Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB PC2-8500

Aron Schatz
May 20, 2007
Crucial steps up to provide a low cost but high performing kit. The Tracer series is their high-end RAM and this particular kit performs excellently.

Page 1: Intro, Parts



When you think of memory, Crucial is a brand that is recognized as stable and trustworthy. It was some time ago that Crucial (and Micron) never provided overclocking RAM and never warranted pushing their modules passed their recommended values. Even back then, people used Crucial modules to push their systems to the limits. Today, Crucial is one of the many memory makers that back overclocking memory as a standard. RAM has come a long way since those early years. Now there are lights and heat spreaders on most memory. The real meat is the speed and timings and that is what we are looking at for the Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB PC2-8500 Kit.


How about a quick refresher for DDR for the younger generation...

There was not always a memory type known as DDR2 or even DDR. Before DDR, SDR (that is Single Data Rate, not Synchronous Dynamic RAM) ruled the roost. As CPUs became faster and faster, memory did not scale as effectively. Even today, memory is a horrible bottleneck in modern computers. The technical people at the time recognized this and DDR was born by transferring information on the rising and falling edge of the clock cycle. This minor (but technically not that easy) changed enabled memory to double its speed overnight. SDR memory running at 100MHz has a transfer rate of 800MBps and DDR running at 100MHz has a rate of 1.6GBps.

DDR2 also does something similar, the memory is still running at the same speed, the I/O clock is doubled to twice the speed. The bandwidth will increase to 3.2GBps. These modifications allow our current computer systems to run as fast as they do. The next generation memory is really right around the corner, but DDR2 is very mature. Remember that these numbers are all theoretical and real world values lag behind the theoretical.



Crucial has always packaged their RAM in simple boxes that protect the modules from touching each other during shipping. I have received dozens of modules from Crucial and none of them arrived damaged.


The modules themselves are individual wrapped for protection against static electricity.


Mem 1

Unlike the regular Ballistix line, the Tracer series is black and a bit bulkier due to the extra LEDs that are added. The LEDs are actually useful and display that the RAM is working. Most other indicators are useless to me. The PCB is the signature black and there are even LEDs that light the socket up.

Mem 2

The RAM actually looks great compared to the overly flashes RAM I have seen in the past. Since the lights on the top actually perform a function, I will say that it is a good feature to have when diagnosing problems with a computer.

No light

As shown, the LEDs are on the top of each module. There are two banks of eight LEDs. Each LED will display either red or green and will show RAM activity as well.

The modules are rated for DDR2-1066 which is PC2-8500. Remember that standards really only go as high as DDR2-533. This RAM is double of that speed. Needless to say that a standard can include de facto standards and that is what we are looking at now. The modules require 2.2V to operate at DDR2-1066 operation, but they did boot fine at DDR2-800 at the standard 1.8V. This is good because it allows you to go in and change the voltage to the higher rating. The standard DDR2 voltage is 1.8V after all.

Lead Free

The modules contain EPP which is a new version of the SPD. There is nothing to get excited about because most EPP motherboards are Nvidia and it is not something that most people that will be buying this type of RAM will be concerned about. They will be setting their own settings anyway. The other nice thing about this RAM is that it is lead free which is always a good thing. Most computer part manufactures are producing lead free components now.


The modules contain SPD values for two speeds. The DDR2-800 SPD values are for new installs and will allow the modules to run at a lower voltage. The modules are rated to run at the second SPD value of DDR2-1066. The timings are 5-5-5-15.


Here is the RAM running at the rated spec. Pretty fast already...


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