How far will DDR4 go before handing off the baton to DDR5? At least a little bit further, apparently—Crucial just earned itself some bragging rights by launching the Ballistix Max 5100, the fastest available RAM on the market.
It is only offered as a 16GB kit (2x8GB), and in limited edition quantities to boot. Crucial did not say exactly how many kits it is producing, only that it is a limited run and up for grabs while supplies last.
As the model name suggests, this is a DDR4-5100 memory kit, meaning it is rated to hit 5,100 megatransfers per second (MT/s). This metric is often used interchangeably with frequency speeds (MHz and GHz), even though technically they are not the same thing.
That said, this is the same kit that was used to set a memory frequency record last month, at 6,666.6MHz. Overclocker "Bianbo" achieved the feat in an AMD Ryzen PC, using an Asus ROG Strix B550-I Gaming motherboard, and the record still stands at HWBot.
Crucial's memory kit leverages custom tuned Micron memory die sets. According to Crucial, it is the only memory maker to perform custom tuning at the die level. Crucial is Micron's consumer brand, and this sort of thing is one of the advantages of sourcing its own memory chips.
Rated specs on this kit call for 19-26-26-48 latency settings at 5,100MT/s. Those are a bit loose, as tends to happen at higher speeds. For comparison, a DDR4-4000 kit of Ballistix Max runs at 18-19-19-39. Not that it really matters much, outside of synthetic benchmarking—RAM speed and capacity matter most for gaming, for the most part.
This kit is available now, and it costs a pretty penny—Crucial has it listed for $900 on its web store (opens in new tab). That's at least cheaper than Corsair's Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-5000 kit, which lists for $945 on Newegg (opens in new tab), though it comes with a fan attachment.