Best RAM for Gaming

Whether you are using a PC or laptop, RAM is one of the crucial components that can make or break your gaming experience.

Random Access Memory or RAM is what gives your computer a healthy boost of speed especially when you’re multitasking or running a program that requires a lot of memory. The best thing about getting the best RAM is that it’s the most cost-effective way of improving the performance of your PC. A small investment of less than $70, for example, can get you an 8GB DDR4 RAM with 2400 MHz clock speed.

Because most gaming laptops also double as your workstation, it wouldn’t hurt if you have the best RAM for the job. Installing a top-spec RAM will ensure that your computer will be at its peak performance every time.

Top 7 RAM for Gaming of 2019

1. Adata XPG Z1 DDR4

The first thing you will notice about the XPG Z1 is its aesthetics. Two strips of metals merge atop the PCB which form’s the brand’s iconic heatsink. In the middle is a carbon fiber effect with the RAM model name which complements well with the bright red fascia of this item. The heatsink is also easy to remove, compared to a single block design, which is a welcome feature for overclockers.

The RAM is designed so that there is a gradient increase towards the center of each memory module which has a height of 44mm. It’s taller by 13mm than the bare PCB height but is small enough to minimize its interference with the CPU cooler.

Furthermore, the XPG Z1 has a well-rounded performance and can compete with units that have a higher clock speed. It has high potential in terms of frequency gains which is good if you want to take the risk and overclock this kit. However, the XPG Z1 is priced almost similar with the higher 2.6 GHz kits which can be a letdown for gamers on a budget.

Capacity: 16 GB
Clock Speed: 2400 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-16
Voltage: 1.2 V

Pros:

  • Compatible with most motherboards with 2.4 GHz XMP 2.0 setting
  • Cool-looking design with black PCB
  • Short heat spreaders that don’t interfere with the CPU cooler
  • Great potential to achieve high overclocks

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than its competitors
  • Has looser timings compared to other 2400 MHz kits
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2. Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4

The Corsair Dominator is not only one of the visually appealing RAM on the market, but it’s also one of the best options for gaming. The brushed metal look, however, gives it a robust feel, especially with the white LED. The clock speed value can fluctuate depending on the motherboard, but optimally it’s at 2800 MHz.

This kit is designed for Intel 100 Series systems and has the right bandwidth and latency values for you to enjoy any gaming titles. It’s also fully compatible to the XMP 2.0- based motherboards. Turning it on will automatically set the fastest speed for your kit for reliable maintenance while keeping full data integrity.

If we ever have one gripe about the Dominator Platinum they would be the very wide and tall heatsinks which limit the room for cooling the CPU. Despite having lower latency and slightly better performance, this RAM is significantly more expensive than many of its rivals.

Capacity:
Clock Speed: 2800 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-15
Voltage: 1.35 V

Pros:

  • Impressive cooling mechanism
  • Corsair Link interface monitors heat and voltage
  • Dual XMP values
  • High potential for overclocking

Cons:

  • Significantly more expensive
  • Simple design
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3. Corsair Vengeance LPX

The Vengeance LPX is one of the best choices if you simply want a neon-lit, low-profile DDR4 memory. It’s a well-made and top performing memory kit that also has some aesthetic value; at least in our opinion. It’s compatible with a lot of motherboards including Intel’s Z370 and AMD’s X370. Moreover, you can enable its XMP 2.0 profile to optimize its clock speed. Unlike other RAM which take several restarts before it can enable the XMP 2.0 feature, the Vengeance LPX validates the memory straight away.

The kit also comes with two Vengeance Airflow cooling fans which is a welcome bonus on this budget RAM category. The manufacturer may have included the fans since the modules run at 1.35 V instead of the standard 1.20 V. The Vengeance LPX also has an excellent memory bandwidth and latency values which is probably the highest in its price category. This feat is thanks to the great pairing of its primary and secondary timings.

The one flaw of the RAM kit is by far its lack of overclocking potential since it’s already stable at its current voltage. If you want it overclocked you have to further increase the voltage which can be quite a daunting task given the risks involved.

Capacity: 16 GB
Clock Speed: 3000 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-15
Voltage: 1.35 V

Pros:

  • Fast and high performing
  • Can achieve 3200 MHz rating
  • Fans maintain tolerable Motherboard and DRAM temperatures
  • Better default timings

Cons:

  • Kit includes fans which add to its total price
  • Lacks overclockability at 1.35 V
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4. Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR4

Crucial is considered one of the key players in the memory kit industry. The Ballistix Tactical series is among their best sellers and a nice fit for your gaming needs. On top of the unit’s Black PCBs, the manufacturer surrounds the ICs with stylish black heat spreaders. Meanwhile, the main body line angles downward to the right with protruding lines at both ends which gives it a classy look. There is also a thin layer of thermal tape which is easy to remove in case you want to do some overclocking.

Considering the bandwidth limit of this kit, it delivers a pretty solid performance even at the stock XMP 2.0 settings. It has lower timings which result in extra speed even at default. Adjusting the VDIMM from 1.35 V to 1.45 V easily gets you an added 366 MHz. Moreover, the efficiency ratings hit their mark especially on the secondary and tertiary timings

One identifiable weakness of the Ballistix Tactical was on the Real Bench testing where it lagged behind many of its rival kits. The difference, however, is not to be that significant and doesn’t take away the fact of how well rounded the kit truly is.

Capacity: 16 GB
Clock Speed: 3000 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-16
Voltage: 1.35V

Pros:

  • Functional Ballistix MOD Utility
  • Height-reducing option
  • Simple yet aggressive design
  • Factory overclocked

Cons:

  • High profile that gets in the way of CPU cooler
  • Lower values in Real Bench testing
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5. G. Skill Trident Z DDR4

Every PC enthusiast probably knows of G.Skill especially if they are into building or upgrading their gaming rigs. The Trident Z is one of their most advanced DDR4 memory kits that is aesthetically pleasing and hard working at the same time. The removable “Z” bars can even be painted to match the color scheme of your build.

While the Trident Z has a standard JEDEC rating of 2133 MHz under 1.20 volts, the XMP 2.0 settings easily fix this and optimize it to 3200 Mhz at 1.35 volts. As you would expect from a kit of its caliber, the Trident Z easily smokes out the competition in many of the benchmark tests. It has lower latency, better memory read, and higher memory writes among others. To sum it up, it’s blazingly fast.

As you would expect, the kit’s top-notch performance comes with a hefty price in the tune of a few hundred dollars to its nearest competitor. However, it offers good value for money as you wouldn’t have to replace it anytime sooner.

Capacity: 16 GB
Clock Speed: 3200 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-14
Voltage: 1.35 V

Pros:

  • Low latency and high performing kit
  • Gorgeous aesthetics
  • Lots of customization options
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • More expensive as expected of a high profile kit
  • May present potential compatibility issues

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6. Gigabyte Aorus RGB

The first thing you will notice about these RGB kit is its physically impressive design. The casing looks solid with a properly placed heat sink. The brushed finishes, which are fairly grey, allows it to light up quite nicely when exposed to built-in LED lighting. This dual channel kit can ooze out 3200 MHz when optimizing with the XMP 2.0 performance profile. It’s also compatible with a lot of platforms from Intel’s X299, 300, and 200 motherboards to AMD’s X399 and AM4 series. Performance wise, it’s in the middle of the pack.

The kit comes in four modules, but here lies the twist. Only two of those are proper memory modules, while the other two are dummies. Why would a company build dummies and let the customer pay for it too is beyond us? Perhaps it is to make your rig look beefed up with full memory slots, or simply because it can be done. Regardless, the added LED light effects give it more appeal.

The dummy kit concept, however, can be a home run or a loose ball depending on your preference. Much like other RGB kits, you are paying more for the bling than for the performance.

Capacity: 16 GB
Clock Speed: 3200 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-16
Voltage: 1.35 V

Pros:

  • Compatible with a lot of motherboards
  • Demo modules improve the appearance of your rig for less
  • Colorful LED lights add overall appeal
  • Excellent RGB Software

Cons:

  • Unimpressive XMP performance and factory timings
  • The added cost for the dummy sticks

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7. Kingston Technology Hyper X Fury DDR3

The Kingston Technology product line has been around for almost a couple of decades and it still continues to impress system builders and enthusiasts alike. One of their latest offerings is the Hyper X Fury for the X99 chipset. Much like when its first started out, this new DDR4 kit comes with black or white medium and circuit boards with aluminum heat spreaders. Aesthetically, it looks a bit classy and never feels outdated.

Much like its competitors, you can also run it with the XMP 2.0 profile so it can automatically recognize the host platform and reach its highest frequency of 1866 MHz. The Hyper X Fury also has lots of overclocking potential given that it runs at only 1.2 volts. The RAM is also compatible with Intel’s hexacore and octa-core system and can hasten processes such as AI processing, gaming, 3D rendering, and even video editing. Furthermore, it’s a stable RAM for a DDR3 unit and is backed by a lifetime warranty.e

However, we only recommend it if you are simply upgrading your RAM and not the whole motherboard. It still has lower timings than its DDR4 counterparts and hence lags behind in terms of its performance. But no mistake about it, this kit can still bring you an enjoyable gaming experience.

Capacity: 16 GB
Clock Speed: 1866 MHz
CAS Latency: CL-16
Voltage: 1.2 V

Pros:

  • Easy to overclock thanks to XMP profile compatibility
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Stable at clock timings
  • Comes in black or white color

Cons:

  • Performs below its DDR4 counterparts
  • Some motherboards may not detect its timings accurately

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Gaming RAM Buying Guide

Not all RAM is created equal. Even if two 16GB RAM has the same capacity, they could have several fundamental differences. There are even instances that an 8GB RAM can beat a larger 16 GB RAM in terms of performance. To get the best value out of the RAM that you are buying, please consider the following specs:

1. Capacity

While larger memory doesn’t always equate to a noticeable increase in performance, as many tests have shown, there is a bare minimum on the RAM you should have for gaming. If you want to play most of the latest gaming titles, including AAA ones, your computer should have at least 8 GB of RAM. You can easily install a 16 GB second stick if you feel it needs more oomph.

You could say that RAM capacity gets more important depending on the activity you need to do on a computer. For example, if you also need to use the same gaming system you have for professional video editing, you need to pair a solid motherboard with a 24 GB RAM.

2. Clock Speed

Clock speed refers to the number of cycles that the RAM can complete in a second. This frequency is measured in Hertz. In today’s modern computers this is often expressed in MegaHertz which is a thousand times that of a Hertz. Thus, a RAM with 2400 MHz rating simply means, it can cycle that many times in a second. The greater the clock speed the better and faster its performance.

3. Latency

Latency simply refers to how quick the RAM can process its own hardware. The lower the latency figures, the faster the data is accessed and transferred to the CPU. Thus, low latency equates to a faster operation of your computer. However, the difference of latency from the lowest spec RAM to the top-tier RAM is so minuscule that you can’t tell the difference.

Knowing Which RAM is Faster

The unit for Latency is often expressed in CAS or the number of cycles it will take before the RAM gets to respond. Thus, a CAS9 rating means the RAM takes 9 cycles to get a response. Putting together with the previously discussed clock rating, of say a DDR3 2000 MHz CAS 9, you need only to divide the latency rating with the clock speed. Thus, 9 divided by 2000 MHz will give you a 0.0045 seconds response time.

Take another RAM, for example, a DDR3 1600 MHz CAS6, and use the same formula so you can compare. After calculation of 6 divided by 1600 MHz, you will get 0.0038. Hence this RAM is a bit faster than the one previously mentioned.

Three Types of RAM

Currently, there are three types of RAM which many gaming systems use. These RAM may have different price ranges from budget to premium options. They are:

1. DDR3 Memory Kits

These are by far the cheapest RAM kits that can perform your modern gaming needs. While its more updated DDR4 is a bit faster and performs better, there are still a couple of reasons why investing in a DDR3. First, if you are upgrading an older AMD or Intel-based build and you just want to add more memory, then the DDR3 is more cost effective. Second, if you have a solid video card and motherboard then you have less to worry about the gaming performance from a DDR3.

2. DDR4 Memory Kits

These are generally much more expensive than their DDR3 counterparts, but it’s all worth it given that they are faster and perform better. Recently, the prices of DDR4 memory have also begun to fall as it becomes more mainstream. It’s best to upgrade to a DDR4 if you are building a new system that has the latest CPUs such as the AMD Ryzen, Intel Coffee Lake and Intel Extreme.

3. RGB Memory Kits

If you are customizing your PC to be as visually appealing as it can be, then instead of a DDR3 or DDR4, you should install an RGB Memory Kit.  You may be spending a bit extra cash for something that doesn’t really contribute to performance, but who doesn’t love bright lighting? Kidding aside, if you also want some aesthetic value on your build and have the cash to burn, then go for the RGB kit.

If you ever think of improving the performance of your gaming laptop or PC, you definitely should start with its RAM. Compared to other PC components, it’s much cheaper and won’t take much from your budget. There is also a lot to choose from and tons of kits that can address your specific needs.