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Best RAM for gaming in 2023 – DDR5, DDR4, and DDR3

We take a look at the best options for your system when it comes to memory
Last Updated on April 15, 2024
Best RAM for gaming - hero image

RAM has become one of the most hotly-touted specs in hardware, but there isn’t actually much understanding of what it means beyond “more is better”. While we aren’t here to argue this assessment, we are here to make sure that you buy the best RAM for Gaming to help you have a great gaming experience.

Whether you’re here looking for budget RAM kits or the fastest RAM on the market, we have you covered. If you aren’t really sure what to look for, that’s okay too. We’ve added a buyer’s guide to the bottom of the article that you can use to help make sense of all these specs and choose the right RAM for you.

Products at a Glance

How we picked the best RAM for gaming

We’ve selected our best RAM for gaming kits based on speed, reliability, stability, and value – across DDR5, DDR4, and DDR3 standards. We’ve factored in user feedback, to ensure ease of installation and use – and endeavored to offer alternatives where we think that is necessary. This guide is intended to pick the best options for all types of systems. However, you can also check out our best RAM for Intel 13th Gen piece, as well as our best DDR5 RAM and best DDR4 RAM guides.

Our Recommended

Product Reviews

  • Fast 6000 MHz speed
  • Customizable RGB lighting
  • Generous 32GB capacity
  • Relatively expensive
  • May need BIOS tuning
  • RGB not for everyone

G.Skill’s Trident Z5 Neo RGB DDR5-6000 memory kit combines aesthetics with performance, offering gamers a visually striking and technically advanced RAM option. This kit boasts an impressive 6000 MHz speed, ensuring that games and applications run smoothly, with reduced load times and enhanced system responsiveness.

The RAM’s technical specifications align with the needs of gamers looking for high-speed performance, reduced latency, and improved overall computing experiences. The integration of RGB lighting also caters to gamers who value customization and aesthetics, allowing for a personalized and vibrant visual setup. 

This memory kit is suitable for gamers who seek to optimize their gaming setup for performance while also enhancing the visual appeal of their systems. Gamers focusing on high-speed, low-latency performance, and who also appreciate the added aesthetic value of RGB lighting, will find the G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo RGB DDR5-6000 to be a solid choice.

  • Stable 4800 MHz performance
  • Simple design
  • Ideal for multitasking
  • No RGB / limited aesthetic appeal
  • Not the fastest
  • May have limited availability
  • High-speed 4400 MHz
  • Sturdy, practical design
  • Good for performance-focused users
  • No RGB lighting
  • Limited aesthetic appeal
  • Might require BIOS adjustments

The Patriot Viper Steel DDR4-4400 RAM kit comes in a pair of 8GB modules, offering a combined capacity of 16GB, making it adept for gaming and multitasking. These modules boast a staggering 4400 MHz speed, ensuring that your system performs at its peak when running memory-intensive applications or games. The robust and sturdy design ensures durability and efficient heat dissipation.

This RAM offers enhanced speed and performance, ideal for gamers who seek smooth gameplay experiences without lag or stutter. Its compatibility with a wide array of motherboards makes it a versatile choice for various gaming setups. It is ideal for gamers who prioritize performance and reliability, and particularly suited for those who don’t necessarily need RGB lighting but want robust and speedy RAM to enhance their gaming experiences. 

However, you may need to tweak BIOS settings to get the best performance out of this kit for your system. If that isn’t for you, then RAM like this Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 RAM 32GB kit may be for you.

  • Nice aesthetics
  • Efficient heat dissipation
  • Reliable for DDR3 systems
  • Only usable in old systems

Corsair’s Vengeance Pro Series comes with a pair of 8GB DDR3 modules, totaling 16GB. This RAM may not offer the same speeds as DDR4 and DDR5 counterparts but provides reliable performance for its category. The modules come with a stylish heat spreader for efficient heat dissipation.

Though an older generation, this RAM still holds its own when it comes to gaming and multitasking in DDR3-compatible systems. It offers a balance between performance and aesthetics, making your setup not just functional but also visually appealing.

It’s suitable for users with DDR3-compatible systems looking to upgrade or replace their current RAM without migrating to a newer motherboard and CPU. It’s also ideal for those who want decent gaming performance on a DDR3 platform.

How to buy the best RAM for you

In this section, we’re going to go over each of the main specs to take into consideration when trying to find the best ram for gaming. If you’ve gone through the article and aren’t sure about something, this section is for you. If you still have any questions left after you’ve finished, feel free to ask us in the comments below and we’ll be there to help.

DDR3, DDR4, or DDR5: What’s the best type of RAM?

The big difference between DDR3, DDR4, and DDR5 RAM is the fact that they’re different standards. DDR3 RAM is a prior generation of RAM and is supported by older motherboards – pretty much any motherboard manufactured after 2007 and before 2014. DDR4 RAM was introduced in 2014 and has been the standard for RAM in PCs ever since.

Although DDR5 arrived in 2021, it’s still proliferating in systems and not a dominant force. This is because users need to say goodbye to motherboards that don’t support the standard and upgrade to ones that do. For Intel that’s motherboard’s supporting 12th gen CPUs (Alder Lake), 13th gen (Raptor Lake), and 14th gen (Raptor Lake Refresh). For AMD, DDR support started with socket AM5 motherboards that run its Ryzen 7000 series Zen 4 CPUs

The other difference between DDR3, DDR4, and DDR5 RAM is, well… speed. DDR3 RAM speeds peak at around 2133 MHz, while DDR4 RAM speeds start at 2400 MHz. Since DDR3 is such an old standard, DDR4 RAM is often less expensive than DDR3 on average and much, much faster. DDR5 speeds range from 4800MHz to 6400MHz, although they may go up to as fast as 8400 MHz.

Is DDR3 still okay?

DDR3 RAM is still necessary for upgrading pretty much any PC built in or before 2014. So although DDR3 is fading into consumer tech’s past, there are still systems that use it, and you can still purchase it. If you’re a savvy budget gamer, you may also have purchased a used and super affordable prebuilt desktop to that desktop may (even still) use DDR3. DDR3 systems are becoming more scarce though, as it’s now two generations of RAM ago. So you shouldn’t be browsing for DDR3 RAM if you’re building a new PC. Older-generation motherboards and CPUs will often be inflated in price as well, thanks to the fact that they are no longer being manufactured. If you’re building a new PC, DDR4 or DDR5 RAM is all that should matter to you.

RAM capacity

While the rule of “more is better” rings true with RAM, the rule of diminishing returns does as well, especially as far as gaming PC memory is concerned. Past a certain point, especially if you aren’t a very specific type of user, getting too much RAM is simply throwing away money. Below, we’re going to go over popular RAM configurations, and help you pick which to target.

  • 4 GB – The most basic configuration, usually reserved for budget laptops or Chromebooks. Not at all enough for intense multitasking or modern games. Windows 11 on its own requires 4GB of RAM as a minimum.
  • 8 GB –  A basic configuration. This is better for common desktop usage and will work with older games but many will find it limiting. 8GB is more found in laptops.
  • 16 GB – A common gaming configuration. Useful for enthusiast gaming, video editing, and multitasking on more modern systems.
  • 32 GB – Now considered the sweet spot for hardcore gamers, livestreamers and those needing extra headroom for rendering, multi-tasking and… high-end gaming settings.
  • 64 GB – Unless you’re hosting a server, running Virtual Machines, a specific workstation or are a professional video editor, this RAM capacity and higher is unnecessary. You aren’t going to see gaming or common usage gains.

CAS latency

For the savvier among you, you’ll see the word “Latency” and assume that lower means better. This is… technically true, but the nature of RAM manufacturing means that CAS latency increases as RAM speed does. This doesn’t nullify the performance gains, though– it’s mainly just a quirk of memory technology.

If you’re curious to learn more about CAS Latency, click here to read a writeup from Crucial on the topic.

Otherwise, you don’t really need to worry about it. As long as the CAS Latency number isn’t abnormally high in comparison to the RAM speed being presented (16 is a fairly common number for DDR4, for instance), you have nothing to worry about. All of our picks in this article are well within safe ranges and aren’t going to be bottlenecked by CAS Latency.

RAM channel configurations

Another common term you’ll see referenced is “Dual-Channel”. This is the most common RAM configuration in gaming PCs and the best for most users. Below, we’ll explain the main three configurations and what makes them different.

  • Single-Channel – Single-Channel RAM refers to a scenario in which all system RAM is inside a single RAM stick. This prevents the RAM stick from achieving its full potential speed, which can be a particularly harsh bottleneck for DDR3 RAM and lower-clocked DDR4 RAM. Always avoid this when possible.
  • Dual-Channel – Dual-Channel RAM refers to the scenario where two identical RAM sticks are run in the same system. In this scenario, the RAM sticks are able to work together and reach their full-rated RAM speeds. This is ideal in all scenarios.
  • Quad-Channel – Quad-Channel RAM refers to – you guessed it – the scenario where 4 identical RAM sticks are run in the same system. While this does result in increased memory bandwidth, however, the performance gains are marginal to nonexistent, especially in games. The only reason to run QC RAM is if you’re upgrading the capacity of a pre-existing DC setup, not for performance.

RAM Speed, and The Effect It Has

Last but not least, let’s talk RAM speed. Some enthusiasts will claim that RAM speed makes no difference at all, and capacity is what matters. Others will claim that RAM is one of the most important upgrades you can make to your system, and if you’re running anything less than a Quad-Channel setup, you’re a fool. Neither of these statements is quite true… they both hold some truth, though.

Capacity is definitely more important than RAM speed. It determines how much your PC is capable of handling at once. RAM speed also seems to make no meaningful impact on average or maximum FPS in games, which lends further credence to the idea that it doesn’t really matter that much.

Speed does matter, though, at least a bit. You can see it come into effect if you take 16GB RAM and run it in Single-Channel and compare it to running two identical 8GB RAM in Dual-Channel. The Single-Channel – especially an issue for DDR3 historically – will severely bottleneck a CPU. In fact, this bottlenecking would still occur even if you were using the best DDR4 RAM. As such, you need at least a Dual-Channel setup to achieve the full potential of both your RAM sticks and your CPU.

The other scenarios where RAM speed matters are non-gaming scenarios. Think video rendering and more advanced, professional tasks.

RAM speed even matters in gaming! While it’s true that RAM speed has little-to-no impact on average or maximum FPS, it does have a meaningful impact on minimum FPS. In other words, the faster your RAM is, the less severe your FPS drops will be whenever they occur. This is great if you want a smoother, more consistent gaming experience.

Our Verdict

If you’re building a gaming rig right now, and you want the latest tech the DDR5 is the way to go. With that in mind, we’ve selected the G.Skill Trident Z5 Neo RGB DDR5-6000 kit. It’s the RAM for gaming based on its capabilities and relevance, but it may not be right for you. If you have an older system, opt for our best DDR4 pick. Or, if you need a more generalized kit, with less…lights, the Samsung DDR5 kit we’ve selected should see you right.