Buying DDR4 RAM for Your PC in 2023
Originally released in 2014, DDR4 is an older RAM standard than DDR5, released in 2020. If you’re building a new PC from scratch, you may want to opt for the newer standard for future compatibility, but even for new PCs, DDR4 has a big advantage in price.
Once you’ve settled on DDR4, the main issue you’ll want to address is how much memory you need and how many slots you have. If upgrading your laptop shipped with 8GB RAM, you may need a 16GB SODIMM stick because there’s only one available slot. On the other hand, a gaming PC often has four slots for running two pairs of dual-channel memory.
Dual-channel memory lets you take a certain memory capacity, like 32GB, and divide it into two RAM sticks. This gives you the same capacity but greater bandwidth since the memory uses two slots, which makes for better performance. It’s less common, but quad-channel memory uses the same concept, just with four slots.
The next issue is speed, but how important this is will differ for everyone. If you’re mainly using RAM in the form of multiple Chrome tabs and chat windows, most RAM should work fine as long as it has the capacity you require. That said, gamers, video professionals, and others will want the fastest RAM they can find.
If you’re adding RAM instead of just replacing it, note the capacity and speed of the memory you have. While most DDR4 RAM should work together in your PC, it’s easier to keep your PC running smoothly with the same speed and capacity RAM or, ideally, even the same manufacturer.
Finally, gamers may be looking for more specific features, like RGB lighting or overclocking features. Not all RAM is made equal regarding how far you can push it before it begins to have issues.
Finally, make sure that you don’t skimp on the capacity. While 16GB is still plenty of RAM for most uses, if you’re gaming a lot or are running a lot of resource-heavy applications, it may be time to move to 32GB of RAM.
- ✓ Classy look
- ✓ Available in speeds up to 4,400Mhz
- ✓ Compatibility ensures it works with your PC
- ✗ Works best only with specific motherboards
Whether you’re building a new PC or upgrading an older one, faster RAM is always nice to have. That’s especially true when that fast RAM also looks great and doesn’t cost too much, like the Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 memory.
This DDR4 kit is available in various speeds and capacities, with capacities of kits ranging up to 64GB (2×32GB) and speeds up to 4,400Mhz. No matter which kit you choose, the Viper Steel has a more minimal look than other high-performance RAM, with no RGB lighting and a sleek metal heat spreader.
If you’ve got a high-end motherboard and patience, you can eke some serious performance out of the Patriot Viper Steel’s higher-speed kits. With Intel XMP 2.0 enabled and some overclocking, this RAM can reach timings up to 19-19-19-39.
The Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 isn’t the cheapest memory you can buy, but 32GB costs you less than $70, if you’re willing to opt for 3,600Mhz. That said, this RAM can go faster, with 16GB 2×8GB kits available at 4,400Mhz.
Best DDR4 RAM Overall
- ✓ Minimal design looks great in any PC build
- ✓ Hand-sorted chips for solid performance
- ✓ Available in up to 256GB kits
- ✓ Low-profile design
- ✗ May be too plain looking for some
There are plenty of budget RAM options, but only so many are available from companies with reputations as solid as Corsair. While it’s not the cheapest DDR4 RAM you’ll find, the Corsair Vengeance LPX is a solid, dependable component that offers better performance than many budget options.
While any DDR4 RAM should work with a compatible motherboard, Corsair has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Vengeance LPX is optimized for both modern Intel and AMD processors. This RAM also uses hand-sorted chips to ensure you have room to overclock, should you want to.
Intel XMP 2.0 makes setup and getting the RAM to run at its advertised speeds simple. The Vengeance LPX also uses a low-profile design, with a height of just 34mm. This makes space for other components in your PC build and a great option for PCs with smaller form factors.
The Corsair Vengeance LPX has three-speed options: 3,200Mhz, 3,600Mhz, and 4,000Mhz. While the highest speed comes at a premium, in some cases, a 3,600Mhz 16GB kit is cheaper than the slower alternative.
Best Budget DDR4 RAM
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4
Budget RAM doesn’t have to mean cheap quality, and the Corsair Vengeance LPX makes that clear, with hand-sorted chips that ensure you’ve got plenty of room for overclocking.
- ✓ ARBG lighting
- ✓ Sleek look even without the lighting
- ✓ Excellent performance
- ✓ Great price for what you get
- ✗ Could overclock better
- ✗ Kit options can be overwhelming
If you’re building or upgrading a PC for gaming, you need to pay close attention to each component if you want to squeeze out every last drop of gaming performance. That’s when you turn to an option like the TEAMGROUP T-Force Xtreem ARGB.
Gaming PC builds are synonymous with over-the-top lighting, but if you prefer things on the subtler side, the RGB lighting here is controllable to suit whatever style you prefer. The aluminum alloy heat sink has a great look all on its own while still allowing the light to shine through.
The T-Force Xtreem ARGB will work well regardless of whether you’re running an Intel or AMD CPU. That said, the way the RAM is optimized means you’ll end up with slightly better performance on an AMD platform. Many PC builds for gaming use AMD Ryzen CPUs, so this is a great fit.
We’re looking at the 32GB PC4-28800 kit, but multiple speeds and capacities are available. You can go up to 16GB of 5,333Mhz PC4-42700 in a 2×16GB kit or up to a 128GB 3,600Mhz PC4-28800 kit.
Best DDR4 RAM for Gaming
TEAMGROUP T-Force Xtreem ARGB 32GB (2x16GB)
If you’re looking for DDR4 RAM that looks as impressive as it performs, the ARGB lighting on the TEAMGROUP T-Force Xtreem ARBG is a perfect match for its speed and ease of use.
- ✓ Available in multiple capacities and kits
- ✓ Plug N Play automatic overclocking
- ✓ Low power consumption
- ✗ Not as fast as desktop options
Upgrading the DDR4 RAM in your laptop can be tricky, as the SODIMM modules you need for a laptop are harder to find than standard modules. Assuming your laptop doesn’t have soldered-in RAM, the Kingston FURY Impact 32GB is a perfect kit to drop in and replace your existing DDR4.
Kingston advertises that the FURY Impact 32GB kit is ready for AMD’s Ryzen chips. Of course, the RAM will still work fine with your Intel processor, and this RAM supports Intel XMP 2.0 profiles.
The Kingston FURY Impact DDR4 features Plug-N-Play automatic overclocking. This feature automatically overclocks the RAM to the highest published frequency supported by the RAM and your hardware, taking the tedious setup out of overclocking.
We’re specifically looking at the 3,200Mhz 32GB kit, but plenty of other speeds and options exist. This RAM is also available in 2,666Mhz and 2,933Mhz speeds, with capacities ranging from 16GB to 64GB (2×32GB).
Best DDR4 RAM for Laptops
Kingston FURY Impact 32GB
If you have the ability to replace the RAM in your laptop, the Kingston FURY Impact 32GB will ensure that you’ve got more than enough memory for as long as that laptop keeps running.
- ✓ Tested for wide compatibility
- ✓ Optimized for dual-channel performance
- ✓ Low-profile design is great for large CPU coolers
- ✗ Look may not be for everyone
If you know you’re going for 32GB in your PC build, buying it all at once makes sense, as this lets you make sure your RAM is compatible for the best performance. In this case, the G.SKILL 32GB Ripjaws V Series kit is a perfect option.
The Ripjaws V Series 32GB kit is meant to run in dual-channel mode for increased bandwidth. This increases the speed at which your CPU can access the memory, giving you better overall performance without the headaches of overclocking.
Of course, if you want to overclock the Ripjaws V Series, you can. This RAM features XMP 2.0 profile support to easily reach the 16-18-18-38 RAM timing listed on the Amazon page. G.SKILL also mentions that this RAM is specifically optimized for AMD’s Ryzen X570, Intel’s Z390 and Z490, and newer processors.
Finally, while the Ripjaws V Series kit isn’t as low-profile as some, at 42mm, it leaves plenty of room for large CPU coolers. This is a great choice for building a high-performance, small-footprint PC.
Best 32GB DDR4 RAM
G.SKILL 32GB (2 x 16GB) Ripjaws V Series DDR4
If you’re building a DDR4 PC, you may as well take advantage of current prices and go for 32GB while you can. The G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series offers great performance and the capacity you’ll need for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
DDR stands for “Double Data Rate,” and DDR4 is the fourth generation of this type of memory.
No. While some manufacturers advertise their memory as better-suited to certain CPU architectures, DDR4 RAM will work with either type of CPU, assuming it’s compatible with your motherboard.
No. DDR4 and DDR5 use slots that are physically incompatible with each other, so you wouldn’t even be able to fit it into the slot.
For most games that are on the market at the time of this writing, yes. That said, games with higher system requirements are coming all the time, and you may need to upgrade to 32GB.
Yes, at least theoretically. In practice, modules with different speeds, capacities, and manufacturers can cause issues with each other. They may still work, but performance may suffer.