DDR4 vs DDR5 – How to Choose RAM – Clock Speed & Latency Explained | TheMVP - MVP Blog
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DDR4 vs DDR5 – How to Choose RAM – Clock Speed & Latency Explained | TheMVP

So DDR5 launched more than 2 years ago, and while on paper – we see that DDR5 speeds are much higher than DDR4 – YET the pricing for high-end DDR4 RAMs is still about the same as the DDR5 versions.

Why is that? Are DDR4 RAMs in some way better than DDR5?

Now if you’re simply in the market for a new PC – getting a DDR5 RAM is the obvious choice. it’s generally faster, widely available and a more futureproof option.

But even if you’re going for a DDR5 RAM – most of us will look at the highest speed, some RGB – and get the one in our budget.

But what if I tell you – there is one more thing which also as important as the speed of your RAM – and that is called Latency

So let us understand what really improves your RAM performance – and how to choose the best one under your budget.

Capacity

Starting with the very basic question “How much RAM you’ll need” – the answer is it depends on your particular use case – which could be anything from gaming, video editing, 3D modelling to AI and machine learning.

For instance, if you just want to game at 1080p – 8GB to 16GB of RAM will be enough to load all the models. But as we talk about higher resolutions or building an environment for a game or movie – 32GB or even 64GB or higher is what you should go for.

Important note – in Desktop-grade DDR5 RAMs, you can opt for upto 48GB of memory per stick. So if your PC has 4 ram slots – you can easily install up to 192GB of RAM!!

But there’s a catch! – AMD processors support only upto 128GB, while Intel supports upto 192GB.

if you want more than 192GB – then AMD’s Threadripper series can be a good option.

Clock Speed

Next up, RAM clock speed. This tells you how many times your data goes from RAM to CPU & a single second. A single back & forth is called a Clock Cycle, and the Clock Speed is measured in Hertz, so a 3200MHz RAM means your RAM can send and receive data from your CPU 3200 MILLION times in a single second.

Basically Higher the clock speed, higher the performance.

But make sure you look for the maximum clock speed your motherboard supports before getting any RAM. For example – I remember someone who added 3200MHz of RAM into his laptop which supports only upto 2600MHz.

Results? His laptop locked his new RAM to 2600MHz and he wasted his money!

Now because we don’t want you to make the mistake – do check how much RAM speed your motherboard supports by simply typing your motherboard model in google and visiting the official product page.

With higher RAM speeds, you can scroll through bigger timelines smoothly, handle large datasets in machine learning and switch faster between multiple chrome tabs or applications.

So while Higher RAM clock speeds do translate to faster performance, especially for large projects. There is one more factor – which is also equally important. But almost everyone overlooks – which is RAM Latency.

Latency

If you look at your RAM’s model closely, you will come across a two-digit number just after the “C” – this is the Latency which determines how quickly your RAM can respond to a data request.

Basically your RAM is set up like an excel sheet – so in each clock cycle, whenever your CPU requests for any particular data, your RAM will actually search through all the rows and columns to find the right dataset.

And this creates a slight delay between each cycle – So even if you have a higher clock speed, if the latency of your RAM is also high – that means you will end up getting worse performance.

For example – in DDR4 Rams – a 3200MHz RAM with C16 Latency will be faster than 3600MHz C18 latency.

Similarly in DDR5 –  a 5600MHz C28 RAM will be faster than a 6000MHz C40



So both the Clock Speed & Latency are interdependent and equally important – when going for a new RAM – what you should be looking for is Higher Clock Speeds and Lower Latency around your budget.

Now for most users – having a few nanoseconds of delay might not make any difference so DDR5 is the best option. but if we talk about Esport Gamers where one of the main KPI of your PC is the Response time. Your best bet would be to go for C14 DDR4 RAMs

As Esport games don’t need more than 8GB of RAM, and as you can see in the test below. C14 DDR4 Rams have a lower latency then even the fastest of DDR5 Rams, which is exactly why some DDR4 RAMs are more expensive than DDR5

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