At this point in time, almost all (DDR4) memory manufacturers / makers have their products slapped with LED or RGB lighting. But where is Crucial’s or Ballistix’s RGB-enabled DDR4 memory? Well it’s finally here! Today we are going to look at and review the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 Gaming Memory; we have here the 4-stick 32GB kit, running at 2666MHz. It was quite surprising for us to see the company not releasing an RGB-enabled DDR4 memory soon enough, considering that Crucial Ballistix was one of the first few companies who have LED lighting on their DDR memory back then. And I’m talking about their Ballistix Tactical Tracer DDR3, which was quite popular at that time. Well it’s never too late to join the RGB bandwagon. Let’s see what the new Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 has to offer, or if it brought something new on the table. Please continue reading our Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 Gaming Memory review below and find out.
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 Gaming Memory Review
Last April 2018, Ballistix (a brand under Micron) officially released their new Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Gaming memory. The Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 memory offers speeds of up to 3000 MT/s and it’s available in 8GB or 16GB densities. It features 16 RGB LEDs in 8 zones on each module and these RGB LEDs can be controlled and customized via Crucial’s M.O.D. Utility (Memory Overview Display). This new gaming memory module are also built with thermal sensor, so you can monitor the (per stick) temperature in real time. Aside from that, the top bar or the light diffuser can be remove and replace with your own customized 3D printed light bar.
The Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 is available in single stick, dual kit or quad kit in 8GB or 16GB per stick. Currently, there are two speeds available: 2666MHz and 3000MHz. The DDR4-2666 runs at 1.2 volts while the DDR4-3000 runs at 1.35 volts. Both speeds runs at 16-18-18 latency. These are all unbuffered and non-ECC memory modules.
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Specifications
|Manufacturer||Memory Module - Crucial Technology|
DRAM Components - Micron Technology
Thermal Sensor - STMicroelectronics
|Model||BLT4K8G4D26BFT4K (our sample)|
|Memory Type||DDR4 SDRAM 288-pin|
|Capacities Available||8GB up to 64GB (in single, dual or quad stikcs)|
|Multi-Channel||Dual / Quad Channel Kit|
|Speed / Latency||DDR4-2666 (PC4-21300) 16-18-18|
DDR4-3000 (PC4-24000 16-18-18
|Voltage||1.2V - 2666, 1.35V - 3000|
|XMP||Intel XMP 2.0|
For US: Available at Amazon.com here
For UK: Available at Amazon UK here
Packaging and Closer Look
The Ballistix Tactical’s packaging is quite cool. It’s made of semi-hard plastic and a portion at the front is transparent so that you can see the memory sticks inside. The packaging’s design features a metal cross grid pattern and you can see the label TRACER RGB on the front portion of the box, along with the kit’s capacity and speed. At the back are some additional features of the memory kit.
The Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB features a black/grey or gunmetal like heat spreader. It looks like there are two sheets of metal layered together. The design looks modern and stylish, not too fancy either; and I think it will blend well with most builds or systems.
On one side of the memory stick, there are some sticker labels indicating the density, speed, latency, voltage and other information for each stick. You can also see the “Ballistix by Micron” logo and the Tactical logo on both sides of the memory stick.
The top bar or the light diffuser can be removed easily by removing two locks. It was easy to remove the locks and it doesn’t require any tools to remove them. Removing the top bar reveals the 16 RGB LEDs on the top portion of the stick. These LEDs are placed side by side, 8 on each side of the PCB and they are distributed evenly across the length of the PCB.
Ballistix M.O.D. Utility
One obstacle that memory manufacturers usually encounter when dealing with RGB-enabled memory kits is that the RGB lighting or the effects are not always compatible with the motherboard’s software. Some kits are compatible with Asus Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion or MSI’s Mystic Light; but sometimes they are not compatible with these software and doesn’t work at all. Ballistix come prepared and they have their Ballistix M.O.D. Utility that would enable you to control the RGB lighting effects on this memory stick.
Using the M.O.D. utility, you can control each stick’s lighting effect or sync them all. Currently, there are 12 effects (including static) and you can also choose a specific color using the color wheel or keying-in the respective RGB value. If you ever get tired of the RGB lighting, you can always turn them off as well.
By the way, remember to download the M.O.D. Utility for the DDR4 module. I think there’s also a M.O.D. utility for DDR3, and that’s not compatible with the Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4.
Aside from controlling the RGB lighting effects, the M.O.D. utility can also display the memory’s SPD information.
It can also display the temperature of each memory stick. The thermal sensors on the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB are manufactured by STMicroelectronics. They feature B-grade temperature accuracy and supports both positive and negative measurements. There are also some few options when you click on the gear button located on the top-right portion of the M.O.D. utility window.
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Gallery
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Test Setup
In testing the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666, I tested it with our Intel test system as well as AMD test system (not the system in the photo above). Below are specs for each system:
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro 64bit||Windows 10 Pro 64bit|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Aorus Z370 Gaming 5||MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8700K||AMD Ryzen 7 1700|
|CPU Cooler||Thermaltake Pacific RL360||Enermax LiqFusion AIO|
|Memory||Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4||Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4|
|Graphics Card||GeForce GTX 1070||MSI GTX 1070 Ti Titanium|
|OS Drive||Kingston KC1000 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD||WD Black 3D 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD|
|Power Supply||Seasonic 1050W Platinum||Seasonic 850W Prime Titanium|
|Chassis||Thermaltake Core P5||DimasTech Bench Table Easy V3.0|
Here is a CPU-Z screenshot of the Z370 system where the memory is configured using its Intel XMP Profile.
Overclocking the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666
Overclocking the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 was quite easy and honestly I was quite surprised that I was able to squeeze out more from this 2666 memory kit. I was able to reach 3100MHz on the Z370 system and 3200MHz on the X470 system. I guess, depending on how well a motherboard can overclock and maintain the stability of the system’s settings also plays an important role in overclocking this memory stick.
Below are the respective CPUz screenshots of the overclocked Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666:
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 Benchmark Results
In testing the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 memory kit, I used some of the popular benchmarking tools available, namely: AIDA64 Memory Benchmark, SiSoft Sandra and RealBench 2.43.
Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.
The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.
The Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 seems to work well with an X470 system. The read, write and copy speeds are even faster than the 3200MHz (XMP) Patriot Viper LED memory. However, the latency was quite high on the X470 system compared to when it was installed on the Z370 system.
Realbench is a benchmark that uses open source applications and simple scripting to simulate real-world performance of a PC system. It’s designed for to show the difference: Before and after a PC upgrade. To gauge the real effect of an overclock.
I got varying results with the RealBench 2.43. The results above is alphabetically sorted based on the name of the memory module. I guess other factors like the CPU and its speed also comes in to play and directly affects the result.
SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2017
SiSoftware Sandra is a 32- and 64-bit client/server Windows system analyzer that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. It tries to go beyond other utilities to show you more of what is really going on under the hood so you draw comparisons at both a high and low-level in a single product. You can get information about the CPU, GPGPU, chipset, video adapter (GPU), ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals even .NET and Java.
Again, we see the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 performing well on an X470 system even when running at 2666MHz. And again, its latency is quite high when installed on the X470 system. We also see that on the same Intel system the 32000MHz runs the fastest, followed by 3000MHz, 3100Mhz, 2933MHz and 2666MHz, as expected.
This shows that if you can overclock the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 up to 3200MHz, it’s safe to say that better buy the 2666 speed and manually overclock it to higher clock speeds, than to spend more cash on a faster memory right out of the box.
Price and Availability
Micron’s Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 memory modules are now available. It’s available in 8GB or 16GB densities; in single stick, kit of two or kit of four sticks; and in 2666MHz or 3000MHz speeds. An 8GB DDR4-2666 has a retail price of $109, while the 8GB DDR4-3000 retails for $124 USD. The 32GB (4x8GB) kit we have here retails for $436 USD at Crucial’s site. The company is also offering limited lifetime warranty for these memory kits. You can check the latest pricing and availability of the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 from the links below.
For US: Available at Amazon.com here
For UK: Available at Amazon UK here
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 Review: Conclusion
Ballistix’s first RGB-enabled DDR4 memory came with a bang (well not really a huge bang), but it didn’t disappoint. Build quality was top-notch, as expected from the company, and the aesthetics and design of the Tactical Tracer’s heat spreader is great. The colors are neutral, meaning they will blend well with most system builds. There are 16 RGB LEDs installed on each stick, 8 on each side; that’s actually more RGB LEDs compared to other LED or RGB-enabled DDR4 memory. The design of the top bar is not obnoxious; but if I have to nitpick, I think the top bar diffuser is a little bit less transparent, making it a little bit harder for the light to pass through.
There are only two speeds available, the 2666MHz and 3000MHz. As expected, at 2666MHz memory speed, it’s at below the charts when compared to faster DDR4 memory (2933MHz and above). But what’s good about this kit is that you can manually overclock it, up to 3200MHz in our case, to match the performance of other faster DDR4 memory modules. After all, you need to enable the XMP profile of those memory modules in order for them to run at their advertised speeds (example 3000MHz or 3200MHz). Settings XMP profile is basically overclocking the memory, except that the profile is generally accepted in most motherboards and you don’t need to set every configuration. Just enable XMP and you’re good to go. But basically speaking, you’re still overclocking the memory since its default clock speed is definitely lower.
Remember, if you don’t enable XMP, the memory won’t run at advertised speed and you basically wasted your money paying for a faster DDR4-3000 or even DDR4-3600 and you forgot or did not enabled its XMP profile. The memory that you installed will run at default speeds, probably at 2133MHz. The unfortunate part is, it’s not that easy to spot or tell if the system is running at default 2133MHz or at higher speeds, not unless you check CPUz or other utility. Honestly, it’s much easier to tell if you’re gaming at 30 fps or at 60 fps (and more).
Speaking of enabling XMP profile, the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-2666 will run at 2666MHz out of the box, even if you didn’t enable XMP. That’s actually a plus, compared to other DDR4 memory that will only run at the default 2133MHz if you didn’t enabled the XMP profile. As for the Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4-3000 kit, we haven’t tested it (yet). We don’t know how far will it overclock or if it will run at 3000MHz even without enabling XMP. If the 3000MHz kit can be overclocked higher than 3200MHz, then I think it would be worth checking it out. But if the kit can only be overclocked up to 3200MHz like this DDR4-2666 kit, definitely the DDR4-2666 is the better buy between the two since it’s cheaper and overclocks the same.
Another thing that I like about this memory kit is that it’s compatible and runs fine on both Intel and AMD Ryzen system. Much better if you have the newer X470 motherboards, since it has better DDR4 memory support compared to its predecessor – X370. If you don’t like to install the motherboard’s software to control the RGB lighting, simply install the Ballistix M.O.D. utility. It’s basically what you need to control and customize the RGB lighting. It’s light, simple and easy to use; plus it’s the official software for controlling the RGB lighting. Also, I can confirm that MSI’s Mystic Light also works with the Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 based on our testing.
Finally, I think the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 is a great memory and it’s definitely worth your hard earn money. It may not be the fastest kit out there, but I bet most of the typical users/gamers won’t really see a substantial increase in the performance of their system (whether typical desktop operations or when gaming) beyond 3000Mhz or 32000Mhz.