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Be careful if you're buying a DDR5 motherboard during Black Friday

Ram sticks inserted in a motherboard
(Image credit: Gigabyte)

The 12th-generation Intel Alder Lake CPUs are some impressive silicon. The mid-range i5 12600K has even taken our coveted top spot as the best CPU for gaming available right now. In addition to impressive performance, these new chips are compatible with a range of new and exciting technologies like WiFi 6E, PCIe 5.0, and DDR5 memory. But that last one is a bit of a sticking point.

As reported by 12chip.com, every major retailer is fresh out of the stuff, and a quick search of sites like Amazon, Newegg, and B&H Photo shows nothing but 'out of stock' listings. The production bottleneck seems to be a lack of PMICs (power management integrated circuits), which handle power management for DDR5 modules. Prior RAM generations like DDR4 didn't need these PMICs because their power management was handled by the motherboard. With DDR5, that work is now done on the RAM sticks themselves, which is why these shortages are primarily affecting the new generation of hardware. It also doesn't help that DDR5 is brand new tech, so production would likely still be limited even in the best of times.

As with the general chip shortage, there is no indication of when this issue will be resolved. I also have to mention that even when in-stock, DDR5 kits are selling at significantly higher prices than DDR4.

If you're currently shopping for some brand new PC parts and hoping to find a few Black Friday deals, keep those DDR5 shortages in mind when picking out a motherboard. If you buy a motherboard that only accepts DDR5 RAM, you may be stuck with a nonfunctional PC for a few weeks at minimum. I'm currently waiting on a DDR5 kit preorder myself that will hopefully be fulfilled sometime in early December, but it's killing me to have all these shiny new components in my office and not be able to build with them.

Four sticks of G.Skill Trident Z DDR5 RAM

Sure wish I had some of this stuff right now (Image credit: G.Skill)

If you need some Alder Lake in your life and can't wait for DDR5, consider getting a DDR4-compatible Z690 motherboard instead. Here's a handy list of them on PCPartPicker.

Alternately you could try to grab the whole package at once with a Black Friday gaming PC deal on a pre-built system, but you'd be forsaking the yeoman virtue of building your own system from scratch like your grandparents did. If you do take the DDR5 build route, just be ready to settle in for a wait.