Crucial Ballistix Elite 2133MHz 32GB RAM Kit
“Can Higher Speed RAM Improve Your Gaming Experience?”
By Kyle “Rumble” Bousquet
Today I am lucky enough to have a brand new kit of Crucial Ballistix Elite RAM I am testing. If you have read any of my hardware reviews, you’ll know I don’t delve deep into numbers. I won’t tell you how many gigs or flops or megabits I am getting, sending, using… I don’t do that. I give you the practical, “Does this make gaming better?” view or the “Does it look cool?” view. That kind of stuff.
This RAM review is no different. Since I built my current rig for hardware and game testing I have been using either 1600MHz or 1866MHz RAM in it. I didn’t see any discernable difference in my gaming experience, but my motherboard was capable of supporting higher speed RAM. I reached out to Crucial for some RAM to test the theory gaming can get better with higher speed RAM. Crucial was nice enough to send me a kit of Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 (part no. BLE4K8G3D21BCE1) to test and review. The few hard numbers I will get into are as follows;
DR3 PC3-17000 • 11-11-11-27 • Unbuffered • NON-ECC • DDR3-2133 • 1.65V • 1024Meg x 64 (as per the Crucial website).
Form over Function?
So I dutifully removed my Corsair 1866MHz RAM and installed the Crucial Ballistix Elite kit. The first thing I liked was that it was definitely more attractive RAM. The sticks under the heat spreaders were most likely identical to the look of the Corsair RAM, but as heat spreaders go I like the Ballistix Elite ones better. They are taller, and seem to be designed to give better cooling. The Corsair spreaders were barely taller than the RAM. I also preferred the flat black appearance of the Crucial offering to the graphics that Corsair put on their spreaders. So Crucial got high marks for the look and coloring of their RAM, but the one drawback to this form was the fact I had trouble with my NZXT Kraken X61’s cooling tubes hitting the top of the heat spreaders. I was eventually able to reposition the tube’s angle so that it stayed out of the way. It was a minor annoyance but did prevent a perfect score in this area.
Configure and Reconfigure
The RAM was definitely not just plug in and go. I have an ASUS Maximus VII Hero, and when I put my Corsair RAM in the BIOS autodetected the RAM speed easily. One thing you learn very quickly with RAM that runs faster than the low end default is to go set the speed manually. My initial boot of the RAM detected it running at 1600 like my previous RAM. I rebooted and reconfigured the speeds manually, turning on XMP and setting the RAM to 2133. The reconfigured BIOS settings worked and CPU-Z showed me running at 2133MHz. I like that is was only two settings in the main BIOS page to configure, but why don’t we live in an age where RAM and Motherboards can talk to each other and auto configure themselves? Someone should work on that.
I am truly surprised. I had thought that a jump from 1866MHz to 2133MHz would make little difference in my Windows or Gaming experiences. Boy was I wrong. I say that but I know not everyone is going to be impressed by the same things I am. This kind of RAM upgrade can result in very subjective results. For me I shed 8 seconds off my Windows 10 Professional startup time. I was booting in about 15 seconds before the upgrade and after I was down to 7 seconds. The only thing that changed in my system was enabling the XMP profile and changing my RAM speed. Some will say 8 seconds is meaningless, any bootup in under 30 seconds is awesome. I disagree. For me cutting my boot time in half was very noticeable and appreciated.
My second test was playing World of Warcraft. Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered, Rainbow 6 Siege and Battlefield 1. I was sure to play a few minutes of each game before I switched RAM, and depending on the game there were some major improvements. World of Warcraft and Battlefield 1 certainly got the biggest bumps in performance. I improved my FPS in both games by about 5 to 15 FPS alone. The other games only gained between 2 and 8 fps and results with them were far less consistent. World of Warcraft also had some noticeable improvements loading capital cities. For example normally with my SSD and 1866MHz RAM I would teleport to Orgrimmar and the load bar would fill pretty quickly but then there would be a pause on the last 5-10% before the load screen would disappear and I would be in the city. With my new RAM I didn’t get that final pause. The bar filled straight away and I was in the city.
So what did I learn? Well Crucial makes a very attractive top end set of RAM to be sure. Configuring their Ballistix Elite memory product doesn’t take a lot of work but in this day and age the memory and motherboard people should be working together to make it so you don’t have to configure anything. Many games see at least some improvement in either load times or in-game fps.
So is all this worth spending an MSRP of nearly $300? Well that really depends. If you’re like me, a major gaming nerd who loves to squeeze 144fps out of every game (really - go buy a G-Sync monitor capable of 144MHz right now if you don’t have one) then this RAM is just another instance where I would consider it money well spent. If you’re not just a gamer but your job or hobbies involve video editing, sound editing, artwork or a programmer this kind of speed boost in your RAM will have even greater benefits. I still use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere on a regular basis and saw some really great increases in performance when using this new RAM.
If you’re on a budget obviously that kind of money is better spent on SSDs or better Video Cards, or maybe a better CPU. For the high end PC enthusiast, I would highly recommend you invest in fast RAM.
Quality of Construction: 9
Tech and Features: 9
OK I didn’t really ding them for the height of the RAM, but that’s just because it was so easy to get the water cooling out of the way…. I love going faster!