Best RAM for Gaming in 2017

Best RAM for Gaming
If you’re a computer gamer, you know how important it is that your gaming experience is smooth, beautiful, and immersive. Nothing can ruin a great game like bad graphics and lag! That’s why it’s so important to know how to find the best gaming RAM to enhance your games to their best quality.

Best DDR4 RAM Comparison Table:

Best DDR3 RAM Comparison Table:

So if you’re searching for the best RAM for gaming – this guide will help you get started on how to shop for the best RAM on the market for gamers and tech enthusiasts.

What is RAM?

RAM stands for “random access memory”, a common type of memory found in personal computers and laptops. It gets its name 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.

Note: RAM is different than your computer’s hard disk drive (HDD), which is the long-term storage place on your computer (whereas RAM is short-term).

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’re computer gets turned off, the data in the RAM is lost and added again when the computer is turned back on.

RAM is essentially a way to increase 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.

If you have multiple applications or programs open, then it will fill up the RAM space as you go about your business on your computer. If you start to reach the RAM maximum capacity, then the computer will slow down and eventually it will tell you to close some programs in order to open any others.

Don’t worry! It’s actually very hard in the modern day to fill up your RAM (you’ll see more on capacity later in the guide).

Why does memory matter for gamers? Programs all use different sizes or amounts of memory. Simple programs like your web browser don’t take up much at all, whereas a game or video editing program will need much more memory space.

Therefore, if you do not have much memory and try to run a modern game, you will definitely notice the difference. It may be extremely slow and jumpy, or the game may not let you play at all when it detects what memory you have in your system. That’s no fun.

RAM Types

There are two main forms of RAM: DRAM and SRAM. The way they differ revolves around the way they hold data and support access times. The phrase “access time” simply refers to how long it takes a program on your computer to locate a piece of information and make it ready to be available.

1. DRAM stands for “dynamic random access memory”. This is the more common type of RAM, however it needs constant refreshing (or power) and only supports access times at approximately 60 nanoseconds.

2. SRAM stands for “static random access memory”. SRAM is much faster than DRAM, able to support access times in only 10 nanoseconds. So why isn’t SRAM the most popular? Because it’s much more sizeable and expensive in comparison with DRAM.

DDR RAM, which stands for “double data rate random access memory”, is a type of RAM that has taken on several variations throughout the history of RAM, with each new version (DDR1 and older versions, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4) each being improved upon to have better data processing speeds and less power consumption.

Whether you choose DDR2, DDR3, or DDR4 will depend on your computer’s system requirements. If your computer is from 2007 or later, chances are it uses DDR3. DDR4 is the newest type and widely used by modern desktop computers and gaming.

Why? It’s the most advanced when it comes to speed and low power usage – it works better to enhance and smooth the performance of newer systems for better overall quality.

DDR3 or DDR4 – What’s the Big Difference?

DDR4 runs at 1.2 volts, rather than 1.5 volts for DDR3. 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 when more resource-intensive games and programs are developed.

RAM Capacity

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 typical ranges from 4 gigabytes (GB), typical for a laptop, all the way to 64 GB or even more.

To compare, a hard disk can hold 10 tarabytes (TB), which is the equivalent of 10,000 GB! However, RAM is MUCH faster than hard disk memory, which is why it’s so important in the overall performance of your computer.

For gaming, most games run smoothly at around 8 GB of RAM. 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 the best computer components, including the best 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!

RAM Frequency

Frequency for 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 equating to higher performance. When looking at RAM frequency, you’ll need to consider the capacity 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’s inherent risks when overclocking.

If the RAM runs at a higher speed, then it will run at a higher voltage and temperature. This issue 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 render it unusable. That’s why the best RAM for gaming will be designed for maximum cooling and long-term durability.

With the release and integration of the power-saving DDR4 RAM, its lower voltage may mean that we will see RAM being pushed further than ever before by people overclocking their RAM.

RAM, CPU, and Dual Channel Mode

RAM works 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 will be 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 times 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 Design

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 the best graphics cards and best gaming motherboards – you want enough memory to support those beautiful graphics!

Recent research has shown that RAM speed and capacity does 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 6 GB. For newer games, you might actually see a better performance with more memory than required by the game. 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-powered games and multitasking (for example, if you like to do livestreaming 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.
 

Best DDR4 RAM

 

CORSAIR Vengeance LPX

A RAM Built for Speed, Power, and Luxury

corsair vengeance lpx ddr4 - A RAM Built for Speed, Power, and Luxury

The Corsair Vengeance LPX offers high capacity and high frequency with an aluminum heat spread for better cooling and four different color options. It’s on the higher price end but reliably tested and optimized for overclocking.
 

Pros:

  • High frequency
  • Overclocking performance
  • Excellent heat spreader
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Very thick casing
  • Higher voltage

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Kingston HyperX FURY

An Impressive Little RAM with a Lot of Power

kingston hyperx fury ddr4 - An Impressive Little RAM with a Lot of Power

The Kingston HyperX FURY is a fairly affordable RAM with moderate frequency and memory (not the highest). This desktop memory is factory tested and designed with a lightweight profile; with Kingston, you’ll also find plenty of options if you’re searching for specific capacities and frequencies for your custom computer.

Pros:

  • High performance
  • Affordable
  • Low profile
Cons:

  • No color options
  • Low frequency for DDR4
  • Low capacity

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G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series

A Well-Rounded RAM That Saves on Power

gskill ripjaws v series ddr4 - A Well-Rounded RAM That Saves on Power
The G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series is a fairly high capacity and moderate-high frequency RAM with a sleek design and red coloring. While it’s fairly expensive, it’s designed specifically for gamers and PC enthusiasts looking for all-around high performance.

Pros:

  • Stylish design
  • Good latency for frequency
  • Good voltage for frequency
Cons:

  • Large heatsink
  • Somewhat pricey
  • Minimal overclocking capabilities

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G.SKILL TridentZ Series

An Ultra-Fast RAM with a Sleek, Slim Design

gskill tridentz ddr4 - An Ultra-Fast RAM with a Sleek, Slim Design
G.SKILL TridentZ Series comes with a high capacity and frequency with a price point to match. It’s a RAM designed for ultra-fast performance with a stylish appearance and a dual-color heat spreader.

Pros:

  • High frequency
  • Dual-color construction
  • Low profile
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • High latency
  • Higher voltage

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Crucial Ballistix Sport

A Power-Saving RAM at an Affordable Price Point

crucial ballistix sport ddr4 - A Power-Saving RAM at an Affordable Price Point
The Crucial Ballistix Sport is an affordable yet quality RAM with plenty of storage and fairly high frequency. It’s made for lower-power consumption and easy installation (great for beginners).

Pros:

  • Cheap/affordable
  • Low voltage
  • Low profile
Cons:

  • High latency
  • Average frequency
  • No color options

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CORSAIR Dominator Platinum

A High Performance RAM with Custom Options

corsair dominator platinum ddr4 - A High Performance RAM with Custom Options
The Corsair Dominator Platinum is a hardcore RAM with high capacity and frequency. The device comes with a customizable option to add light bars for maximum style and personalization.

Pros:

  • Fairly high frequency
  • Highly overclockable
  • Customizable look
Cons:

  • High latency
  • Higher voltage
  • Somewhat pricey

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Crucial Ballistix Elite

A Sturdy yet Slim RAM with Decent Power

crucial ballistix elite ddr4 - A Sturdy yet Slim RAM with Decent Power
The Crucial Ballistix Elite is constructed with a black heat spreader and comes equip with temperature sensing technology to avoid overheating. It has a similar capacity, frequency, and price range compared with previously discussed Corsair products.

Pros:

  • Fairly high frequency
  • Low profile
  • Thermal sensor for temperature regulation
Cons:

  • High latency
  • Simple design
  • Somewhat expensive

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Patriot Viper Elite

A Powerfully Constructed RAM for Intel 100 Series Platforms

patriot viper elite ddr4 - A Powerfully Constructed RAM for Intel 100 Series Platforms
The Patriot Viper Elite is a unique desktop memory kit with an interesting black and red coloration (also available in black and blue). Its capacity, frequency, and price range are all comparable to the Crucial Ballistix Elite and the Corsair Dominator Platinum (although it doesn’t quite have the reputation of these brands).

Pros:

  • Dynamic coloration
  • Heat shield construction
  • Fairly high frequency
Cons:

  • Higher voltage
  • High and thick/bulky
  • Limited for some systems

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PNY Anarchy

A Distinctive and Affordable RAM with the Basics

pny anarchy ddr4 - A Distinctive and Affordable RAM with the Basics
The PNY Anarchy comes with a cool blue-highlighted coloration and it’s designed to hold up in high-stress conditions for improved performance in all situations. It’s fairly affordable compared with similar products in the same capacity and frequency range, but with less notoriety.

Pros:

  • Low voltage
  • Lower price range
  • Interesting design
Cons:

  • Low frequency
  • Somewhat high latency for frequency
  • Bulky casing

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Best DDR4 RAM for Gaming: Who is the Winner?

All of the above products presented are great options depending on your individual needs, preferences, and budget.

If there had to be a winner, it would probably be a tie between the Corsair Vengeance LPX and the G.SKILL TridentZ Series, based on their superior design, high frequencies, high capacities, and positive reviews.

The Kingston HyperX FURY is also an affordable lower-frequency product with great customer feedback from a reputable brand.
 

Best DDR3 RAM

 

G.SKILL Ripjaws X

A Flashy and Affordable RAM with Some Limits

gskill ripjaws x ddr3 - A Flashy and Affordable RAM with Some Limits
The RipjawsX series is made to perform well under stress tests and rigorous gaming sessions. It offers easy overclocking for those looking to customize their own PCs. The teeth heat sinks are designed to maximize airflow, keeping the RAM cool.

Pros:

  • Stylish design
  • Effective heatsink
  • Low price
Cons:

  • High profile/tall
  • Limited for some systems
  • No color options

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Crucial Ballistix Sport

A Basic Compact RAM for Slim Fitting

crucial ballistix sport ddr3 - A Basic Compact RAM for Slim Fitting
The Crucial Ballistix Sport kit is fairly pricey for the specifications yet smaller than the average RAM sticks, so it’s a great space-saver. These modules have aluminum heat spreaders which help keep the sticks cool even through extended periods of use.

Pros:

  • Low profile/thin
  • High performance
  • Quality tested
Cons:

  • Low frequency
  • Expensive
  • Unattractive design

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Kingston HyperX FURY

A Reliably Fast RAM with Few Flaws

kingston hyperx fury ddr3 - A Reliably Fast RAM with Few Flaws
The Kingston HyperX Fury branding is a favorite amongst gamers with its stylish heatsinks that come in various colors and offer a grip for easy installation. They automatically overclock by detecting the system and going to maximum frequency. Kingston is a great buy for the capacity and frequency, especially for DDR3.

Pros:

  • High performance
  • Low profile
  • Automatic overclocking
Cons:

  • Somewhat high latency
  • No other notable cons

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Corsair Vengeance Pro

A Robust High Frequency RAM Made for Power

corsair vengeance pro ddr3 - A Robust High Frequency RAM Made for Power
The Corsair Vengeance Pro comes with higher frequency and a higher price point. This kit is great for people wanting to do their own overclocking to reach maximum potential. It also comes in a visually aesthetic yet fairly bulky design in four different colors.

Pros:

  • Stylish design
  • High frequency
  • Overclocking capabilities
Cons:

  • Bulky/high-profile heatsink
  • Higher voltage
  • Low capacity

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ADATA XPG V1

A Sleek and Vibrant RAM with Decent Speed

adata xpg v1 ddr3 - A Sleek and Vibrant RAM with Decent Speed
Specifically designed for gaming, the XPG V1 is made with heat dissipation that works well for extended use, whether it be gaming sessions, video editing, or other large bandwidth activities. The heatsink come in three striking colors.

Pros:

  • High frequency
  • Color options
  • Sleek design
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Thick heatsink
  • Brand less renowned

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G.Skill Sniper

A Truly Unique RAM That Won’t Break the Bank

gskill sniper ddr3 - A Truly Unique RAM That Won’t Break the Bank
The G.Skill Sniper has a very stylish heatsink with a unique “sniper” design. Higher performance yet low profile, it’s a great option for saving space and standing out.

Pros:

  • Unique design
  • Low profile
  • Relatively high frequency
Cons:

  • No automatic overclocking
  • No color options
  • Low capacity

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Best DDR3 RAM for Gaming: Who is the Winner?

Out of all the DDR3 RAM modules, the Kingston HyperX Fury kit shines above the rest. The price is extremely competitive for a 16 GB kit. It’s supremely stylish and optimized for hardcore gaming.

The Corsair Vengeance Pro is a close second based on its high frequency and visual aesthetics, rivaled by the well-balanced, colorful ADATA XPG V1.

How to Buy the Best RAM for Gaming that Meets Your Needs

If you’re in search of the best RAM to help ensure your gaming experience is as fast and lag-free as possible, you’ll need to start by looking at the most ideal qualities for the best 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; for example, the ADATA XPG V1 is a quality DDR3 option.

The key to finding the best RAM for gaming that suits your individual needs is to search for the specific qualities personalized to you and your system. Take some time to do a little research and get to know your system before making the final decision on which RAM to buy – it’ll make the process much easier!

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!

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