What kind of gamer are you if you’re not always looking to improve your PCs performance? Probably a console gamer, ha.
Having the Best DDR4 Ram in your PC will improve your gaming experience, as well as general day to day performance.
RAM or Memory, handles storing short term information and elements so that they can be accessed quickly. In theory more ram will help your game or program to run quicker and smoother.
Not having enough ram can lead to serious bottle-necks in your PC. Bottlenecks could make the rest of your components under-perform while gaming.
Back in the DDR3 Days, RAM was considered to be pretty expensive.
Thankfully since DDR4 was released, prices have became much more reasonable. 16GB of DDR4 memory will cost you somewhere between $70-$100.
In theory, the more memory you have, the better your PC will run. 32GB of RAM isn’t that expensive, but, you probably wont notice the performance difference.
Buying a 16GB bundle from the list below will provide you with more than enough power for gaming and almost anything else you want to do.
How Much RAM Do You Actually Need For Gaming?
Most of the recent AAA Titles on PC have requirements of at least 8GB of RAM to run them.
I would suggest that 8GB of DDR4 is the absolute least that you will want to have in a gaming build.
That said, even with games that only use 6.5GB of ram, you’ll be very close to maxing out your ram, especially if you take into account background processes.
Typically, the sweet spot is considered to be 16GB.
You’ll find that even the most demanding games with the highest settings will run between 8-12gb of RAM. This will leave you enough room for anything else that’s running whether it’s a twitch stream, spotify or youtube videos on a second screen.
As far as gaming and multi-tasking goes, 16GB is more than enough.
32GB is overkill for most, but, if you’re a creative type and produce gaming videos or livestream while playing, you may want to consider it.
If you are a streamer or youtuber, you may even want to consider a dual PC setup for best performance and quality.
Tips For Buying RAM
When it comes to buying RAM, there’s not that much to think about. That said, here’s a couple of things you should consider when buying or upgrading your memory.
DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM
If you want to know the computing science, you can click here.
However, to sum it up quickly, DDR4 RAM consumes less power and has much better clock speeds than DDR3.
DDR3 RAM uses more power because it auto-refreshes and generally peaks at 2133 MHz. DDR4 on the other hand, doesn’t have a defined maximum clock speed or memory limit.
One thing you need to keep in mind though is your motherboards compatibility.
DDR4 technology began to appear in 2014. While that’s almost 6 years ago, you’d be surprised how many people are still running motherboards that dont support DDR4 memory.
The best way to check RAM compatibility is to research your motherboard.
If you don’t know which motherboard or RAM is inside your PC, you can use a program such as speccy. This software is completely free and will tell you everything you need to know.
Choosing RAM Speed
RAM Speed is measured in megahertz (MHz).
Just like almost everything else with PCs, bigger number = better.
RAM frequency is calculated using “clock cycles”. Every individual read & write sequence is 1 cycle.
The total clock speed is the number of cycles it can perform per second.
Memory with a 3200MHz clock speed will perform 3.2 billion cycles per second.
There are other factors that determine the speed of your RAM, however, the clock speed is by far the easiest to understand.
The truth is, unless you’re looking at the stats, you probably wont be able to tell too much of a difference between 3200 & 3600 MHz of RAM. Your PC will be super fast regardless.
If you want to learn absolutely everything about RAM Speed and compare real life benchmarks, WePC has an amazing article.
Single, Dual or Quad Channel RAM?
It may come as a surprise, but the way you configure your RAM can effect your computers performance A LOT!
You can run RAM in a Single, Dual or Quad channel setup. If you had 16GB of RAM this means you could use either 1x16GB, 2x8GB or 4x4GB. The question is, which is better?
The best way to compare single channel to dual channel is using a funny comparison.
Using a dual channel setup is like eating 2 apples with 2 normal hands, it’s relatively easy.
With a single channel setup, it’s more like trying to eat 2 apples with just one hand but that hand has 10 fingers.
Sure you have the same amount of fingers, but, it’s significantly easier to hold the apples and bite into them with 2 hands.
You can go even further and compare dual channel to quad channel, however, you get the idea.
Here’s a video comparison that shows just how drastic the performance increase actually is between single and dual channel setups.
Sharing the bandwidth across multiple sticks of ram (multiple channels) offers better performance.
That being said, going from a dual channel to quad channel setup isn’t worth it for gaming. PC World done some benchmarks and in many cases, the performance actually got worse.
So if you’re buying DDR4 RAM for Gaming purposes, 2x8GB is best. It will also leave you with room to upgrade in the future.
Can You Mix Ram?
While yes, you can mix ram, it’s probably best that you dont.
In a PC where you want the absolute best performance, why would you even want to consider using different types of RAM?
For different RAM modules to perform well together, they need to use the same voltage, timings and clock speed.
If you have 1x4GB module and 1x8GB module, when you switch on dual channel (aka flex mode), the 8GB module will split into two. As a result you’ll have 2x4GB modules running in dual channel and a 3rd “module” running in single channel mode.
Memory isn’t as expensive as it once was. There’s no reason why you should have a sub-optimal RAM setup, it’s wasting your money and hindering your computer from reaching peak performance.
Best DDR4 Memory
The best RAM for me isn’t always going to be the best RAM for you.
Everybody has different needs, for instance you may need Laptop RAM instead of Desktop RAM.
In this list, there’s something for everyone. I’ve covered all bases, whether you’re looking for a value buy, RGB Kits, Pure Power or Low profile.
Best Value: Corsair Vengeance LPX – 16GB (2x8GB) – 3600MHz
RGB RAM Kit: G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series – 16GB (2x8GB) – DDR4 3200 MHz
Most Powerful: Thermaltake TOUGHRAM RGB – 16GB (2x8GB) – DDR4 4400MHz
Best Laptop RAM: Crucial 16GB Kit – (2x8GB) DDR4 3200 MHz
As long as the RAM is DDR4 and has a clock speed of at least 3200MHz, your PC is going to feel much faster than one with DDR3.
That being said, if you want to adopt new technology or even just want cheaper prices on DDR4 RAM, you may want to wait. DDR5 is due to release in 2020 but it will be very pricey.
Corsair Vengeance LPX – 16GB – 3600MHz
Tested Latency: 18
Most RAM modules these days are big and tacky. RAM is probably the most overdesigned component in a PC.
The Corsair Vengeance Low Profile RAM prioritises both speed and simplicity.
You won’t get any RGB lights or any fancy software, but you will get reasonably priced RAM that is plug and play.
Corsair Vengeance has been a staple in the PC Building community for as long as I can remember. I believe it’s the cheapest 3600MHz RAM on the market.
If your motherboard doesn’t support clock speeds that high, you can also buy 2400, 2666, 3000, or 3200MHz modules. All of these are very similarly priced, but the 3600 offers best price to performance ratio.
Despite its cheap price, there are a couple of downsides.
For some, the design is boring. This may be enough to stop you from buying.
The biggest barrier for me is the fact that you need to do some tinkering to actually achieve 3600MHz speed.
When you put the stick in initially, your PC may under clock them to make them work. To get 3600MHz clock speed, you’ll need to set XMP settings in the bios.
After you’ve done that, it will run at a stable 3600MHz.
G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series – 16GB – DDR4 3200 MHz
Tested Latency: 16
The biggest reason to choose this RAM over any other modules is the RGB lighting.
I’m a fan of RGB lighting, however, I have to say that most RAM modules take it too far. They’re significantly larger than modules without, and most of the time look very tacky.
The TridentZ RGB Modules are by far the best (In my opinion).
They’re not too big and not too small. They stand 4.4cm tall which is only .7cm more than corsairs non-rgb low profile option and will allow you to have a one-of-a-kind build.
With a completely exposed RGB light bar these modules really stand out and allow you to completely change the look of your PC.
Very few will actually be able to tell the difference between RAM modules, so when it comes to choosing RGB modules, it’s all about how it looks.
While The G.Skill Trident Z kit is one of the only RGB kits I’d actually buy there are other options.
HyperX Fury is another clean looking kit, they’re designed to be fairly subtle and shares the same speed as these G.Skill sticks.
However, if you’re looking for something bigger and obnoxious, the Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro modules may be the best option.
The main issue people have with this ram is the setup. If you want to get the best out of this ram, you’ll need to change the bios settings.
Some have also received defective modules. This isn’t very common, and if you buy through official channels such as Amazon, or Newegg, they’ll very quickly fix this for you.
Thermaltake Toughram RGB – 16GB – DDR4 4400 MHz
Tested Latency: 19
Thermaltakes “TOUGHRAM” is among the fastest DDR4 RAM that you can buy.
At 4400MHz with a tested latency of 19, you’ll struggle to find any better. Especially at this price point.
As you’d expect, with increased performance comes increased power draw. This is the most draining RAM on the list, using a maximum of 1.45V when ran at stock settings.
I find the design of these modules to be very controversial.
They’re chunky, sturdy and take up a lot of space. This is because they use a high-performance aluminum heat spreader for optimal heat dissipation.
I personally enjoy how they look. If you have 4 modules or even 8, they can really take over a PC.
To make it even better, you gain access to the TOUGHRAM RGB software which enables real time performance monitoring and lighting customisation.
You’ll also be able to sync the lighting effects between various different pieces of hardware, if you have an Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte or MSI Motherboard.
As well as synchronisation with Razer Chroma Lighting & Amazon Alexa devices.
These modules offer great overclocking performance and stability. It’s optimised for performance using a special 10 layer PCB construction and high quality “gold finger” connections.
It’s also Intel XMP 2.0 Ready, allowing you to overclock with ease and system stability like no other.
The biggest downside is probably the price. Not everyone wants to spend hundreds of bucks on memory.
Secondly, very few will actually be able to maximise the usage on this incredible kit.
Best DDR4 Laptop RAM
When it comes to Laptops, most of them come seriously under-equipped in the RAM department.
Depending on the tasks you’re performing, you probably want more than 4-8GB of RAM, especially in a Gaming Laptop.
The quickest and easiest way to improve the speed of your laptop is by upgrading the RAM.
The main issue that you’ll have when buying laptop ram is whether or not it fits into your Laptop.
Most modules come without any type of covers because there’s no room for them in a ulra-thin laptop.
That being said, most laptops are super easy to upgrade. You’ll be able to improve your computers performance in a matter of minutes.
Crucial Latop RAM – 8GB – 3200 MHz
Tested Latency: 22
Because laptop ram doesn’t have many design features or RGB lighting, there’s only really 2 things to prioritise. RAM Speed & value for money.
The Crucial Laptop RAM is among the cheapest laptop RAM on the market and it claims to increase bandwidth by up to 30% and may reduce power consumption by 40%.
With battery life being so important to most, it may be worth checking your RAM using a software like speccy to see what voltage it’s drawing.
At 1.2v, this is the least power hungry RAM on the list and It may be worth switching to this RAM for the extended battery life alone.
Another thing that’s great about this RAM is that they offer multiple different modules. You can buy sticks of 4, 8, 16 & 32 GB, this means you don’t need to remove, sell or replace your current RAM.
While Micron don’t actually recommend this memory for apple products, there are many reviews that have shown it to be compatible.
It’s super easy to install and is plug & play for most recent laptops that support DDR4 Memory.
DDR4 Quad Channel Kit
If you buy enough modules, you can run any RAM in a quad channel setup.
But as mentioned in the Single, Dual Or Quad channel section, Quad Channel doesn’t necessarily improve gaming performance.
Despite showing similar benchmarks in gaming, quad channel memory will massively improve performance in other areas.
If you’re looking to build a Gaming PC that’s also a work from home powerhouse, running a 32GB+ quad channel kit will be more than enough.
However, if you’re looking to get 32GB of RAM for purely gaming purposes, you should consider using a dual channel setup (2x16GB modules). This way, there’s room for future upgrades.
with that said, here’s the best quad channel DDR4 memory.
Crucial Ballistix – 16GB – DDR4 3600 MHz
Tested Latency: 16
The Crucial Ballistix kit is ideal for gamers and those that want maximum performance from their PC. Coming in at a clock speed of 3600 MHz, this ram offers insane price to performance.
While I’ve recommended it for using in a quad channel setup, you can only buy 2 modules at a time. So you’ll have to buy 2 kits.
Ballistix RAM is engineered for the latest AMD and Intel platforms, meaning you’ll have no issues, whatever chipset you’re using.
It also offers full XMP 2.0 support for automatic overclocking.
While the power draw is among the highest on this list, the modern aluminum heat spreader will dissipate heat and continue to keep your system cool.
For those that want fancy lights and full customisation, unfortunately this is not an RGB kit.
These modules are available in Red, Black in White, so they’ll still be able to fit the colour scheme of most systems.
If you’re looking for an RGB Quad Channel Kit, Corsair Vengeance is the one I’d recommend.
Besides the fact that the ballistix kit looks rather plain. The fact that you can get 32GB of high speed RAM that’s both stable and excellent value for money, makes it completely worthwhile.
If you wanted to sacrifice speed for a little extra savings, you could always choose the 3200 MHz kit and save $30.
DDR4 vs DDR5
Technology is always advancing and so is PC memory.
In 2007 DDR3 RAM was released, in 2014 DDR4 came out, in 2020 DDR5 is due to release.
DDR5 SDRAM is designed to decrease power consumption and double bandwidth. This means they can double the performance of first generation DDR4 RAM while costing you less to run.
Despite the fact that DDR5 was released on July 14th, we don’t actually know much about it yet.
The new generation of technology is always expensive when first released.
Because the DDR generation is tied to your CPU, no current motherboards or processors are compatible with it.
So unless you’re able to spend 1000’s on a new build, DDR4 is the choice for you. Lets be honest, it’s still the industry standard and will be for at least a couple of more years.
If you’re thinking about building a new PC, maybe delay it for a little while and wait for DDR5 to be the new norm.