Experiences/Opinions regarding Crucial Ballistix ram?

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by Doc, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Have a Core2 Duo machine I got off Ebay a while back, ran fine at
    first, over time it started developing glitchiness which I traced back
    to bad RAM - it came with two 1-gig sticks of Crucial Ballistix DDR2,
    with heatsinks. Memtest showed a wall of red. Never had RAM with a
    heatsink before.

    Anyone have any experience with this kind of memory? Is this common?
    As far as I know this is the first time I've had a RAM failure after
    owning a number of computers going back to an Acer 286.

    Doc, Mar 21, 2011
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  2. Doc

    John Doe Guest

    There are no answers to that. No one here can tell you what the
    cause for failure might be. It might be the RAM, it might be
    mishandling of the RAM, or maybe some other cause. The only
    exception might be if you stick the part number into a search
    engine and come up with red flags.
    John Doe, Mar 21, 2011
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  3. Doc

    Paul Guest

    Test one stick of RAM at a time. If one stick is defective, contact
    Crucial concerning the terms of the warranty.

    Hmmm. Since you bought the machine used, the warranty is void on your RAM.


    "Terms of Limited Lifetime Warranty

    ...Any claim made alleging that any product fails to conform to
    the foregoing warranty may be made only by the end customer who
    purchased such product and only while such customer owns such product."

    Which would suggest the warranty does not transfer to the new owner.


    To vet memory (pick a winner), use the reviews on Newegg to spot trends.
    If any company is having problems making quality RAM, or the RAM seems
    to die after a relatively short period of time, it will show up there.

    Use the Newegg "sort by rating" function, which will list the good
    candidates first in your search.

    Winning RAM has:

    1) No reports of failures in the Newegg reviews.
    2) A low operating voltage to meet specified timing. Obviously,
    if you're searching for top speed RAM (you're an enthusiast
    looking to beat the highest RAM speed reported), then a high operating
    voltage spec by the manufacturer is unavoidable. But if you're
    a customer who "just wants their computer to work", no screwing
    around, then I might make a slight preference in purchase, for
    a RAM that meets timing at JEDEC standard voltage. The last
    Kingston DDR2 non-enthusiast RAM I bought, was rated to meet
    timing at 1.8V. This isn't a strong preference, it isn't the
    end of the world if you buy 2.1V RAM, but if I'm offered two
    equally good products, I might use (2) as a tie breaker.

    Obviously, low CAS, high clock speed, yadda yadda is all good stuff,
    but that isn't going to help you much, if the computer is getting
    errors. So finding good, error free RAM, is your first priority.
    For example, I have some CAS4 and some CAS5 RAM, and I know the
    CAS4 will be 1% faster, but that won't show up unless I'm rendering
    something for hours on end.

    I've had quite a few failures here. Two lots of generic (unbranded)
    RAM bought from local computer stores failed. One computer store was
    bankrupt, at the point I would have needed to contact them. I stopped
    buying generic after that. I've had one stick of Crucial Ballistic fail.
    All my Kingston, still works.

    Paul, Mar 21, 2011
  4. I've encountered multiple machines that failed Memtest after working
    for an extended period.

    As for the heat sinks--could someone have been overclocking?
    Loren Pechtel, Mar 21, 2011
  5. Doc

    Paul Guest

    Manufacturers use heat spreaders on DDR2 and DDR3, even when they
    aren't needed.

    The last Ballistix I bought, had heat spreaders. If you were to
    remove the heat spreader, instead of seeing a Micron branded chip,
    you'll see a custom logo there instead, so you don't really know who
    made the chips on it. You'd assume they were Micron, but Crucial in
    recent years, has been known to use a variety of parts as circumstances

    Non-enthusiast RAM, tends to come without heat spreaders.

    Whether a heat spreader is an advantage, depends on the overall
    dimensions of the module that result. In some cases, a large heat
    spreader, blocks the air channels between DIMMs, so the DIMMs in
    the center of the DIMM "sandwich" can run hotter than they should.
    In fact, if you use four modules, they may run cooler if they come
    without heat spreaders in place. It leaves a little room for
    air channels.

    Some goofy module designs, even include "fingers" that stick up
    above the module. That is intended to compensate for the poor
    air channel performance. And then the fingers can bump into other
    objects which are just above the DIMM socket area.

    The only technology, where spreaders were essential, was RDRAM/RAMBUS.
    That's because, continued access of a single memory location
    (or localized access) would cause just one chip on the module
    to heat up. An article I read, claimed before RDRAM came out, that
    the chip could have up to a 4W power dissipation. By comparison,
    a modern DIMM, with shrunk geometry chips on it, now runs 2W for
    the entire module. So RDRAM had heat spreaders riveted to the module,
    to ensure the "hot spot" problem was solved. DDR/DDR2/DDR3 modules
    don't have the same hot spot issue, because they're a parallel
    technology. The entire bank heats up together, and with less heat
    from each chip.

    DDR/DDR2/DDR3 modules can heat up, if you do enough of the right kind
    of cycles on them, and some Northbridges actually had provision for a
    feature to detect excessive, power hungry type cycles, and reduce
    the access rate. It was considered better to do it that way, than to
    glue a thermistor to the module and check for abnormal temperature that
    way (to implement throttle on overheat).

    DDR module power ratings, are based on an "industry standard cycle mix",
    which assumes a less than punishing access pattern. If a person was
    crafty, say a hardware designer doing a custom design with RAM for
    storage, they could arrange to do long bursts of reads or writes
    (i.e. 256 locations in a row), and the power dissipation that results,
    would end up being higher than the spec sheet value (because the spec
    sheet assumes a more relaxed pattern). For comparison, processor
    accesses are done in terms of cache line fill/evict (burst of 4 or 8 perhaps),
    which doesn't take the form of a burst of that length. The bursts are
    shorter, with some "dead cycles" in between.

    Paul, Mar 21, 2011
  6. Heatsinks on RAM are usually an indication of low quality, not high
    quality, because it's cheaper to use junk chips (search for "UTT"
    memory) and cover than with decorative pieces of metal than to use
    prime quality chips marked with the actual chip maker's logo or part
    number. I've had only one bad module made with prime chips, and it
    was bad because of bad soldering (solder on the gold contacts). OTOH
    maybe 20% of the modules I've bought that had no-name chips or
    heatsinks on them failed MemTest86 (MemTest is a different diagnostic,
    one that runs under Windows and isn't as good) or Gold Memory, most
    recently a Corsair 1GB DDR module (out of 3 pairs). BTW, Gold Memory
    often finds defects missed by MemTest86/MemTest86+, so it's a good
    idea to run both diagnostics.

    Ballistix DDR2 has a recommended operating voltage of 2.2V (original
    version) or 2.0V (current version). Crucial admitted that their 2.2V
    Ballistix was defective (not just has bad bits but burns out) but said
    the 2.0V version was OK and, when not overclocked, 100% reliable even
    at the standard 1.8V for DDR2. But I've heard many people complain
    even about the 2.0V version. Crucial RAM is warranted for life, so
    you may want to get Crucial to replace any bad Ballistix with some of
    their regular RAM that has no heatsinks but does have brand marks on
    each chip.
    larry moe 'n curly, Mar 22, 2011
  7. Crucial said their first generation Ballistix DDR2 modules, with a
    recommended voltage of 2.2V, failed, that is, burned out, as opposed
    to merely show errors, because they were operated at lower voltages.
    How can chips fail from that, especially when they were manufactured
    to run normally at 1.8V?
    larry moe 'n curly, Mar 22, 2011
  8. Doc

    Paul Guest

    I haven't a clue. I'm more used to stuff burning out on high voltage,
    or stuff burning out on excessive differential (on multi-rail chips).

    If the voltage is high enough for the chip to work, you'd think they
    wouldn't do the chip design in such a way that long term reliability
    was affected (like totem-pole currents somewhere).

    Paul, Mar 22, 2011
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