Does RAM speed REALLY matter?

RAM, whether you bat for the red team or the blue team, you need it. But there are so many options, from 2133 to 4266 Megahertz. But could it possibly be worth emptying your wallet for the fastest memory on the market?

Let’s find out! We’re opening up a new merch store. You can check out some of our new gear today at the link in the video description first, a primer on RAM DDR4 is the latest version of the form of DRAM that our computers almost universally use programs get loaded into it from our SSDS and Hard Drives because it’s Blazing fast performance is needed to feed our CPUs data to munch on [and] turn in those ones and zeros in two games Boring Powerpoint presentations, or this video that you’re watching right now Cool, so the faster the RAM, the better the performance, right?

Not quite there comes a point where even if you could Force-feed your CPU more data. It couldn’t possibly chew through it fast enough to make a difference so the sweet spot as always probably lies somewhere in the middle. We just need to find it Let’s Establish a baseline here the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council or JEDEC for short specifies 2133 Megahertz for DDR4, while on both Intel’s Z270 and x99 platforms, running anything over DDR4 24 Hundred Megahertz, is outside the official spec. AMD for their part has specified a range of speeds with the most frequently used configuration also sitting at. 2,400 Megahertz. But wait a minute, what?

Well, why the heck are companies like G.SKILL? Advertising speeds that are up to almost double that Well the answer is sanctioned overclocking. Intel’s extreme memory profile or XMP for short has become something of an industry standard for running high-end memory to its rated spec on supported motherboards Every RAM module, even the highest end XMP ones, then have the JEDEC standard speeds baked in then along with that a Faster XMP profile that stored on a chip that identifies each Individual module in a standard that’s called serial presence detect or SPD.

For compatibility reasons JEDEC comes first and it’s only when you specifically enable XMP in your computer’s BIOS that it will run at those speeds. Or at least in theory it will We’ve had tons of issues over the years, most recently during the Ryzen 7 launch where we couldn’t get past 2666 Megahertz no matter what ASUS, AMD or G.SKILL said. Our board with our memory has since been fixed which is great. With a firmware update.

But, sanctioned overclocking is still overclocking and it can cause these kinds of issues from chip to chip or board to board or RAM stick to RAM stick depending on your luck. It can also cause less severe, but equally annoying issues to crop up at random at some point in the future But whatever Linus, enough of this warning label crap. I’m prepared to spend a weekend bashing my head against the wall troubleshooting my new gaming rig! So tell me what do I stand to gain— for my pain?

Great question, we tested a variety of configurations. On AMD, the maximum we could achieve was DDR4 3,200, and on Intel, we hit 3600 hundred Megahertz before we just stopped turning the dial, because spoiler alert— Well, no, wait actually, well no you’ll see. Using 2133 Megahertz as a Baseline, we ran Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Rise of the Tomb Raider in both DirectX 11, and DirectX 12 modes. Some games, clearly won’t care much about RAM speeds. But others, can end up being more memory sensitive than we’d initially expected. In For Honor, average frame rates looked to be within margin of error regardless of RAM speed, but looking closely-er, the 97th percentile minimum frame rate Does seem to have been affected.

As far as synthetics go we tested 7-Zip, the ram hungry Y-Cruncher, Cinebench R15 and ASUS Real Bench, where we had much more consistent results. If by consistent we mean eerily similar across the board. Which leads us then into the price and performance summary, in almost every case, the largest improvement in Performance over 2133 is achieved by 2666 Megahertz, then there’s another modest improvement when you jump to 3200, and from there, marketing and purely synthetic benchmarks aside, things go downhill pretty quickly on both Intel, and AMD, leading us to conclude that there’s no point going higher, even if you could. So then, buy Thirty two hundred Megahertz RAM, since that’s the sweet spot, right? Well… Sure, but it actually depends too, what kind of a budget you’re working with for your system If you’ve already got the best of everything, then sure, yeah. You might want to go higher on your RAM, to eke out that slim improvement?

But if you’re on any kind of fixed budget, well, for sixty four bucks the difference between 2133 and 3600 RAM. You could go from a core i5 7500 to a 7600K, netting you higher CPU clock speeds, and overclocking support, or from Ryzen 5 1500x to a 1600x, giving you two whole additional processing cores, AND that only accounts for the financial investment. What we haven’t even talked about is the time that this can end up consuming. And going back again to look at the total possible improvement from a bare-bones JEDEC 2133 kit to the fastest we tested, the full conclusion becomes crystal clear. 4.7% for $64 more, without any guarantee that it’ll actually work.

Means that we wouldn’t recommend it, unless you’re out of stuff to spend money on that will give you more meaningful performance or usability improvements. And you have not only the time and know how to tinker with it. But also the patience to drop everything and deal with it when something isn’t working. And this is especially true if you’re using the latest and greatest platform with that fastest and shiniest RAM. Tunnel Bear is the simple VPN app that makes it easy to browse the internet more privately and securely You just turn it on—it’s like really really easy.

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Also down there is our merch store which ow [now], oh that hurt. Which has cool shirts like this one and our community forum, which you should totally join.