During the 12 month period when platforms based on Intel X99 were the only feasible option with DDR4 support, we established that high-end memory kits were a useless investment as they did not yield any significant performance increase even in the highly synthetic benchmarks. Because of this, everyone who wanted to be sensible with their purchase has gone for the low end Crucial offerings, which have crushed all the competition on the price front.
Now though, things have changed. With the new Z170-based platforms allowing DDR4 to stretch its legs, the optimal buying strategy is likely to have changed as well. To see whether the Ballistix can still withstand the test of time, we went out and got ourselves a dual-channel version of the kit that we tested not too long ago.
|Capacity||16GB (2 x 8GB)|
|Frequency||1200 MHz (DDR4-2400)|
The kit in our hands belongs to the Ballistix Sport series, which is only available with a single archaic combination of frequency and timings. We have gone for a dual-channel kit of 16GB capacity. With the current pricing, it is very likely that such kits will be a common purchase as they cost similar to a mainstream CPU or an entry-level mainboard.
As usual, our adventures begin at getting the kit out of its packaging.
Judging by the initial impression, the Sport have all attributes of a quality product. The packaging is very sturdy and the black-and-grey colour combination is very typical for enthusiast-grade hardware of today.
However, digging one step deeper we started to find imperfections. The heatsinks might look good on their face value and be compact enough not to cause any issues with the adjacent CPU heatsink, but they barely touch half of the surface they are supposed to cool. Of course, you might argue that DDR4 is designed to be energy-efficient and should not require any cooling at all, and you would be right, but it is the half-arsed approach that gets our perfectionist minds slightly annoyed.
Having detached the heatsinks from the modules, we did not find any markings on the memory chips that would allow us to precisely identify their model. However, with each 8GB module carrying eight chips on either of its sides, a simple math suggests that each of the memory chips is of 512MB or 4Gbit capacity. Another obvious clue is the four symbol marking, which is characteristic for chips manufactured by Micron.
All things considered, we believe our kit to be based on memory chips belonging to Micron D9RG_ family.
Each module carries a miniature SPD chip that is flashed with information on its manufacturer, part number and internal serial. The SPD chip also contains several setting presets (called JEDEC presets) that guarantee compatibility with platforms that do not support DDR4-2400 memory out of the box.
On top of the JEDEC profiles, there is an XMP (Xtreme Memory Profile) which contains the kit's formal specs. However, as these specs are identical to one of the JEDEC presets, there is no real need for a user to go in the motherboard's BIOS and load the XMP. In both scenarios, the motherboard will default the kit to the following timing preset.