Finding The Best DDR4 RAM For Gaming – 2018 Reviews and Top Picks
We took some time to round up and find the best DDR4 RAM sticks we could, steadily escalating in price, capacity, frequency and performance while doing so. Our end result presented us with six high-quality RAM sticks that you’re welcome to pop into your new PC build or use to upgrade an old one.
Before continuing, remember there are no bad choices here. We already filtered those out for you.
Instead, go with the RAM that suits your computing needs and falls within your budget. After we go over the individual products, we’ll tackle some popular RAM-related questions to help you decide which of these DDR4 RAM kits is right for you.
Enough with introductions. Bring out the RAM!
The Best DDR4 RAM For Gaming: Breakdown
|Best 16GB RAM For Gaming |
|Best 32GB RAM Kit|
Corsair Vengeance LPX
|Best 8GB RAM For Gaming|
Crucial Ballistix Tactical
|Best Budget RAM For Gaming|
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT
- Good enough for intensive multitasking- gaming and browsing at once, with ease, if the rest of your PC can keep up
- More than most gamers actually need
The G.Skill Flare RAM kit comes in at a very high price, but offers 16 GB of RAM running in dual-channel at a strong 2400 MHz speed. This is slower than the 8GB RAM kit on offer, but it shouldn’t matter much: the fact that you’re buying this much RAM probably means you’re looking for more raw capacity than performance, anyways, and this will hold pretty much anything that you throw at it.
Corsair Vengeance LPX
- More than enough for any kind of multitasking duty, if your PC can keep up with it
- Not super fast, best used for heavy-duty RAM situations like running servers
- Impractical for any gaming purpose
- Very expensive
If your needs exceed even 16GB RAM capacity somehow (what are you doing!?), then 32 GB is the next logical step up. This will absolutely ensure that there is no memory bottleneck on your PC to speak of, and that you can do...whatever it is you’re doing that requires 32 GB of RAM. The sheer capacity here does come at a high price, however, and at just 2133 MHz it’s not the fastest in the pack either. If you’re buying this much RAM, it may be time to start considering looking at server hardware rather than desktop hardware.
Crucial Ballistix Tactical
- Reasonably cheap
- Good enough for true multitasking- gaming and browsing at once in all but the most intensive situations
- Pretty dang fast in games where it counts
- Not enough for intensive multitasking
If you want to jump right into gaming with an awesome DDR4 RAM kit, this is a great place to start. Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical 8GB kit offers all the RAM you need for modern gaming and multitasking, as well as a great 2666 MHz speed that should improve performance in the latest modern games. This is probably the sweet-spot in terms of capacity and performance for the foreseeable future, so I highly recommend grabbing this RAM kit...and if your motherboard has enough RAM slots, just grab another one of these whenever the upgrade bug bites you.
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT
- Pretty cheap
- Reasonably fast in games that can utilize it
- Good enough for gaming and browsing but not both at once
- Not enough for true multitasking
The budget range of DDR4 RAM is dominated by the Crucial Ballistix line, and Crucial’s 4GB RAM kit is no different. It comes in at a 4GB capacity and an impressive 2400 MHz speed thanks to being a DDR4 kit. While this is great if you’re building a very cheap budget PC and can’t afford more RAM, it does mean that you’ll only be able to game or multitask, not both at once. 4GB simply can’t juggle modern games alongside browsers and other applications.
However, as a starting point for a new build, this RAM kit isn’t bad. You can always buy another and slap it in later for a dual-channel boost in performance, as well.
What is RAM?
RAM is short for Random Access Memory. It’s also “dynamic” memory, versus your HDD/SSD storage, which is considered “static” memory.
RAM is used to hold data in the short-term, by holding active applications and data where it can be quickly accessed, discarded and changed. In human terms, think of it as your short-term memory or what you have in mind right now.
With the increasing RAM demands of operating systems, games and applications, many people are starting to ask more questions about what exactly RAM is and what it does for them. We’re going to use the rest of the article to demystify any questions you may have about RAM to allow you to make an educated buying decision.
When it comes to gaming, RAM is usually used to hold the active levels/maps and help your CPU/GPU juggle all the calculations that are going on in-game. In the sections below, we’ll dive a bit deeper into how it affects performance.
What is the best amount of RAM for gaming?
Honestly...it doesn’t actually matter that much for gaming in particular. Where it does start to matter, however, is when you look at what else you happen to be doing when you’re gaming. For serious games, you should know how to pick the best RAM for gaming in 2018.
Here’s a helpful breakdown of what you can do at various RAM capacities.
- 4 GB RAM - You can multitask or you can game. You can’t, however, do both at once. Some modern games may have a 6GB or higher RAM requirement, too, which can hurt your performance in those titles.
- 8GB RAM - You can multitask and you can game. Doing both at once shouldn’t cause you any problems, especially if you aren’t running anything CPU/GPU-intensive in the background of your game. Most modern titles shouldn’t have RAM requirements higher than 6GB, too, so your RAM spec is greater than or equal to what’s expected from most games.
- 16GB RAM - You can multitask and game, with much more intensity. You could, say, run a RAM-intensive game while also having a large number of browser tabs in the background, for instance. 16GB of RAM is really only recommended for people who use professional/productivity applications that require the extra RAM, like running Virtual Machines or advanced calculations. For the vast majority of users, 16GB of RAM offers no real benefits.
- 32GB+ RAM - Literally only useful for servers and extreme scenarios. This will have absolutely no impact on your gaming experience, and we don’t recommend blowing money on it.
Ultimately, there is no best amount of RAM for gaming.
There is, however, a most practical amount of RAM for gaming and that is having 8GB of RAM. For the foreseeable future, this will likely remain the case, but perhaps one day we’ll see games and applications that justify buying more RAM.
What is the best RAM speed for gaming?
Now, it’s time to tackle another fun topic: RAM speed in gaming!
Many people invest in the fastest, greatest hardware to push maximum frames. But, does that actually result in better gaming performance or is it just an ego boost number?
First off, most DDR4-compatible motherboards and RAM will only be able to reach a maximum of around 3000 MHz without serious performance issues. In fact, getting RAM to run at these high clocks requires BIOS tweaks.
Out of the box, they aren’t going to run anywhere near 3000 MHz.
Secondly, most games and applications just don’t see much of a performance boost by boosting RAM frequency. Of course, it’s better to run 2133 DDR4 than 1333 DDR3, but as we’ve hit higher speeds we aren’t seeing corresponding differences in gaming performance.
Now, to be fair, some games may very well benefit from RAM speed increases. Unfortunately, these benefits are often marginal at best and usually not worth the extra money.
As said by Linus of LinusTechTips fame, “4.7% for $60 dollars more, without any guarantee it’ll actually work, means that we wouldn’t recommend it”.
Ultimately, there is no best RAM speed for gaming. So, let’s talk about the final question: how much of a difference does RAM actually make?
Read more: Finding The Best DDR3 RAM For Gaming
How much of a difference does RAM really make in gaming performance?
Not a whole lot.
Once you meet a game’s RAM requirement, you’re fine. And if you go a bit over it, you have more room for web browsing and the such in the background.
That’s really all there is to it. We’re not going to lie to you and tell you that you need to buy 32 Gigs of DDR4-4000 RAM!
Because that’s blatantly false. RAM capacity matters far more than RAM frequency when it comes to gaming (and general) computer performance, and even RAM capacity starts to see seriously diminishing returns past the 8GB point, at least for now.
The big lesson to take away here?
Just buy what you need and what fits your budget. The recommendations we’ve dropped in this article could all be considered the best DDR4 RAM for gaming.
What’s the best for you, however, depends on your budget and your needs.
What’re you going with?