The DDR5 era has officially begun, just not in earnest. And by that I mean, the first consumer kit of DDR5 RAM has found its way to retail sites, including Amazon and Newegg, but if you purchase one you'll have to sit on it until Alder Lake arrives later this year.
That's because no consumer platforms support DDR5 memory just yet. That will change with Alder Lake and Intel's accompanying 600-series chipset, both due out before the calendar flips over to a new year. TeamGroup decided not to wait, however, and has released a 32GB DDR5-4800 kit to retail.
The "Elite" kit, as it's labeled, consists of two 16GB modules. Timings are rather loose at 40-40-40-77. To put those numbers into perspective, G.Skill's 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4-4800 Trident Z RGB memory kit sports much tighter 20-30-30-50 timings.
Technically, you'll have a choice between DDR5 and DDR4 memory when Alder Lake arrives, as it will support both memory types. Just not in the same motherboard, though, and it remains to be seen how DDR4 boards for Alder Lake will compare to DDR5 boards (both in terms of performance and the features available). But that's a discussion for another day.
What about pricing? A couple of weeks ago, TeamGroup said its 32GB DDR5-4800 memory kit would be available to purchase by the end of the month for $400. It's actually a bit cheaper—Amazon and Newegg both had it listed for $311 before the kit sold out.
That's actually not terrible for speed and capacity, as well as being a new generation product. You still shouldn't buy it, though, even if it comes back in stock. For one, TeamGroup's first DDR5 kit sticks to JEDEC's baseline specifications. Faster kits will inevitably materialize, just as we have seen in DDR4 land—retail DDR4 kits go all the way up to 5,333MT/s, which is way above JEDEC's 3,200MT/s designation.
Secondly, it makes little sense to purchase a memory kit, only to then sit on it for several months because there's nothing you can do with it. Well, that's not completely true—you could use one of the DIMMs as a short back scratcher, but there are much cheaper alternatives for that sort of thing.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how DDR5 affects performance when Alder Lake arrives, and then AMD's Zen 4 launch next year. We're also curious to see what other DDR5 kits present themselves at retail this year, and if any of them will be faster than 4,800MT/s.