lofty $335 USD/$410 CAD price tag. There a whole lot of DDR4-2666 16GB kits in the $225 to $250 USD range, so this Crucial model better be something special.
Crucial have packaged the BLE4K4G4D26AFEA in a standard plastic clamshell with a cardboard informational insert, which is the usual packaging method for most current memory kits. Thankfully, the plastic packaging does not require a knife or scissors to open, it can be opened / pulled apart by hand, which means that it is also re-sealable. Regrettably, for some anyways, Crucial does not include a branded case sticker.
For this new generation, Crucial introduced a new heat spreader design for the Ballistix Elite series. It's sleek, stealthy, and aggressive by any measure. The anodized aluminum heat spreaders have a matte finish, and the modules feature a custom-designed black PCB, so these should become the de facto choice for any 'murdered out' computer build. Thanks to that thick machined spine at the top, they also have a really nice weight to them, so they feel like a quality product.
Here is just a closer look at some of the heat spreader details. As you can see, they are using actual screws to keep the two sides together, it's not just sticky tape. Also, there are cool cut-outs that slightly reveal the memory ICs the lenght of the heat spreader. Definitely a unique design touch. At 40 millimeters / 1.57 inches these are what we would consider medium height modules, they aren't low profile but they also aren't tall enough to interfere with most tower-style heatsinks.
As previously discussed, this memory comes in clocked at DDR4-2666 16-17-17-36 with a default of 1.20V. Those are loose timings by any standard, but as we stated in the intro Crucial are known for selecting extremely conservative timings. They aren't trying to "wow" consumers with the specs, they are instead relying on their reputation as a well established manufacturer of top-notch memory. We will find out what this kit is truly capable of in our Overclocking Results section.
These particular modules feature three XMP 2.0 profiles, but obviously the XMP-2666 profile is the one we are most interested in. It sets this memory frequency by utilizing the 125Mhz CPU strap and selecting the DDR4-2666 memory multiplier What is particularly interesting is that this memory kit defaults to DDR4-2400 instead of the usual DDR4-2133.
On our ASUS X99-Deluxe that default was DDR4-2400 16-16-16-39. That is pretty cool because even those who are completely clueless about memory speeds, timings, or even the BIOS will still get an automatic speed bump when installing this memory kit. By the way, disregard that XMP-0 profile, it is a CPU-Z issue that we haven't spotted in other programs (like AIDA64), so it's not something that is wrong with the modules themselves.
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