Demand from datacenters could push RAM prices even higher in 2018

Speculating on RAM pricing is not the easiest thing to do, especially when there are conflicting reports. For example, back in January there was a report that DRAM prices might actually (finally!) start to come down sometime this year, after having more than doubled over the past year and half. Now, however, there is talk of DRAM pricing heading north by as much as 10 percent.

So what changed between mid-January and the first week of March? According to "industry sources" that Digitimes spoke with, there is rising demand for DRAM chips by smartphone manufacturers and especially datacenters.

The good news is that Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron are all planning to kick up production. All combined, the market could see a 30 percent uptick in the number of memory chips produced. Unfortunately, that will not be enough to offset the rising demand, which is the bad news. The aforementioned sources say price quotes for memory chips are expected to rise by at least 5 percent and maybe twice that much in the first half of this year.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs also believe that DRAM pricing will continue to rise. In a note to investors, Goldman Sachs wrote that 32GB server modules are selling for around $310 to $315 currently, up from $300 in mid-January. The note predicts even higher pricing going forward.

You are probably not running server-grade memory in your home PC, but if prices for DRAM do continue to rise, it will likely affect consumer kits as well. We have already seen this, obviously. Take for example this Patriot 16GB DDR4-2400 (2x8GB) kit. It currently sells for $205 on Amazon, versus just over $100 in late 2016. Another example is this Kingston HyperX Fury 16GB DDR4-2400 kit—you could have snagged it for around $54 in early 2017, but it now sells for $204. We'd offer up more examples, but it's depressing.

Even if prices do come down, it's probably unrealistic to expect an outright plummet. So, if you spot a good deal on RAM and need to upgrade, you might as well bite the bullet.