Review: Ballistix Elite DDR4 3200Mhz RAM

Building a performance PC, whether for gaming or creative development, is no easy feat. Every component is potentially a bottleneck that constrains your optimal experience. My current PC is...

Building a performance PC, whether for gaming or creative development, is no easy feat. Every component is potentially a bottleneck that constrains your optimal experience. My current PC is the Lenovo Y710 Cube which has a great Core i7 processor, a great GTX 1080 GPU, and I’ve already upgraded the hard drive to a SSD. The only remaining piece to upgrade is the RAM.

One of the easiest and cheapest upgrades you can do for your PC is RAM and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been spending time with 2 new 8GB DDR4 modules. This 16GB of RAM is made by Micron which is better known under the Crucial brand. Ballistix RAM comes in 3 varieties, Sport, Tactical and Elite varieties, each featuring different properties depending on your needs.

In general PC use, you want applications to launch the instant you click, and as you continue to launch applications and execute tasks, you want that performance to continue. With the right amount of RAM and the right speed of the RAM, you can achieve that and even support a stupid amount of tabs in Chrome. When you fire up your favourite Steam game, you games matches and levels to load quickly and you want the performance in-game to be flawless and the right RAM, combined with other components, can deliver that.

Given Ballistix gaming memory is trusted by pro eSports players, its a pretty safe bet, you’ll find the some of faster speeds, and the lowest latency that you’re after.

Design

You may not think component design is important, but that’s not true for a lot of people. Many cases offer transparent side panels and for a very good reason. People are proud of the brands and products they invest in and being on display, means the design of RAM is incredibly important. The Ballistix Elite DDR4 modules feature a black anodized heat spreader on top, with aggressive militaristic styling which looks stealthy and tough. The refined, yet purposeful styling is all about getting down to business in the Elite edition, but if you’re after more colour options, take a look at the sport version that comes in vibrant red, grey and white.

If you really want to impress at your next LAN party, then take a look at the Tactical Tracer DDR4 RGB which allows you to software control the colour of the heat spreader with RDB LEDs in basically any colour you can think of.

Side-by-side, the Ballistix is RAM is a little larger in physical dimensions than my existing RAM, but despite the tight confines of a smaller case, there was no problems slotting them in to place. If you’ve never upgraded your RAM, there’s some helpful tutorial videos available on the Ballistix site. Ultimately its snapping out 2 clips, removing the exiting RAM, snapping in the new modules and ensuring the clips are returned to secure it in place.

Performance

Designed for high-end desktop PCs, the Elite DDR modules are designed to improve responsiveness, increase frame rates and optimise latency. These modules come in sizes up to 16GB, so those thirsty for big volumes can fill 4 RAM slots to reach a very health 64GB system.

Latency is one of the great enemies and minimising the time delay between when a memory command is entered and executed is one of the biggest challenges RAM manufacturers chase down in an effort for ultimate performance. Latency ratings may be measured in nanoseconds, but can gamers feel it.

For those pushing the boundaries, you’ll want to grab the Ballistix M.O.D. Utility that allows you to monitor the readings from the thermal sensor for real-time temperature monitoring.

DDR4 is fairly evolved as a technology now and, speeds and bandwidths of modules like this can reach 3200 MT/s and 25.6 GB/s, twice what was possible on DDR3 technology. Despite the extra performance, Ballistix Elite DDR4 claims to also wring up to 40% more power efficiency out of the memory.

The PerformanceTest 9.0 allows benchmarking of the RAM compared to other products. In this test, the Ballistix Elite stacks up really well achieving the 3rd best score, behind G Skill Intl and Kingston. This performance was also reflected in day-to-day use with applications launching and responding to rapid inputs incredibly responsively which makes using a computer a dream. In terms of games like Assetto Corsa and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds load times were improved by a matter of seconds.

Here’s the MOD utility, which provides detail on each module, but not combined view for all installed modules. You can enable a temperature widget that overlays your other application windows, even when MOD is in the background.

Here’s the RAM being smashed by a render from 3D Studio Max. Despite the load, the temperatures remained well within tolerance, suggesting it could be pushed even harder without issue.

Here’s a visual comparison between the stock RAM that comes in of the Lenovo Y710 Cube (right) and the new Ballistix Elite RAM that now replaces it.

Price and availability

The three tiers of RAM attract different prices, so its important to understand the target audience and pricing for each.

Ballistix Sport – Introduce yourself to the gaming world with Ballistix Sport and splash a new look onto your motherboard with a range of colours to choose from. Ballistix Sport offers improved performance for gamers building their XP.

Ballistix Tactical – When you’ve been on the scene for a while, you’re no longer the hunter – you have a target on your back. Hardcore gamers stay ahead of the opposition by striking first, striking fast, and striking more frequently than the opposition.

Ballistix Elite (reviewed) – Establishing yourself at the top of the game requires skill. Surviving and advancing at the highest levels, when all challengers want to knock you down, takes extreme performance. For pros and overclockers, the choice is clear: Ballistix Elite.

You can find the Curcial Ballistix Elite RAM at online retailers like Mwave, RAM City Static Ice and others. Of course if you want 2x 8GB modules, rather than 4x 4GB modules, expect to pay a little premium. If your motherboard only has 2 slots, you’ll have to pony up.

  • Crucial Ballistix Elite 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4 2666MHz Memory – A$262.98
  • Crucial Ballistix Elite 16GB (4x 4GB) DDR4 3200MHz Memory – A$184.98

For more information about Ballistix memory visit http://ballistixgaming.com

Overall

Your standard run of the mill PC memory is fine for office documents, but when your focus and needs are on speed, you should seriously consider upgrading.

Upgrading your RAM is one of the fastest and easiest upgrades you can do, while also being one of the cheapest performance gains available. If you’re in search of better performance, its likely standard modules just aren’t going to get the job done.

You can take your road car to a race track and put together a decent time, but if you’re competition is driving a specifically design GT3 race car, you’ve got no hope in being competitive.

The high-performance RAM game is a competitive space, but this blend of styling and performance means the Ballistix RAM is definitely worth consideration and should be near the top of your short list.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.