One of the common questions we ask ourselves when building a PC is how much RAM will be needed to fit our usage requirements. Before spending our money in the first shiny thing (and suspiciously expensive) you see out there, be sure to check out this guide so you can avoid the common pitfalls.
If you see errors, misleading information, or you just don’t agree with me I would really appreciate your comments so we all can improve this post together. Try to be nice with each other and be collaborative.
How To Choose The Best RAM Modules
- To take advantage of the motherboard’s Dual Channel architecture, you should buy an even number of modules (2 or 4).
- Nowadays, the minimum recommended amount of RAM is 8 GB, so I will start the buying guide with 8 GB configurations (a pair of 4 GB modules).
- For a gaming build, I recommend an amount of RAM between 8 GB and 16 GB.
- Always double-check the height of the heatsink. Overclocking RAM modules are very big and their heatsinks could hit the CPU’s fan so you couldn’t install them. You can usually figure this out by looking at the product images.
Max RAM Speed
- Intel Haswell chips support DDR3 modules up to 1600 MHz. To increase the speed beyond that, you will need to overclock the RAM.
- Intel Skylake chips support DDR4 modules starting at 2133 MHz, which works better for gaming. To overclock the RAM you will need a Z170 motherboard.
- If you buy a faster module that your motherboard doesn’t support do not worry, the RAM max speed will be limited to the motherboard speed limit.
- If your CPU, motherboard, and RAM are compatible with Intel XMP technology (it is the common case nowadays), you can use the real RAM speed without the hassle of overclocking it. To do that you will have to activate it in the BIOS. AMD’s equivalent technology is called AMP.
Recommended RAM Speed
The performance difference between different frequencies modules can be very significant, especially when talking about FPS. The difference between a 2133 MHz module and a 1333 module can be of up to 7 fps. But, and here is the tricky thing, the difference between a 2133 MHz module and a 1600 module is just of 2 or 3 fps.
The best performance/price modules are the 2133 MHz, both for DDR3 and DDR4. You won’t feel any big difference if you buy higher frequency models.
When talking about choosing RAM modules, the speed is not the only thing that matters. There is another parameter closely linked to the speed called Latency. This parameter indicates how fast a module is to access the memory inside itself. As a rule of thumb, the lower the latency the better.
The latency parameter is usually represented like 9-9-9, or similar, in the module’s specs. If you want to know what exactly mean each of those numbers you can read this article from AnandTech. Just remember, the lower the values are, the better.
So how this value is used to determine your next purchase? It is used only to compare two modules of the same frequency speed. So, between a 1600 MHz with 9-9-9 latency module and a 1600 MHz with 11-11-11 latency module, I would choose the first one. It makes no sense to compare a 1600 MHz module with a 2133MHz module. The frequency speed will be always more important in our final decision.
Follow the next instructions to decide what RAM you should buy:
- Check your available space between your motherboard and the CPU’s fan. Will you need low-profile or high-profile modules?
- Check the max ram speed your motherboard supports. You will be searching modules with that max speed.
- Always use a combination of two or four separate modules. For instance, if you want 16 GB, you should buy 2 modules of 8 GB each.
- If you can’t decide between two or more models with the same frequencies, choose that with the lower latency.
Kingston HyperX Savage 8GB DDR4-2400 CL12launch
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8 GB DDR4-2400 CL16launch
G.SKILL Ripjaws V 8GB DDR4-2400 CL15launch
G.SKILL Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-2400 CL15launch
G.Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB DDR4-2400 CL15launch
Ballistix Sport LT 16GB DDR4-2400 CL16launch
Ballistix Sport LT 4 GB DDR4-2666launch
Ballistix Sport LT 8 GB DDR4-2666 CL16launch
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-2666launch
Kingston HyperX Savage 8GB DDR4-2666 CL13launch
G.SKILL Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-2666 CL15launch
Kingston HyperX Predator 16GB DDR4-2800 CL14launch
Kingston HyperX Savage 8GB DDR4-3000 CL15launch
G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15launch
G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15launch
- October 7, 2018: Removed DDR3 modules
- December 27, 2017: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-2666 CL16
- October 31, 2017: Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-2666 4GB and 8GB
- July 20, 2017: Crucial 8GB DDR4-2133 CL15
- March 18, 2017: Kingston HyperX Savage 8GB DDR4-2400 CL12 (updated)
- January 30, 2017: Avexir Impact Series 8GB DDR4-2666 CL15, Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16 GB DDR4-2400 CL16, G.SKILL Ripjaws V 8GB DDR4-2400 CL15
How did you find this guide? How much memory have you installed? Is that enough for your needs? Do you have any cool looking ram module that want to share with us?Comment Below!