Best Gaming RAM 2018 – Buyer’s Guide and RAM Reviews
Memory, also known as RAM (Random Access Memory) in a PC is a very important component in a computer. It doesn’t matter if it is for gaming, video editing or having a lot of applications open at the same time, a good and high-quality RAM will do wonders. You need to make sure that you have plenty of high-speed memory so that you can get the best gaming experience.
With all the options out there and the somewhat complex specifications that most people don’t quite understand, it can be difficult to choose the best RAM for your budget.
We have looked through the options and tested a select amount of RAM, which allows us to pinpoint the best RAM for gaming for your needs and budget.
If you’re wondering what function RAM has on your PC, then it basically gives your CPU a place to do its computations and store data gotten by those calculations. This means that more RAM and the speed of your RAM has a big impact on how fast your processor/CPU can access those important files. Generally speaking, you don’t really need more than 8GB RAM for gaming purposes. If you intend to do multitasking or other CPU-intensive tasks like video rendering or photo editing, then you’ll benefit from having 16GB RAM. Anything more than that is unnecessary, so we don’t recommend that.
Below is a list of the best RAM for gaming in 2018. We hope it aids you in the process of choosing your new best gaming RAM right now. We included both the best DDR3 and DDR4 gaming RAM.
|Type||RAM (Memory)||Kit||Total Memory||Speed|
|Best DDR4 RAM for Gaming||Corsair Vengeance LPX (PC4-25600) C16 |
|Patriot Viper 4 (PV416G340C6K)||2x8GB||16GB||3400MHz|
|G.Skill Ripjaws 4 (F4-3000C15Q-16GRR)||4x4GB||16GB||3000MHz|
|Mushkin Enhanced Redline Frostbyte (994206F)||4x4GB||16GB||2800MHz|
|Corsair Vengeance LPX (CMK16GX4M4B3200C16)||4x4GB||16GB||3200MHz|
|G.Skill Trident Z (F4-3000C15D-32GTZ)||2x16GB||32GB||3000MHz|
|G.Skill Trident Z (F4-3000C15D-32GTZ)||4x8GB||32GB||3200MHz|
|G.Skill Ripjaws 4 (F4-2666C16Q2-64GRB)||8x8GB||64GB||2666MHz|
|Best DDR3 RAM for Gaming||Crucial Ballistix Tactical (BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LX0)||2x4GB||8GB||1600MHz|
|G.Skill Sniper (F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR2)||2x4GB||8GB||1600MHz|
|G.Skill Ripjaws X (F3-17000CL9D-8GBXM)||2x4GB||8GB||2133MHz|
|Mushkin Redline Ridgeback (997121R)||2x8GB||16GB||2133MHz|
|G.Skill Ripjaws X (F3-14900CL10D-16GBX)||2x8GB||16GB||1600MHz|
|Corsair Vengeance Pro (CMY32GX3M4A2800C12R)||4x8GB||32GB||2400MHz|
|G.Skill Ripjaws X (F3-2400C11Q-32GXM)||4x8GB||32GB||2400MHz|
Disclaimer: Clicking on a product name link will bring to you to the appropriate Amazon.com (.co.uk, .de, etc) product listing, where you can check the price, customer reviews and more information about the product or similar products.
In this guide, we come with various suggestions of RAM that we have found to be the best for a certain category. We will include both DDR3 RAM and DDR4 RAM for builds with an Intel Skylake CPU. We will not include any DDR3L (Low Voltage) RAMs in our list. We feel like these RAM modules and kits offer the best performance per dollar for PC gamers.
If you have a Mac (Macbook, Mac Pro) then you can also upgrade your RAM to get much more performance. If you have 4GB RAM on your Macbook and you upgrade to 16GB you will feel a big performance boost in everyday usage and multitasking work as well. That’s why we also include our recommendations for the best RAM for Mac in 2018. Be sure that the RAM fits in your motherboard and also make sure that you pair them up with a good GPU and the best processor the optimal gaming experience.
Hardcore gamers would not be who they are if they didn’t wish for high performance whenever possible. Although regular memory is good enough for most PCs, we are always on the lookout for the best gaming RAM for our machines. From higher-bandwidth discrete graphic cards or faster storage in larger capacities for loading levels or editing video more quickly, we’ve assessed a varied range of hardware components that deliver more than just standard performance. Also be sure to combine this with the best monitor for gaming purposes in order to maximize the gaming experience.
DDR4 presently provides the most bandwidth in the majority of economic capacities, being the most widespread standard in desktop PC memory. These high-frequency memory parts are designed for maximum performance with Intel’s X99 system platform and corresponding Haswell-E processor variants.
Reference designs specify 1.2-Volt operation for memory modules that run at standard frequencies of 2800 MHz or less. A higher 1.35-Volt operating mode is specified for modules that are programmed to run at 3000 MHz or faster, even though 1.35-Volt power consumption is not covered in the official DDR4 specification. But the fact is that systems featuring memory operating at such higher frequencies will not be really affected by any thermal or stability issues that the added marginal power usage might induce.
We look at models from the well-known Patriot, G.Skill, Mushkin, and Corsair Brands, the first two of which are extending their DDR4 ranges with 32GB packages of quad-channel DDR4-3200 modules as well and lower-latency 16GB packages of dual-channel DDR4-3200 modules.
Best Gaming RAM (DDR4)
16GB Sets (2x8GB)
Patriot Viper 4 DDR4-3400 16GB (2x8GB) – PV416G340C6K
With overclocking capability and voltages set to stable 1.35V values, these DDR4 modules performed steadily at their highest configuration of DDR4-3808. These are already priced low to begin with, reflecting their lesser performance specifications. With similar voltage limits affecting some DDR4 rivals to constrain frequencies to this level, Patriot’s DDR4-3400 2x8GB set looks even more appealing.
The mid-range pricing is definitely a plus, and that along with the top-notch overclocking potential of the dual-channel DRAM pair makes this package a good choice for gamers assembling their next build on a tight budget. If you are wondering: what is the best RAM speed? Perhaps even: what is the fastest RAM? The answer is a whopping 3400MHz speed on this one.
This 16GB set comprising a pair of Patriot DDR4-3400 DIMMs likely offers the most overclocking performance for the money.
16GB Sets (4x4GB)
G.Skill Ripjaws 4 DDR4-3000 16GB (4x4GB) – F4-3000C15Q-16GRR
G.Skill’s DDR4-3000 package of modules has been many a site’s go-to DRAM for assembling and evaluating X99 boards with quad-channel memory, from the time Haswell-E appeared in quantity. The majority of reviews used to list the package without honors or mostly ignore it, which happens a lot to reference components. It didn’t help that the set used to be priced well beyond $400, with the effect of it being usually left out of most budget-oriented reviews.
However, prices for the company’s most inexpensive DDR4-3000 memory dropped quickly as demand and sales volumes for DDR4 modules rose. As these remained the highest-performing DDR4 modules for some time, sites continued to review them with other 4x4GB DDR4 sets. However, prices have finally slid far down enough to gain the package recognition as a good budget choice for fast PCs. In fact, it’s now selling for as low as 50% of its launch price. Alternative colors are often available, which are indicated by each model number’s final letter.
These Ripjaws 4 modules have been sold as part of 8GB dual-channel sets with frequency ratings from 2133 MHz up to 3200 MHz, with either CL15 or else CL16 timings specs. It is still not possible to buy solitary DIMM modules off the shelf, but at least budget-priced sets can now be found in 16 GB and even 32 GB and 64 GB capacities, although certain parts with higher frequencies are not available in all variants.
This 16GB set of four G.Skill DDR4-3000 DIMMs represents the best 16GB package of fast, stable, and inexpensive memory available for LGA 2011 v3 boards.
Mushkin Enhanced Redline Frostbyte DDR4-2800 16GB (4x4GB) – 994206F
This kit offers among the speediest memory timings we have ever evaluated, second only to the very fastest modules and so close in actual speeds that these are all likely tied in all but a very few specific benchmark measures. A current set goes for slightly over $200 these days, which is a bargain in terms of its great performance.
The modules attained DDR4-3280 operation with CAS 16 timings and demonstrated stability in DDR4-3000 operation with CAS 15 timings, DDR4-2400 with CAS 12, and DDR4-2133 with CAS 11. The Redline Frostbyte memory sets available on the market are from newer production runs that still offer some of the highest quality components around. This is the best RAM for laptop users perhaps if you can fit it in.
This 16GB package comprising four Mushkin DDR4-2800 modules can be a superior value if your system can be configured correctly given its unusual frequency setting, especially if you can find the set at the right price. Buyers whose systems can run it will not find faster memory at this price.
Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 16GB (4x4GB) – CMK16GX4M4B3200C16
These ultrafast DDR4-3200 modules were already grabbing attention on our Haswell-E test PCs. After slight adjustments to our latest Skylake systems, we were able to overclock it at DDR4-3600 using two of the DIMMS, showing the advantages of using memory designs optimized for quad-channel operation in a dual-channel configuration. However, the memory cannot reliably operate at frequencies above its DDR4-3200 rating when installed in the quad-channel configurations for which it is marketed. Certainly one of the best RAM sticks out there.
The unique proposition of this pricey package is the included set of Corsair cooling fans. These can be quite useful in cooling CPU voltage-regulation parts in systems that don’t have CPU fans installed, in particular the majority of budget liquid-cooled builds. After discounting the value of the fans, this appears to be a competitively priced set of DDR4-3200 modules. Gamers assembling PCs with such a mix of cooling systems will find this set of four Vengeance LPX modules a convenient buy.
This 16GB package of four Corsair DDR4-3200 modules offers performance and quality as good as that of any other. It can offer a lot of value along with convenience if you are assembling a PC with its cooling mix in mind. Aside from the advantages of independently cooled memory, the fans make sense for systems that won’t feature CPU coolers for various reasons.
32GB Sets (2x16GB)
G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000 32GB (2x16GB) – F4-3000C15D-32GTZ
This package of DDR4-3000 dual-channel memory naturally involves a pair of 16GB DIMMs. For the moment, this defines the upper capacity limit for a single module of DDR4 memory that’s available to consumers. Performance was not expected to rise much further with additional frequency jumps, as current high-density designs are not very tolerant of most methods of overclocking.
We only managed to attain a reliable 3400 MHz, even on a late-generation Skylake PC. Just the same, the manufacturer specifies this as DDR4-3000 memory and therefore prices the set within a mid-range scheme that’s competitive with many of its DDR4-3000 rivals. These Trident Z DDR4-3000 modules also ranked first by far in the majority of tests conducted here and in other reviews, in terms of cost per GB.
This 32GB set comprised of a pair of G.Skill DDR4-3000 DIMMs offers a lot of bang-for-the-buck for gamers who need 32GB of fast DRAM for systems featuring only two DIMM slots.
32GB Sets (4x8GB)
G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3200 32GB (4x8GB) – F4-3200C14Q-32GTZKW
Only very incremental increases if any in performance can be expected of today’s high-end memory subsystems. It seems these modules are the exception, and we cannot help but emphasize the great results we experienced. These are pricey components that only the more performance-oriented enthusiasts would seriously consider, though. Certainly one of the best gaming RAM.
These DDR4 sets come in three color schemes, with each version identified by a unique model suffix. It can be a bit of a chore looking up online sellers for the particular heat spreader livery that you prefer. But no matter which color scheme you choose, whether it’s a silver/white GTZSW or an unusual black/white GTZKW variant, or even just the regular gray/red GTZ, it’s still the same type of DDR4-3200/CAS 14 parts that you will be receiving in a 32GB package.
It’s only natural to expect relatively high prices to be found at this level of capacity and performance, and only those willing to pay a premium will find these Trident Z DDR4-3200 modules a reasonable buy. That said, it’s possible to spend much more for even faster specifications and lower latencies, with little gain in real-world operation that does not involve heavy video or image editing. You need to get the best RAM prices and get a good quote on this one.
This 32GB set of four G.Skill DDR4-3200 DIMMs almost certainly offers the fastest-performing quad-channel memory modules that we have evaluated so far. With price reductions, it can even be a good value when compared to other premium quad-channel sets.
G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3200 32GB (4x8GB) – F4-3200C16Q-32GTZ
This set of quad-channel memory attained only a frequency level of DDR4-3367 on our latest Skylake PC. This means it offers no greater performance than what is possible with earlier-generation Haswell-E systems, which are not that flexible at overclocking. It could be the physical module or memory configuration are the limiting factors and not the platform’s design or operation. Almost certainly one of the best DDR4 RAM for gaming.
Then again, there is no good reason to try overclocking these modules well above their specified ratings, and the pricing on a per-GB basis is, fortunately, less than that of rival quad-channel DDR4-3200 sets. This package offers a good balance between official performance, overclock-friendliness, and pricing. For that reason, this pack of four Trident Z DDR4-3200 DIMMs is recommended for fast quad-channel installations.
This 32GB package comprised of four G.Skill DDR4-3200 modules offers stable performance just a hair slower that of the roughly equivalent G.Skill Trident Z F4-3200C14Q-32GTZKW. Its combination of fast quad-channel performance and high capacity offers a moderately-priced alternative to its sibling and to other high-end 32GB sets.
64GB Sets (8x8GB)
G.Skill Ripjaws 4 DDR4-2666 64GB (8x8GB) – F4-2666C16Q2-64GRB
This big set of modules is about the first configuration of eight higher-density DIMMs that does not compromise much on data bandwidth or low-latency timing. Officially specified at a frequency of DDR4-2666 with CAS 16 timings over 1.2-Volt operation, the modules are reportedly even capable of achieving stricter CAS 13 timing values, at a regular frequency level of DDR4-2400 over a 1.3-Volt operation. These sets used to be priced a little more than what two sets of similar quad-channel 32GB memory would cost, which is probably due to the additional QA testing and processing required to ensure operational stability across all eight modules. This is the best RAM for gaming at the moment and certainly also the best amount of RAM you can get, although you can get 128GB RAM as well if you wanted, but that’s highly unnecessary.
DDR4 pricing has been trending downward lately, and this package of eight Ripjaws 4 DDR4-2666 DIMMs has proportionately dropped in price. This makes it a relative bargain for those engaged in memory- and processor-intensive work, such as heavy-duty video and image editing.
This big 64GB package of no less than eight G.Skill DDR4-2666 modules offers plentiful capacity at the fastest possible speed. It’s also the only reliable option in town if maximum-capacity DDR4 is your thing, especially if you’re willing and able to spend the best part of a thousand dollars on it in place of other upgrades.
Best DDR3 RAM
With regular supply and demand affecting market prices in the absence of manufacturing issues, DDR4 tends to cheaper on average nowadays than same-configuration DDR3 parts. As the older PC platforms get superseded by newer LGA 2011 systems optimized for DDR4 memory, the prices of ever-scarcer DDR3 will eventually rise to discouraging levels.
However, it’s still possible to save lots of money by choosing the best gaming RAM you can afford to go with older platform types, including lower-end LGA-1151 boards as well discontinued models and items subject to clearance sales. You could also try the older but mature AMD platforms that use DDR3, although these have their own set of upgrade issues.
Best Gaming RAM (DDR3)
DDR3 8GB Sets (2x4GB)
Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR3L-1600 8GB (2x4GB) – BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LX0
The modules in this dual-channel package performed the fastest in several low-voltage DDR3 reviews and attained frequencies beyond that of DDR3-2000. Specified to run at DDR3-1333 with CAS 9 timings over 1.35-Volt operation, a successful setting of XMP-1600 with CAS 8 timings shows how much overclocking and low-latency potential the memory has. It was also successfully reconfigured to run at either DDR3-1866 with CAS 9 timings or DDR3-1600 with CAS 7.
The two Crucial DDR3L-1600 DIMMs in this 8GB set bested every low-voltage DDR3 rival without having to exceed the 1.50-Volt level of the original DDR3 power specification.
G.Skill Sniper DDR3L-1600 8GB (2x4GB) – F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR2
This dual-channel package unexpectedly featured ultra-low-voltage capability, with 1.25-Volt operation at XMP-1600 with CAS 9 timings. Earlier batches of these memory modules ran at DDR3-1600 with CAS 9 timings, which were available then in somewhat rare SPD variants.
With the feature enabled, it was relatively straightforward to attain the rated full bandwidth and optimal timing settings with no need to modify settings in board firmware, or else tweak voltages via the XMP method. This feature is no longer offered by G.Skill in the DDR3 versions it presently markets. Current models are also incapable of jumping up a level from CAS 9 using board multipliers, but they could be successfully reconfigured for operation at DDR3-1600 with CAS 8 settings with manual settings.
The pair of G.Skill DDR3L-1600 DIMMs in this 8GB set need to be manually tweaked in order to perform well and earn our recommendation for value-priced 2x4GB DDR3 memory capable of low-voltage operation.
G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3 8GB (2x4GB) – F3-17000CL9D-8GBXM
Even though these are officially DDR3-2133 parts with CAS 9 XMP-derived timings over the regular 1.65-Volt operation, the modules were capable of operating in a variety of modes. Out of the box, both 4GB modules auto-configured to run at DDR3-1600 with CAS 11 timings.
With XMP enabled on an older AMD Socket AM3+ PC from four years ago, we were actually able to jump these to run reliably at DDR3-2500 with CAS 11 timings. Builders of LGA-1150 or lower-end LGA-1151 systems should have no problem achieving similar results since this mature technology was developed by Intel.
The two G.Skill DDR3L-2133 modules in this 8GB set could be tuned to run well at DDR3-2133 with CAS 9 timings, DDR3-1866 with CAS 8, as well as DDR3-1600 with CAS 7 timings for greater flexibility.
DDR3 16GB Sets (2x8GB)
Mushkin Redline Ridgeback DDR3 16GB (2x8GB) – 997121R
Gamers who are looking to build rigs with 16GB of fast DDR3 are usually better off going dual-channel with two DIMMs, in terms better pricing as well as lower latencies. These modules attained DDR4-2400 data rates with fast Haswell CPUs, and even managed to get an older AMD Richland system to collaborate at a stable DDR3-2133.
However, further testing amply demonstrated that DDR3-2133 was the optimal rate for either platform, even when higher jumps were possible. The modules’ optimization at that frequency was the winning factor, enabling it to trump other regular dual-channel sets.
The pair of Mushkin DDR3-2133 modules in this 16GB set topped the performance rankings of almost all reviews. These earlier-generation memory designs have become hard to find though, as DDR3 availability decreases due to ebbing demand for DD3 memory in newer PCs.
G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3 16GB (2x8GB) – F3-14900CL10D-16GBX
G.Skill’s F3-14900CL10D-16GBX are simply one of the best RAM for gaming in 2018.
The pair of DDR3-1866 modules is as overclock-ready and almost as fast as much pricier memory. Budget pricing and good performance won our recommendation here, although builders must be aware that their settings have to be adjusted manually in order to attain the best combinations of stable frequencies and timings.
Once installed, each module immediately defaulted to DDR3-1333 operation with CAS 9 timings, so we used XMP to bump things up to DDR3-1866 with CAS 10 timings. We managed to reach DDR3-2133 operation with tight CAS 9 timings, gaining more than 10% in speed. These modules can be manually tweaked for a range of speeds and CAS values, including DDR3-1866 with CAS 8 timings and a nice DDR3-1600 with CAS 7.
The two G.Skill DDR3-1866 DIMMs in this 16GB set are decently priced for fast memory. With some manual tweaking, the budget-friendly performance underlying its DDR1866 and CAS 10 specifications can be adapted to a broad range of PCs.
DDR3 32GB Sets (4x8GB)
Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 32GB (4x8GB) – CMY32GX3M4A2800C12R
This is almost certainly the speediest quad-channel DDR3 32GB set that we have evaluated over the last few years. It sets a performance standard that in turn makes it our regular pick for installing in Z97 systems for overclocking and speed testing. As is, it defaults to an SPD setting of DDR3-1333 with CAS 9 timings, which enables the modules to readily boot in almost every PC. With XMP enabled, the modules’ high-performance signature of DDR3-2855 with CAS 12 timings made it clear that it was going to overclock nicely.
We readily achieved these higher data rates with initial tweaks, and the ultra-fast DDR3 modules will likely run even faster on boards with settings that allow users to reconfigure for the maximum bandwidth available. Gamers on tight budgets are not going to like the very high price, but it should appeal to the few who can afford to have a fast system with the largest amounts of DDR3 memory possible.
The four Corsair DDR3-2800 DIMMs in this 32GB set is ideal for those going for the maximum possible performance with a fully populated cluster of quad-channel modules, no matter the cost.
G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3 32GB (4x8GB) – F3-2400C11Q-32GXM
To earn enviable awards in numerous reviews, a manufacturer needs to market flagship-level performance for much less than top-end prices. This set offers just this kind of value-for-quality proposition. The manufacturer went smartly about it too, as they delivered memory rated at DDR4-2400 with CAS 11 timings. Their designers knew that most boards then were difficult if not impossible to configure for data rates above 2400MHz, with such tight timings/low latencies and all channels filled to capacity.
The set retails at a pleasingly small fraction of its competitors’ prices. The modules default via SPD to DDR3-1333 with CAS 9 timings over 1.50-Volt operation, but these readily attain their factory performance rating with 1.65-Volt operation via XMP. A stable, yet ultrafast operation is also supported on many boards, with faster CAS 10 and even CAS 7 timing values possible at the correspondingly higher frequencies of DDR3-2133 and DDR3-1600.
The four G.Skill DDR3-2400 modules in this 32GB set are not a cheap buy in comparison to lower-capacity 16GB packages. However, the modules can be configured to reach some of the highest frequencies and/or strictest timings in the DDR3 specification, making these the ultimate budget DDR3 in a high-capacity package.