box1 - Crucial DDR4-4800 CL40 Review

As you can see our kit of Crucial DDR5-4800 CL40 comes clad in typical Crucial clamshell packaging. That is to say, you can easily see the DIMMS even before you purchase it. Mix in a decent assortment of info-dump type data and most people will ‘get’ what this kit is, and what it has to offer. With that said there are downsides.

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To be precise there are three downsides. The first is obvious. This kit of RAM does not come clad in aluminum heat spreaders. Thus, there are no thermal pads or armor cladding to take any bumps and bruises that can occur during transit. Bumps and bruises thin plastic will do little to mitigate. Of course, RAM by its very nature is fairly robust so that is not exactly a deal-breaker issue. Still a wee bit disappointing to see Crucial not go that extra mile, but understandable given this is part of their ‘Value’ line. The same is true of the lack of ESD protection. Plastic is by its very nature is prone to static build up. When you combine a static shock with nekkid RAM sticks… well… that is a recipe for Mister Murphy to rain all over you parade. Crucial really should use a 5 cent anti-static bag – or better still redesign this packaging to account for the more premium nature of its contents.

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This neatly segues into the last and most annoying issue. The clamshell design itself. If you look closely you can see that before first opening there are two plastic button/snaps at the top. In theory this means that you can easily reuse this clamshell packaging (say if you have to RMA it at some point). In reality… the moment you open this box those two snaps tear away as Crucial has purposely perforated the plastic around them.

This is an ongoing gripe we have with Crucial’s value line packaging and seemingly every generation we ask ourselves “Why bother including snaps if they are a ‘one and done’ deal?”. Followed quickly by “who authorized the additional time, effort and money to modify it so as to ensure that everyone who uses it will curse when they try and open the clamshell up for the first time?!” Honestly, the only answer we have ever come up with that makes sense is… sadists. There are numerous better ways of including anti-tamper features without frustrating buyers. Crucial really needs to up their game here or at the very least stop annoying their customers.

Thankfully the friction nature of this clamshell design will make it reusable…ish. We just recommend a lot of packing tape if you do need to reuse it for RMA purposes. All because Crucial first included a nice feature, then made it into a frustration generator. A non-random frustration generator. Ugh.
Moving on.

top - Crucial DDR4-4800 CL40 Review

For as long as DDR has existed there has been two vying philosophies for buyer’s hard-earned money. The first camp, let’s call them the ‘value’ camp, believe that RAM does not need to be fancy looking. That heat spreaders are a waste of money. That minor variances in CL timings are not worth the added expense over ‘standard’ speeds. The other camp, let’s call them ‘enthusiasts’, believe that their RAM should look as good as it performs… and are willing to pay a premium to get premium grade features. We personally float between the two camps depending on a given builds needs.

In the past, you could easily tell which camp a given set of RAM resided… as the ‘value’ camp came in ‘original green’. Why green you may ask? Because that was (and still is) the solder mask (aka the ‘plastic paint that protects the circuits’) color of choice back when actual humans were soldering the parts on to PCBs (and then inspecting them… with their eyes… like bronze age (information) warriors). Basically… tradition from the days of yore demand they stay green. Seriously, there is no reason solder masks still have to be green. You can order them in many, many colors… but part of IT’s Mos Maiorum keeps them green so as to help distinguish them from the limelight seeking performance camp options.

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That all changes with the Crucial’s latest foray into DDR5… as they may not come clad in a heat spreader. They may come with anything more than pedestrian timings of 40-39-39 timings. They may not even be all that fast by DDR5 standards (as DDR5-4800 has become the de-facto entry level speed of choice)… but this is not your typical ‘value’ line of RAM. Gone is the stock green PCB and its stead is a jet-black solder mask. This one tiny change results in a massive change in the overall aesthetics. So much so that these sticks are perfectly suited for a wide variety of builds. Even builds with windows and, gasp, RGB lighting.

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This goes double if you pair them with either a ‘black’ motherboard or a white motherboard… and if your motherboard has “memory armor” or similar ‘steel’ coverings over the DIMM slots it looks even better. Yes, no one will notice that the lack of heatsinks. As few will look close enough to see the nekkid RAM ICs on the inner facing side of the DIMMS. Color us impressed.