DDR5 RAM is the latest generation of memory technology that promises to deliver faster speeds, higher capacities, and lower power consumption than DDR4 RAM. But how much of a difference does DDR5 RAM make in real-world applications and gaming?
In this post, we will compare some of the best DDR5 RAM kits available in the market with their DDR4 counterparts and see how they perform in various benchmarks and tests.
What is DDR5 RAM?
DDR5 RAM stands for Double Data Rate 5 Random Access Memory. It is the successor to DDR4 RAM, which has been the standard memory type for desktops and laptops since 2014. DDR5 RAM offers several improvements over DDR4 RAM, such as:
- Higher frequencies: Most announcements for DDR5 RAM coming out in 2021 say that the sticks will have speeds of around 4,800MHz or higher. By comparison, high-end speeds for DDR4 are around 3,600 to 4,000MHz, while 2,666MHz is more common on everyday PCs.
- Higher capacities: Unlike the maximum 32GB capacity on a DDR4 DIMM stick, DDR5 raises this to a potential 128GB per module. It’s up to program and game developers to code their software to take advantage of all this extra capacity, however.
- Lower voltages: DDR5 RAM operates at a lower voltage of 1.1V, compared to 1.2V for DDR4 RAM. This means less power consumption and less heat generation, which can improve the lifespan and performance of your system.
- On-die ECC: DDR5 RAM features on-die error correction code (ECC), which can detect and correct data errors that may occur due to electrical interference or physical damage. This can enhance the reliability and stability of your system, especially for mission-critical applications.
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How does DDR5 RAM perform?
To measure the performance of DDR5 RAM, we will look at some of the benchmarks and tests conducted by various sources using different DDR5 and DDR4 RAM kits. We will focus on three main aspects: memory bandwidth, latency, and gaming performance.
Memory bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transferred between the CPU and the RAM per unit of time. It is measured in megabytes per second (MB/s) or gigabytes per second (GB/s). Higher memory bandwidth means faster data transfer and better performance.
One of the most popular tools for testing memory bandwidth is AIDA64, which measures the read, write, and copy speeds of the memory. According to Longsys’ provided RAM benchmarks, the DDR5-6400 memory module outperformed the DDR4-3200 memory module in AIDA64’s read, write and copy tests. The performance gains came down to 39%, 36%, and 12%, respectively. However, the DDR5 memory module did show a 97% higher latency than the DDR4 offering, though.
Another source that tested memory bandwidth using AIDA64 was TechPowerUp, which compared various DDR5 frequencies with a popular DDR4 frequency. They used an Intel Core i9-12900K processor and a Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master motherboard for their test system. They found that DDR5-7200 had the highest read speed of 86 GB/s, while DDR5-4800 had the lowest read speed of 54 GB/s. The DDR4-3600 had a read speed of 51 GB/s.
For write speed, DDR5-7200 also had the highest value of 69 GB/s, while DDR5-4800 had the lowest value of 43 GB/s. The DDR4-3600 had a write speed of 47 GB/s. For copy speed, DDR5-7200 again topped the chart with 79 GB/s, while DDR5-4800 had the lowest value of 49 GB/s. The DDR4-3600 had a copy speed of 46 GB/s.
These results show that higher-frequency DDR5 RAM can offer significant improvements in memory bandwidth over lower-frequency DDR5 RAM and DDR4 RAM. However, the difference between DDR5-4800 and DDR4-3600 is not very large, and may not justify the higher cost of DDR5 RAM.
Latency refers to the delay between the CPU requesting data from the RAM and the RAM delivering it. It is measured in nanoseconds (ns) or clock cycles (CL). Lower latency means faster response and better performance.
One of the tools for testing memory latency is AIDA64, which measures the average access time of the memory. According to Longsys’ provided RAM benchmarks, the DDR5-6400 memory module had a latency of 57.3 ns, while the DDR4-3200 memory module had a latency of 29.1 ns. This means that the DDR5 memory module had a 97% higher latency than the DDR4 memory module, which is a significant drawback.
Another source that tested memory latency using AIDA64 was TechPowerUp, which compared various DDR5 frequencies with a popular DDR4 frequency. They used an Intel Core i9-12900K processor and a Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Master motherboard for their test system.
They found that DDR5-7200 CL34 had the lowest latency of 48.8 ns, while DDR5-4800 CL40 had the highest latency of 60.2 ns. The DDR4-3600 CL16 had a latency of 43.6 ns.
These results show that lower-latency DDR5 RAM can offer competitive performance with DDR4 RAM in terms of latency, but higher-latency DDR5 RAM can suffer from significant delays. Therefore, when choosing DDR5 RAM, it is important to consider not only the frequency, but also the timings and CAS latency.
Gaming performance is one of the most important aspects for many PC users, as it determines how smoothly and enjoyably they can play their favorite games. Gaming performance depends on many factors, such as the CPU, GPU, resolution, settings, and of course, the RAM.
One of the sources that tested gaming performance using various DDR5 and DDR4 RAM kits was PC Gamer, which used an Intel Core i9-12900K processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU for their test system. They ran several popular games at 1080p resolution with high or ultra settings and measured the average frames per second (FPS) and 1% low FPS (the lowest FPS in 99% of the time).
They found that DDR5-7200 CL34 had the highest average FPS of 248 in CS:GO, while DDR5-4800 CL40 had the lowest average FPS of 230 in CS:GO. The DDR4-3600 CL16 had an average FPS of 235 in CS:GO. For 1% low FPS, DDR5-7200 CL34 also had the highest value of 177 in CS:GO, while DDR5-4800 CL40 had the lowest value of 161 in CS:GO. The DDR4-3600 CL16 had a 1% low FPS of 165 in CS:GO.
They also tested other games, such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Doom Eternal, Far Cry 6, and Red Dead Redemption 2. They found that in most cases, higher-frequency DDR5 RAM offered slightly better performance than lower-frequency DDR5 RAM and DDR4 RAM, but the difference was not very noticeable or consistent.
For example, in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, DDR5-7200 CL34 had an average FPS of 94, while DDR5-4800 CL40 had an average FPS of 93. The DDR4-3600 CL16 had an average FPS of 92. For 1% low FPS, DDR5-7200 CL34 had a value of 76, while DDR5-4800 CL40 had a value of 75. The DDR4-3600 CL16 had a value of 74.
These results show that gaming performance is not very sensitive to memory frequency or latency, and that other factors, such as the CPU and GPU, have a much bigger impact on gaming performance. Therefore, spending a lot of money on high-end DDR5 RAM may not be worth it for gaming purposes.
The most important thing to consider when upgrading to DDR5 RAM is whether your computer is compatible. DDR5 is not backward compatible with DDR4 motherboards, so you’ll need to ensure that your motherboard is compatible with DDR5 before making the switch.
DDR5 RAM is currently compatible with Intel’s 12th and 13th generation Core processors, code-named “Alder Lake” and “Raptor Lake”, respectively. These CPUs are actually also compatible with DDR4 RAM, though motherboards will only work with one type of RAM. Therefore, you will need to choose a motherboard that supports DDR5 RAM if you want to use it with these processors.
AMD introduced support for DDR5 RAM with their Ryzen 7000-series processors in Q4 2022. These processors use the new AM5 socket and chipset, which are not compatible with previous AMD platforms. Therefore, you will need to upgrade your motherboard and CPU if you want to use DDR5 RAM with AMD systems.
Another factor to consider when upgrading to DDR5 RAM is the cost. DDR5 RAM is still a new and emerging technology, and as such, it is more expensive than DDR4 RAM. According to PC Gamer, a single 16 GB DDR5-4800 module costs around $120, but overclocked modules, such as DDR5-5200 and DDR5-6000, or higher, could cost double or even triple that. By comparison, a 16 GB DDR4-3600 module costs around $60.
Additionally, you will also need to factor in the cost of a new motherboard and CPU if your current system is not compatible with DDR5 RAM. Depending on your budget and preferences, this could be a significant investment.
A final factor to consider when upgrading to DDR5 RAM is the availability. DDR5 RAM is still in limited supply and high demand, which means that it may be hard to find or out of stock at some retailers. Moreover, some manufacturers may have exclusive deals or partnerships with certain vendors or regions, which could limit your options or increase the prices.
Therefore, before you decide to upgrade to DDR5 RAM, you should check the availability and prices of the modules and kits that you are interested in. You may also want to wait for more reviews and benchmarks to come out before making a purchase decision.
In conclusion, DDR5 RAM is a promising technology that offers faster speeds, higher capacities, lower power consumption, and on-die ECC than DDR4 RAM. However, it also has some drawbacks, such as higher latencies, higher prices, and limited compatibility. Moreover, its performance benefits may not be noticeable or consistent in all applications and games.
Therefore, whether you should upgrade to DDR5 RAM depends on your personal needs and preferences. If you have a compatible system and a high budget, and you want to enjoy the latest and greatest technology, then DDR5 RAM may be worth it for you. However, if you have an incompatible system or a low budget, or you are satisfied with your current performance, then DDR4 RAM may be enough for you.