Introducing each of our recent reviews of memory modules for enthusiasts we have invariably stressed the fact that DDRS SDRAM makers are having a really bad time. Prices on their produce have stabilized at an indecently low level (although there’s an upward trend in January it cannot really change the situation at large). Moreover, the whole PC industry is currently going through a crisis due to decreasing sales volumes. On the other hand, end-users should be glad about that since the developers have to come up with original and customer-oriented products to survive on the highly competitive market. That’s why we can see a variety of memory modules that differ much more than just in the color of their heatsinks.
There are two traditional ways to enhance memory modules and make them more attractive products. The first way is to improve their specifications such as clock rate and timings. And the second is to improve the exterior design by equipping memory modules with originally shaped heatsinks, highlighting or some kind of indicators. It’s impossible to move on in these directions infinitely, though. For example, memory modules have already reached the limit of their speed. Clock rates above DDR3-2400 and DDR3-2666 have no practical worth since they are not supported by memory controllers of today’s CPUs. Lowering memory timings doesn’t affect real-life performance much, either. As for exterior design, it is not so easy to sell beautiful memory modules in large quantities. There are not so many users ready to pay extra for the looks of their computer components. And it’s also hard to make users switch over from brands they have been loyal to.
Memory makers have found a third way to progress, though. It has been shown by Crucial, a daughter firm of Micron Technology, the well-known manufacturer of memory chips. Crucial puts an emphasis on convenience and low power consumption instead of high clock rates and exterior design. The outcome of this approach can be seen in the low-profile modules of the Ballistix Tactical and Ballistix Sport series. They are not exceptional in terms of speed but are guaranteed to fit into any computer configuration irrespective of what CPU cooler you use. Besides, such memory complies with the DDR3L standard, which means reduced voltage.
Both properties can appeal to enthusiasts. The reduced default voltage suggests high overclocking potential whereas the compact form-factor is a huge advantage for people who have to deal with bulky CPU coolers whose heat pipes tend to block the mainboard’s DIMM slots. That’s theory, but what about practice? We can check it out as Crucial have been kind to offer us two dual-channel 16GB memory kits of their new low-profile modules.