Finding The Best DDR4 RAM

For a high-end premium pick, G.Skill’s Trident Z Royal RAM kit is one of the best. This offers the fastest speeds on our list at 4800MHz. Yes I understand that very high frequency ram may not have many benefits to moderately fast ram (3200 Mhz). By default, the maximum stock clock speed for DDR4 RAM is 2400 MHz. When you see RAM with speeds rated over this, it means the module is advanced.

Height: 42.2mm/1.66″ Hyper X Predator DDR4 RGB is an amazing kit of RAM engineered for gaming.

The amount and specs of your system?s memory, or RAM, can make a significant difference, from the number of running programs (or just open browser tabs) that you can have open before your system starts getting sluggish, to the frames per second (fps) you can squeeze out of your CPU?s integrated graphics when playing the latest popular sports title.

If you?re shopping for some memory for a new build, or an upgrade to your existing laptop or desktop, and you?re confused whether you need 8, 16, or 32GB (or more), how much clock speed matters, or what memory timings actually mean, you?ve come to the right place. We?ll help you work through the many things to consider when shopping for RAM.

Quick Shopping Tips:

  • 16GB is the current sweet spot at today?s pricing. Gamer and those doing basic mainstream productivity tasks can get by with 8GB. But several open browser tabs and other running programs can use this up pretty easily. Given you can buy 16GB for as little as $25 more than 8GB, most should opt for 16GB. Those doing serious content creation will likely want more.
  • Don?t pay for clock speeds your system doesn?t support. Memory speed is limited, particularly with some low-end and mainstream Intel CPUs and chip sets. So if, for instance, your system only supports 2,666MHz, there?s no point in buying RAM that?s rated for 3,600. You won?t be able to achieve the higher speed, and may wind up stuck at an even lower fallback speed. Check the motherboard manufacturer?s specifications for supported speeds and buy accordingly.
  • Higher speeds have the most impact if you?re using integrated graphics. If you plan to game without a dedicated graphics card, you?ll get noticeably better frame rates if you opt for faster (supported) memory. But if you have to spend more on components to support that speed, as well as higher-clocked memory, it may make more sense to splurge on a dedicated card that will deliver a better gaming performance overall.
  • Many programs and games don?t benefit heavily from faster RAM and better timings. The amount of software that sees major gains from faster, tighter-timing memory kits is actually fairly small. Some games will see a benefit, as well as compression software like 7-zip, as well as some aspects of content creation software. Do some research on the programs and games that you use most often. If you aren?t running memory-sensitive software and you have a dedicated graphics card, you can save some money by opting for slower RAM and spend that on a larger SSD or a better graphics card or CPU.

How Many Modules? You?ll need at least two modules to enable a dual-channel mode on platforms such as AMD?s Socket AM4 or Intel?s LGA 1151, or four to enable the quad-channel modes of AMD?s socket TR4 and Intel?s LGA 2066. Those modules could be single rank (with all ICs addressed by one of each module?s dual 64-bit interfaces) or dual-rank (addressed by both interfaces).

After tracking a similar phenomenon: On Intel processors for several years, our Ry zen 3000 memory deep-dive detailed how having two ranks of memory per channel offers a significant performance benefit to some applications. We also know from our? PC Memory 101 article that two ranks per channel can be achieved by either doubling the number of modules or using modules with two ranks. Reasons to choose the later include leaving expansion room in the empty slots of boards that have two per channel, or getting the benefit of two ranks from boards that have only one slot per channel. Furthermore, while you may have read about T topography vs daisy chain in our comments or forum, you need not concern yourself with these concepts if you?re running only one DIMM per channel.

So, for the best performance:? Opt for two modules for a dual-channel board or four for a quad-channel board. Those who can afford modules that have twice as many chips will benefit from both the extra capacity and a slight performance boost in certain applications. The recent re-introduction of 32GB desktop DIMMs means that you can even get 64GB from just two modules or 128GB from four, without worrying about whether your board supports pricier server memory. You?ll still want to check your motherboard manufacturer?s website to make sure that your firmware supports whatever capacity you?re using, though. You may need to update your BIOS first.

DDR4-2666 Is For Intel H/B Series Chip sets: Intel doesn?t allow overclocking on anything other than its Z-series (enthusiast) and X-series (high-end desktop) chip sets. That leaves mainstream buyers who don?t want to splash out for the Z-series other features stuck with Intel?s ?approved? limits, including its DDR4-2666 maximum for Core i5 and higher processors.

Four-Rank Quad-Channel
4x 8GB DDR4-3733 (CAS 17)257%Works with most Intel X299, check motherboard reviews and user findings
4x 8GB DDR4-3600 (CAS 16)171%Lower-latency alternative to DDR4-3600 CAS 18
4x 8GB DDR4-3600 (CAS 18)129%Compatible with most X-series (X299) and many Gen2 Thread ripper (X399)
4x 8GB DDR4-3466 (CAS 16)257%Supported by some Gen1 Thread ripper and most Gen2 Thread ripper (X399), X-Series (X299)
4x 8GB DDR4-3200 (CAS 16)114%Works with most Gen1/Gen2 Thread ripper (X399), value-priced for X-Series (X299)
4x 8GB DDR4-3000 (CAS 15)107%Fixes stability issues of some Gen1 X399 platforms (alternative to retired DDR4-2933 kits)
4x 8GB DDR4-2666 (CAS 16)100%Baseline spec for AMD Thread ripper (X399) and Intel X-series (X299)
Charts
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