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The best RAM for gaming in 2020: the top options and prices compared

The best RAM for gaming in 2020: the top options and prices compared
(Image credit: Future)

The best RAM for gaming is critical to get into your toolset when you're building a gaming PC. It might sound obvious, but such is the spread of quality RAM for gaming nowadays that picking out the best gaming RAM is crucial to get right - for you, your budget, and your machine. So, we hope that this helpful guide to the best RAM for gaming will help you give you a quick-fire insight into some top performers. Remember, from in-game framerates, to snappier responses, having some of that sweet memory in the form of the best RAM will always pay dividends.

Some slightly firmer lines are now drawn as to how much RAM you need too: 4GB is just too low, and you barely see machines built with that in - 8GB should be considered the absolute minimum nowadays. However, with games maintaining a demanding level of graphics, and helped by RAM being at least somewhat affordable, 16GB should be the target now. Those intending to use their PCs for video editing or 3D rendering alongside their gaming should consider 32GB.

It’s important to install matching sticks of RAM, and check your motherboard manual for which slots to use - all motherboards have at least two memory channels, but some have four, and placing RAM sticks in the right channels will improve performance. If you’re upgrading the RAM in a pre-built machine, try to match the brand, speed, and timings of what’s already there, or consider swapping the whole lot out if you’re buying a faster speed. You’ll always be forced to run at the speed of the slowest sticks, so mixing speeds offers no advantage.

There are some fascinating numbers behind RAM and how it works and if you'd like to familiarise yourself with some of this terminology so you can interrogate the RAM in our list below then on over to our hardware glossary for a breakdown. Or you can skip this sort of granular upgrading completely and just check out our best gaming PC or best gaming laptop roundups.

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Ballistix Sport Gray 8GB DDR4-2400

Ballistix Sport Gray 8GB DDR4-2400

1. Ballistix Sport Gray 8GB DDR4-2400

The best budget DDR RAM

Optimized for Intel
Easy to install
Good price
Be careful if overclocking

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

Trident Z RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 PC4-34100C19 4266MHZ Dual Channel

2. 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.

Night Hawk RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 3200MHZ DUAL CHANNEL KIT

Night Hawk RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 3200MHZ DUAL CHANNEL KIT

3. Night Hawk RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 3200MHZ DUAL CHANNEL KIT

The best RAM for showing off your PC and video editing

Looks very fancy
Performs well
Not that expensive
Not the best RAM available

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.

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(Image credit: Corsair)
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(Image credit: Corsair)
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(Image credit: Corsair)

4. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB DDR4-3200MHz

The best RAM for gaming

Great iCUE software
Superb performance
Premium in every way

This is a tremendous high-end RAM bundle. While it has a cool design, the proof is in the performance pudding and this has it by the bag load. Building on the reputation and awesome pedigree of Corsair, high-end RAM, the Dominator Platinum RGB is a no brainer if you have the budget.

Corsair’s iCUE software also plays a role here and can help you get the best out of the Dominator Platinum RGB. This all-round high-end nature means you've probably got one of the best RAM kits going here, while also being one of the best RGB-augmented kits too as even it's LEDs have increased efficiency so match the sheer raw power of the kit in their own brightly colored way

The price is borderline attractive for a premium RAM package, tho there is still a bit of an expensive vibe coming from the Dominator Platinum kit. Whatever capacity you;re after though, it won't disappoint or let you down.

Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3600MHz

Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3600MHz

5. Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3600MHz

All the RAM you need
Performs brilliantly
Looks very cool
Super expensive

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 2020 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 is overkill for a lot of use cases, though it's becoming more and more common. 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.