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Closer Look at Crucial BL2KIT25664ST1608OB (Ballistix Smart Tracer)

We are very well familiar with Crucial Ballistix Tracer memory module series. Their distinguishing feature is a row of LEDs along the top edge of the heat-spreader, which blinking visualizes the work with the memory sub-system. In early 2011 LexarMedia Company decided to extend the functionality of these LED indicators and came up with the new Ballistix Smart Tracer series. The addition of the word “Smart” indicated three innovations. Firstly, the glow from the modules LEDs goes not only towards the top but also to the bottom of the modules casting additional light on the DIMM slots as well as the mainboard PCB around the. Secondly, the users now can change the LED indication algorithms by adjusting LED color and brightness. And thirdly, the modules acquired a thermal diode.

The manufacturer sent us a 4 GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer kit with BL2KIT25664ST1608OB part number that consists of two BL25664ST1608OB modules. It is important to point out that while the product variety within Ballistix Tracer series is extremely broad, the newest Ballistix Smart Tracer series cannot boast to be so numerous yet. In fact, Lexar offers stand-alone typical DDR3-1600 modules with 2 GB capacity and kits made of two or three DIMMs like that. Moreover, the basic modules are only available in two modifications: with blue and orange or red and green LEDs.

The frequencies and timings of all products in the Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer series are exactly the same. These modules are designed to work at 1600 MHz frequency with 8-8-8-24 timings and 1.65 V voltage. In other words, Ballistix Smart Tracer modules do not differ in frequency, timings and capacity, no matte within what kit and with what LED colors they are sold.

Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer kit we got for review this time arrived in a traditional plastic blister package with paper inserts that bear a lot of marketing info.

It is interesting that the manufacturer didn’t print specific inserts for their new Smart series: the packaging tells us about the previous simpler product series called Crucial Ballistix Tracer. Could it be that Lexar marketing people do not expect the new product refresh to sell too well? In my opinion, it would be very strange on their part: 4 GB Ballistix Smart Tracer kit is only price higher than its analogue from the Ballistix Tracer series in the official MSRP sheet. If we compare the prices in actual stores, we will see that both kits are priced identically.

The modules exterior also doesn’t blow your socks off. In fact, Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer modules look exactly the same as the regular Ballistix Tracer, but with black heat-spreaders. Besides, there is a graphical Ballistix Tracer logo on the modules, which indicates clearly that it is a new advanced series and not the previous one.

I have to point out that continuous use of the same heat-spreaders for Crucial memory products has its definite advantages as well as drawbacks. One indisputable advantage is the fact that they are of standard height, which makes them compatible with any system with a large CPU cooler inside. As for the drawbacks, the major one is the heat-spreader configuration, or I should probably say the absence of one. The thing is that Crucial continues using a completely flat aluminum plate to dissipate heat from the chips, which is considerably less efficient than heat-spreaders with slight ribbing on them. However, DDR3-1600 memory is not one of those super-hot components, so it will most likely be able to work perfectly fine even without any additional heat dissipation at all.

The heat-spreader plates are attached to the chips in an old-fashioned way – by using sticky thermal tape. However, they are held extremely firmly in place: we couldn’t take the heat-spreader plates off the chips.

If you look at the modules from the top, you will notice ten two-color LEDs (which can glow in two different colors). They are the ones responsible for the lighting, which makes Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer popular among modding fans. There are eight additional LEDs at the bottom of the modules right beneath the heat-spreaders. These LEDs illuminate the mainboard PCB.

The LEDs on our memory kit with BL25664ST1608OB part number can light up in blue or orange color, but the manufacturer also offers similar modules with red and green LED combo. So, the users can choose the color combination that suits their aesthetic preferences best of all.

When the system is on, the LEDs may light in one or another color, according to the user’s preferences. The bottom LEDs are constantly on illuminating the DIMM slots, while the top row of LEDs glows and blinks reflecting the memory sub-system utilization.

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