DDR5 may improve PC gaming performance, but it's still a useless upgrade

DDR5 may improve PC gaming performance, but it's still a useless upgrade ...

DDR5 is a great way for PC gamers to have the opportunity to upgrade AMD Ryzen 7000, which has developed since the launch of its 12th-gen Alder Lake processors. However, Ryzen 7000 is the catalyst that will kill last-gen DDR4 off for good. When you upgrade your PC, youll need DDR5, but paying for a faster memory might not result in real-world performance gains.

One of the finest DDR5 kits will still provide a great gaming experience, but the delicate balance of speed and latency puts high-end DDR5 in a precarious position. On the one hand, faster DDR5 can offer practical differences in some games, but on the other hand, even faster kits may result in reduced performance. In some games, RAM speed isn''t essential.

It sounds like a lot, and it is. But stick with me, and I''ll help you understand what to look for when purchasing your first DDR5 kit, so you may survive misleading marketing and get the best gaming experience possible.

Beyond speed A primer on RAM speed

RAM is confusing, but it has a specific nomenclature that isn''t applicable to other components in your system, as well as a lot of specificity. Despite the fact that RAM is a common term that may also be applied to other kinds of RAM.

Frequency is actually the data rate of the memory (expressed as megatransfers per second) as frequency, but you may still think of it as frequency as you would with a CPU or a GPU. This is one of the few features that RAM has included with your other components, and you may be forgiven for believing that higher frequency would result in higher speeds. However, this is not always the case.

The CAS latency of the RAM is determined by the CPU (youll see it as CL38 or something similar on DDR5 boxes) and lower latency is preferred. Using the CAS latency and data rate, you can multiply the memory by 2,000. DDR4-3200 memory with a CAS latency of 14, for example, has a latency of 8.75 nanoseconds.

For gaming, memory speed is crucial. By how much is a different question.

When you select your RAM kit, it''s important to take into account both the data rate and CAS latency, since a faster, more costly kit on paper might actually result in identical performance than a cheaper one. In the following section, you should keep an eye on it.

However, in the early days of a new memory standard like DDR5, you''re usually evaluating high-latencies so that companies may sell high speeds (regardless of how that balance actually shakes out for performance) but DDR5 has already matured enough for bandwidth enhancements to overtake higher-latencies compared to DDR4. That means gaming speed is actually important. However, there is no question about this.

DDR5 and gaming in the real world

I found several differences in several titles with the technobabble out of the way. Comparisoning.

I''ve run all of my experiments with anIntel Core i9-12900K, a 12GB Nvidia RTX 3080, and a MSI Z690 Carbon Wi-Fi motherboard. However, consider that AMDs Ryzen 7000 processors might differ from what I found here. It should be largely similar to previous AMD generations, though, with a similar architecture at the forefront.

Four levels: DDR5-4800 CL38, DDR5-5200 CL38, DDR5-6000 CL40, and DDR5-6200 CL42.

Most, if not all, DDR5 kits will run at 4800MHz out of the box, therefore youll need to turn on either Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) or AMDs new EXPO standard for the advertised speed. I actually saw a slightly slower result inGear Tactics, butF1 2022 saw a significant improvement.

With Gears Tactics 3% and F1 2022by an additional 8%, I saw a decrease in performance in Gears Tactics, although the outcome was similar in F1 2022. Then there was Red Dead Redemption 2, which I''ll revisit in a moment.

This PNY kit was the only one with three XMP profiles on board, including a DDR5-5600 option that matches my DDR5-6000 results.

These results come up, but if you put your math cap on for a moment, this technique will work. The DDR5-6000 kit actually has the lowest real-world latency out of three, thus it is giving the best outcome out of these kits. However, high latency isnt inherently superior across memory generations, so always take it incontext of bandwidth. DDR5-3200 CL14 kits still have lower latency overall, but the lower bandwidth allows them to be more effective than DDR5 kits with higher

The balance of CAS latency and speed is crucial for anyone who wants to buy a kit you don''t need. In the previous generation, we saw a difference between the DDR4-3200 CL16 and DDR4-3600 CL16. However, the latency is identical. This means that spending up for a DDR4-3600 kit would effectively be wasted money.

Thats exactly what we saw here with DDR5-6000 and DDR5-6200. It''s possible that the faster kit will deliver the same or slightly lower performance, especially if the memory is in.

The game you play are the greatest influence on performance, just like raw data rates.Red Dead Redemption 2 is a great example that the games you play are the most powerful (in this case, this game isnt particularly sensitive to memory speed)

Which DDR5 kit should you buy?

While it''s interesting to look at DDR5 speed and how they impact gaming performance, raw data doesnt indicate which kit to purchase. After all, you cant just buy a bunch of RAM kits to find the best speed for your games.

The only source of starting is the price. There isn''t a real difference between the basic DDR5-4800 kits youll find and the DDR5-5200. A 2x16GB kit of Corsair Vengeance DDR5-4800 is $150 and the DDR5-5200 is only $2 more. A big deal. Some DDR5-5600 kits range between $160 and $200, but most kits tend to RGB lighting instead of speed.

You will pay $220 at minimum for the same capacity if you want to jump to DDR5-6000. Besides that, any game is a fair game, with some kits doubling to $300 or above. While DDR5 prices are expected to decrease, pricing is likely to tighten up among different speeds.

The DDR5 memory you get from it all comes down to the games you play.

Which DDR5 kit should you purchase? At current prices, a solid DDR5-5200 kit is all most people need, offering a solid bump in CPU-limited games without exceeding DDR5-4800. I''ll keep this topic updated once new CPUs are in hand. For now, you won''t have to climb that high.

When it comes to PC hardware, it all comes down to the games you play. In my last post on upgrading your gaming CPU, you can learn a lot about what components you should upgrade, but a CPU-limited title likeF1 2022 benefits it a lot. At the end of the day, the games you want to play should be your key for making informed PC upgrades.

This article is part of ReSpec, a weekly weekly column that includes discussions, advice, and in-depth reporting on the technology behind PC gaming.

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