Home » Blog » Practical Shopping Guide for Gaming PC Memory Practical Shopping Guide for Gaming PC Memory

When purchasing memory modules, prioritize whether overclocking is essential. Overclocking refers to pushing the hardware beyond its limits to achieve higher performance. Some enthusiasts seek overclocking to squeeze additional performance from their hardware, particularly in gaming or high-performance computing applications. Specific hardware components and motherboards designed to handle increased clock speeds support overclocking, offering users the flexibility to optimize their systems. If you are uninterested in overclocking, choose a reputable brand, determine the memory size, and select the appropriate frequency.


Top Brands to Consider.

 Kingston, Corsair, Crucial, TeamGroup, Acer Predator, G.Skill, ADATA, XPG, Samsung, Patriot, and others. (Listed in no specific order; familiarity with the brand indicates reliability.)


Choose DDR4 or DDR5?

Navigating the choice between DDR4 and DDR5 memory can be pivotal. DDR5 gaming performance, especially at high frequencies surpassing 6800MHz, outpaces DDR4. Given its higher frequency, DDR5 consistently offers superior productivity performance compared to DDR4. While gamers may opt for DDR4 for its cost-effectiveness, productivity users can weigh the budgetary implications when choosing between DDR4 and DDR5. DDR5 platforms currently come at a slightly higher cost. If budget permits, embracing DDR5 straight away is advisable.


Memory Capacity: 16GB, 32GB or more?

While 16GB remains the sweet spot for many users, it’s essential to consider evolving demands. As programs grow in size and complexity, and with the prevalence of 1080p and 4K videos, the need for memory continues to escalate. Additionally, modern PC games are becoming increasingly demanding, and websites are becoming more intricate. Consequently, heavy multitaskers and prosumers may find 32GB beneficial when relying on something other than slower disk-based virtual memory. However, 16GB proves far more affordable and typically sufficient for gaming and mainstream productivity tasks. When purchasing memory modules, evaluating your usage patterns and the evolving demands of your applications is crucial to making an informed decision. Additionally, acquiring two modules for dual-channel operation ensures optimized performance, particularly under demanding conditions.


What Memory Speed?

Memory frequency is marked on modules such as 2666MHz, 3200MHz, 3600MHz, 4800MHz, 5600MHz, 6000MHz, etc. Choosing the right frequency is crucial for optimal performance. For example, for a dual-channel setup in DDR4 and DDR5 systems, selecting the appropriate frequency ensures efficient utilization, especially when paired with high-performance CPUs for gaming. Considerations vary depending on the system configuration. For an Intel DDR5 system, a kit within the 5200MHz range is typically adequate. However, opting for faster frequencies like 6000MHz or even 6400MHz for enthusiasts seeking top-tier performance can maximize system capabilities. It’s important to configure BIOS settings, including XMP, to unleash the full potential of high-frequency memory modules.


How do you choose memory for overclocking?

When selecting memory for overclocking, prioritize the memory chips, as they dictate timing and frequency. These chips also establish the memory’s maximum potential, making them pivotal for overclocking success. While brand recognition is essential, the quality of the chips ultimately determines performance.


Intel Platform:

12th Gen Intel: It supports both DDR4 and DDR5. Check the motherboard specifications to determine the supported generation. Z690 D4 motherboards offer flexibility with memory frequencies, while D5 motherboards are tailored for DDR5 compatibility.

13th Gen Intel: Continues the DDR4/DDR5 support trend. DDR5 platforms inherently support speeds up to 5600MHz and can be pushed further with overclocking.

SA voltage is locked for 12th/13th Gen CPUs without the K suffix. DDR4 memory typically operates at 3200MHz and lacks overclocking capabilities. Conversely, DDR5, operating in gear2 mode, remains unaffected by SA voltage. Post 12th/13th Gen, overclocking DDR4 is limited to B660 and Z690, whereas B760 and Z790 are preferred for DDR5 overclocking. The latest motherboard iterations are optimized for DDR5, offering minimal enhancements for DDR4.

14th Gen Intel: Echoes the DDR4/DDR5 support of its predecessor. Native DDR5 platforms boast speeds of up to 5600MHz, with overclocking unlocking higher frequencies. The latest second-generation motherboards theoretically support increased DDR5 overclocking capabilities.


AMD Platform:

Ryzen 5000 Series: Overclocking potential hinges on CPU FLCK. The ideal ratio between CPU FLCK and memory frequency is 1:2. Typically, Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs boast an FLCK of approximately 2000, with optimal memory performance at around 4000MHz.

Ryzen 7000 Series: The Ryzen 7000 Series features exclusive DDR5 support. The optimal memory frequency range is between 6000 and 6400MHz, ensuring peak performance on DDR5 platforms.


What are the rankings of memory chips?

DDR4 Memory Chip Hierarchy:

Regarding DDR4 memory chips, brands like G.Skill, Kingston, Corsair, and Crucial showcase diverse internal chips. Variations abound, with different frequencies often employing different chips. Moreover, chip variances persist between batches even within the same frequency and timing specifications. Hence, there’s no guarantee that your purchase will mirror what has been verified.

DDR5 Memory Chip Hierarchy:

In the realm of DDR5 memory chips, the hierarchy stands as follows: Micron A-die > Micron M-die > Samsung Chip > Crucial Chip. Micron chips come in both locked and unlocked voltage versions, with brands typically opting for the latter. However, locking memory voltage can curtail overclocking capabilities. For frequencies surpassing 7000MHz, voltages exceeding 1.5V are requisite. Thus, for overclocking enthusiasts, meticulous attention is warranted during memory purchases.


More Tips on DDR5 Memory.

With DDR5 memory prices witnessing a significant drop, now is an opportune time for productivity users to consider upgrading to DDR5. The top-performing DDR5 chips hail from Micron, closely followed by Samsung. However, it’s worth noting that Micron chips lack overclocking potential.


Cost-Effective Recommendations: As DDR5 memory gains traction, mainstream frequencies have surged to 6400-7200MHz, making them increasingly accessible. Opt for frequencies within this range for optimal cost-effectiveness. For enhanced performance, prioritize memory modules with lower timings.


DDR5 Platform Support: Initially exclusive to Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake platform, DDR5 support has expanded to include Intel’s 13th Gen Raptor Lake and AMD’s Zen 4 processor platforms. AMD’s Zen 4-based AM5 motherboards exclusively support DDR5, whereas Intel’s platforms offer both DDR4 and DDR5 versions.


Compatibility Considerations: It’s crucial to note that DDR5 memory is incompatible with DDR4 motherboards. Despite both types featuring 288 pins, they are electrically incompatible due to different notch positions. This design prevents the insertion of DDR5 modules into DDR4 motherboards and vice versa.


I had intended to conduct online research to compare the rankings of DDR4 and DDR5 memory kits for gaming. However, I now believe it’s unnecessary. Simply adhering to this guide will help you easily identify the right memory kit for your needs. As previously mentioned, reputable brands generally offer reliable products. If you’re determined to rank them, scrutinize the memory chips they utilize, and refer to the DDR5 and DDR4 memory chip hierarchy provided above. Additionally, don’t discard your old components as e-waste when upgrading your current system. Instead, consider selling used memory for cash returns.