In today’s modern computers, large amounts of RAM are becoming ubiquitous. Due to the cheap price of system RAM, as well as the desktop PC’s ever-growing need for memory, the vast majority of PCs available for purchase at retail outlets are equipped with at least 4GB of RAM. A quick check of Best Buy’s website indicates 90% of the desktop systems they are currently selling are equipped with 4GB or more of RAM. More than a third of the systems they’re selling come equipped with 6GB or more. Particularly when multitasking, RAM becomes an essential ingredient to a pleasant and responsive computing experience, so adding more RAM to a system is a quick and cheap way to help ensure slowdowns are avoided as much as possible.
4GB of RAM is currently the most popular configuration among gaming PCs. This may be sufficient for a light home user who primarily uses the computer for surfing Facebook or playing casual games. However, many power users and enthusiasts find 4GB to be insufficient once the PC is under heavy use. In my personal system, for example, RAM usage hits 4GB very quickly when I am engaging in the task of ripping, copying, and encoding blu ray disc files. In professional settings as well, RAM becomes a scarce resource whenever multiple virtual machines or productivity applications are open simultaneously.
Crucial has been meeting memory needs of PC users for 15 years. There was a point in time when crucial.com was one of the only sources for high quality, reliable, and well-priced system RAM. Today we are reviewing one of Crucial’s enthusiast products, the Crucial BallistiX DDR3 DDR3-2000 8GB kit. These modules are designed to run up to 2000MHz at 9-11-9-27 timings using a voltage of 1.65V. Crucial reports the model number is BL2KIT51264FN2001 and can be purchased for $119.99 direct from Crucial’s site. Newegg also appears to be selling the 4GB modules individually for $52.99 with free shipping.
Crucial sent the kit to us in a very generic packaging. While we don’t necessarily suggest the excessively gaudy imagery that many manufacturers seem to prefer, we would have hoped to see some information on the packaging that is specific to this kit. Memory speed, timings, and voltage would be pertinent information to show somewhere on the package. We received this kit directly from Crucial, so we hope the packaging for the final retail product that might be on the store of Microcenter or Fry’s would contain some of these details. These kits feature a lifetime warranty. This gives buyers comfort that Crucial, who is based in the United States, stands behind their products.
The BL2KIT51264FN2001 is Crucial’s fastest 8GB dual channel kit. Both 4GB modules feature a black heat spreader with 16 rows of fins across the top that are designed to dissipate heat as quickly as possible in order to keep the memory chips cool. Crucial reports this heat spreader design results in up to 30% better cooling performance compared to previous heat spreader designs. Keeping temperatures down often translates directly into increased headroom for faster clock speeds and/or tighter timings, so the investment into better heat spreader design has potential to provide a tangible benefit to purchasers of a premium design memory kit such as this one.
The heat spreaders aren’t only for good looks and cooling purposes however. They also contain the technology for Crucial’s integrated temperature monitoring functionality, which we will examine more closely next.