The latest and greatest hardware components have been coveted by PC aficionados for many years now. However, this may not be the ideal strategy when it comes to RAM.
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You’ll see a huge number followed by MHz when you buy RAM (Megahertz). This represents the memory’s speed, as you’ve probably already guessed. Your computer’s performance will be impacted by the speed of your RAM, but how?
Is it better to have a faster RAM for gaming? Is it beneficial to have a greater RAM frequency (MHz)? In terms of overall speed, which RAM is the best?
In order to answer them, we’re here to clarify what RAM speed does and whether the extra money is worth it for avid gamers and PC builders alike.
CPU and RAM Speed
There are precise specifications for all of Intel and AMD’s desktop CPUs, including RAM specifications. Intel’s i9-7900x processor, for example, can use DDR4 RAM at speeds of up to 2666MHz. If you want your CPU to run at its best, you need to meet this minimum speed, although it isn’t its highest capability.
Overclocking both the CPU and the RAM will result in a substantial increase in overall performance. DDR4 RAM can run at speeds of up to 4800 MHz, as we’ve already established, but this isn’t something that everyone will want or need.
Of course, the CPU and motherboard are still responsible for limiting RAM performance, and exceeding the clock speed at which a RAM module was intended to operate (or the rates that the CPU and motherboard can handle) may result in unstable system performance or boot issues for the system.
Ignoring the nitty-gritty, do faster RAM clock speeds lead to better performance? The answer is “maybe,” which is a little disheartening.
When it comes to gaming, the amount of RAM the game needs is the most important factor. Most of the time, capacity is more significant than speed when it comes to gaming, and the performance boost that comes from a higher RAM clock speed is limited to a few frames. In order to get the most out of your gaming rig, it’s important to pay attention to the graphics processing unit (GPU).
As you may have guessed, a faster clock speed comes with a larger price.
For gaming, RAM capacity is more significant than RAM speed, therefore spending more money on quicker RAM is usually not the greatest option because that money might instead be spent on something more vital like the GPU, the CPU, or an SSD. Even if you could get away with a 4266 MHz RAM kit, you’d be missing out on the benefits of an upgraded GPU, a more powerful CPU, or an even larger SSD.
If you’re planning on building a gaming PC in 2020, we recommend using 16 GB of RAM, along with the recommended CPU and motherboard speeds. You won’t overspend on RAM this way, and you’ll either have some extra money in your wallet or you’ll be able to buy another component with that money.
RAM Speed Breakdown
- In all of our tests, we discovered that the clear pattern was observed within the tighter times. To get a better frame rate in most games, all you have to do is to shorten the timer. In the end, I believe you’d be better off spending the extra money on a more powerful graphics card. When it comes to getting the most out of your current system, you can’t go wrong with this method for those who currently have the best graphics card.
- According to our findings, purchasing a 3200MHz kit and fine-tuning the timings is the best method to maximize performance in-game (from RAM). You’ll save a lot of money by going with 3200MHz instead of 3600MHz, and the difference in timings isn’t that great either.
- Don’t want to bother with timings? Get the cheapest 3000MHz+ kit you can find if you plan on using RAM right out of the box. Out-of-the-box speeds had a very small impact on game performance (less than 1% in most situations), according to all of the research.
RAM Frequency (MHz)
It’s common for people to refer to RAM speed as clock cycles, even though this is just one component of RAM speed. A cycle of reading and writing is followed. The speed of random-access memory (RAM) is determined by how many cycles it can accomplish in a second. 3.2 billion cycles per second are the speed of 3200 MHz RAM, for example.
More cycles per second means that more data can be stored and accessed, resulting in a more enjoyable user experience. The higher the DDR (Double Data Rate) RAM, the more clock cycles can be accommodated by the modules. When comparing DDR3, DDR4, and now DDR5, this may be clearly noticed (Due to release in 2021).
Latency, or CL, is the amount of time it takes for your RAM to receive a command before it can issue it. 15-17-17-35 will be the timings. When the command is issued, the RAM responds in the number of clock cycles indicated by those numbers. Higher MHz RAM with slower CAS timings could be slower than lower MHz RAM with faster CAS timings.
This is where things can become a little muddled, so let’s attempt to make things a little clearer.
Finding Your Real RAM Speed
The formula for determining the true speed of your RAM is based on a few criteria, and it’s easy to remember. Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to figure out your RAM’s speed before we get to the formula:
The RAM clock speed is the first consideration; let’s use 3200Mhz as an example.
RAM is the next factor to consider. When using DDR (Double Data Rate), data is sent twice as fast because it is done on either side of the actual clock cycle. To put it another way, data is transferred two times per cycle.
DDR4 RAM’s maximum stock clock speed is 2400 MHz by default. The module has been overclocked by the manufacturer when you see RAM rated at speeds higher than this.
Your RAM’s XMP/DOCP profile needs to be enabled before you can use its increased clock speed.
To get the RAM to run at its advertised speed, you’ll need to enable the XMP, or extreme memory profile, in the BIOS of your motherboard. Unless you set the RAM’s XMP/DOCP in the BIOS, your RAM will run at 2400MHz.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to double-check that all of your gear is backwards compatible.
Bandwidth & Capacity
When shopping for RAM, don’t just look at raw speed; think about bandwidth and capacity as well. There are a lot of variables that go into RAM bandwidth (and efficacy in general), and we may write a separate essay on the subject in the near future.
The amount of data that may pass through a network at any one time is determined by the bandwidth available. Memory, of course, occupies the rest of the room.
RAM has been likened to a motorway by some. The bandwidth is like the number of lanes on a highway; the more lanes, the more traffic can pass. Memory is like a huge parking garage full of cars coming and going, except that the cars coming and going help you play video games, not the other way around.
A lack of parking, low speed limits, or lack of lanes on the highway might cause your system to become sluggish, which is bad news for the performance of your system, as demonstrated by my exciting civil engineering metaphor.
AMD APUs And Fast RAM
It is well-known that AMD’s latest CPUs perform better with faster RAM. The new line of CPUs has been a major hit with both gamers and productivity users, so we felt it would be appropriate to discuss how fast RAM increases the performance of these processors.
Begin with the APUs they have to offer.
It is AMD’s answer to the processor with a powerful, built-in graphics card, the APU, or accelerated processing unit. Customers can now receive a piece of both the AMD and Intel pie for much less money thanks to AMD and Intel’s APU designs that have been in development for years. When an APU uses more powerful RAM, how does it do so efficiently?
Let us first examine the workings of an APU. The APU has the graphics processor built into the CPU, unlike a PC that comes with a separate GPU.
When processing graphics, an onboard VRAM on a standalone GPU provides a significant performance boost. The APU, on the other hand, is forced to use RAM that is already being used by your computer’s operating system and other applications.
What are we trying to get at here? Faster RAM, such as that found onboard a GPU, is tremendously advantageous to your APU system, as is more of it.
The story doesn’t really alter with AMD’s CPU line.
Since the debut of Ryzen, AMD has been taking advantage of its multi-threading capabilities.
When a CPU uses virtual cores to increase its number of processing cores, this is known as multi-threading. A six-core CPU has 12 threads, a six-core CPU has eight threads, and so on and so forth A multi-threaded CPU, on the other hand, is more likely to benefit from a faster RAM than an Intel CPU that doesn’t have this capability.
A comparison of how faster RAM impacts AMD and Intel in real-world settings is something we’re working on right now. Those findings are coming soon, so keep an eye out.
The best RAM
1. TEAM XTREEM ARGB 16GB DDR4-3600MHz C14
3600 MHz of DDR4
The CAS delay is 14 seconds.
This is the voltage: 1.35 Volts
The Team Xtreem kit has a CAS latency of 14, which is preferred by gaming PCs, particularly AMD Ryzen systems. As a result, it has been voted the finest RAM for gaming.
A kit as well-balanced, in terms of both price and performance, would have been unthinkable not so long ago. However, because of the recent drop in DRAM prices and the maturing of the DDR4 production process, kits like these are now much more affordable than they were even just a few years ago.
As a result, the Infinity Fabric clock is maintained at a 1:1 ratio with your memory clock, allowing AMD’s Ryzen CPUs to run at maximum efficiency and with minimal latency penalties. AMD Ryzen CPUs are best served by a kit like the Team Xtreem.
In fact, even the kit’s RGB lighting is limited to a minimum. A glow-in-the-dark effect is created by the diffused RGB lighting on each DIMM. However, while this may sound bad on paper, it’s actually quite clever in practice.
The Team Xtreem ARGB kit is an excellent alternative if you want to get the most out of your CPU and keep your system looking new at the same time.
2. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB DDR4-3200MHz
3200 MHz of DDR4
16-second CAS Latency
This is the voltage: 1.35 Volts
The Dominator Platinum RGB from Corsair is a stunning achievement. For a long time, the original DDR4 kit has been our top pick for high-end memory kits. For years, it has been the greatest RAM for gaming because of its elegant design, unique DHX cooling technology, and unsurpassed performance. Corsair’s latest Capellix LED technology has been incorporated into the Dominator Platinum’s redesigned look.
In addition to the original Dominator Platinum’s top-of-the-line performance, the Dominator Platinum RGB features 12 individually controllable Capellix RGB LEDs and faster SKUs for increased performance. Compared to prior LEDs, the new ones are brighter and more efficient and exclusively available from Corsair. Dominator Platinum RGB, when coupled with Corsair’s iCUE software, is the greatest high-end RGB choice and the best high-performance kit.
Compared to some of the other kits covered in this article, the pricing of the Dominator Platinum is not significantly different from the original non-RGB Dominator Platinum. Still, if you can afford it, we think it’s worth every penny, no matter what capacity you choose.
3. G.Skill Trident Z Neo 32GB DDR4-3600MHz
The CAS Latency is currently 18 seconds.
This is the voltage: 1.35 Volts
When it comes to G.Skill’s Trident Z Neo series, it’s no surprise that the company’s RGB RAM has been a staple of memory guide for years now. Trident Z Neo has the same dazzling and stylish RGB lighting as the original Trident Z series. Moreover, the Neo series is suited for AMD Ryzen systems, making this budget-friendly solution the best choice for budget-conscious Ryzen PCs.
Similar to the performance of your Ryzen PC, the Trident Z Neo is an excellent value. It’s possible to buy a 32GB DDR4 memory kit for less than $200, which means you can later update your system to 64GB of high-speed DDR4 memory.
The Trident Z Neo, like its sibling, is available in a range of speeds and configurations, from 2,600MHz to 4,000MHz. Five individually addressable RGB LEDs are included in each module, allowing you to brighten up any PC setup.
4. Colorful CVN Guardian 16GB DDR4-3200
16-second CAS Latency
Their core is a set of 8GB CVN Guardian DDR4 memory modules with CL16 timings and the Micron E-die DDR4 memory chips. If you’re building a Ryzen system, they’re a smart choice because the memory controller is less taxed by them than a Samsung B-die. As a result, while you may be able to achieve higher frequencies, you may be limited in your ability to tighten up the timings themselves.
However, the CVN Guardian performs admirably for a DDR4-3200 kit at this price point, seamlessly adapting to our test board’s XMP settings. Additionally, the kit is possible of overclocking to a maximum of DDR4-3600 with significantly looser timings, even while maintaining CL16.
The CVN Guardian is a terrific option if you’re just looking for some strong, inexpensive, and visually appealing memory. It uses well-known Micron chips, has an attractive metal heatspreader, and has RGB lights as well. Only Aliexpress is selling it, so that’s the only downside.
5. G.Skill Trident Z Royal 16GB DDR4-4000MHz
15-second CAS Latency
G.Skill’s Trident Z Royal, a 4,000MHz (effective) memory kit, is known for its high-quality binning and high-speed kits. When it comes to a show-stopping gaming PC, these DIMMs are begging to be the star attraction.
The Trident Z Royal is best suited for high-performance Intel configurations, such as those based on the Core i9 10900K. Using this kit, you can ensure that your CPU receives the data it need on a regular basis, and it performs admirably in all of our tests.
There’s also the option of overclocking this kit if desired. Even though we were obliged to lower the latency slightly to get the kit to comply with our OC needs, we managed to get it up to 4,400MHz.
Trident Z is an excellent option for most high-end PC builds even if you choose a slower 3,600MHz kit for AMD Ryzen.
6. G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
15-second CAS Latency
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Second generation DDR4 memory from G.Skill shows that they heeded the opinions and criticisms from their clients. This new series is more inexpensive, faster, and has a less tacky heatsink than its predecessor. 16GB Ripjaws V is the best option for a decently sized kit that performs well right out of the box.
As soon as we put it to the test, the Ripjaws V performed incredibly well without any overclocking. Despite this, a simple increase in voltage will allow you to overclock to 2,800–3,000MHz. There’s a good chance you’ll run into stability issues if you go above 3,200MHz. Running stock or overclocked at a reasonable price, G.Skill Ripjaws V is an excellent choice.
How much RAM do I need?
How fast should RAM be for a gaming PC?
After considering the aforementioned factors, it is clear that the ideal RAM speed for gaming is the speed specified by the motherboard and CPU manufacturers as the absolute minimum speed.
While it’s possible to go above and beyond the basic requirements, the gains are unlikely to be visible if your sole concern is gaming.