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The best DDR4 RAM

We look at several DDR4 memory bundles to find the best options for PC gaming.

Looking to make an easy upgrade to your gaming PC? A new stick of DDR4 RAM can go a long way towards a better performing system. Faster and higher capacity RAM brings one of the most noticeable jumps in performance whether you're playing demanding modern games or opening dozens of new tabs on Chrome. 

After going through a swath of various-sized kits, the best DDR4 RAM remains G.Skill's TridentZ RGB DDR4 kit. They perform well, use high-quality chips, and are individually tested. Best of all, we think it's the best looking RGB kit around. Add any of these sticks to your gaming rig and they'll gather some crowds. 

The best gaming PC

Need a full suite of components for a new gaming PC? Check out our complete build guide.

If you've shopped for DDR4 RAM in the past, you've probably noticed that the prices have skyrocketed in the last year. Some of our previously recommended kits have nearly doubled in price due to a perfect storm of rising chip demand and manufacturing shortfalls. With more phones, graphics cards and even vehicles requiring more RAM, 2018 isn't looking much better. 

PC gamers know how important RAM is when it comes to upgrading or building a new system. But with one of the most complicated technical spec sheets of all PC components, shopping for it can prove to be daunting. Beyond simple capacity, users have to worry about cooling, RAM channels, CAS latency and clock speeds too. 

We've spent a great deal of time testing RAM kits to find the best options for PC gaming. If you're looking to upgrade and reap all of the benefits of a newer platform like the Z370 or X299, here's our top choices for DDR4 memory kits. Read our “How We Tested” section at the bottom to learn more about RAM and why we chose these winners.

If you still aren't sure how much RAM you actually need, check out our recommendations here.

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The best budget DDR4 kit

  • Budget friendly upgrade
  • Sleek heatsink design
  • Easy overclocking
  • Possible clearance issues with large CPU coolers

With more than 30 years of experience, Patriot has become well known for creating high performance, affordable RAM. The company has recently ventured into the PC gaming peripheral space, but they're still making some killer memory. We've had some great results with their DDR3 kits in the past and the Viper Elite Series DDR4 is no exception.

The Patriot Viper Elite 8GB may not be the cheapest DDR4 memory bundle you can find, but in our opinion it holds great value when you're on a budget. This dual-channel kit is priced lower than competitors like the HyperX Fury and Corsair Vengeance LPX while also offering similar levels of performance. And unlike cheaper kits, the Viper Elite features decent heatsinks and overclockability.

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The best RGB DDR4 kit

  • Same height as non-RGB models
  • Five addressable RGB zones
  • Syncs with Asus aura lighting
  • No custom lighting modes (yet)

Light up RAM modules have been around for quite a while now so it was only a matter of time before someone added RAM to the mountain of RGB-capable PC components. That someone was G.SKILL and we couldn’t be happier about it. The recently launched Trident Z RGB has to be one of the most tasteful implementations of RGB lighting we’ve come across. 

The Trident Z illuminates itself with five individually addressable RGB LEDs and a frosted diffuser that produces a soft glow which looks fantastic in just about any PC build. Available in a 16GB (2x 8GB) and 32GB (4x 8GB) kit, the RGB ram is based off of G.SKILL’s high performance Trident Z line and is available in speeds ranging from 2400 to 3600.

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The best mid-range DDR4 kit

  • Affordable high capacity
  • 42mm height for oversized CPU coolers
  • Great overclocking headroom 
  • Minor stability issues at higher speeds

When it comes to affordability and value, G.Skill's memory kits frequently come to mind, as it's typical to see their prices as the most competitive on Amazon and Newegg. While this kind of budget-oriented reputation often leads to disappointing performance and quality control, we've found G.Skill RAM to hold up exceptionally well over the years.

The G.Skill Ripjaws V is the second generation of the company's DDR4 memory and it's clear that they've listened to the feedback and criticisms from the customers. The new series is more affordable, faster and has been redesigned with a less tacky heatsink. We found the 16GB Ripjaws V kit to be the best option for a high capacity kit that features great performance right out of the box.

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The best high-end DDR4 kit

  • Includes Dominator Airflow LED fans
  • Light bar upgrade available
  • Sleek aesthetics
  • High profile may get in the way on air-cooled builds
  • Expensive

Since its birth in 1994, Corsair has grown to become one of the leading brands in PC components and peripherals for both enthusiasts and gamers alike. The company has certainly expanded from its DRAM-making roots, but Corsair still manages to impress us with its innovation in memory. 

The Dominator Platinum series has long held the crown as a premium choice for memory since it was introduced in 2012. Four years later and it looks like things are no different with the latest DDR4 modules. With patented DHX cooling, unmatched reliability and head-turning looks, the 32GB Dominator Platinum DDR4-3333 is our top choice for high-end memory kits. 

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How we test RAM and others we tested

Contrary to what you might expect, RAM speed actually has very little effect on gaming performance. As many studies and tests such as this one conducted by The Tech Buyer’s Guru will show you, there is virtually no noticeable FPS improvement from a 2133MHz kit to a 3200MHz one.

Additionally, CAS latency (CL) which refers to the delay time a memory controller experiences when accessing RAM, can also be tricky for gamers. Measured in nanoseconds, lower memory latency is not something you’d even notice while gaming. 

Testbench:

CPU: Intel Core i7-5960X

Motherboard: MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon

GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 780

SSD: Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Power Supply: Corsair CS850M PSU

As Crucial simply recommends, “Optimize your system by installing as much memory as possible, using the latest memory technology, and choosing modules with as much speed as is cost-effective and/or relevant for the applications you're using.”  

Since this guide is focused exclusively for PC gaming, we didn’t want to bombard you with largely meaningless benchmark results and instead judged our winners on a blend of performance, overclocking stability, features, and overall value. (But if you're wondering, the benchmarks we used included AIDA64, MaxxMEM and RealBench.) Since most of the kits we tested scored nearly identical benchmark results, we’ve omitted the charts to keep focus on the important stuff. Of course, we also stress tested each build with hours of Battlefield 1 and Overwatch in true PC Gamer fashion.

We completed all of our testing using quad-channel configurations on an X99 motherboard, but our recommendations still stand for dual-channel and even single-channel configurations. If you’re unfamiliar, memory channels refer to the number of communication paths between the CPU and the RAM. Like roads on a highway, the more channels there are the higher bandwidth is available for the CPU and RAM to work together.

Dual-channel requires two or more RAM modules while quad-channel requires four or more. Most modern CPUs support dual-channel memory while X99 models support quad-channel. But when it comes down to gaming, the differences between dual and quad channel memory are basically nonexistent. Here’s a great piece on the (lack of) performance differences from our friends at PCWorld.

A final note when purchasing RAM, keep in mind that mixing modules can work, but we highly recommend purchasing identical modules or a full kit for better stability. 

Competitors

HyperX Fury DDR4 2800 16GB

Priced just a tad higher than the 2133MHz option, the 2800 kit is also a great choice but both options reach similar overclocking thresholds so we’d recommend going with the cheaper of the two. If you aren’t comfortable messing around in the BIOS, go with the 2800 kit if the price difference is small enough.

HyperX Predator DDR4 3200 16GB

Like the Fury DDR4 series, the Predator offers killer stability and overclocking headroom. Unfortunately, the high price point makes it more worthwhile to get a 32GB kit of Ripjaws V or a 16GB kit of Dominator Platinums.

Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000MHz 16GB

While Corsair’s Vengeance series still holds a great reputation for reliability and performs great, the kits are often priced pretty close to the Dominator Platinum. We’d highly recommend saving up a bit more to invest in the better bundle.

G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4 2400MHz 16GB

Priced similarly as the HyperX Fury DDR4 2133 kit, the Ripjaws V don’t offer quite the same overclocking headroom and flexibility. However, we often find deals on the 2400 Ripjaws making them a really competitive choice on a budget. 

G.Skill TridentZ DDR4 3200MHz 64GB

The top of the line G.Skill TridentZ series was a very close second to the Dominator Platinum. Overall, they’re excellent modules with high stock speeds at reasonable price points, but we were able to overlook the small difference in cost for the additional benefits the Dominator Platinum offers. 

ADATA XPG Z1 DDR4 2133MHz 16GB

Priced higher than the HyperX Fury 2133MHz kit while offering slightly less performance, we’d find it hard to recommend the XPG Z1 series from ADATA. We still need to get our hands on the XPG Dazzle and its flashy LED bar which might be a better contender.

Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4 3000MHz 32GB

While Crucial’s M.O.D. memory monitoring utility is a huge plus for the Ballistix Elite series, mediocre overclocking stability had us preferring the more affordable Ripjaws V. 

Future testing

While we may have covered some of the more popular memory brands, this guide is by no means a complete one. We still need to test kits from Klevv, Team Dark, Avexir, Patriot, PNY and more. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as we continue to receive new test kits. Be sure to let us know what your favorite DDR4 RAM is if we haven’t tested it yet.

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