In a very interesting twist Ballistix has opted for their standard SPORT packaging and shipping container… just with an TUF Alliance sticker in the top corner to mark it as different from the typical SPORT models. Even more interesting is the back of the plastic clamshell container does not contain any information on what makes this particular model different than any of the other SPORT line-up. This is less than optimal as it will cause confusion as if you do not know precisely what the AT denotes you could easily pick the wrong model.
On the plus side the container itself is classic Ballistix so it is easy to see the sticks themselves before buying. Equally important is this protection is more than adequate for shipping. RAM is not fragile stuff and the biggest concern is Electro-Static Discharge frying the RAM (or more precisely the EEPROM with SPD timings… the RAM ICs are made of tougher stuff).
In case you do not know what the ‘AT’ stands for it (most likely) stands for the motherboard series this new line was created for: ASUS TUF motherboards. Personally, we think a clearer moniker would have been TA – for TUF Alliance. What this means is this new sub-series of SPORT modules were designed specifically with ASUS The Ultimate Force models in mind. This is actually not the first example of such narrow focused RAM – as TeamGroup and their VULCAN TUF line already did a similar maneuver. This does however represent a new way of thinking at Ballistix as the AT line can be considered ‘boutique’ RAM in that it is not meant to have broad ‘mainstream’ appeal and rather is intended almost entirely for ASUS TUF owners.
With that said Ballistix is a very conservative manufacture and did not go ‘full TUF’ like TeamGroup did… so while the new Ballistix Sport AT 32GB DDR4-3000 kit is indeed meant to work best with ASUS TUF motherboards its aesthetics are not so over the top as to make them a good match only for TUF motherboards. That may seem like a contradiction in terms when others have been unable to do precisely that, but that is what Ballistix’s design team set out to do. So instead of going…. ‘Full Vulcan TUF’ Ballistic took a more understated approach. One that we think is pretty much perfect in that it works marvelously with TUF Z370 motherboards but also can blend fairly well with other motherboards color patterns.
The first way in which Ballistix did this was to give their new AT line the ‘TUF angular look’ with custom heatsinks with a small digi-pattern camo inserts on the label. Then with these new customs heatsinks Ballistix gave them a dark gray paint job and then stylized ‘go fast’ yellow ‘racing stripes’ on the top and sides. This combination just plain looks good. Almost as if a TUF motherboard has been shrunk down to fit on a RAM stick… but without being so outlandish looking to be only ‘right’ for TUF motherboards.
The only minor ‘downside’ is the AT series is the tallest of the SPORT line-up. Basically, instead of being 34mm(ish) tall they are 40mm(ish) tall. That extra 6mm though is not really worth worrying about. Nearly any where you can use standard Ballistix Sport line you can use the Ballistix Sport AT series without running into major installation issues.
The end result of this new design philosophy is this:
As you can see it blends perfectly with an ASUS TUF Z370 motherboard. Mix in a Seasonic Focus+ Gold PSU (as we have) and you have one pretty build. In fact, the RAM blends perfectly with the overall aesthetics of this motherboard… and you have to look closely to actually see the RAM sticks. This is how you enhance the looks of a motherboard. Yes we have not finished this build and not done a final cable cleaning but even in a final ‘clean’ look the RAM is a perfect match. This really is a system builder’s dream kit of RAM when using a ASUS TUF Z370-Gaming motherboard in a custom build!
On non-Z370 ASUS TUF motherboards it also works pretty darn good. The above is an ASUS TUF X299 Mark 1 with it installed and yes, it is an excellent building block upon which to build a mighty custom build. However, as the overall color pallet is gray and yellow this new series will indeed work with a bunch of other motherboards and builds.
For example, here is an ASUS Republic of Gamers STRIX x370-F… which is a red and black clad motherboard. The trick to pulling this combination off is using Noctua fans on the heatsink. The yellowish brown of classic Noctua fans highlights and compliments the yellow pin stripping of the Ballistix Sport AT series heatsinks and allows them to blend a lot better than we thought they would.
This trick will also be necessary if you use silver and black clad motherboards (like the ASUS MAXIMUX IX APEX in the above photo) as the yellow will stick out if you do not actively work it into your final builds colors. This lack of adaptability is the downside to the AT’s color scheme being so narrowly focused. It still is a heck of a lot easier to do than with VULCAN TUF ram… but not nearly as easy with RGB LED equipped DDR4 sticks like the Ballistix Tactical Tracer series (which pretty much can work with any color scheme thanks to its customizable light output).
Housed underneath this new and fancy heatsink is Micron MT40A1G8WE-083E RAM ICs. These are very, very good ICs that have been used in many other models and is on many motherboard’s QVL sheets. Better still, as Ballistix is under the Micron umbrella (they are the consumer RAM arm of Micron) these ICs are the cream of the crop of any given batch. As we will show you later in the review they may be part of the ‘Sport’ (aka value oriented) series but they actually do have a nice bit of overclocking headroom. Mix in more robust heatsinks and this is not your typical Ballistix Sport series.
Overall the Ballistix Sport AT may not be an optimal match for every single build but they are surprisingly versatile given the fact that most TUF Alliance models are meant solely for TUF Alliance components. Ballistix really did blend the distilled essence of The Ultimate Force into this new series but did so in way that does not make them a one trick pony. Brilliant stuff indeed.