Building A Budget Gaming PC? Here’s Why DDR4 Is Your Friend

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Almost Same Performance Despite The Price Gap!

Story Highlight
  • Even in 2024, DDR4 RAM kits have various advantages such as a lower price, ample gaming performance, and greater compatibility.
  • In my testing, there’s not a far-off difference in performance between DDR4 and DDR5 where the latter performs ~10% better in games.
  • To get the most out of DDR4 RAM, look out for a few tips such as enabling XMP, using proper DIMM slots, and slight overclocking.

Whether it’s my family or friends, every time someone in my circle asks me about building a budget-friendly gaming PC, I always recommend a DDR4 build to them. Sure, DDR5 is future-proof and offers exceptional performance, but DDR4 in 2024 is not a bad option at all.

Advantages Of DDR4 RAM In 2024

While you might think DDR4 RAM is on life-support at this point, the truth is completely different. Here are a few advantages of using DDR4 RAM in 2024 in a budget PC build:

Cost Effectiveness

For starters, DDR4 RAM costs less than DDR5 RAM at face value. That’s simply because the former has been in the market for several years, creating widespread support and more competitive pricing. Thus, choosing DDR4 RAM is an attractive option to me for certain budget builds. 

Compatibility

Along with DDR4 RAM, I mostly recommend going with the Intel platform, and the reason is simple: their recent generations support both DDR4 and DDR5. This means if you want to upgrade to DDR5, you won’t have to change the processor – just a DDR5-compatible motherboard and new kits.

As for AMD, the compatibility for DDR4 ends with Ryzen 5000, but hey, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is one of the most impressive gaming CPUs I’ve ever tested, so you don’t have to worry about losing performance.

Performance

While DDR5 RAM kits are inherently faster than DDR4 in real-world scenarios, DDR4 still provides ample gaming performance. Even for productivity-based tasks, I can make do with a midrange DDR4 RAM kit that won’t break the bank.

Comparing DDR4 Vs DDR5

Now, it’s best to compare DDR4 Vs DDR5 RAM kits in real-world scenarios in productivity and gaming benchmarks. Therefore, I went all out with my testing and have shared my results below. This will give users a practical performance idea of which RAM offers higher value at a lower price. There are many ways to test RAM kits, but I have decided to keep it simple.

Productivity Benchmarks

I pinned a DDR5 6,000MHz RAM kit with CL36-36-36-76 timings and a DDR4 4,800MHz RAM kit with CL19-26-26-48 timings. Here are my results and findings:

  • Regarding performance, the DDR5 and DDR4 RAM kits provide similar results, albeit the former is slightly faster in all tests.
  • In the Adobe Photoshop test, the DDR5 kit is 0.84% faster. Similarly, the Cinebench R23 test is 0.43% faster, and the Davinci Resolve test excels the DDR4 kit by 0.39%.
  • In comparison, the DDR5 RAM kit is ~4% more expensive than its DDR4 counterpart, improving the latter’s value-per-dollar ratio in productivity benchmarks.

All in all, if you want the highest productivity performance, your best bet would be a DDR5 RAM kit, but if you wish to lower pricing with higher value, I reckon that a DDR4 kit should be plenty.

Gaming Benchmarks

Moving onto gaming benchmarks, I decided to change the RAM kits. This time, I pinned a DDR5 7,200MHz CL34 RAM kit with a DDR4 4,000MHz CL18 RAM kit to see if the difference in latencies plays a major role in performance. Here are my results and findings:

1080p gaming benchmarks
1080p gaming benchmarks (Image by Tech4Gamers)
  • Except for Horizon Zero Dawn, the DDR5 RAM kit shows a decent FPS increment in all the tested games at 1080p resolution.
  • In total, the DDR5 kit amassed 1,985 FPS while the DDR4 RAM kit got 1,881 FPS, making the former ~5.5% faster in general.
  • On the other hand, the DDR5 RAM kit is ~45% more expensive, significantly devaluing its performance increment.

Thus, I saw a similar precedent where the DDR5 RAM kit runs faster, showcasing higher FPS in almost all games but at a significantly higher cost than its predecessor.

Tips For Maximizing DDR4 RAM Performance

No matter whether you’re buying an expensive or an affordable RAM kit, you’ll want the most performance you can get out of it. Therefore, here are a few tips that I also use to maximize my DDR4 RAM performance to avoid bottlenecks.

  • Enable XMP/DOCP Profiles: First, you want to ensure that your XMP profile for Intel or DOCP profile for AMD processors is enabled. By enabling these profiles, you can gain a massive boost in performance without doing anything else. You can enable either of these profiles by going into the BIOS during the boot-up sequence of your PC. Depending on your motherboard manufacturer, you should easily be able to find these RAM profiles.
  • Ensure Proper Installation: Depending on your motherboard, the RAM kits might need to be placed in different DIMM slots to get the most performance from a dual-channel kit. Hence, I recommend checking through your motherboard’s physical or virtual manual during the installation process to avoid leaving any performance on the table.
  • Maintain Stable Temperatures: This is especially important for RAM kits that don’t have a dedicated heatsink as they are prone to getting hotter. Therefore, I usually try to decrease temperatures by improving the airflow in my PC case by using better case fans and a proper CPU cooler.
  • Overclocking The RAM Kit: The last option to improve your RAM’s performance is manually overclocking it. By doing so, you can change the RAM’s voltage, CAS timings, and frequencies. 

The Bottom Line

Older PC components have a limited lifetime before they become redundant thanks to the neverending development of newer hardware. So, should you buy a DDR4 RAM kit in 2024? My testing shows that DDR4 RAM kits still have much to offer, especially if you’re trying to build a budget gaming PC in today’s inflated market.

While it’s not the best option for a future PC build, if you plan on staying on Intel in the long run, a DDR4 build may still be possible. So, depending on your personal use case scenario and requirements, I reckon DDR4 RAM is still viable in 2024 due to its greater compatibility, ample performance, and decent affordability.

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