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Hands-on review: Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4-3000 RAM

18 Sep 18

Micron’s Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4-3000 is designed to offer top quality memory for gaming at a reasonable cost. FutureFive’s Darren Price puts it through its paces. 

I’ll be honest with you, I can’t help but mess about with PC settings. Most of what I know about PCs is down to be pushing PCs until they stop working. Also, I’ve only ever purchased one PC, and that was a latptop. Since 1998 I’ve built my own PCs from whatever I could get for a reasonable price. But, if there’s one stumbling block in a PC build that you’ve got to be careful about, it’s the RAM.

Back in the day, shovelling whatever DIMMs where available would do the job. With DDR3 things changed. Advertised speeds would rely on overclocking the memory which may work, but also may introduce system instability. In order to get many memory modules to run 100% stable I actually need to underclock them. And nobody wants to do that. 

In the past, I’ve found Micron’s Crucial Ballistix DDR4 modules to be absolutely bomb-proof when tinkering with the arcane art of CPU overclocking, so I was really pleased to check out their Ballistix Sport DDR-3000 RAM.

Ballistix Sport sits at the lower price point of Crucial’s range of Ballistix gaming RAM. Whilst not quite up to the timings of the Elite or Tactical modules, the Sport’s 17-19-19-38 timings are still pretty reasonable. These timings with the 1500 MHz speed (the DDR stands for double data rate, so 2x 1500 MHz gets you the 3000 MHz) are achieved via Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile - XMP 2.0. Always make sure that you’ve got your memory, if compatible, is running with XMP in your motherboard settings. If you don’t it’ll likely be clocked to 2133 MHz, and you are not getting what you’ve paid for.

The 32GB Ballistix Sport DDR4-3000 is a four-module pack. Another tip when buying memory is to buy the amount that you think that you’ll need for the foreseeable future, as even if you slot more modules of the same type alongside your existing memory, chances are you’ll have compatibility problems. If you’ve got four DDR4 slots in your motherboard, it is best to fill them all if you can.

Installing the Ballistix Sport modules was painless, the sticks all clip into place easily with a satisfying click. You really want to hear that click to know that the memory is properly seated into your motherboard.

Each module has a pre-fitted, stylish metal heatsink that not only looks good, but also serves to keep the memory cool when it’s hard at work. The tops of the heatsinks have an orange strip that make them look really good in your case. The Ballistix Sport logo is embossed onto the side of each module.

Firing up the PC, I went straight into the ASUS BIOS setup screen. I really can’t recommend the ASUS Republic of Gamers STRIX motherboards enough. Not only is the BIOS user interface easy to navigate, the boards do a great job of detecting your components for a trouble-free installation. The STRIX Z370F motherboard not only correctly detected the Sport modules, it also switched on the XMP 2.0 timings.

On saving the new settings, the PC booted into Windows 10. And this is what you want. No nonsense, no beeps, and certainly no “Blue Screen of Death”. Micron have been manufacturing memory for years. They tend to know what they are doing. When I’m putting a new PC though it’s paces, if I get Windows 10 running I’m 90% there.

Checking the memory speed/timings with CPU-Z within the OS and I was getting the 1500 MHz with the 17-19-19-28 as advertised. But where does that sit you, as a gamer? Using Passmark.com’s Performance Test the cached read speed was 30711 MB/s, the uncached read speed was 18811 MB/s and the write speed 14866 MS/s. The memory over scored in the 99%-tile, which would make in fast enough for today’s games and those coming out over the next few years. 

I ran the Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4-3000 RAM in the Techday PC test rig for a straight week with no problems at all. I’m writing this review as the memory does its work. I’ve done a fair bit of gaming, reviewing the new Shadow of the Tomb Raider and getting those last collectables in Assassin’s Creed Origins before the new Assassin’s game comes out next month. I’ve also put the memory to the test editing multiple 4K images in PhotoShop with no issues.

Whilst there is faster memory out there, Micron’s Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4-3000 gaming memory delivers awesome performance at a reasonable price. It’s easy to install and should work without issue. PC owners that like to show off their components will find the memory’s stylish look a credit to their system.