DDR5 memory, introduced in 2021, indicated the arrival of the next generation of memory modules. With more bandwidth than before, it is bound to get you interested in putting one on your next build.
Even with falling RAM prices, DDR5 demands a price premium over DDR4. So should you opt for one?
Read on to know the differences between the two and the performances you can expect from them.
So, let’s get started.
Here’s a complete guide on how to enable Aura Sync Control for Corsair RGB Memory.
Comparison between DDR4 and DDR5 RAM
From operating voltages to frequency, DDR5 RAM has received a speed boost in most departments. The table below will give you brief information about these key specifications.
|Bandwidth||4.0 Gbps||8.4 Gbps|
|Capacity (single DIMM)||64 GB||128 GB|
|Latency (in nano-seconds)||16 ns||40 ns|
|Operating Voltage (in Volts)||1.2 V||1.1 V|
Those numbers already look promising. To understand these better, why not delve deeper into the nitty gritty of the specs?
Below, you can see a stick of both generations of RAM. A normal glance will not reveal anything special between the two, but from an engineering point of view, the difference is aplenty.
Every memory module is designed to work in a specific slot. This is similar to a lock-key analogy.
If you look at the golden-colored notches below each memory module, you will find there are a certain number of ridges present there. Precisely there are 280 connectors for both DDR4 and DDR5 RAM.
The difference lies in the arrangement of these notches. DDR4 memory will simply not fit on a motherboard with a DDR5 slot and vice versa.
Also, check out our separate post on can RAM affect FPS.
The fastest consumer DDR4 RAM has a frequency of 3200 MT/s (Mega transfers/ second). With DDR5, the base frequency now starts at 4800 MT/s. Consider these just the base speeds that you can expect with this generation.
The faster units focused on gaming can go as high as 6400 MT/s. Unsurprisingly expect to shell out twice as much for getting such speeds.
So, you are getting twice the amount of data transfer capability with DDR5. This is extremely important in tasks sensitive to memory, such as video editing or working with a large spreadsheet, where the CPU frequently accesses files from memory.
DDR5 brings a large capacity of memory to single sticks, never seen before. With DDR4, 64 GB was the max amount. Now 128 GB of memory can be accommodated on a single stick of DDR5 RAM.
Using these, the upcoming workstations can rock a stupendous 512 GB of memory. You certainly do not need such amounts ‒ studios that work with CGI for movies are ideal candidates for such rigs.
Check out the best RAM for intel core i9-10900k.
You can recognize the memory latency by looking at the CL values on the memory packaging. Lower latency means your computer can send/receive data in batches in a faster time.
The fastest DDR4 memory has a latency of 16 ns. Right now, the fastest DDR5 RAM available has a latency of 40 ns. But as it can transfer data faster than DDR4, the overall speed is quicker.
You also need to consider that these are the first generations of DD5 memory. With time manufacturers will release RAM with faster speeds and even lower latencies. Imagine the speeds you can expect when the latencies reach the level of DDR4 memory.
Voltage and Channels
DDR5 requires 1.1 V to operate. For comparison, the DDR4 variant requires 1.2 V. A lower voltage means longevity for your memory.
In addition, you get a power management chip(PMIC) that regulates the voltage to the memory, built right into the RAM. DDR4 RAM relied on a chip in the motherboard for this.
Now let’s look at channels. Think of these as pathways through which data can travel.
DDR4 RAM has a single 72- bit bus (64-bit for data and 8-bit for error correction). With DDR5, you get two 40-bit channels (32-bit for data). While the bus width does not increase to accommodate more data, with twice the channels, you are increasing the data transfer rate.
Now think about this, we all recommend getting the memory in dual channels to increase the transfer speed. With twice the number of channels built in, with a dual-channel setup, you can quadruple the speed of your memory. This is the speed DDR5 brings to the table.
If you were wondering whether DDR5 is backward compatible, read this fantastic piece.
In addition, you also get temperature sensors built into the memory itself. That means you can finally check if the memory is getting hotter. As DDR5 RAM will do a lot of data transfers than the earlier generations, this feature will surely come in handy.
Having such innovations is good, but what about real-world performances? Do you finally become a good gamer by rocking the fastest RAM on your build? That is what we explore in the next section.
For the performance comparison, we have placed three RAM modules against each other. Every module has a capacity of 16 GB, which in total is 32 GB running at dual-channel.
The DDR4 memory we have used is Kingston Fury Renegade, one of which runs at 3200 MHz and the other at 3600 MHz. Both of these have a latency of CL-16. For the DDR5, our choice was Kingston Fury Beast running at 5200 Mhz with a latency of CL 40.
Let’s look at the rest of the test bench.
|Processor||I5 12600K 3.70GHz 10 cores|
|Motherboard (DDR4)||Gigabyte Z690 Aero|
|Motherboard (DDR5)||Asus ProArt Z690|
|Graphics Card||Asus TUF RTX 3090|
For the benchmarks, we have some memory-specific synthetic tests and a few games running at 1080p ultra settings. The point of the testing is to see whether DDR5 gives out the desired performances that are expected from it.
First off is Geekbench 5.
This is more of a CPU-restricted test, but you get a 6.2% performance uplift for single-core test and 10% on multi-core tests when going from DDR4 to DDR5.
Check out some of the best 4400 MHz RAMs for a faster gaming experience.
Next off is Puget Bench for Premier Pro. This tests real-time video editing workloads on your computer. A higher score indicates a better performance.
Here, DDR5 performs 7.5% faster than the DDR4 platform. While the difference isn’t astronomical, it’s nice to get an uplift.
The Adobe Photoshop test for Puget Bench also shows similar results.
Here, some anomalies popped up in our results. The faster DDR4 RAM performs slower than the lower-clocked one. The DDR5, as usual, leads with a 4.4% greater score.
Don’t forget to check out some of the best 3000 MHz RAMs for a faster gaming experience.
The Next test involves Da-Vinci Resolve, another application used for video workloads.
The difference here is so minimal that we cannot consider a substantial win for DDR5. It is only 1.9% faster than DDR4.
Now onto some gaming benchmarks. We ran Red Dead Redemption, FarCry 6 and Battlefield V at ultra settings at 1080p.
I have not included results for the DDR4-3600 module, as the differences are extremely minimal. Now coming to the performance gains, it is less than 5% for all the titles on our test bench.
Should You Upgrade Your RAM from DDR4 to DDR5?
Now that we have the results let’s analyze the findings.
From the productivity tests, we had the most gains when editing photos or videos using Adobe’s software suite. However, on Geekbench, the performance difference was around 6 percent.
During gaming sessions, any advantages provided by DDR5 diminish. We got scores that did not separate the platform that much.
Before coming to the final conclusion, let’s take a look at the prices these memory modules are going for. You can buy the DDR4 3200 Mhz variants for around 130 dollars, while the 3600 MHz goes for a hundred bucks. The DDR5 RAM goes for upwards of 150 dollars. If you opt for the RGB one, it will cost closer to 200 dollars.
So, do you get the double performance for almost double the price?
The answer is a resounding no.
For gaming, you are better off removing bottlenecks from your system than spending a price premium for DDR5. For example, allocate the budget towards your graphics card than spending extra bucks on RAM.
On the productivity side, you do get improvements in Video and Photo editing. It’s only been less than 2 years since DDR5 became mainstream, so we can still consider it in its infancy. With time, developers can leverage the extra bandwidth DDR5 provides and optimize the applications.
If money is no object, you can opt for a DDR5-based system. It is the future moving forward, and future models of RAM will support your motherboard.
Otherwise, opting for DDR4 will give you the same performance while saving you some bucks.
Check out our separate post on will motherboard turn on without RAM.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is DDR5 RAM better than DDR4?
DDR5 brings twice the bandwidth than DDR4. A higher frequency (up to 6400 MT/s compared to 3200 MT/s) and more data lanes (2 times 32-bit) help this.
Does DDR5 make a difference?
DDR5 provides marginal improvements in productivity tasks while no mentionable lead in gaming. You can expect it to provide dividends in the future when it is widely adopted.
Can I use DDR5 RAM in a DDR4 motherboard?
No, DDR5 RAM has a different design than DDR4, which requires it to use a different slot on the motherboard. You will damage the DDR5 RAM if you try to connect it forcibly.
Does DDR5 need a new motherboard?
Starting from Intel’s 12th generation of Core and AMD’s Ryzen 7000 processors, you get native support for DDR5 RAM. That means buying a motherboard that states this on its packaging.
That’s all for today’s article.
I hope now your decision is made easier on which memory to opt for. DDR5 has some great specs, and one will surely appreciate it when applications can utilize them. Till then, DDR4 is here to stay and will continue providing the best bang for your buck.
So, make the best decision and let the torch of pc gaming shine brightly.