Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 2x8GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Test System

As we have reviewed a Ballistix Elite kit in 2019 already, it comes to no surprise that this one looks exactly like the other one, minus a few minor labeling differences. Utilizing a medium height profile, it is not really meant to attract attention, especially with its muted black colors and white markings. Its aluminum pieces are angled in a distinctive way, reinforcing a rugged-like exterior. Aluminum is a lightweight and decent heat conductor, while the ventilated design is meant to increase surface area for heat dissipation. The Ballistix Elite heatsink adds approximately a centimeter on top of your typical bare module. This is useful as CPU heatsinks adjacent to the memory slots will help slightly cool the memory as well. As well, its shorter height means you should not have too many issues with fitting the memory underneath a well-designed cooler with sufficient clearance. Heatspreaders may be a marketing gimmick, but it is quite difficult to find high performance memory without any form of a heatspreader attached. They do serve a purpose in dispersing heat, but for most memory modules, this feature is not a requirement. Even so, it does at least look fancy. Ballistix's M.O.D. application gives you real time temperature monitoring if you are worried.

The heatspreader design of the Ballistix Elite modules is symmetrical when looked at straight on and between sides, which is logical, because memory can be installed in different directions depending on your motherboard manufacturer and design. Besides functional purposes, it also improves the look. The Ballistix logo in white is printed on the right with the Elite designation on the left. A specifications label is found on the other side. It lists the model number (BLE2K8G4D40BEEAK), frequency, CAS latency, and voltage. The Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 2x8GB's assembly location is Mexico.

As you can see in the photo above, the Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 2x8GB has a black PCB. The heatspreader is composed of three separate pieces. A metal top piece flanks and locks down both sides of the heatspreaders, and can be removed by taking off four screws. After this, the two sides are held on to the module itself by strips of thermally conductive adhesive and are not physically locked together. The adhesion force between the two heatspreaders and memory ICs is pretty strong, so I would recommend some sort of heat source if you do ever want to take them off.

You can also see how the heatspreaders are designed. After removing the piece at the top, the heatspreaders are bent along the edge at the top and are mirror images of each other. Since the pieces are made from aluminum, it does not hold a lot of heat, therefore dissipating the heat energy relatively quickly into the surrounding environment. These side pieces are pretty thin, but they still feel solid and should not easily bend. Either way, you will probably never remove the heatspreaders as most aftermarket CPU heatsinks should easily accommodate memory modules of this height profile.

From here, we have a closer look of a single memory chip on the Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 2x8GB dual channel memory kit. Unfortunately, these ICs do not seem to have the typical FPGA labeling I expect from Micron chips. However, after some further digging, we can identify all of these as Micron manufactured chips, with a model number of MT40A1G8SA-075. There are eight of these 1GB chips on one side of the stick, making for a total of 8GB of memory on each DIMM. As mentioned on the previous page, these RAM modules run at a frequency of DDR4-4000 with 18-19-19-39 latencies. They operate at a stock voltage of 1.35V, which is right at the Intel maximum safe limit of 1.35V. Here are the listed features for the ICs, as obtained from Micron's website:

• VDD = VDDQ = 1.2V ±60mV
• VPP = 2.5V, –125mV, +250mV
• On-die, internal, adjustable VREFDQ generation
• 1.2V pseudo open-drain I/O
• Refresh time of 8192-cycle at TC temperature range:
– 64ms at -40°C to 85°C
– 32ms at >85°C to 95°C
– 16ms at >95°C to 105°C
• 16 internal banks (x4, x8): 4 groups of 4 banks each
• 8 internal banks (x16): 2 groups of 4 banks each
• 8n-bit prefetch architecture
• Programmable data strobe preambles
• Data strobe preamble training
• Command/Address latency (CAL)
• Multipurpose register READ and WRITE capability
• Write leveling
• Self refresh mode
• Low-power auto self refresh (LPASR)
• Temperature controlled refresh (TCR)
• Fine granularity refresh
• Self refresh abort
• Maximum power saving
• Output driver calibration
• Nominal, park, and dynamic on-die termination (ODT)
• Data bus inversion (DBI) for data bus
• Command/Address (CA) parity
• Databus write cyclic redundancy check (CRC)
• Per-DRAM addressability
• Connectivity test
• JEDEC JESD-79-4 compliant
• sPPR and hPPR capability

Our test configuration as follows:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X @ Stock
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12A
Motherboard: ASUS Prime X470-Pro
Graphics: MSI GeForce GTX 1070Ti Titanium
Chassis: NZXT H510 Elite
Storage: Western Digital Blue SN500 NVMe SSD 500GB, OCZ ARC 100 240GB, Western Digital Blue 1TB
Power: Seasonic FOCUS Plus 850 Gold 850W
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

Compared Hardware:
- Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 2x8GB @ DDR4-4000 18-19-19-39
- Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 2x8GB @ DDR4-3600 16-16-16-38
- Gigabyte AORUS RGB Memory DDR4-3200 2x8GB @ DDR4-3200 16-18-18-38
- Patriot Viper Elite PC4-24000 2x8GB @ DDR4-3000 16-16-16-36

I decided to test our review unit of the Ballistix Elite in both its XMP configuration of DDR4-4000 CL18 and at DDR4-3600 at a CAS 16 latency. AMD mentions this should result in better performance, as it allows the DRAM frequency and Infinity Fabric frequency to run in a 1:1 ratio. Higher frequencies such as the DDR4-4000 specified with the Ballistix Elite will cause the two frequencies to not operate at this ideal ratio, which could introduce more latency. Further discussion on this can be found in the AMD documentation about Infinity Fabric. While this is not the main point of this review, I thought it would be interesting to see how these compare in our results.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 CPU
4. Benchmark: AIDA64 FPU
5. Benchmark: AIDA64 Memory
6. Benchmark: PCMark 10
7. Benchmark: 3DMark
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 9.0
9. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M, Cinebench R20
10. Overclocking and Conclusion