Slow PC’s are a common occurrence and there are a million things that can bring your machine to a crawl. While some folks can get by with an underpowered computer it’s something gamers cannot abide. High-end graphics card is one way to spice things up although upgrading your RAM is a quick way to give your rig a big boost. Finding the best RAM for gaming, however, is easier said than done.
How to Choose the Best RAM for Gaming
RAM is short for Random Access Memory and to say it’s an integral part of your PC would be an understatement. These little components help to keep things running smoothly by quickly storing and accessing data as you need it. That includes opening programs or dozens of tabs in your web browser along with handling your favorite FPS game or MMORPG.
Graphics programs and high-end games require far more resources than a web page, so the more, the better if you plan on gaming. As long as you follow these tips, you will find yourself at the head of the pack instead of lagging behind your teammates when tearing through maps online.
RAM capacity refers to the size of the modules and is directly tied to the types of games you want to play. The amount of slots on your motherboard dictates how much RAM your system can take, and what type of configuration you’ll need. Some may prefer four 4GB sticks while others may want to go with two 8GB modules to hit the magical 16GB mark. That is widely considered standard for most gamers, but underwhelming in professional rigs.
This is also where the “system requirements” factor in. Consumers that don’t want to get too technical simply need to check the system requirements for the game they want to play. Games will have a minimum requirement along with the company’s recommended requirements. Bigger is better with RAM, so opt for the maximum if it’s within your budget and your machine can handle it.
At the moment, there are two “main” types of RAM with SRAM and DRAM. For beginners, this is where things can get a little confusing depending on your current setup. Our guide to the best RAM for gaming will break down the differences, and explain the DDR system as well.
- DDR – DDR stands for Double Data Rate Random Access Memory and is another thing to consider. If you have an older PC that was made before 2010, you may require DDR1 or DDR2 RAM. Newer systems work with DDR3 and DDR4, which is the newest and fastest style.
- SRAM – Whenever you see the term SRAM, it means Static Random Access Memory. As it’s static, it is faster than other types of RAM and provides quicker access to data. It is also more expensive than your next choice which is called DRAM.
- DRAM – DRAM, or Dynamic Random Access Memory, is a more affordable option when it’s time to upgrade and generally the most common way to go. The access time is 60 nanoseconds compared to around 10 for SRAM, and it requires a steady stream of power.
DDR3 vs. DDR4
For what seemed like ages, gamers used DDR3, and it’s still a very popular option today. DDR4 quickly became standard with serious gamers, however, especially those running the X99 platform. If you have a compatible system, DDR4 is obviously going to be your best bet.
In a nutshell, DDR4 is faster and operates at a lower voltage than DDR3. The lower wattage may not make much difference to the casual gamer, but the speed will. DDR3 starts at 800 MT/s and peaks at around 2100. DDR4 on the other hand “starts” at 2133MHz and skyrockets from there. On the flipside, all that speed can increase latency although it may not matter depending on your setup.
Frequency is measured in MHz and is essentially how much data you can transfer to and from the RAM. The higher the frequency, the more bandwidth you’ll have to transfer data. It is an important area to pay attention to when choosing the best RAM for gaming as a few extra bucks could make a big difference.
While frequency and bandwidth are two areas of importance, the same can be said for RAM timings. Timing is laid out as a series of numbers like 16-18-18-35, and each number represents a different function. If you are interested in what tRP means or want to know what the first digit represents, this article explains it nicely.
Best DDR4 RAM For Gaming in 2018
An Affordable and Powerful Choice
Ballistix is a series of RAM modules produced by fan-favorite Micron. The Ballistix Sport LT’s are good looking sticks that are easy to install – even for beginners. While budget-friendly, you will be impressed by the performance they bring to your machine.
The Ballistix Sport LT is geared towards gamers on a budget. They are of the DDR4 variety with speeds starting at 2400 MT/s on the base model and going up to 2600 MT/s for the PC4-21300. As you would expect, both are 288-pin modules.
Micron slapped a slick heat spreader on these modules, and there are three options to choose from with Gray, Red, and White. Each has a camo pattern and sports the XMP 2.0 profile as well. The 8GB modules come in single packs or doubled up from 4GB all the way up to 16GBx4 depending on your needs.
- Heat Spreaders
Overclocking Made Simple
Corsair’s Vengeance lineup is just as colorful as the Ballistix, and nobody can argue with their performance. These DDR4 modules will make your PC fly and help keep you in the action long after others have sticks have failed.
Like most companies, Corsair is going to give you options when it comes to the Vengeance LPX. The top option in our eyes is the 16GB set (8GB x 2) which has a frequency of 3000MHz. The heat spreader is made from anodized aluminum regardless of the size which helps to keep the heat down during those long gaming sessions.
While there’s a lot to like about these modules, they are pricey compared to others in the same range. That’s due to the overall quality and tech specs, so the negative is really a positive in a sense. The LPX RAM modules are available in five different colors with Black, Grey, Red, White, and Blue.
- XMP 2.0 support
- Low-profile module
- Eight-layer PCB
- Expensive compared to similar sticks
A Great All-Around Option
Kingston is a name consumers know and trust in the storage world from SD cards to modules. The Kingston HyperX FURY is our first option from the company, and one to seriously consider if you need an 8GB module that won’t break the bank.
One of the first things that stands out with the FURY is its operating voltage. It’s extremely low at 1.2 volts, and it’s a plug-and-play module to boot. It will be easy for beginners as it comes dialed in to the proper speed out of the box. A few tech specs of interest include fly-by topology, LPASR, automatic overclocking, and a lifetime warranty with excellent technical support.
If you want to color code your RAM, you’ll be pleased to know Kingston has made the HyperX FURY available in Black, Red or White. The modules themselves run from 4GB single sticks up to 64GB configurations.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Low profile design
- FURY spreader
- Automatic Overclocking
A Colorful Alternative for your Rig
Gamers with custom rigs and see-through cases may require RAM that has a bit more “flair” that a colored heat spreader. If you fall into that category, you may have found your perfect memory module in the form of the Vengeance RGB lineup from Corsair.
While the Vengeance LPX is colorful, it doesn’t hold a candle to the RGB series. The tops feature a cut-out of the company’s logo and are capable of putting on quite the light show. This RAM doesn’t just glow; you can actually program effects through Corsair Link software. There are no wires involved, so it’s easy to install and has XMP 2.0 support.
Glowing lights are certainly nice, but the Corsair Vengeance RGB is no slouch when it comes to performance. It’s ready for overclocking out of the box and selects the best settings automatically. The tested latency is 16-18-18-36, and as you’d suspect, there are several variants of this kit available.
- Endless array of color options
- Programmable lighting effects
- Various configurations available
- Performance could be better in a few areas
A Dual-Channel Powerhouse
G.Skill may not have the name recognition of a company like Corsair, but it would be a mistake to disregard the Ripjaws V series. These sticks are compatible with a wide range of systems and are widely regarded as some of the best DDR4 RAM kits currently on the market.
This particular set comes with two 8GB 288-pin DDR4 modules per pack. That’s enough to give your tired rig a big boost, and ideal to work alongside the best CPUs for gaming. The speed is listed at 2400 with Cas Latency 15 Timing set to 15-15-15-35. It’s low voltage as well at 1.2V and sports a standard heat spreader to help keep the temperature down.
If you want to keep things simple and know what you need, it’s hard to go wrong with the G. Skill Ripjaws V Series. There are not as many options available as you’ll find with other models, but they perform as advertised and are well worth your time.
- Easy overclocking
- XMP 2.0 profile
- Sleek heat spreader
Flexible Power at an Affordable Price
The Viper Elite series comes from Patriot, a company responsible for several popular modules among gamers. This series is available in different configurations although our attention is on their dual-channel DDR4 kit which clocks in with a speed of 2400MHz.
This RAM kit provides you with two 8GB sticks with the standard 288-pin setup. As mentioned, they are clocked at 2400MHz. While that’s on the lower end of the spectrum for this series, it will be more than sufficient for most folks looking to upgrade. Regardless of the speed, each RAM module comes with a lifetime warranty.
When it comes to style, the Viper Elite Series is at the top of the food chain – they’re going to look good in your case. They perform as expected, and the pricing is comparable to other top models in the 2400MHz class.
- Flexible timing
- Plenty of room for overclocking
- Looks good
The Perfect RAM for Tweakers
If you love what Corsair brings to the table with the RBG series, but aren’t sold on those fancy lights, prepare yourself for the Dominator Platinum lineup. These sticks carry a similar price point and specifications although their style is completely different.
Corsair went futuristic with the look of this kit. It’s modular to a degree as you can customize and configure the top bar with an Airflow LED fan and light bars. That top plate protects the machined aluminum heat sinks, which in turn keeps things cool in conjunction with the company’s DHX cooling system.
Whether you have the X99 or 100 series boards, this module will increase your performance considerably. They offer XMP 2.0 support for overclocking and are some of the coolest sticks around both literally and figuratively.
- Highly Customizable
- Corsair Link Control
- DHX Cooling Tech
Amazing RGB Implementation and Design
The TridentZ RBG shares a few similarities with the Ripjaws V as both are DDR4 RAM and built for gaming. That’s where the similarities end however as the Trident lineup is a more colorful option and a nice alternative to the Vengeance RGB.
As the name implies, these sticks are from the Trident lineup, so they come with the popular heat spreader from the Z. It also has an RGB light bar across the top which allows you to set the lighting anyway you want. There are countless options to choose from when you factor in the software, and the performance is just as solid as you’d expect.
If signal interference has kept you on the fence about going RGB, you’ll be pleased to know it will not be an issue with these modules. As for the technical specifications, the speed of this RAM is listed at 3200MHz, and the voltage is set to 1.35 volts. They come two per pack in 8GB sticks with timing set to 16-18-18-38.
- XMP 2.0 Ready
- Colorful RGB system
- Solid XMP performance
- Limited overclocking
Best DDR3 RAM For Gaming in 2018
The Best DDR3 RAM
You can’t talk about the best RAM for gaming in the DDR3 class without mentioning Corsair. This kit comes from their Vengeance lineup but is from their PRO series. That’s a good thing if you need high speeds and don’t mind a higher voltage.
These sticks come in a dual channel configuration with two 8GB DDR3 RAM modules set at 1.65 volts. The “tested” latency clocks in at 11-13-13-31 while the speed is listed at 2400MHz. It’s fast, and definitely in the PRO class from a specs standpoint.
While this aggressive little 240-pin kit comes with a limited lifetime warranty, gold and black are the only colors currently available in this configuration. The eight-layer PCB and heat spreader make it an ideal choice for overclockers.
- XMP 1.3
- Anodized aluminum heat spreader
- Taller than other modules in this class
A Reliable and Affordable Solution
Gaming motherboards don’t have to have DDR4 capabilities as DDR3 sticks are still going strong. Kingston realized that when they produced this 8GB kit from their HyperX FURY line. It’s from the same family as their DDR4 module but built for boards that can’t handle newer sticks.
Like its sibling, the HyperX FURY DDR3 RAM is plug-and-play with an automatic overclocking feature. You won’t need to tinker around in the BIOS settings, which makes it ideal for beginners in need of speed. Our top choice clocks in at 1600MHz, but there are lower and higher speeds available from 1333MHz to 1866MHz. There are also lower voltage models that dip below 1.35 volts as well.
You can pick up this kit in 8GB of 16GB configurations or in single sticks of 4GB or 8GB. It comes with a lifetime warranty while the color options include Black, Blue, Red, and White.
- Several configurations available
- Lifetime Warranty
A High-Performance DDR3 Module
Ballistix Sport RAM is another great choice if you are on a DDR3 system and need 240-pin sticks. They aren’t quite as fancy as the Sport LT, but still have all the features fans have come to expect from the company.
From the integrated aluminum heat spreader to the XMP profile, this module is as solid as they come. It has a speed of 1600MHz and can handle quad channels as long as your system is up to snuff. It is unbuffered as well with timing set at 9-9-9-24.
Like most kits, you’ll get to choose the size to suit your needs although you will not get to select a color this time around. Options include sticks 4GB or 8GB in size or kits ranging from 8GB kits up to 32GB kits with eight 4GB modules.
- Multiple configurations available
- XMP profiles
- Aluminum heat spreader
- Price compared to similar models