Extra bandwidth is overkill when RAM is never the bottleneck in a good gaming PC even for 4K. The latency of today’s DDR5 RAMs is horribly high. Any investment today in DDR5 RAM will just lead to disappointment when sensible DDR5 memory finally makes it into the market by Q1, 2024. Upgrading to DDR5 will also require you to upgrade your board and processor. Avoid the hype train. Stick to your (hopefully dual-channel) DDR4 sticks.
Read more in the final verdict ⟶
When it comes to our beloved gadgets and devices, we all want them to function as smoothly and efficiently as possible. And one of the essential components of any computing device is its memory. With the launch of DDR5 memory, there is much debate regarding whether the update is worthwhile.
The tech world is always evolving, and with DDR5 memory, promises of improved performance are being made. But what does this all mean for us regular folks? Is it worth shelling out the extra bucks to upgrade to DDR5 memory, or are we better off sticking to DDR4?
We’ll be delving into the realm of DDR5 memory, examining its benefits and drawbacks in an easy-to-understand manner. So, sit back, relax, and prepare to dive into the thrilling world of DDR5 memory!
Performance benefits of DDR5
DDR5 is like having a superhero on your computer that’s capable of taking on the most memory-intensive tasks with ease. It is designed to be more efficient and reliable than ever before. It uses an advanced voltage regulation mechanism to optimize performance and reduce energy waste, which means it won’t overheat and will last longer.
The best thing about DDR5 is its lightning-fast data transfer speed. It’s like having a sports car instead of a bicycle when it comes to moving data around your computer. With DDR5, you’ll be able to access and manipulate even the largest datasets with ease, making your work or play even more enjoyable.
DDR5 also has advanced error correction capabilities that ensure your data is always safe and secure, no matter what happens. You won’t have to worry about data loss or corruption, allowing you to focus on what you’re doing rather than technological concerns.
But all of that is the promise of the underlying technology.
Today, DDR5 is basically an early adopter premium. There’s little, if any, value in investing in DDR5 memory. And that’s especially true for gamers.
DDR4 RAM isn’t going to go out of fashion. We’re still using 1080p, USB 2.0, and Nvidia 1080 video cards a lot. DDR5 is faster than DDR4 – but for gamers, there’s no real use of today’s DDR5 speed increments.
Not to mention that DDR4 is much cheaper than DDR5. This makes increasing existing DDR4 memory tremendously cost-effective than replacing the board, processor, and buying super-expensive DDR5 sticks.
DDR4 vs. DDR5
Gaming-grade DDR4 RAM speeds usually go from 3200 MHz to 5100 MHz. DDR5 starts with 4800 MHz. But the exact speed increase of DDR5 over DDR4 is not something you can answer concretely. The fact that both types aren’t cross-compatible doesn’t help either. You can’t, for example, use a process to test the individual performance of a 4800 MHz DDR4 RAM and a 4800 MHz DDR5 RAM as no task only makes use of the RAM. The DDR5 RAM will be using better hardware overall, so it will certainly give better numbers.
That being said, DDR4 memory with higher clock speeds are just as fast as the mid- or high-end DDR5 sticks you have available on the market right now. For example, a single-channel DDR5-4800 RAM will be the same (or close) speed as dual-channel DDR4-2400. This is mainly because dual-channel is superior to single-channel RAM configuration, but you get the point.
A simple CL38 DDR5 stick is only as good as a CL19 DDR4 stick. I’d say we wait until we get CL24 or at least CL34. This can easily take the remainder of 2023. With better latencies in the first quarter of 2024, I’d myself recommend upgrading to DDR5 to every gamer. Right now, at least latency-wise, it’s egregiously overpriced (which is to be expected, nothing wrong in that). If you buy a high-latency DDR5 RAM today, investing hundreds of dollars in a newer board and processor for a few more in-game frames, it will be too late to reinvest a major amount when sensible, non-hyped DDR5 finally makes an entry.
The real advantage of DDR5 RAM is how new hardware uses it.
DDR5 with new hardware
Intel 12th gen and AMD’s 6th gen processors can take advantage of DDR5 RAM to improve their efficiency and speed remarkably. This is where DDR5 RAM really comes into use.
Right now, you’re probably going to need a Z790 board and a Raptor Lake processor to make respectable use of that 6000+ bandwidth.
Motherboard manufacturers themselves don’t know what is the upper ceiling of performance. For example, not all manufacturers might not to roll out entirely new SKUs for DDR5. Some high-end Z690 gaming motherboards with modern CPUs, for example, might be able to handle 8000 or even 10,000 MHz DDR5 bandwidth. Until we have those modules, board and processor manufacturers including MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, AMD, Intel, etc. can’t validate their hardware to confirm this.
G.Skill already showed that higher-end Z690 boards can run DDR5-7000 CL40. There’s also the possibility of future BIOS and firmware updates improving compatibility.
How can I use DDR5 RAM?
DDR5 is an entirely different socket. Just like how you cannot fit a DDR4 stick in a DDR3 slot, you can’t fit a DDR5 stick on a DDR4 slot. You need new slots, ergo, a new motherboard. If you replace your motherboard, chances are, you might also need to replace the processor.
Overall, it’s a pretty major expense for anyone. Given the small improvement in speed you’ll get from today’s DDR5 memory, it’s really not worth it.
If you want to build a new PC with a new motherboard and processor anyway, or if your PC is due a major upgrade, then yes, building a rig for DDR5 RAM sounds like a good idea especially if you’re willing to spend big bucks.
But even today, if you’re building a new gaming PC, it’s better to get 2x8GB DDR4 RAM sticks. When the time comes, sell the whole thing (memory and board) to buy DDR5. That will be more cost-effective than choosing DDR5 today. If you’re trying to buy a DDR5 RAM for a current-generation board, then please don’t. Significantly better DDR5 modules are coming. And to use them, you’re going to need new motherboards.
DDR5 is more compatible with more recent CPUs and motherboards to truly offer quicker speeds, better power economy, and higher capacities.
The higher bandwidth of DDR5 is one of its main advantages. DDR5 has a bandwidth capacity of up to 6.4 Gbps, which is almost twice as much as DDR4. The faster data transfer between the CPU and RAM made possible by the greater bandwidth could lead to improved system performance.
DDR5 operates at a lower voltage than DDR4, but more powerful DDR5 RAM, especially overclocked ones or high-end ones, will definitely use more. Currently, it’s a difference of 0.1V.
Customers will need to upgrade their entire system to take advantage of DDR5 because it is not backward-compatible with DDR4 and does not offer the same performance. Despite these issues, high-end systems are likely to adopt DDR5 as the norm in the upcoming years.
DDR5’s role in advancing technology
DDR5 can process information more quickly. It’s also more energy-efficient, which is important for the environment and for saving you money on your energy bill.
DDR5 is a big deal because it can help support things like artificial intelligence, gaming, and big data analysis. These are all areas where a lot of computing power is needed, and DDR5 can provide the necessary speed and efficiency to handle these demanding tasks.
It’s definitely an important technological advancement that has the potential to improve many different aspects of computing. It’s fascinating to consider how this kind of technology will advance going forward and what new uses and applications we’ll find for it.
What lies ahead?
Historically, any new DDR version is pretty weak, relatively, for the first year or so. What lies ahead is constant improvement until DDR5 timings and speeds are significantly and effortlessly better than the highest DDR4 RAM out there. That is when an upgrade should be made.
Interest in DDR5 RAM began as far back as late 2021. The first DDR5 RAM was announced by SK Hynix even before that in late 2020. However, it wasn’t until late 2022 that DDR5 RAM was being purchased as if just another commodity when it was commercially released alongside Intel’s 12th gen processors and the Z690 motherboards.
Sometime by November-December 2023, therefore, should be a good time to go DDR5.
It’s quite evident that this new technology far outperforms DDR4. DDR5 memory promises to advance our computer experiences thanks to its quicker speeds, lower power requirements, and more bandwidth. It’s crucial to keep in mind that upgrading to DDR5 RAM can be expensive and that it might not be widely accessible just now.
Is DDR5 RAM worth it? No, it’s not, unless you’re an early adopter or are playing games on integrated graphics.
There are gamers using 8GB DDR4-3200 RAM to play at 4K. That’s a RAM costing $50-60. DDR5 will be double that amount for bandwidth your games don’t need. The RAM is never the bottleneck in a decent gaming PC. If you have a gaming PC you like, then there’s no need to replace the board, processor, and get expensive low-speed DDR5 RAMs.
Wait a little and soon, you’ll have much more cost-effective DDR5 options of higher speeds. DDR5 will be pretty much needed for good gaming and will offer more than what you’ll get currently.
If you spend heavily in DDR5 RAM today, you might not be able to upgrade it, say, 6-8 months later when a truly remarkable piece of RAM finally hits the market. This will make those who waited get better performance than you for a lower cost.
On the other hand, if you’re a tech early adopter, you might want to test the latest and greatest. It’s very likely that swapping out the whole board-processor-RAM configuration to use DDR5 will not have any impact on any practical gaming benchmark such as FPS or loading time just due to the RAM. But yes, that other hardware will certainly make a difference depending on your current configuration.
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