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
HyperX Fury RGB
A Great Value for the Money
A good mixture of price and performance is usually a winning combination, and HyperX Fury RGB follows that path neatly.
It offers speeds from 2400MHz to 3466MHz and latency of CL15 or CL16. Moreover, it is available in 8GB and 16GB modules and can be found in kit capacities from 8GB to 64GB and with a voltage that can be either 1.2V or 1.35V.
When talking about HyperX Fury RGB’s performance, you may be sure it isn’t among the best. However, it is more than pleasing considering its entry-level RGB RAM price. Moreover, with a little bit of tweaking, you can get an additional 300MHz of speed, with certain modules such as 3466MHz ones, which is definitely a beneficial bonus.
Although this RAM officially supports HyperX NGENUITY software, the fact is that it actually doesn’t. Yes, it works with ASUS Aura Sync and similar tools, but NGENUITY is still out of reach, at least until some future updates.
On the other hand, RGB lighting itself is very bright and offers an aggressive style that makes it highly attractive for a wide range of users, combined with its black color and low-profile heat spreaders.
HyperX Fury RGB is compatible with all the latest Intel and AMD processors, offers a lifetime warranty and overall presents one of the best RAMs for gaming considering the features, performance and the price.
- Lifetime warranty
- Good price
- Bright RGB lighting
- HyperX NGENUITY software doesn’t work with it
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 RGB
Blasting Performance in a Sleek Package
Finding RAM memory with an amazing performance, attractive appearance and a list of features full of innovative, super-efficient solutions, is something that every gamer is hoping for. Only a few products can fulfill such high standards, but Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB is certainly one of such devices.
Sleek looking, with high-quality DHX heat spreaders and full XMP2.0 support, this device offers an outstanding performance that has almost no rivals among the other premium-quality RAMs, and overall excellent user experience that is unfortunately followed by its rather high price.
Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB is available in speeds from 3000MHz to 4800MHz, latencies from CL14 to CL18 and two voltages 1.35V and 1.4V one. Moreover, it is available in 8GB and 16GB modules and in kits from 8GB to 128GB, which is good enough for all sorts of gamers.
More importantly, this memory delivers one of a kind LED performance that comes as a result of Capellix RGB LEDs implementation and is represented through shining bright lights and low power consumption that is making wonders in combination with iCUE software.
All in all, if top-notch performance, followed by stability, innovative features and plenty of space for overclocking, is your major concern when deciding for a new memory kit, Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB is an ideal choice for you.
- Excellent performance
- Quality heat spreaders
- Very bright LED lights
- A bit too 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
Silicon Power XPOWER RGB Turbine Gaming DDR4
An Excellent Alternative to More Expensive Top Brand Solutions
If you are looking for a quality performance RAM memory, with a lot of space for possible overclocking and you are not burdened by the brand names, Silicon Power XPOWER RGB Turbine Gaming DDR4 might be your ideal option.
This memory comes with a lifetime warranty and is available in 8GB and 16GB modules that come in kits from 8GB till 32GB. Furthermore, it is fully XMP-compatible and supports various RGB software, such as ASUS Aura Sync or GIGABYTE RGB Fusion, which are unfortunately a necessity, since it doesn’t come with the RGB software of its own.
Silicon Power XPOWER RGB Turbine memory has a voltage of 1.4V and is available in 3200MHz, 3600MHz and 4133MHz speed and two latencies, CL16 and CL19. More importantly, it offers excellent price and great overclocking capabilities that allow for more than 500MHz of additional speed in the case of 3200MHz modules.
All in all, the XPOWER RGB Turbine doesn’t offer leading performance; however, it keeps the pace with the premium class products. Also, it offers a great price, easy installation and cool looks at the same time, which altogether maybe isn’t enough for the top spot among the best RAM memories, but it should be more than a good reason to seriously consider it for your next purchase.
- Excellent price
- Good XMP performance
- No RGB software
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
Patriot Viper III DDR3
A Great Boosting Tool for Outdated Machines
There is no doubt about the fact that DDR3 memory has left the central stage, allowing the DDR4 memories to show their full potential. However, there are still a lot of older configurations that just need a bit of memory boost in order to keep up with the modern-day PCs and prolong their existence for one or two more years, and exactly those customers are the main target of the Patriot Viper III DDR3 memory.
This so-called “Black Mamba” doesn’t offer a staggering performance for today’s standards. Nevertheless, it offers XMP1.3 compatibility, a lifetime warranty and a variety of capacities that can range from 4GB to 32GB. Moreover, this memory is available in 1600MHz, 1866MHz, 2133MHz and 2400MHz speed, two voltages (1.5V and 1.65V) and the respectable CL10 latency.
When talking about the overclocking, Patriot Viper III DDR3 provides a decent capacity for such activities and, depending on the module type, it allows for speed boosts of up to 266MHz. It is compatible with all the latest DDR3-compatible AMD and Intel CPUs and more importantly offers a great quality that came as a result of rigorous tests.
Overall, Patriot Viper III DDR3 certainly isn’t a part of the today’s best RAMs; nevertheless, for DDR3 standards and as a tool that will bring a few more years to your old machine, this memory is a great option and altogether an amazing device.
- Attractive looks
- Lifetime warranty
- Hand tested
- Not the best heatsink quality
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!