If you’re a computer gamer, you know how important it is that your gaming experience is smooth and immersive. Nothing can ruin a great game like lags! That’s why it’s so important to know how to find the best RAM to enhance your games to their best quality.
So if you’re searching for the best RAM for gaming – this guide will help you get started.
Top DDR4 Picks
Top DDR3 Picks
What is RAM?
RAM stands for “random access memory”, a common type of memory found in personal computers and laptops. It’s called that way because it’s a type of memory that’s randomly accessed to store information about what programs, systems, and data are currently being used on a computer at a given time.
RAM is how your computer runs applications on the fly while you’re accessing different programs or devices. It stores all the information needed for the applications that are open and running. When you turn off the computer (or close the application), the data in the RAM is lost.
RAM greatly influences the performance on your device, and it becomes more useful when you start doing more things on your computer at once, like playing video games and streaming videos.
Why does memory matter for gamers? Simple programs don’t require much memory, while games will need much more memory.
Therefore, if you do not have enough memory and try to run a modern game, you will definitely notice the difference. It may be extremely slow and jumpy, or not start at all. That’s no fun.
DDR3 or DDR4 – What’s the Big Difference?
DDR4 runs at 1.2 volts, while DDR3 runs at 1.5 volts. While that 0.3 volts does not sound like much at all, it does add up over time and it also means the RAM wear and tear is reduced.
The frequencies of DDR4 are the biggest difference to its predecessor. DDR3 go as high as 2400 megahertz (MHz), whereas DDR4 starts at 2133 MHz and goes upward.
An increase in speed or frequency means that more information can be processed, which becomes useful with more resource-intensive games and programs.
RAM comes in different sizes and capacities, depending on its type. A RAM’s capacity is basically how much data it can hold. RAM capacity typically ranges from 2-4 gigabytes (GB), typical for a laptop, all the way to 64 GB or even more.
For gaming, most games run well at around 8 GB of RAM (16 GB is optimal for newer games). Some may require less, but 8 GB or more is probably the safest bet if you plan on playing large, data-heavy games or you want to be prepared for future games that may require more GB.
As games and systems continue to evolve, chances are you’re going to need to upgrade if you want to keep up with the newest gaming titles. In addition, this will also require shopping for newer computer components, including a CPU (central processing unit) for maximum gaming performance.
Times change, so be prepared to consider the requirements for future games you might be interested in down the road!
Frequency in RAM is how much data can be transferred in and out of the RAM per second. Frequency is all about speed – an important aspect for all things in computing life, especially games.
Frequency is measured in MHz, which is essentially the number of clock cycles per second used by the RAM.
Different RAM products run at various frequencies, with higher frequencies providing better performance. When looking at RAM frequency, you’ll need to consider the numbers that your motherboard supports. Know your motherboard!
While higher frequency is better, if it gets too high, then the latency will start to rise as well; this is another thing to consider when it comes to gaming.
If you’re interested in understanding more about latency and memory timings for RAM performance, there’s plenty of technical information available if you’re looking for extra details.
RAM Frequency and Overclocking
While the frequency is set by the manufacturer of the RAM, some products are able to operate at a higher speed. This is called overclocking.
You might be wondering why that ability exists rather than having RAM operate at the highest frequency possible all the time. It’s because there are inherent risks when overclocking.
If the RAM runs at a higher speed, then it will run at a higher voltage and temperature. This may not present any issues at all if your cooling system is good enough to handle it. If a stick or complete module is overclocked too much then it is possible that your PC will start to show errors over time.
Everything has wear and tear – RAM is no different. On the extreme end, overclocking could overheat your RAM immediately and make it unusable.
RAM, CPU, and Dual Channel Mode
RAM “cooperates” with a lot of different components of the computer; one of the most important being the CPU. The speed of one relies on the other. If the slowest is the RAM, then you will find that the CPU needs to wait longer for the RAM to process the data. A very common term for this is bottlenecking.
You can stop some of this bottlenecking by having two sticks of RAM in Dual Channel mode. Most computers will have this option as it can improve performance much more than having a single stick. This is also a great way of cutting costs while shopping for the highest frequency RAM sticks.
What exactly is dual channel mode and why is it so helpful? It’s when one stick of RAM is performing a task and the other is preparing to do a second task. Where a single stick of RAM can do a certain amount of actions before it’s full, RAM working in dual channel mode will work together to process as many actions as it can in a timely manner.
This is beneficial in every aspect of computing and is ultimately the reason two sticks of RAM are better than one.
So, if you’re wondering whether or not you should get one big RAM stick or multiple smaller ones, keep in mind that having several smaller sticks can help increase the performance (in comparison with one stick) and also save you some cash!
Speed vs. Latency: Which is More Important?
Latency is all about how long it takes for the RAM to act upon a command that is issued to it; basically, the delay. It’s measured in a term called CAS (column address strobe) latency. You will see these numbers as CL (for example CL13).
When calculating a RAM stick’s latency, there are two factors to consider: (1) the total clock cycles that the data or command must pass and (2) the length of each clock cycle. If we time these two factors together, we will find the true latency of the RAM – it can get more complicated.
Frequency has been increasing substantially over the years when comparing DDR2, DDR3 or the latest DDR4. While the CL has been increasing at the same time, these increases have not been big enough to offset the increases in performance of the higher frequency.
Consensus? A higher frequency is better than a lower latency. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want more speed in their gaming system?
RAM comes in many forms and designs; its general appearance is that of a stick with a heat sink and microchips that make up the actual RAM storage. RAM sticks can come in large, bulky shapes and sizes with optimization for heating and cooling, while others are smaller (referred to as “low profile”) and take up less room.
Desktop RAM sticks are much larger than laptop RAM sticks. The size and shape you choose for your RAM will completely depend on the available space you have and, if you’re building your own computer, how you’d like to set up your RAM in accordance with the motherboard.
In addition to overall design, RAM sticks come in a variety of colors and textures that can be customized to your individual tastes. This doesn’t impact performance, but it’s great for people who like to keep things personalized!
How to Choose the Best RAM for Optimal Gaming?
For gamers, RAM is particularly important compared to people who mainly use their computers for web browsing and word processing. That’s because video games have a lot more information that your RAM might need to store at a given time. This is especially true if you’re using high-end graphics cards and gaming motherboards – you want enough memory to support those beautiful graphics!
RAM speed and capacity do matter for certain games and systems. When it comes to achieving the highest quality gaming experience, you need to have more than a premium graphics card and processor; you need RAM to actively store all of the information from the game while it’s running.
For the absolute best gaming experience, you’ll need the biggest and fastest RAM. Why?
1. Faster loading time. A larger RAM means more information can be stored and your computer can do more things at once rather than work to free up memory from the hard drive.
2. Better graphics and frames per second (FPS). A faster RAM means faster access points for data to be delivered to the processor and graphics card. This will ensure your game doesn’t lag, glitch, or slow down (either randomly or constantly).
How much memory do you really need for gaming? That depends on your PC, the type of game you’re playing and its system requirements. In reality, you only need as much RAM to hold what you’re doing – as long as you have enough RAM to cover everything that you’re running on your computer, there’s no need for more.
The best way to know how much RAM you need is to look at the system requirements for the game you’re trying to play. For example, the game might need a minimum of 6GB or 8GB and 16GB for optimal performance. For older games, memory might not matter as long as the minimum requirements are met.
It’s also important to remember that your system may actually have a RAM capacity limit. To find out more about your system’s abilities when it comes to RAM capacity and frequency, you can check your manufacturer’s website for more information.
Bottom line: If you’re willing to pay more for the absolute best RAM, consider purchasing a DDR4 with lots of storage – 16 GB is a solid choice for running high-end games and multitasking (for example, if you like to stream while you play). When all else is equal, opt for a higher frequency RAM (2400 MHz or more for DDR4) if price isn’t an issue.
If you’re on a budget but you’re still looking for the best RAM for gaming for most new games, a DDR4 RAM with 8 or more GB will likely suffice. Something like 32 GB probably won’t be necessary unless you plan on gaming, streaming, and browsing at the same time on a large scale.
The Best DDR4 RAM Sticks
CORSAIR Vengeance LPX
A RAM Memory Dedicated to Premium Performance
Corsair Vengeance LPX is a highly efficient RAM memory, with a full XMP2.0 support that automatically adjusts the modules to their fastest speed, which ranges from 2133MHz to up to the fantastic 4600MHz, depending on the module type.
This memory comes with latencies from CL13 to CL19 and voltages from 1.2V to 1.5V. It offers high compatibility with Intel platform (it works with the Intel series 100, 200, 300 and the x299) and delivers a quality build, with highly attractive low profile design.
All in all, Corsair Vengeance LPX presents a good all-around choice, with great performance, good looks and high compatibility. Also, this is one of the more reliable memories out there, which, with its affordable price, makes it an even better choice for purchase.
- Excellent performance
- Enabled XMP 2.0
- Great compatibility
- Nice timing
- Limited overclocking
- Lack of RGB or LED lights
Kingston HyperX FURY
A Memory That Shows What is Needed to Be the Best
There are not that many products in the IT industry that can be praised as much as Kingston HyperX Fury memory modules that are, among other things, the first ones to offer plug and play overclocking (the highest supported frequency is automatically selected by BIOS). This amazing function allows them to reach speeds from 2133MHz to 3466MHz (depending on the module type), helping your gaming, rendering or similar tasks rise to a higher level.
With Kingston HyperX Fury you get a lifetime warranty and compatibility with all the major motherboard and CPU manufacturers. Also, these modules are XMP ready, come in latencies from CL14 to CL19, module capacities from 4GB to 16GB or kits from 16GB to 64GB, and more importantly, offer a perfect ratio of performance and price.
If you also add its captivating, sleek, low-profile design and fantastic reliability into the equation, you’re going to realize this is a one of a kind product that demands to be possessed.
- Simple overclocking
- Lifetime warranty
- Sleek low profile design
G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series
A Memory Meant for Overclocking
If you are looking for a high-quality memory that will boost your gaming and overall computing experience, there isn’t a better option than a G.Skill Ripjaws V Series. Severely tested, with a lifetime warranty, low profile design and high compatibility with Intel Z-170 motherboards, this piece is an ideal option for all the PC enthusiasts.
Coming in speeds from 2133MHz to 4000MHz, latencies from CL14 to CL19 and low voltages from 1.2V to 1.35V, this memory offers a variety of options, allowing anyone to find its perfect fit. G.Skill Ripjaws V Series offers full XMP2.0 support and generally presents a great overclocking material, offering a drastic increase of speed (20% or more above the stock speed), without compromising the stability of work.
With G.Skill Ripjaws V Series you just get it all: great overclocking, exceptional performance, cool looking design, all for more than an attractive price.
- Good price
- Lifetime warranty
- Sleek design
- High compatibility with Intel Z-170 motherboards
- The heat spreader isn’t big enough to cover the whole chip
An Overclocking “Beast”
HyperX Predator is a great option for any devoted gamer since it offers plenty of space for overclocking and timing tweaking. If you are into simpler overclocking solutions, it is good to know that it is XMP ready with many different profiles offered.
When talking about the speeds, they are ranging from 2400MHz to 4133MHz, while the latencies are in the range from CL12 to CL19.
Other than the regular HyperX Predator, there is also a similar looking version, with RGB lighting, that has speeds from 2933MHz to 4000MHz and latencies from CL15 to CL19. Booth memory types have a voltage of 1.35V, and aggressive design, with an upgraded black aluminum heat spreader for better heat dissipation. The difference between them is only in RGB lighting that offers a unique Infrared Sync solution that allows for all the LEDs to be synchronized.
HyperX Predator memory is fully factory tested, which, with its lifetime warranty, guarantees for its longevity. Compatible with the latest Intel and AMD chipsets and with great performance, this memory is a great solution for any serious gaming.
- Lifetime warranty
- Great overclocking potential
- Fantastic speeds
- Unique looks
- Pricier than other memories
G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series
A Memory Destined for Top Notch Configurations
If you are not just shopping for great performance, but also cool looking hardware for your gaming rig, there is no better option for your memory than a G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series. This top of the class memory comes with a lifetime warranty and has passed serious testing considering reliability and compatibility. Therefore, with this one you may be sure, it won’t leave you when it matters the most.
G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series comes in speeds from 2400MHz to blazing fast 4600MHz, latencies from CL14-CL19 and voltages from 1.2V to 1.45V (of course, all depending on the module type). From a performance point of view, this is a great memory that will perfectly fit any high-class configuration.
If you are into overclocking, you won’t be disappointed, since the G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series offers plenty of options for tweaking and has a special highly efficient Trident Z heat spreader. On the other hand, if you are looking for something unique, its vivid RGB lighting will certainly make your rig look like no other, keeping a smile on your face for a long time.
- Programmable LEDs
Ballistix Sport LT
A Memory Made to Work, Not to Impress
Ballistix Sport LT’s memory speeds that go from 2400MHz to 3000MHz aren’t among the fastest you are going to find and won’t impress anyone, especially when you look at the competition that is reaching speeds of 4600MHz. What sticks this memory from the bunch is a real plug and play. This means you just need to install the modules to the XMP supported motherboard and the XMP will automatically do the rest, which is not always the case with other brands.
With Ballistix Sport LT you also get a cool appearance with digital camo, and a well-integrated heat spreader, but unfortunately without RGB lighting.
When talking about the other specs, this memory comes in two different voltages (1.2V and 1.35V) and in latency of CL16. It has been rigorously tested and generally presents a good option for people looking for reliability and stability, rather than a premium performance. Ballistix Sport LT won’t impress you but certainly won’t disappoint you.
- Lifetime warranty
- Fresh design
- Slow speed compared to the competition
CORSAIR Vengeance RGB PRO
An Overclocker’s Dream-Memory
Knowing that competition in today’s RAM market is tougher than ever before, Corsair realized that it must present something that will shine not just in one category, but at least in a few of them. For that reason, they created a Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO line that combines both great looks and top-class performance.
With a lifetime warranty, XMP support, compatibility with all the modern Intel and AMD motherboards, and thanks to its optimization for high-frequency work, CORSAIR Vengeance RGB PRO is a smart alternative for all the overclocking devotees. When you also add its quality aluminum heat spreader and dynamic RGB lighting that allows for full personalization of lighting (each individual LED) to the equation, you realize this memory is an overclocking dream.
CORSAIR Vengeance RGB PRO comes in speeds from 2666MHz to 4266MHz and latencies from CL16 to CL19. It offers quality performance, in many aspects better than of the competition, and more importantly, it cost less than the rivals.
- Excellent performance
- Good price
- Diffusers of white light create pastel colors
CORSAIR Dominator Platinum
A Memory Made for a Top Notch Performance
Not too many RAM memories can give you such a premium quality and performance, as Corsair Dominator Platinum can. If you want to see noticeable improvements in your everyday computing tasks, there is no better choice than this memory.
Corsair Dominator Platinum comes in speeds from 2133MHz to 4133MHz and with latencies from CL10 to CL19. It offers full XMP2.0 support and has advanced DHX cooling solution that guarantees for keeping your memory cool even at extreme voltages, allowing for serious overclocking.
Corsair Dominator Platinum speed and stability have been highly screened (binned), so you can be sure you will get a top-notch product, that will please even the most demanding users. This memory offers integration into a Corsair’s Link software for easier monitoring and comes in black and silver themes that will suit the most configurations.
All in all, Corsair Dominator Platinum is a superb product, but be sure you really need it, because its price tag is nowhere near affordable. Therefore, think twice before the purchase.
- Great speed
- Impressive performance
- Excellent cooling
- Good overclocking capabilities
- High price
Patriot Viper Gaming RGB Series
A Memory with an Attitude
Patriot Viper Gaming RGB Series is a prime example of a memory that looks exceptional, but also offers superb performance, all at the same time. With speeds from 2666 MHz to 4133 MHz, latencies from CL16 to CL19 and voltages from 1.2V to 1.4V, this memory has similar specs and performance as its rivals. What makes a difference are Samsung chips used in these modules that allow you a bit more space in overclocking than you would get with the competition.
If you are not into tweaking, you can always use one of the XMP profiles but it is good to know that there is still a lot of space for performance enhancement. Patriot Viper Gaming RGB Series is fully compatible with the most recent AMD and Intel motherboards and offers RGB lighting with five different lighting areas that allow for full customization, either through its own free software, or other compatible software from ASUS, Gigabyte, etc.
In other words, the Patriot Viper Gaming RGB Series is a premium product that just won’t disappoint you.
- Great overclocking capability
- Free RGB software
- Excellent latency tuning
- Heat spreader a bit too big
The Best DDR3 RAM Sticks
G.SKILL Ripjaws X
A Perfect Upgrade Memory Kit
If your hardware isn’t the latest, but still has a lot to offer and you are looking for a serious upgrade, G.Skill Ripjaws X Series can come as one hell of a deal, especially if you are not too much into overclocking and are satisfied with stock speeds.
This DDR3 memory comes in speeds from 1333MHz to 2400MHz, latencies from CL7 to CL11 and in voltages from 1.35V to 1.65V. As you could have guessed, its overclocking is kinda limited, but that doesn’t prevent it from delivering super-fast stock performance, followed with great stability, due to numerous stress and compatibility tests.
G.Skill Ripjaws X Series is fully XMP compatible and works with a widest possible variety of AMD and Intel platforms, comes in three color schemes (blue, red and black) and generally presents a very affordable option for people who know to value the real quality.
- Good price
- Lifetime warranty
- High stock speeds
- Limited overclocking
A Memory Designed for Mainstream Users
If you don’t expect much from your memory, except that it works and offers a stable and decent enough performance, Ballistix Sport might be exactly what are you looking for. With a lifetime warranty, proven reliability and affordable price, this memory is a good option for all the mainstream and entry-level users.
Low profile, with the voltage of 1.5V, low latency of CL9 and relatively modest speed of 1600MHz, this DDR3 memory won’t impress; however, it will do the job. With an XMP support, but generally limited overclocking capabilities, Ballistix Sport isn’t the gamers’ dream; still, it will offer a decent performance enough for most users.
Altogether, with this memory, you will finish what you are planning, but that is pretty much it. There is no superb performance, no great overclocking, just average. For the majority that is enough, but the fact is that for the similar money you can just get more.
- Lifetime warranty
- Limited overclocking
- Not that great performance
Kingston HyperX FURY
A Real “Monster under the Hood”
Kingston HyperX FURY is a DDR3 memory destined for overclocking enthusiasts. Its speeds from 1333MHz to 1866MHz, latencies from CL9 to CL11 and voltages from 1.35V to 1.5V maybe don’t sound impressive, but when you get “under its hood” you’re going to realize what a “monster” HyperX Fury actually is.
In the case of 1866MHz modules, you can speed them up to 2200MHz, just by increasing the voltage from 1.5 to 1.65V, without any further changes. With a bit of tweaking, you can get Fury up to 2400MHz, or even further if you are willing to explore its boundaries. All in all, a great space for the advance is there.
Other than the great overclocking potential, there is also compatibility with the latest AMD and Intel platforms, a plug and play function (BIOS automatically sets the modules to the highest speed), many color options (white, red, black and blue) and on top of all, a lifetime warranty.
Its only weakness is a lack of XMP support, but who needs it anyway when you can get so much for a more than decent price.
- Number of colors
- Lifetime warranty
- Great overclocking capacity
- Good price
- Specs differ from the actual values (timings)
- No XMP support
Corsair Vengeance Pro
A Memory Made for Fast Performance
With Corsair Vengeance Pro you can’t go wrong. These DDR3 modules are designed for stability, speed and great overclocking experience. They come in speeds from 1600MHz to superb 2400MHz, latencies from CL9 to CL10 and voltages from 1.5V to 1.65V and offer an aggressive design with a unique aluminum heat spreader for advanced heat management, which will be favorable by all the overclocking lovers.
Corsair Vengeance Pro comes in black and red color theme, offers usual Corsair’s lifetime warranty and of course XMP (1.3) support. Considering performance, this memory is a match for its rivals and presents a great value, although a bit too expensive one.
Optimized for overclocking, Corsair Vengeance Pro will allow you to reach super speeds and a serious boost of your whole system performance. Therefore, if you want the best and are prepared to pay for it, there is no better memory option than this one.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Very fast
- Large heat spreader
How to Buy the Best RAM for Gaming that Meets Your Needs
If you’re in search of the best RAM to ensure your gaming experience is as fast and lag-free as possible, you’ll need to start by looking at the optimal qualities for gaming RAM, including:
- High capacity (16 GB or more). If you plan on gaming onward into the future, having 16 or more GB should have you covered for all your memory needs.
- High frequency of about 2133 or more (based on your computer’s capabilities).
- Low latency (for best performance).
- Low voltage (around 1.2 volts for DDR4) ideal for heat reduction and optimal power usage.
- Type DDR4 (for the newest games).
- Compatible with your system (even the best RAM on the market won’t work for you if your system can’t handle it, so adjust your search to your needs).
The majority of RAM products on the market appear to come from the Kingston, G.SKILL, and Corsair brands. Nevertheless, don’t look past “lesser known” brands either.
Remember: you don’t need to spend a fortune to have an excellent gaming experience. You also don’t have to settle for lag and long wait times.
You just need to know how to balance capacity, frequency, and price to figure out which RAM can bring you the most satisfaction. Know your system, know your game’s requirements, and know your desires – now you can begin your RAM hunting journey!