Installing memory in a PC is one of the easiest parts of PC building. It’s almost as easy as slotting a Donkey Kong Land cart into a GameBoy. However, finding the best DDR Ram for PC gaming isn't quite as simple. If you buy the wrong RAM, chances are your motherboard won’t accept it, or the speed of the memory will be too slow for other components to manage correctly. Luckily, this guide is here to help you make the right choice.
But what is DDR anyway? DDR (Double Data Rate) means higher bandwidth where the speed in which memory is transferred across the motherboard and the ‘bus’ lanes are measured. This speed influences how efficiently and quickly different apps and games run. A computer can better manage memory when it’s in ‘Dual Channel’ mode. This means that the speed that data can be read from memory is doubled; and DDR is perfect for this. Almost all motherboards support this, and it’s the best method of buying and installing RAM into your computer.
If you're upgrading memory, I would always recommend you buy a set of new RAM, and not just upgrade what’s already installed. You always get better performance that way. I’ve been building PC’s for ten years for friends and family mainly; some who want a gaming machine, others who just want to sparingly use Outlook, and I always give them the same advice. Here are the five types of DDR ram for PC gaming I'd recommend, along with a description of what they're best at. If you're looking for more advice, check out our best gaming PC guide, or look for our best gaming laptops feature.
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Ballistix Sport Gray 8GB DDR4-2400
The best budget DDR RAM
This is a great RAM to start with on a budget, especially if you’re building a PC for the first time. This will manage the minimum specifications for games from 2012 onwards, and while most modern games are ok with 4GB of RAM, you're probably better off starting out with 8GB to avoid having to replace it too soon in the future.
It also is compatible with the Intel® XMP 2.0 standard, which means, if you felt daring, you could try and overclock the memory bandwidth speed. But only do this if you’ve had experience in this. It has been known for PC’s to fail even at the boot-up process when the wrong overclock figure is attempted with RAM. It’s also a great upgrade opportunity, as you can buy another of the same module, have double the memory, but also in ‘dual channel’ mode. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty (except for Germany, which is a 10-year warranty from the date of purchase), alongside great documentation on Crucial’s website to correctly install it if you’re unsure.
Trident Z RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 PC4-34100C19 4266MHZ Dual Channel
The best for serious gaming PCs
While the recommended RAM specifications for a game are fine, there also needs to be room to think of the RAM you’ll be using when you’re streaming with friends, capturing, running multiple apps, or putting any other strain on your PC, so this should be a big factor in your purchase. Streaming applications and capturing your game can be taxing on memory, which is why I recommend always ‘doubling’ the amount of RAM if you’re looking to use a PC just for gaming. You may not even be interested now, but you may need it in the future.
Also, more RAM can’t hurt for a gaming PC, especially with the amazing games coming in the fall. This Trident RAM has an incredibly high bandwidth of 4266Mhz, so you’ll have no trouble running the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield 5. Even though the resolution you can choose is mainly down to the power of your CPU and Graphics Card, the RAM is how all that information goes from one component to another, so you need quality stuff. If you have an AMD Ryzen in your system with this RAM, you should have no problems in playing games in native 4K resolution.
Another big factor of setting up a great gaming PC, I’ve found, is that people want to show how nice the actual PC unit looks, not just in how it renders the games. This RAM gets full marks for making a visual impression: it can light up your rig nicely, and there’s even an application where you can individually assign lights to each of the modules. A lot of fun can be had with this but, of course, it depends if you have the right case to look at the components.
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Night Hawk RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 3200MHZ DUAL CHANNEL KIT
The best RAM for showing off your PC and video editing
Not as expensive as the previous, but they’ll still make an impression if you wanted to show off some colors again. The Night Hawk still brings some fast performance, where ‘dual channel’ mode of 16GB and a bandwidth of 3200MHz will result in next-to-no lag (dependent on your graphics card and CPU).
These will be for a PC where you’ll be doing a lot of editing for your YouTube channel, but you’ll also be playing games a few times a week. You’ve got the option of streaming, but you’d rather play a great MMORPG inbetween editing. For just under £190 / $200 you will get your money’s-worth, and 16GB in a PC will be future-proof on the RAM side for the next few years to come.
Of course, it has the colors as mentioned, with the software to boot, so you can again customise it as you wish. It also has the heatsinks on each, so it can better siphon off any heat when under extreme load and rendering the 4K videos you’ve been working on.
Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3600MHz
If money is no object, may I introduce the insane 32GB RAM from Corsair and its Vengeance line. An incredible amount of memory, where the modules show a soft glow of lights when slotted in and the PC is running, where it almost ‘pulses’ off and on. Running in ‘dual channel’ mode with a massive 3600MHz of bandwidth speed, you will have no problem meeting the required specifications of most games in 2018 and, I suspect, for many years to come. With Corsair this RAM has a lifetime warranty, which I had experience of a few years ago, where they replaced my DDR2 RAM after a week, which was a great touch.
In all honesty, 32GB of RAM in 2018 is overkill. It’s venturing into RAM that a beginner Server needs but, on the other hand, it does future-proof one part of your PC. And being able to overclock the RAM only adds to this.
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