The Best RAM For Gaming in 2021
RAM, or operating memory, is often overlooked when building a new rig. You usually just pick enough RAM to run all the latest games, select speed that looks high enough and that’s it. Well, if you really want to get the best RAM for gaming, at least for your particular configuration, you’ll have to dig deeper. But more on that after we show you some of the best DDR4 RAM and DDR3 RAM modules you can buy right now.
Best RAM Kits for Gaming
Crucial Ballistix MAX RGB
High-Speed Gaming RAM
- 16GB and 32GB kits
- Up to 4400MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 19-19-19-43
- Has RGB
Fast RAM is extremely important for a good PC build and with the Crucial Ballistix MAX, you are getting speed and then some. The Crucial Ballistix MAX RAM kits come in 16GB (8GBX2) and 32GB (16GBX2) configurations depending on what you personally need.
The impressive part about this RAM kit is that it can go up to 4400 MHz in terms of frequency which is an impressive number that will give your CPU the headroom to work at its full capacity with no bottlenecks in sight.
The CL latency is not impressive at 19-19-19-43 but this is to be expected since the frequency of the RAM kit is so high (higher frequency = higher CL latency).
Besides the very impressive technical specs, the Crucial Ballistix MAX RGB obviously comes with rainbow colors all over the place to make your build look even better than before.
- Enough capacity for both gaming needs and productivity work
- High-frequency speed ensures the best possible operation of your system
- The RGB adds extra FPS in games and +10% to godlike aim
- Works well for both AMD Ryzen and Intel CPUs
- Higher frequency and higher capacity result in huge prices
Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro SL
RGB All the Way!
- 8GB all the way to 64GB kits
- 4000 MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 18-22-22-42
- Has plenty of RGB
If you are looking for other options for fast RAM kits that will also look pretty cool in your build then you should take a look at the Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro SL offerings, which is shorter than RGB Pro (44mm vs 51mm). You have a wide selection of capacities ranging from 16GB all the way to 256GB (for productivity tasks) depending on the frequencies you need for your build.
Overall for gaming, we would recommend going for the 4000MHz RAM kit with a solid 16GB capacity since you will only need more RAM capacity if you are doing a lot more than just gaming.
This RAM kit runs at 18-22-22-42 CAS latency which is fine for the 4000MHz speed. With this RAM you can run both AMD and Intel CPUs with no problems at all!
- Flexible capacity options for all kinds of users
- The 4000 MHz frequency ensures the most stable of FPS in games
- Huge RGB strip for the rainbow lovers
- 1 click XMP profile in the BIOS
- Not the tightest latencies relative to the frequency of operation
Kingston Fury Beast RGB
Solid Midrange Fast RAM Kit
- 8GB to 128GB RAM kits
- 3733MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 19-23-23
- A stylish heat spreader and cool RGB
In case you are not looking for the fastest RAM kit but something more budget-friendly that will still work just fine and will allow your CPU and system overall to perform extremely well while looking stylish then the Kingston Fury Beast RGB is worth investigating.
This RAM kit comes in all capacities from 8GB all the way to an enormous 128GB kit. The fastest speed in this line of products is the 3733MHz which is a very respectable speed and above what most people will be running today.
The unimpressive part about this RAM kit is the CAS latency that runs at 19-23-23 for 3733MHz. Overall though, taking into account that the RAM also looks pretty stylish with the RGB and the nice black heat spreader there is no reason not to consider this a valid purchase for your PC.
- Enough RAM capacities to run your own server
- 3733MHz is still plenty fast even for the newest of Ryzen and Intel CPUs
- Decent RGB
- Good pricing for their products
- Weaker CL latencies for the frequency it operates at
PNY XLR8 Gaming Epic-X RGB
Looks Speed and Value in One Package
- 16GB/32GB/64GB kits
- 3600 MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 18-20-20-40
- Pleasing aesthetics
If you are in no rush to spend a lot of money and are not running the highest-end possible computer specs then going for a 3600MHz RAM kit is what we would recommend for you. This is a golden middle ground where the frequency is high enough to not bottleneck anything, while also not costing a lot of money.
For example, the PNY XLR8 Gaming RAM kits are a fantastic offer considering you can choose from 16GB all the way to 64GB all at 3600MHz. The dual-channel RAM also runs at CL18-20-20-40 latency which is quite good everything considered.
The PNY XLR8 RAM kits are also quite visually stunning with well-designed heat spreaders and RGB. When you factor in that this RAM kit will cost you only 80$, this seems like a pretty sweet deal doesn’t it?
- Good value proposition
- Good frequency of operation
- Pretty low CAS latency
- Will look good in any PC build
- Limited options of RAM kits capacity
Teamgroup T-Force Delta RGB
Great RGB and Great Price for Gaming RAM
- 8GB/16GB/32GB kits
- 3600 MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 18-22-22-42
- Has RGB
The Teamgroup T-Force Delta RGB RAM is another solid 3600MHz RAM kit choice that will fit into that golden middle ground of high frequency and great performance for a pretty good price.
With this RAM kit, you can choose capacities starting from 8GB all the way up to 32GB in single or dual-channel modes (always pick the dual-channel options for your build). The RAM kit runs at 3600MHz as mentioned before, with a CAS latency of 18-22-22-42. This is just a sliver worse than the PNY XLR8, but a difference is a difference.
The RAM itself is quite well made with either a white, black, or camo heat spreader that gives it a premium look. The RGB feature is also present adding a little bit to the visual enjoyment of the user.
- Fast operating frequency
- Different RAM capacity options
- Lifetime warranty
- Cheaper than other 3600MHz options
- The latency is a bit worse than other offerings
- The RAM capacity choices are relatively limited
Patriot Viper Steel RGB
Solid Gaming RAM Choice
- 16GB/32GB/64GB kits
- Up to 3600 MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 20-26-26-46
- Has RGB
Choosing the fastest RAM possible for your system is always a nice thing to do, but a more realistic approach is to get the type of RAM that will be most compatible with your system offering you the best performance out of your components while also not breaking your bank.
If you are someone that falls into this category of people that desire to maximize their value proposition you should look at the Patriot Viper Steel RGB RAM. This RAM kit has solid offerings in terms of capacity going from 16GB to 64GB.
The speed of the RAM kit being at 3600MHz is also perfect for most builds, being not too high or too low to impede performance. The performance is also obviously increased by the RGB capability of the RAM adding extra FPS to every game (this is a joke obviously.
The only real downside of this specific RAM kit is the fact that the timings are quite loose, at 20-26-26-46. This is not a huge issue considering the overall price to performance ratio.
- A great golden middle frequency that can fit all types of builds with no problems at all
- Various choices in terms of RAM capacity
- The RGB and the cooling shroud is quite stylish
- Good price for the product
- The latency is quite loose on this RAM kit
Silicon Power Zenith RGB
A Good Budget Choice for Gaming
- 16GB/32GB capacity
- 3200 MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 16-18-18-38
If you do not have that much money to spend on your build but want a decent RAM kit you should look at the Silicon Power Zenith RGB offering. Since this is a budget-oriented product the capacity selection is limited to 16GB and 32 GB but in truth, those 2 values encompass 99% of the PC market so there is no issue there.
The RAM kit itself runs at 3200MHz which is still decent speed and will allow both your Ryzen and Intel CPU to perform well. This is obviously not the ideal case where most CPUs these days benefit from 3600MHz+, but the 3200MHz runs so close in terms of FPS to the 3600MHz that value-wise going higher is not worth it.
The CAS latency of the kit is also very respectable, running timings of 16-18-18-38. The RAM itself looks pretty stylish as well with a brushed aluminum heat spreader and to top everything off. A very good budget deal overall.
- Great budget choice value-wise
- 3200MHz is good enough for most use cases
- The CAS latency is very respectable
- Has RGB to entice the eye-candy lovers
- Faster RAM is becoming the new norm now so 3200MHz doesn’t look impressive at all
OLOy OWL DDR4 RAM
A Truly Budget Choice for Gamers
- 3000 MHz frequency
- CAS latency of 16-18-18-36
If you are still using components that are a bit older, therefore, use slower RAM or if you are building a purely budget build then you should look at the OLOy RAM that is priced quite well currently.
You can get a 16GB 3000MHz RAM kit for only 55$ which is quite a good value offer. The CAS latency of this RAM kit is also acceptable, running at 16-18-18-36. The RAM kit has no RGB or other redeeming features but considering that this is a budget RAM kit you are looking at everything is still within expectations. This might be a less resounding name in the RAM industry but you can trust that the company is putting out good products since it is using industry-standard technologies that are found in every other brand of RAM on this list.
- A great budget option
- 3000MHz is still serviceable
- The RAM kit uses industry-standard components
- Universal black cover heat spreaders
- The 3000MHz is pulling this RAM kit down a bit in terms of performance
How To Choose The Best RAM For Gaming
Getting the best RAM for gaming seems simple on the surface. Just get the amount you need and be done with it. In, reality, things are a bit more complicated. There are plenty of layers concerning RAM and each variable has a clear impact on gaming performance.
There’s the question of whether you’ll use your new rig exclusively for gaming or do you plan to get some work done. The age-old question of whether faster RAM matters much is also present. As is the question of just how much performance you’ll get by running memory in dual-channel setup.
These and other questions are answered below. Check them out.
Make Sure To Turn On XMP Profile On Your Motherboard For All RAM Faster Than 2133 MHz
The official DDR4 specification lists 2133MHz as the base clock. All RAM sticks running at higher frequencies use some sort of overclock. This is where the XMP comes in.
XMP stands for Extreme Memory Profile. It’s a technology developed by Intel that enables automatic memory overclock. Basically, RAM sticks featuring speeds higher than 2133 MHz achieve those speeds only under the XMP profile.
So, you should make sure the XMP is turned on in order to get the most out of your memory sticks. You can do that in BIOS. The setting is labeled as XMP, automatic RAM (or memory) overclock profile, or something similar.
And yes, XMP works on motherboards for Ryzen CPUs. The only difference is that automatic OC profiles on AMD boards usually bear different names. Such as A-XMP (MSI boards) or DCOP (ASUS boards).
Dual Channel Memory Configuration Is Always Better Than Single Channel
Getting the best RAM and using that RAM to its full potential means using it in the dual-channel configuration. You see, RAM feeds data to the CPU, which then feeds data to the GPU. If RAM runs slower the CPU will fall behind the GPU, thus creating a bottleneck.
Enabling dual-channel memory configuration means doubling its bandwidth. This allows RAM to feed the CPU at double speed, which leads to the CPU needing less time to fetch and process data. This allows the CPU to send data to the GPU faster.
This works great in theory, but what about in real use? Well, results are varied but there’s always some level of improvement when using a dual-channel memory profile. First of all, games can perform up to 20 percent better with dual-channel memory. Yes, the text is in Polish but just look at the graphs, that’s all you need.
The performance gain depends on how large a part CPU plays. CPU heavy titles such as Battlefield V or AC: Odyssey will see larger improvement than GPU-bound titles such as Metro: Exodus or Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Productivity apps receive about 20 percent gain with dual-channel memory across the board.
So, when getting RAM, make sure to buy a kit containing 2 or 4 sticks so you can enable the dual-channel setting. Getting one stick and then getting another stick of the same memory with the same frequency and timings doesn’t guarantee that the dual-channel setup will work. The only foolproof way to run your memory in a dual-channel setup is buying a 2 or 4 stick kit.
RAM Frequency Matters, Up To A Point
We don’t recommend getting 2133MHz or 2400MHz RAM sticks. They offer up to 20 percent less performance compared to faster modules. The best value is getting 2666MHz memory since it achieves more than 10 percent better performance compared to 2133MHz memory.
3000 and 3200MHz modules are even faster. They can net about 5-10 percent more frames than 2666MHz memory, depending on which games you play. Getting anything faster than 3200MHz will give you a couple percent more performance, which is negligible unless you have a 3rd gen Ryzen CPU (or newer). The upper-speed limit where performance gain is noticeable is around 4000Mhz-4166MHz. Everything above those speeds is very expensive but without performance gains.
Also, remember that GPU-bound games may not see any performance gains from faster RAM. How many more frames you get depends on how big a role CPU plays in a particular game. But, overall, we recommend getting a 3000 or 3200Mhz RAM, unless you own the latest gen Ryzen CPU (you may want to go for 3600 or even 4000Mhz). 3000 and 3200Mhz modules feature almost the same price as 2600 and 2666MHz modules while offering a noticeable performance boost.
If You Have To Pick Just One, Go For More RAM Instead Of Faster RAM
While faster memory does provide some performance benefits, opt for more RAM instead of faster RAM. Getting 16Gb of 2666 RAM is way better than opting for 8 gigs of ultra-expensive 4133 RAM. Performance-wise anything that’s DDR4 2666MHz or faster is good enough for gaming on Intel CPUs.
Timings Are Not That Important, Except In One Case
The most important thing is the amount of memory you have. It’s better to get 16 gigs than 8 gigs no matter how faster the former choice is. Next, there’s dual-channel setup performance compared to single channel. It is better to get 2133 MHz RAM and run it in dual channel configuration than to get a single-channel 3000 MHz RAM.
Next, there’s the frequency. 3000 or 3200MHz memory can increase performance up to 20 percent, depending on a particular game. And then, at the bottom you have memory timings. Tighter timings equal lower memory access latency. But, faster memory with looser timings is almost always better than slower memory with tighter timings.
It’s almost always better to pick CL16 3200 MHz memory than CL14 2400 MHz. Your two main concerns when buying RAM (aside from the amount of memory) are getting a kit to run it in dual-channel setup and getting fast modules that run at 2666 MHz or higher.
We say almost because there’s the situation with AMD Ryzen 3rd gen processors, which we discuss next.
Speed And Timings Are Very Important If You Have Ryzen CPU
AMD Ryzen CPUs use something called the Infinity Fabric. This is an interface that enables the CPU chip to communicate with the GPU. And up until Ryzen 3rd gen Infinity Fabric frequency was tied to RAM frequency. This is why faster memory has a great impact on the performance of AMD Ryzen-based builds.
With 3rd gen Ryzen, the relationship between IF and RAM speed stayed the same, but AMD allowed users to decouple IF frequency and memory frequency. This means you can run lower speed memory but ramp up the Infinity Fabric frequency.
And results show that even slow, 2133 MHz RAM kits with low latencies can provide almost the same performance as high-speed high latency modules if your Infinity Fabric frequency is set to max (1800, or 1900 MHz if you get a great CPU sample).
In other words, while it is recommended to get at least DDR4 3200 MHz memory for 3rd gen Ryzen CPUs, cranking up the Infinity Fabric frequency while running low latency 2133 MHz RAM will yield similar results. Further, getting a DDR4 3600 MHz memory (the fastest memory that keeps the 1:1 frequency ratio with the Infinity Fabric frequency) and running tightest timings you can go with should yield up to 8 percent more performance in games.
Oh, and if you want to be sure your Ryzen CPU definitely supports memory you want to buy, check out the official AMD’s list showing all officially supported memory models.
Don’t Go Overboard With The Amount Of Memory
Today, 16 gigs of RAM is more than enough for a gaming machine. This amount of memory allows playing games while listening to Spotify and having multiple tabs open in your browser of choice. And by the looks of it, 16 gigs will be enough even for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, at least during the first few years of their lifecycle.
But, if you’re doing any kind of work on your PC, 32 GB of RAM is desirable. If you edit photos and videos and do some light rendering work, get 32 gigs, they will noticeably impact performance and will allow for the work to finish faster. Going over 32 gigabytes of memory is pointless today except if building a workstation. And when it comes to workstations, the more memory the better.
Be Sure To Check Whether Your Motherboard Supports The RAM
Finally, specific motherboard models just don’t work with specific memory modules. So, before you pull the trigger check online whether your motherboard works with the RAM module you want to buy. If you can’t find a definitive answer make sure to buy the memory from a place that offers free returns and replacements.
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