Crucial Ballistix Low Profile – Overclocking
Knowing what little importance latency settings have on performance in modern systems, the goal of memory overclocking should almost always be frequency settings. Latency performance will scale down as frequency goes up anyway – the question is, how far can we take these modules?
We will overclock each kit with its default setting of 1.35v, and then try again at 1.65v – the highest recommended setting by Intel. These modules are guaranteed to 1.5v, so we are indeed over-volting them here.
Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP @ 1.35v – We were able to set the board’s memory speed to 1866 mode after loosening the timings a bit – to 9-10-10-28 1T. Any more, and it just wouldn’t boot.
Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP @ 1.35v – The Ballistix Sport VLP was also able to reach 1866, although the timings had to be loosened further to 10-10-10-30 1T. This was actually somewhat unexpected considering the ‘mainstream’ marketing of this kit.
Now let’s crank up the voltage to 1.65 and see how far these will go!
Crucial Ballistix Tactical LP @ 1.65v – After loosening the timings to 11-13-12-31 1T, we were able to run this memory at 2133 MHz, no problem.
Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP @ 1.65v – Amazingly we were able to see almost the exact same overclock with the Sport VLP kit. We are probably closer to the edge here though, since the timings had to be set to 11-13-13-31 1T.
Note that these results do not guarantee that the next person will achieve something similar.
Let’s take a quick look at performance, comparing stock speeds of each to our best overclocked results:
First of all, you can see that the stock performance of these are almost identical. While the Ballistix Sport VLP has slightly loosened latency timings, the 1T command rate probably makes up for it. Granted, you can easily set the Ballistix Tactical LP to do the same, but these are stock settings, for people who don’t want to touch anything.
Even more impressive is the fact that we saw the same overclocking results from each. While the Ballistix Tactical LP has a taller heatsink, it is only for looks. Besides, it’s not like heat is a huge factor for these at 1.65v on an open bench. Heatsinks are more for looks than anything in most scenarios anyway.
We will probably start seeing low profile performance modules from other manufacturers soon – they’d better at least. As I have stated in most of my memory reviews, the height of a heatsink is more of a hindrance than a benefit. If you are using a standard sized heatsink or a water cooler, then you probably won’t be affected by this. But if you opt for overclocking with a bit CPU cooler, the smaller your RAM is, the better.
Best of all, you don’t have to give up on overclocking results with these tiny modules. Both reached 2133 MHz with CAS 11, without going over the 1.65v threshold we try to stay behind for day-to-day use.
If you are deciding between the Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP and Tactical LP, it really comes down to looks. Do you like the bright orange heatsink that would give a nice splash of colour to an otherwise dreary case? Or do you prefer the more understated look of the Sport edition? Note that they aren’t priced the same – the Tactical is about $10 more.
In my opinion, both these modules deserve recommendation for any mid-range PC build. DDR3-1600 is good to begin with, and there appears to be a lot of headroom behind both.