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DDR4 or DDR5 RAM: Which one is best for you?

If you're considering any Intel platform with robust 12th, 13th, and 14th generation CPUs, you'll need to decide between DDR4 and DDR5 memory.

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Kapish Khajuria
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ddr4 or ddr5 ram

If you're considering any Intel platform with robust 12th, 13th, and 14th generation CPUs, you'll need to decide between DDR4 and DDR5 memory. This choice has ignited substantial debate among PC enthusiasts, focusing on whether DDR5 offers better gaming performance than DDR4 and if it’s higher cost is justified.

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DDR4 and DDR5: Differences?

Although both DDR4 and DDR5 modules have 288 pins, they are wired differently and are incompatible with motherboards designed for the other type. One advantage of DDR5 over DDR4 is the increased capacity per module, with DDR5 supporting up to 128GB compared to DDR4’s 32GB limit.

Bandwidth is where DDR5 really stands out. The latest CPUs have more cores that require higher bandwidth. DDR5 offers double the burst length, twice the number of banks and bank groups as DDR4, and features two independent 32-bit channels. This configuration allows DDR5 to transfer data between the CPU and memory significantly faster than DDR4.

Even the lower-end DDR5 kits available today have twice the bandwidth of standard DDR4 memory, which helps feed modern CPUs more effectively for better performance. However, DDR5’s latency—the delay between a data request and the memory response—has traditionally been higher than DDR4’s.

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This latency has decreased considerably since DDR5's release. With increasing frequencies, the latest DDR5 kits running at 6000 MHz+ achieve similar latency to typical 3600MHz DDR4 kits, but with the added benefits of higher frequencies and greater bandwidth.

Which RAM should you choose?

Pricing: While DDR5 RAM is still more expensive than DDR4, the price gap has narrowed. The difference between DDR4 and DDR5 kits can be as small as $10, though sometimes it may be $20–$30. This difference is minor compared to the total cost of building a new PC. If you frequently play games like Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, DDR5 is a worthwhile investment.

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Future Compatibility: Another factor is future-proofing. DDR5 memory can be reused in future Intel or AMD systems. DDR5 motherboards for Intel’s 12th, 13th, and 14th-gen CPUs don’t usually cost significantly more than their DDR4 counterparts.

Conclusion: While choosing DDR4 can save some money, especially if you already have DDR4 modules, the performance gains and the impending obsolescence of DDR4 make DDR5 the better choice. We recommend selling any old DDR4 memory and switching to DDR5 if you’re building a gaming PC, even if it comes with a slight premium. Unless you’re on a very tight budget, DDR5 is the superior option for a new gaming build.

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