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Ram Buying Guide: Factors To Consider [2024]

Go through the RAM's specification and check whether it aligns with the performance you expect and check for compatibility.

Are you building a gaming rig but don’t know which RAM to get? Or maybe you’re looking to upgrade but are completely overwhelmed by the options available? Whatever your scenario may be, one thing that’s common between both is that buying RAM can become quite difficult.

After all, there are so many brands to choose from; not only that but should you go with DDR4 or DDR5? How much capacity should you choose? And what about the frequency and latency?

To answer all of your questions and more, Tech4Gamers brings you the ultimate buying guide for RAM. It covers everything from your budget to RGB, and once you have read this guide, you will know exactly which RAM is perfect for you.

We have also covered thorough buying guides for Motherboard, CPU, Graphics Card, and CPU Cooler. If you’re in the market for any of these components, read our guides to ensure that you get the best product.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Go through your motherboard’s specifications to see which RAM is compatible with it.
  • Outline your budget and only check RAM that falls within your price range.
  • Go through the RAM’s specification and check whether it aligns with the performance you expect.

Factors To Consider Before Buying RAM

When it comes to buying RAM, you need to consider various factors, and each one of those factors can completely change your decision. Therefore, in this section, we will walk you through everything you need to consider before buying RAM.

 
Block Diagram of RAM
Block Diagram of RAM (Image by National Taiwan University)

Also Read: How We Test RAM

  • Motherboard Compatibility: First of all, you need to go over your motherboard’s specifications and figure out which RAM is compatible with it. If you’re building a new rig, then we recommend you purchase your motherboard first and then move toward the RAM. By going over the motherboard compatibility, you will know whether you need to go for DDR4 or DDR5 RAM, and this alone can make all the difference in the world. Furthermore, you will know the maximum capacity and frequency that your motherboard supports.
  • Budget: You also need to outline exactly how much you can spend on RAM. DDR5 RAM is generally priced a bit higher than DDR4, but its high performance makes up for the higher price tag[1]. As expected, the more performance, looks, and bells and whistles you go after, the more you will have to spend. Therefore, it is best if you keep your budget in mind throughout the buying process to ensure that you don’t overspend on RAM.
  • Number Of Modules: When purchasing RAM, you’ll encounter kits available in different configurations, such as kits of 2 or 4. For instance, a 16GB DDR5 RAM kit of 2 includes two 8GB RAM sticks, totaling 16GB. Check your motherboard’s DIMM slots to determine how many RAM sticks it supports. Opting for a kit of 2 RAM sticks enables dual-channel performance, maximizing efficiency[2]. If your motherboard has 4 DIMM slots, consult the manual to ensure proper dual-channel support.
  • AMD EXPO vs. Intel XMP: Both AMD EXPO[3] and Intel XMP[4] aim to optimize RAM performance by replacing default profiles with higher clock speeds and lower latency. These profiles simplify RAM overclocking, eliminating the need for manual adjustments to voltage, speed, and latency. While AMD EXPO is royalty-free, Intel XMP requires certification for manufacturers. However, compatibility isn’t restricted to specific platforms, meaning AMD EXPO RAM can be used on Intel systems and vice versa[5]. Simply enable the corresponding profile in BIOS settings to experience improved performance regardless of platform choice.

Specifications To Consider

When you’re in the market to buy RAM, then you must have noticed that every RAM has a bunch of specifications attached to it. Let’s go over what they are and how much they matter.

  • Capacity: Determine your RAM needs based on your usage requirements. For casual web browsing, 8GB is usually sufficient, while gaming may require 16GB[6]. For optimal gaming performance or video editing, consider investing in 32GB[7]. Remember, the amount of RAM you require directly correlates with your intended usage, with higher capacities generally commanding higher costs.
  • Frequency: RAM frequency, denoted by the number in the RAM’s name (e.g., DDR5-6000), represents how many read/write cycles the RAM can perform per second[8]. For example, a RAM with a frequency of 6000MHz can perform around 6 billion cycles per second. Higher frequencies indicate faster RAM. However, frequency alone doesn’t determine speed; timing latency is also crucial.
  • CAS Latency: The Column Access Strobe (CAS) latency measures the delay between the CPU sending a command to the RAM and the RAM executing that command on the data[9]. In RAM specifications, CAS latency is part of the timing latency, represented by a series of numbers separated by dashes. For instance, in the CORSAIR Vengeance RGB DDR5-6000 RAM, the timing latency is indicated as 36-36-36-76, with each number denoting a different latency parameter. These parameters typically include Column Access Strobe Latency, Row Address to Column Address Delay, Row Precharge Time, and Row Active Time. When purchasing RAM, it’s crucial to consider both frequency and latency to ensure optimal performance. RAM with high frequency but high latency may not perform efficiently[10], so finding a balance between low latency and high frequency is essential.
  • Voltage: With DDR5 RAM becoming more prevalent, concerns about input voltage are less pressing due to its improved power efficiency compared to DDR4[11]. However, for those considering overclocking their memory, examining input voltage is crucial. Overclocking RAM typically involves raising its input voltage to enhance performance[12], so ensuring the RAM’s voltage offers sufficient headroom for safe adjustments is essential.
  • Heatspreader: The heatspreader, as its name suggests, plays a vital role in dissipating heat evenly across the memory chips, facilitating efficient ventilation within your system[13]. By reducing the temperature of the memory chips, the heatspreader prevents thermal throttling, ensuring optimal performance. Additionally, manufacturers often utilize the heatspreader to enhance the aesthetic appeal of RAM sticks, offering distinct and unique designs.
  • Height: While often overlooked, considering the height of RAM is important, particularly for compact builds with limited space, such as Mini-ITX rigs. Insufficient clearance may lead to compatibility issues with large CPU coolers, necessitating a return or exchange. Low-profile RAM, with a height typically around 32 to 33mm, is recommended for small form factor PCs, offering compatibility without sacrificing performance.
  • RGB: While aesthetics may not be paramount, they hold significance for many gamers aiming to create visually striking gaming setups. RGB-enabled RAM, while often pricier, adds a vibrant visual element to builds. Additionally, RAM with customizable RGB lighting allows users to align their PC’s aesthetic with specific themes or color schemes, enhancing overall visual appeal.
  • OC Potential: Overclocking RAM can significantly boost performance, provided the RAM has the necessary potential for overclocking. This includes reliable input voltage support and a robust heatspreader capable of managing increased heat generation. Moreover, motherboard compatibility is crucial, as not all motherboards support high-frequency RAM overclocking. When purchasing RAM, particularly for overclocking purposes, ensure it offers sufficient headroom for voltage adjustments and matches your motherboard’s supported frequencies.

Best DDR4 RAM For Ryzen 5000 Series

If you are building a Ryzen 5000 series PC, then you should consider going with one of these RAMs:

  • Kingston Fury Renegade 32GB DDR4-3600: If you want a good bang-for-the-buck RAM that offers great performance, then the Kingston Fury Renegade is for you. With its 3600MHz frequency and CL16 latency, it is a very powerful RAM. However, it does not come with RGB.
  • G.Skill Trident Z Neo 32GB DDR4-3600: If you want RGB as well, then the G.Skill Trident Z Neo is for you. It packs the same powerful punch as the Kingston Fury Renegade, but it looks significantly more beautiful. As you can guess, it also costs a bit more.

Best RAM For Ryzen 7000 Series

Similarly, if you’re building an AMD rig with the latest Ryzen 7000 Series processor, then here is the best RAM for it:

G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo RGB 32GB DDR5-6000: With great performance, overclocking potential, and RGB, the G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo RGB is the perfect RAM to complement a high-end rig built with the latest AMD processor. It has a frequency of a whopping 6000MHz and a CAS latency of just 30 clocks. It is hands down the best RAM to go for.

Best DDR4 RAM For Intel 12th and 13th Gen

Since the Intel 12th and 13th gen processors are compatible with both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM, let’s go over the best DDR4 RAM for them:

Corsair Vengeance RGB RT 32GB DDR4-3600: Packing a 3600MHz frequency, CL16 latency, and gorgeous RGB, the Corsair Vengeance RGB RT is the perfect DDR4 RAM for Intel builds. Given its price, it also offers quite the value for money.

Best DDR5 RAM For Intel 12th and 13th Gen

Similarly, here are a couple of the best DDR5 RAM for Intel 12th and 13th gen processors.

  • Kingston Fury Renegade 32GB DDR5-6400: The Kingston Fury Renegade is a no-nonsense RAM that cuts down on the bells and whistles like RGB and focuses on sheer performance. With its 6400MHz frequency and CL32 latency, it is one of the best gaming DDR5 RAMs out in the market.
  • Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB DDR5-6400: Fan of the RGB? The Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB has got your back. It is also quite a beast when it comes to sheer performance, and the RAM sticks have beautiful RGB lights to glow up your PC. However, keep in mind that you will have to drop heavy dollars on it.

Final Thoughts

Even though buying the perfect RAM may seem difficult at first, it is actually fairly simple with the right guidance. For this reason, we at Tech4Gamers, have created this thorough guide to assist you in buying RAM. Our guide walks you through every factor, like motherboard compatibility, your budget, the number of memory modules you need, AMD EXPO or Intel XMP, RAM specifications, and some extra factors that you should consider to ensure that you are left with the right RAM.

If you are looking to buy other PC components, then make sure to go through these guides:

References:

  1. Corsair. (n.d.). Is DDR5 better than DDR4? Retrieved from https://www.corsair.com/us/en/explorer/diy-builder/memory/is-ddr5-better-than-ddr4/
  2. Lenovo. (n.d.). Dual Channel Memory. Retrieved from https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/glossary/dual-channel-memory/?orgRef=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.google.com%252F
  3. AMD. (n.d.). AMD EXPO™ Technology for AMD Ryzen™ Processors for Socket AM5. Retrieved from https://www.amd.com/en/products/processors/technologies/expo.html
  4. Intel. (n.d.). Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (Intel® XMP) and Overclock RAM. Retrieved from https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/gaming/extreme-memory-profile-xmp.html
  5. Corsair. (n.d.). Can I use Intel RAM on an AMD motherboard?. Retrieved from https://www.corsair.com/us/en/explorer/diy-builder/memory/can-i-use-intel-ram-on-an-amd-motherboard/
  6. Dell Technologies. (n.d.). How Does Random Access Memory (RAM) Affect the Performance of a Computer?. Retrieved from Dell Support https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-us/000129805/how-random-access-memory-ram-affects-performance
  7. Lenovo. (n.d). Video Editing For Desktop. Retrieved from https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/d/desktop-for-video-editing/
  8. Lenovo. (n.d.). Does RAM Speed Matter?. Retrieved from https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/glossary/does-ram-speed-matter/
  9. Wexler, P. (n.d.). CAS (Column Address Strobe). Retrieved from: https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/c/cas.htm#:~:text=Short%20for%20column%20address%20select,has%20the%20data%20being%20requested.
  10. Crucial.com. (n.d.). The Difference Between RAM Speed and CAS Latency. Retrieved from https://www.crucial.com/articles/about-memory/difference-between-speed-and-latency
  11. Kim, D., Park, M., Jang, S., Song, J.-Y., Chi, H., Choi, G., … Koo, K. (2019, May). A 1.1-V 10-nm Class 6.4-Gb/s/Pin 16-Gb DDR5 SDRAM With a Phase Rotator-ILO DLL, High-Speed SerDes, and DFE/FFE Equalization Scheme for Rx/Tx. In 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS) (pp. 1-6). IEEE. Retrieved from: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8944229
  12. Lenovo. (n.d). What is Overclocking? Retrieved from https://www.lenovo.com/in/en/faqs/pc-life-faqs/what-is-overclocking/
  13. Fadelli, I. & Tech Xplore. (2022, May 5). A New Solution To Cool Electronic Devices And Prevent Them From Overheating [News article]. TechXplore. https://techxplore.com/news/2022-05-solution-cool-electronic-devices-overheating.html

FAQs

Is it worth buying DDR4 RAM?

There is no doubt that DDR5 RAM is far superior to DDR4 in terms of performance, but DDR4 is still worth going for especially if you have a DDR4 motherboard.

How much RAM do I need for my PC?

The exact capacity required for you depends on your usage. If you are a casual gamer, then 16GB RAM should be fine. However, for extreme gaming, you need 32GB RAM.

What type of RAM should I buy for my computer?

The type, capacity, frequency, and overall specifications of the RAM you need depends on the kind of performance you require from your PC. If you are a hardcore gamer and want to future-proof your build, then you should go after DDR5 RAM.

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