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DDR4 vs DDR5 — Reviewed

Your computer’s random access memory modules (RAM) are critical to the PC’s performance. If your RAM is too slow or you don’t have enough of it, you won’t be able to run the programs you need. For the past ten years, most PCs have run DDR4 RAM, which can reach speeds up to 5000MHz or more and 128GB of memory with the right motherboard.

DDR5 RAM launched in 2021, but has hit the mainstream thanks to the latest generation of processors that natively support it. This includes Intel’s 12th generation chips and 13th generation CPUs, as well as AMD’s Ryzen 7000-series processors.

Compared to DDR4, DDR5 RAM kits have a higher base speed, support higher-capacity DIMM modules (also called RAM sticks), and consume less power for the same performance specs as the previous generation. However, DDR4 still holds some key advantages, like overall lower latency and better stability. Most new PCs still ship with DDR4 memory, but is it worth the extra cash to get something with DDR5 memory, instead?

Clock speed and data rate in DDR5 vs DDR4 RAM

Credit:
Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Some recently released high-end gaming laptops already have DDR5 RAM installed.

A computer’s ability to operate is constrained by its clock speed—how many times the RAM modules can access its memory per second. The standard default clock speed for DDR4 is 2133MHz, whereas the default rate for DDR5 is 4800MHz. To run RAM faster than these speeds, you may have to enable the XMP profile in your PC’s BIOS if it’s not already enabled. Either way, even the fastest DDR4 cannot reach the same high speeds that DDR5 can.

Another of DDR5’s key improvements over DDR4 is its data transfer rate. For Intel’s 12th generation “Alder Lake” processors, DDR4 will run at speeds up to 3200 Megatransfers per second (MT/s), and DDR5 will run up to 4800 MT/s. This means DDR5 transfers data at up to 38.4 gigabytes per second (GB/s), while DDR4 tops out at 25.6 GB/s. Overall, DDR5 can be 50% faster than DDR4’s maximum data rate.

Our pick: DDR5

Memory Capacity in DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

Credit:
Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

Your processor, storage drive and graphics card will have a more notable impact on your PC’s performance than your RAM speed.

While DDR4 tops out at 64GB per module (RAM stick), DDR5 can top out at a whopping 512GB per module. Generally, most processors can’t support that. They max out at 128GB of DDR4 memory split across two-to-four DIMM modules. However, since DDR5 is so new, it’s reasonable to expect that future consumer CPUs will take full advantage of its capabilities.

For now, Intel’s 12th generation and 13th generation processors, and AMD’s mobile 6000-series and desktop 7000-series processors only support up to 128GB of DDR5 memory total. That’s four 32GB sticks.

Our pick: Tie (for now)

Latency in DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

Credit:
Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

DDR4 still offers the better value when you compare DDR5’s marginal performance gains to its notable price hike over DDR4 memory.

DDR4’s major advantage over DDR5 is its lower latency. Basically, RAM acts like temporary storage for your computer’s CPU so it can quickly access tasks it performs on a regular basis. (It’s similar to you keeping a dozen Google Chrome tabs open at once because you want the information close by.) The lower the latency, the faster the CPU can access the instructions it temporarily stored in the RAM to perform the tasks.

Total latency is determined by both a DIMM module’s speed and its CAS (Column Address Signal) latency. For CAS latency ratings, lower numbers are better.

A DDR4-3200 CL20 module, for instance, has a CAS latency rating of 20. Most DDR5 modules have CL40 CAS latency, which negates DDR5’s high clock speeds. It’s faster at completing tasks, but it takes longer for the RAM to register it needs to perform a task. So, that DDR4-3200 CL20 RAM will have snappier performance than a DDR5-4800 CL40 module.

The situation is improving for DDR5. The G.Skill Trident Z5 sticks have a CAS latency of 28. When you factor in its speed, that gives it an actual latency of 10 nanoseconds, which can compete with DDR4 latency. However, it will still take a little time before DDR5 kits routinely beat DDR4’s latency.

Our pick: DDR4

Performance in DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

Credit:
Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Modern gaming consoles will sport DDR4 RAM for a while.

Better specs are great, but they won’t matter if they don’t translate into better performance. Because of DDR5’s high latencies, its performance is not notably better than DDR4 modules in our benchmark testing.

For some workloads, like scene rendering with Cinebench and Blender or video file encoding with Handbrake, the DDR5 system saw modest gains over the DDR4 system. Rendering a lengthy test scene in Blender, for instance, was one to two minutes faster on the DDR5-equipped system. The same video file encoded in Handbrake was also about a minute faster on the DDR5-equipped system.

However, other workloads like gaming saw little to no performance differences. When we ran tests in our AMD Radeon-based graphics benchmark systems, we got the same framerate performance across our reference games. We saw the same results in our Ryzen 9-5950X / DDR4 RAM desktop as our Intel Core i9-12900K / DDR5 RAM desktops.

Meanwhile, our Nvidia-based graphics benchmarks systems actually performed worse on our DDR5 setup. Some games ran up to 20 fps slower on our Intel Core i9-12900K / DDR5 RAM desktop than our Intel Core i9-11900K / DDR4 RAM desktop.

Our benchmarks and testing across prebuilt desktop and laptop PCs echo the same results. When we compare DDR5-equipped PCs to similar DDR4-equipped ones, we see little to no performance gains for gaming.

Over time, we expect this comparison to still hold true; gaming and productivity tasks are rarely bottlenecked by RAM performance or latency. RAM capacity and bandwidth are far more important for those things.

Similarly, specialized tasks like file compression or multitasked video and photo editing can be sped up with more powerful RAM. However, you’ll see better gains from upgrading the storage drive, CPU, or GPU.

Our pick: Tie

Compatibility with DDR4 vs.

DDR5 RAM

Credit:
Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

The Framework laptop mainboard has RAM slots so you can upgrade your memory later on.

Currently, DDR5 support is fairly limited. DDR5 modules are only supported by Intel’s 12th-gen “Alder Lake” and 13th-gen “Raptor Lake” processors, and AMD’s 6000-series mobile and 7000-series desktop processors.

Most processors and motherboards made in the last decade support DDR4 RAM—including Intel’s 12th-gen processors. Intel’s 13th-gen desktop processors also support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory, and can use the same motherboards. There is no indication that Intel’s 14th or 15th generation processors will support DDR4, but those chips are still a way off—sometime in late 2023 or later.

AMD’s 7000-series processors only support DDR5 memory.

Our pick: DDR4

Price of DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

Credit:
Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Most laptops and desktops—even those with current gen processors—still ship with DDR4 RAM.

DDR4 RAM has been around for a decade, so it costs about half as much as a DDR5 kit of similar capacity. For instance, this 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 G.Skill Trident kit costs only $95, whereas this 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL 36 G.Skill Trident kit costs $150—that’s 50% more expensive for a DDR5 kit from the same line of products.

DDR5-compatible motherboards are also more expensive than DDR4-only ones. This Asus ROG Strix Z690 motherboard, for example, is over $100 more than its Z590 counterpart.

In time, prices will almost certainly go down on both DDR5 kits and DDR5-compatible parts. On the other hand, as DDR5 becomes more mainstream, DDR4 kits and compatible parts will also grow cheaper. That means DDR4 will keep winning on price point for a long time to come.

Our pick: DDR4

Is upgrading to DDR5 worth it?

Credit:
G.Skill

While DDR5 has greater data transfer rates, the best DDR4 modules still have lower latency.

Considering how long DDR3 stayed relevant while DDR4 was mainstream, it will be a couple of years at the earliest before compatibility and support issues make a DDR5 upgrade necessary. DDR5 is undeniably an improvement over DDR4 for to memory bandwidth and capacity, but its modest performance gains over DDR4 in most nonprofessional tasks and its high latencies sour the deal.

When you add in the price difference, it makes little sense to choose a DDR5 kit for a PC unless you plan to use it for specific, demanding tasks like mass file compression or photo and video editing. Even if you want to future-proof your PC, it makes sense to let the technology develop for a couple of years before springing for a DDR5 kit.

In the meantime, take advantage of the great DDR4 kits on the market today and don’t let FOMO get to you.

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Kingston® Memory Part Number Decoder

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Learn how to read Kingston® memory part numbers including Kingston FURY™, Server Premier™, ValueRAM®, HyperX®, DDR5, DDR4, DDR3, DDR2 and DDR memory product lines to help you identify modules by specification.

Part Number: KF556C38BBE2AK2-32

  • KF
  • 5
  • 56
  • C
  • 38
  • B
  • B
  • E
  • 2
  • A
  • K2
  • 16

KF = Product Line

  • KF – Kingston FURY

5 = Technology

  • 5 – DDR5

56 = Speed (MT/sPart Number: KSM48R40BD4TMP-64HMR

  • KSM
  • 48
  • R
  • 40B
  • D
  • 4
  • T
  • M
  • P
  • 64
  • H
  • M
  • R

KSM = Product Line

  • KSM — Kingston Server Premier

48 = Speed (MT/sPart number: KVR48U40BS8K2-32X

  • KVR
  • 48
  • U
  • 40B
  • S
  • 8
  • K2
  • 32
  • X

KVR = Product lineM

  • KVR – Kingston ValueRAM

48 = Speed (MT/sPart number: KF432C16BB1AK4/64

  • KF
  • 4
  • 32
  • C
  • 16
  • B
  • B
  • 1
  • A
  • K4
  • /
  • 64

KF = Product line

  • KF — Kingston FURY

4 = Technology

  • 3 — DDR3
  • 4 — DDR4

32 = Speed (MT/sPart Number: KSM26RD4L/32HAI

  • KSM
  • 26
  • R
  • D
  • 4
  • L
  • /
  • 32
  • H
  • A
  • I

KSM = Product Line

  • KSM – Kingston Server Premier

26 = Speed (MT/sPart Number: KVR21LR15D8LK2/4HBI

  • KVR
  • 21
  • L
  • R
  • 15
  • D
  • 8
  • L
  • K2
  • /
  • 4
  • H
  • B
  • I

KVR = Kingston ValueRAM

  • KVR — Kingston ValueRAM

21 = Speed (MT/sPart number: CBD48S40BD8MA-32

  • CBD
  • 48
  • S
  • 40B
  • D
  • 8
  • M
  • A
  • 32

CBD = Product line

  • CBD – Kingston design-in DRAM module

48 = Speed (MT/sPart number: CBD26D4U9D8HJV-16

  • CBD
  • 26
  • D4
  • U
  • 9
  • D
  • 8
  • H
  • J
  • V
  • 16

CBD = Product line

  • CBD – Kingston design-in DRAM module

26 = Speed (MT/sPart number: CBD16D3LFU1KBG/2G

  • CBD
  • 16
  • D3L
  • F
  • U
  • 1
  • K
  • B
  • G
  • 2G

CBD = Product line

  • CBD – Kingston design-in DRAM module

16 = Speed (MT/sPart number: HX429C15PB3AK4/32

  • HX
  • 4
  • 29
  • C
  • 15
  • P
  • B
  • 3
  • A
  • K4
  • /
  • 32

HX = Product line

  • HX — HyperX (Legacy)

4 = Technology

  • 3 — DDR3
  • 4 — DDR4

29 = Speed (MT/sPart Number: KVR16LR11D8LK2/4HB

  • KVR
  • 16
  • L
  • R
  • 11
  • D
  • 8
  • L
  • K2
  • /
  • 4
  • H
  • B

KVR = Kingston ValueRAM

  • KVR — Kingston ValueRAM

16 = Speed (MT/sPart Number: KVR1066D3LD8R7SLK2/46HB

  • KVR
  • 1066
  • D3
  • L
  • D
  • 8
  • R
  • 7
  • S
  • L
  • K2
  • /
  • 4G
  • H
  • B

KVR = Kingston ValueRAM

  • KVR — Kingston ValueRAM

1066 = Speed (MT/sPart Number: KVR400X72RC3AK2/1G

  • KVR
  • 400
  • X72
  • R
  • C3
  • A
  • K2
  • /
  • 1G

KVR = Kingston ValueRAM

  • KVR — Kingston ValueRAM

400 = Speed (MT/s

Generation

Type

Baud rate

Bit time

Frequency

Cycle

CL

First word

Fourth word

Eighth word

SDRAM

PC100

100MT/s

 10 ns

100MHz

 10 ns

2

20ns

50ns

90ns

PC133

133MT/s

 7. 5 ns

133MHz

 7.5 ns

3

22.5ns

45ns

75ns

DDR SDRAM

DDR-333

333MT/s

 3 ns

166MHz

 6 ns

2.5

15ns

24ns

36ns

DDR-400

400MT/s

 2.5 ns

200MHz

 5 ns

3

15ns

22. 5ns

32.5ns

2.5

12.5ns

20ns

30ns

2

10ns

17.5ns

27.5ns

DDR2 SDRAM

DDR2-667

667 MT/s

1.5ns

333MHz

 3 ns

5

15ns

19.5ns

25.5ns

4

12ns

16. 5ns

22.5ns

DDR2-800

800MT/s

 1.25 ns

400MHz

 2.5 ns

6

15ns

18.75ns

23.75ns

5

12.5ns

16.25ns

21.25ns

4.5

11.25ns

15ns

20ns

4

10ns

13. 75ns

18.75ns

DDR2-1066

1066MT/s

 0.95 ns

533MHz

 1.9 ns

7

13.13ns

15.94ns

19.69ns

6

11.25ns

14.06ns

17.81ns

5

9.38ns

12.19ns

15.94ns

4.5

8. 44ns

11.25ns

15ns

4

7.5ns

10.31ns

14.06ns

DDR3 SDRAM

DDR3-1066

1066MT/s

 0.9375 ns

533MHz

 1.875 ns

7

13.13ns

15.95ns

19.7ns

DDR3-1333

1333MT/s

 0.75 ns

666MHz

 1. 5 ns

9

13.5ns

15.75ns

18.75ns

6

 9 ns

11.25ns

14.25ns

DDR3-1375

1375MT/s

 0.73 ns

687MHz

 1.5 ns

5

 7.27 ns

 9.45 ns

12.36ns

DDR3-1600

1600MT/s

 0.625 ns

800MHz

 1. 25 ns

9

11.25ns

13.125ns

15.625ns

8

10ns

11.875ns

14.375ns

7

 8.75 ns

10.625ns

13.125ns

6

 7.50 ns

9.375ns

11.875ns

DDR3-2000

2000MT/s

 0.5 ns

1000MHz

 1 ns

10

10ns

11. 5ns

13.5ns

9

9ns

10.5ns

12.5ns

8

 8 ns

9.5ns

11.5ns

7

 7 ns

8.5ns

10.5ns

DRAM CAS# Latency — BIOS Setup

DRAM CAS# Latency

Option DRAM CAS# Latency allows you to set the time delay (in system cycles) that occurs from the moment the CAS signal is received until the start of receiving data from the RAM. Increasing the waiting time reduces the data exchange rate, but increases the stability of the RAM.

Option values:

Auto (or By SPD ) — automatic determination of the delay time based on information about the operating modes of the RAM from the SPD chip;

3T; 4T; 5T; 6T…

The option may also have other names:

(Tcl) CAS# Latency

CAS Latency

CAS# Latency Cloks

CAS Latency (CL)

CAS Latency Setting

CAS Latency Time

CAS Read Latency

CAS# Latency

CAS# Latency (Tcl)

DDR CAS# Latency

DDR2 CAS Latency

DRAM CAS Latency

DRAM CAS Select

DRAM CAS# Latency

RAM CAS# Latency

SDRAM CAS Latency

SDRAM CAS Latency [DDR/DDR2]

SDRAM CAS Latency Time

SDRAM CAS# Latency Time

SDRAM CAS# Latency

SDRAM Cycle Length

T (CAS)

tCL (CAS Latency)

Note 1 .

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