[Review] 32GB (2x16GB) Crucial Ballistix RGB DDR4 3200MHz BL2K16G32C16U4BL


DDR4 BL2K16G32C16U4BL Review


With the launch of the B550 chipset more people than usual are likely looking at making new builds so at this time what better review is there than one for system memory. I don’t think Crucial need many introductions novice and pro alike have undoubtedly heard of them with the massive catalogue of SSDs they offer and of course memory ranging from desktop and laptop to server grade spanning DDR2, 3, and 4 offering more budget minded solutions all the way up to the most extreme enthusiast class, most notably the Ballistix line which is what we will be looking at today so come in, take a seat, and chill out as the peoples review look at the 32GB (2x16GB) Crucial Ballistix RGB DDR4 3200MHz kit.


Time to get things underway, as usual we will start with packaging and presentation, you'll have to excuse the blurrier than usual images lighting was a problem today and my camera did not want to play ball.

Well, as far as packaging looks go Crucial certainly try their hardest to be as innocuous as possible, I don’t think they got the memo that enthusiasts like a bit of pizzazz even from the packaging, a “come get me” statement, if you will. What Crucial have here is something that looks extremely business or corporate orientated, knowledgeable enthusiasts won’t care about this but your typical Joe Blogs gamer however might just snub you for not having “cool” packaging. It’s certainly an odd fit seeing such corporate design packaging housing enthusiast grade memory.

A closer look reveals, as far as memory packaging goes at least, fairy good protection. Crucial also add anti-tamper seals to the outer packaging and inner packaging to try to add some assurances that what you have picked up isn’t anything like a customer return just thrown back on the shelf, I quite like this approach I’m sure many of you reading this have had one or two instances of being dubious of something you bought only to end up returning it for another that didn’t have signs of tampering.

Looking at the Ballistix RGB memory itself there’s not too much to say, the design is fairly sleek and neat with just a hint of a winged effect from the shoulders of each memory stick. They don’t do anything to particularly appeal or put off people with this design.

Now we have had our first cursory look at the memory it’s time to dig a little deeper and find some additional information for that we will fire up Thaiphoon and RTC.

Software & Detailed Information

Right away we see some interesting info, these sticks are brand spanking new with a manufacture date of March this year, the kit is Micron E-Die (which should have been a giveaway from the start being Crucial), and a standard speed of 2666 rather than the usual 2133 which is a refreshing change among a few other less notable pieces of information such as the kit being dual rank which should come as no surprise being a dual channel 32GB kit.

By opening RTC we can see that the XMP profile, as far as XMP profiles go, is extremely well optimised you won’t need to make too many changes here if you are just looking to run a tight ship at the speed the kit is rated for. A word of caution however; this kit is not running drive strengths of 120 ohms, I don’t know why RTC is reporting this, and don’t try running 120 ohms yourself.

For our final look at the modules before testing its time to look at the little known Crucial RGB software simply called “MOD”. Crucial don’t advertise this software on the packaging, nor is it well advertised on their website and is in fact buried pretty deeply so you could be forgiven for never having heard of this software before.

For software that isn’t really advertised at all it is a pretty solid piece of software, you get detailed info about the memory, a full colour wheel with each colour being vibrant when selected, you can change effect speed and brightness or just turn the LEDs off and there is no bleed like some other RGB kits suffer with, Corsair in particular coming to mind. You also have more patterns to choose from that you’ll know what to do with and you can mix and match by addressing each module individually as well as syncing them. I found myself having more fun than anyone should be allowed to have playing around with colours and sequences than I care to admit to with this Crucial kit but all is not perfect where the kit does fall down is that the LEDs are only addressable through the MOD software and compatible software such as Asus Aura and MSI Mystic Light, it’s not programmable. In other words the instant you close the MOD software the LEDs will revert to the default colour strobing or the current sequence will become “stuck” until launching the software again or a system reboot, that’s just not cool Crucial.

Something else Crucial don’t advertise for their “normal” Ballistix line is just like the Ballistix Max the “regular” Ballistix also have an integrated temperature sensor which is a nice little addition. I’d rather if it is a case of cost though they removed the sensor and allowed selected colours and patterns in the MOD software to be directly programmable to the modules rather than just addressable.

To demo just some of what you can do in terms of lighting with these modules I took the below video for you all to take a peek at.

Yes I know, the test system and what it looks like remains shrouded in mystery, and that is the way it will stay.

Test Setup

The test setup should be familiar by now, as I still wait on the 3700X we make do with a 2700X.

CPU: AMD Zen 2700X @ 4.1GHz all core 1.3v
Mainboard: MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon
RAM: 2x16GB Crucial Ballistix RGB 16-18-18-36
GPU: Sapphire Radeon RX580 8GB @ 1425 / 2150 & customised timings
Storage: 250GB Hynix SL301, WD 120GB M.2, Asgard 250GB & 500GB M.2 NVMe
Opticals: 24x Lite-On iHAS324 DVD-RW, 16x HP BH40N Blu-Ray
Sound: Xonar DX 7.1, Realtek ALC1220
PSU: EVGA 1000w Supernova G2
OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 build 1909 and all updates
Case: NZXT Phantom 530


With this review I thought it was time to apply some more logic to the benchmark methodology to keep things more focused and relevant. With lower speed memory kits such as 2133 and 2400MHz costing the same or more as even 3200MHz kits there is really no point in looking at lower speed kits like this, and by extension their performance in times where 3200MHz has become the accepted standard. So to that end tests at these lower speeds have been dropped in favour of a more standardised set of frequencies. As this kit is being tested on an AMD platform the standardised frequencies that will be tested are those that match up for each officially supported maximum memory frequency for each generation of Zen, so 2666 for Zen, 2933 for Zen+, and if the kit is capable of it if it is not rated to do so 3600MHz for Zen2 or whatever the maximum XMP profile is.

With that said and out of the way let us begin.

The story is no different for our first synthetic test as it is for any other memory kit at this frequency on the AMD platform, numbers are a bit on the low side with latency being a bit too far north of the mark still. As far as out of the box performance goes these are some of the best numbers you will see, so props to Crucial for that.

For the next synthetic test we move to the Zen+ realm of maximum officially supported memory frequencies at 2933MHz we see some rather good numbers, latency particularly is substantially improved from the previous test and in the realm of what most people would consider normal for the Zen architecture.

The last synthetic test shows what these modules can do with their maximum 3200MHz XMP profile, these are some extremely good numbers for the frequency and with some very minor tuning you’ll easily be under 70ns latency which is mighty impressive.

Now let’s take a look at some memory sensitive real world results.

For an old title I don’t think anyone can deny that Stalker can still be a fantastic looking game especially with the fantastic HD texture mods that exist for it, the game uses the venerable X-Ray, iteration 1.6 capable of DX11, if you ask any Stalker modder you’ll be told the 4A engine has far too much in common under the hood when compared to X-Ray for it to be mere coincidence, not something I would argue for or against but I do see the similarities. Unlike newer engines X-Ray doesn’t just lean on the GPU for heavy lifting but CPU and memory as well, as such it makes the engine superb for measuring CPU and memory improvements.

Unless otherwise stated all tests were run with maximum settings in DX11 at 1080p.

The first set of results are taken at our baseline 2666MHz, I expected to see some improvement over 16GB memory kits just due to all the extra available resources but this is something else. Looking at the 16GB Patriot Vipers I reviewed minimum frame rates are similar with the exception of the Sunshaft test which clocked a minimum frame rate of just 35FPS, probably due to that latency spoken of earlier at this frequency still causing some bottlenecks in certain situations but the average frame rate absolutely takes off by comparison being 20, 24, 25 and 12FPS better respectively. That is absolutely bonkers and shows that Crucial are not just speaking marketing blabber, it would appear they really have optimized down to the PCB level for the absolute best performance.

The story continues for 2933MHz with the Crucial Ballistix RGB absolutely flying next to the Vipers, whatever that latency bottleneck is also appears to be resolved at this faster speed.

Performance for the Ballistix starts to level off at 3200MHz but is still none the less extremely impressive.


Last but not least we come to overclocking, being Micron E-Die I expect some decent OC headroom, in fact being familiar with E-Die I estimate somewhere in the region of 3466 to 3800 depending on CPU, mainboard, and AGESA is possible without completely awful timings so let’s see how we get on.

After a short lived OC session we arrive at 3333MHz however I do feel this is a board and/or firmware limit we are bumping up against here based on the exhibited behavior when OCing, no amount of vSoC, vDIMM or manipulated timings would allow the system to go above 3333MHz without unusual behavior, in fact on lucky boots when the system would randomly decide it is fine with POSTing at 3466MHz I could enter Windows and have complete stability during tests then at random on a restart or cold boot the system would fall flat on its face and lay there motionless until a CMOS reset. This happened with the infamous ComboPI that is well known for memory issues and cold boot problems which AMD let persist for almost an entire year, as well as with the new (beta) AGESA / ComboPI There was a notable amount of extra stability when pushing for 3466MHz on the latest beta firmware but ultimately the system was still unstable on a restart or during the POST phase. It looks like the test system will likely have a new mainboard in the near future, and it won’t be MSI.

If you happen to have the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon and are looking to upgrade to a dual channel 32GB memory kit I would say flash to firmware 7B78v28 and see how you go, ONLY update to 7B78v2E3 if you experience problems. Skip all the firmwares between these two they are all temperamental in one way or another when it comes to memory.

Unsurprisingly with the OC that could be obtained with complete stability results don’t change much for the Stalker benchmark but we do see a healthy minimum FPS bump in most cases which is always nice.

Lastly we come to Cinebench R15 to see where this Crucial Ballistic kit stacks up when tested against the Patriot Vipers and the G.Skill RipjawsV I also reviewed. As you can see this 32GB kit keeps pace with both of the other kits matching and surpassing them and doing so while operating 133MHz slower, not bad, not bad at all.


That’s it for another peoples review and we get to some closing thoughts. 32GB of system memory is certainly something many would consider a luxury and certainly not an amount that is needed in a typical gaming system, 16GB is still plenty for such needs and you can find some great deals on fast 3600MHz 16GB kits at the moment in the range of about £80-105 and theres still some 16GB Samsung B-Die kits out there for those willing to pay the extra for the absolute best you can get as far as 16GB kits go.

If you are after 32GB though the 32GB dual channel kit of Ballistix RGB isn’t the cheapest 32GB kit you can buy, but it is the cheapest quality 32GB kit you can buy with some good OC headroom (mainboard / firmware issues not withstanding), great out of the box performance and RGB features that make for a nice addition despite them only being addressable and not programmable. If you plan on buying a B550 for a new build or X570 to upgrade from your current board without any, or minimal LEDs the Ballistix RGB will fit the bill if you are looking to add a tasteful splash of illumination and likewise if you are just looking for a quality 32GB memory kit thanks to the ability to outright turn the LEDs off.

Compatibility also isn’t something you need to worry about with Crucial and for many that will be worth paying extra for, if Crucial say the kit is compatible with your system, it is compatible, end of story. The fact Crucial/Micron have managed to largely mitigate the memory related problems AMD themselves introduced with ComboPI AGESAs 1.003, 4, and 5 is testament in and of itself to how well engineered Micron memory is these days for the AM4 platform.

Aside from the Ballistix not having programmable LEDs the kit otherwise ticks all the right boxes and I’m sure there are some people out there that will find the temperature sensor the modules have useful.. although I can’t honestly say I know of anyone that would. Make the LEDs programmable Crucial so people don’t have to keep software running in the background just to have the right colour and sequence on the memory LEDs.
In terms of physical appearance the Ballistix modules are fairly innocuous making the somewhat neutral design fit in fairly well with any build. The only real issue here is by playing it so safe the memory kit foregoes any flair they could have had, emphasizing that hint of a winged design each end of the modules for instance while making the heatspreaders themselves a more streamlined design Crucial could have had something quite unique on their hands that still would have fitted in with almost any build.

Build Quality: 27 / 30
Performance: 27 / 30
Overclocking: 20 / 30
Aesthetics: 6 / 10

Final Score: 80%

Nice review thanks! I picked up a non-RGB set of these in 16GB not long ago, since I already had 16GB of the similar models with previous camo-like heat spreaders (mine all white for both sets).
Good to see they can OC decently, someday I will have time to see what they can do on Intel side
Shame about the LED controls! Hopefully at least, boards that can control them will be able to keep them set to what you want

I have faith in the Ballistix kit, the review board definitely held them back I should have used the X470-F but on a board thats better at overclocking memory the kit will do at minimum 3466MHz and I’d say 3600MHz is also doable with minimal effort. I’ll test how far the memory can go once I have the new board for the test system.

I’ve always liked Ballistix, they always seem to be good overclockers! I can’t wait to have time to play with mine, I haven’t even played with DDR4 much so I’ll have to learn as I go too

System memory hasn’t changed all that much, more options compared to DDR2 but basically all you already know will carry over for DDR4, in fact DDR4 is easier than DDR2/3 for the simple fact alone of being able to see what auto-configured timings are applied now in the firmware it removes a huge chunk of the guesswork.

I’m pretty good at tweaking DDR3, so hopefully not too much changed with DDR4. I have played around in DDR4 some, just no real time to ever tweak things and try to push etc.

Theres not much change at all between DDR3 and DDR4 so you’ll have little to learn on that front :wink:

I’ve read that Crucial will be replacing the ICs on all of these kits with 16Gbit Rev-B; I know the Ballistix RGB 3600C16 2x16GB kit I have does.

That would explain the very low prices I’ve seen at a few places for this kit recently @sabishiihito , I think Crucial still need to work on the Micron ICs though compatibility with Zen CPUs isn’t where it should be still. Much better than it was but it can still be hit and miss, for instance I chose to use this kit for an upcoming MSI X570 Tomahawk review and through no fault of this kit it won’t run at anything above 2666MHz even with the beta 1.53 firmware. Ironically (I’d say amusingly if it wasn’t so sad) the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon I reviewed the kit on did 3333MHz.