What is DDR5? The PC's next-gen memory, explained (2022)

Major changes to the PC’s RAM subsystem typically occur once in blue moon, but mere years after DDR4’s delayed rollout, that time is upon us yet again.

With the fresh release of DDR5 support in Intel’s stunning new 12th-gen “Alder Lake” CPUs like the Core i5-12600K and Core i9-12900K, and potentially AMD’s Zen 4 chips next year, we’re now entering a junction where you’ll need to decide what memory is right for you—DDR4 or DDR5.

How fast is DDR5? What will I need to run what? What evenis DDR5?By the end of this guide, you’ll know everything you need to make the right decision foryou.

What is DDR5?

DDR5 is the next evolution of PC main memory. This version is primarily focused on increasing the density and bandwidth of RAM while lowering its power consumption.

How much DDR5 RAM can I put in my PC?

With today’s DDR4 technology, the largest consumer modules top out at 32GB. DDR5 can quadruple that capacity. A typical mainstream PC with four DDR4 DIMM slots will max out at 128GB. A cutting-edge system built around four DDR5 DIMM slots can reach 512GB. And even higher-end systems with eight DDR5 DIMM slots should be able to reach a ludicrous 1TB of RAM.

Do I really need 512GB of RAM in my PC?

No, most consumers and gamers don’t really need more than 16GB to 32GB of memory today. All PCs are personal though—hence the name—and for every 29 people who don’t need more than 16GB of RAM, there’s probably one person who does, and would be glad to have 512GB for some esoteric scientific, research, or extreme imaging reasons.

How much more memory bandwidth will DDR5 give me?

RAM manufacturer Micron said it’s seeing a 36 percent increase in bandwidth with a DDR5 module vs. a DDR4 module at the same data transfer rate of 3200 MT/s. A DDR5/4800 module Micron tested would offer an 87 percent increase in performance against a similar DDR4/3200 module.

What is DDR5? The PC's next-gen memory, explained (2)

Does DDR5 lower latency?

Despite all these improvements, overall DDR5 memory latency is about the same as DDR4’s, according to Corsair officials. They’re indicating that single-access latency is about the same, with column access strobe latency being slightly worse. Corsair’s guidance so far is that overall latency of a “top-tier” DDR5 module will be about the same as a DDR4 module in the 14ns to 15ns range.

(Video) DDR5 Ram | The Next Generation of Computer Memory

I can already buy DDR4/5333 modules, so what’s the big deal?

It’s true, you can buy DDR4/5333 memory modules today, but those are all technically beyond the official limits for the memory, which is DDR4/3200.Module makers typically reach those higher data rates by overclocking the RAM, which also technically requires voiding the warranty of AMD and Intel CPUs. Neither company really cares if you do sobut it is technically outside the limits of DDR4.

DDR5, on the other hand, has seen DDR5/4800 modules from day one, with DDR4/6400 modules around the corner. Adata has said it may see overclocked modules reaching DDR5/12800, too. And allthis speed talk doesn’t factor in Micron’s testing, which shows that at the same data rate, DDR5 offers 37 percent more bandwidth than DDR4.

Will DDR5 cost more?

As with any new technology, you can expect DDR5 to cost more than today’s comparable DDR4 modules. RAM maker Samsung has said to expect DDR5 to cost at least 30 percent more at introduction. That’s just for the chips themselves, too.

When Team Group offered up a 32GB DDR5/4800 pair, the pre-order price in late June was $311 on Amazon. A comparable Team Group set of 32GB DDR4 modules fetched from $150 to $180, according toPCMag. We saw similarly steep markups with the first wave of DDR5/4800 and DDR5/5200 memory that launched alongside Intel’s Alder Lake chips at Newegg and B&H Photo. A small number 16GB kits cost roughly $150, but most early DDR5 memory kits came in bigger 32GB capacities for prices closer to $300.

So yes, early DDR5 adopters will need to cough up some pretty pennies. Remember that it’s always been like with new memory transitions though. Shiny new things almost always cost more at first.

Will DDR5 be hotter?

With the greater bandwidth and higher capacity, DDR5 will also add heat to the mix—but it’s not necessarily due to the chips themselves running hotter. With DDR5, voltage regulation for the RAM will move directly into the module itself. With DDR4, the voltage for the RAM is located on the motherboard.

In theory, this should reduce the complexity of the motherboard and give the individual module maker more control over as well as the ability to optimize power delivery for each module.

The cost is additional heat created on the module itself, and that needs to be dissipated. Module maker Corsair, for example, is already touting its existing cooling design as an advantage for DDR5.

What is DDR5? The PC's next-gen memory, explained (3)
(Video) 12th Gen Intel Core DDR5 Memory and More Explained | Intel Technology

Do all DDR5 modules have ECC?

DDR5 does indeed include ECC (or error correction control) that can detect multi-bit errors and correct single-bit errors. It is, however, not what you’re expecting if your workload already requires the technology.

With traditional ECC, error detection and control is performed at all levels, including the data that is transferred to the CPU. With DDR5, ECC is integrated into each actual RAM chip but once it leaves the chip and begins its journey along that long narrow wire to the CPU, there is no ECC performed, meaning errors induced along the way aren’t its problem.

So why do this at all? It’s mostly being done because you can’t really quadruple the density of the chip without additional safety layers. Today, you’ll mostly only find ECC used in servers and workstations, because it’s done for mission critical reasons. The on-die ECC in DDR5 is just something had to be done to make the high speed and high density a possibility.

The upshot is consumers will likely still not have “full” ECC RAM support (though whether that’s needed is up for debate), while commercial CPUs and RAM will still offer full ECC support.

Can I run DDR5 on my current system?

No. To run DDR5, you’ll need a new CPU, a new motherboard, and new RAM.

What CPUs will support DDR5?

Intel’s 12th-gen “Alder Lake S” CPUs were the first out the door with support for DDR5 this fall, with AMD expected to support DDR5 with its Zen 4 CPUs in 2022.

(Video) DDR5 Ram Explained | Upgrading to DDR5 RAM [DDR4 vs DDR5]

Intel Core i9-12900K

What is DDR5? The PC's next-gen memory, explained (4)

Best Prices Today:$579.99 at Amazon | $579.99 at Amazon | $649.99 at Antonline

Can I use a 12th-gen Alder Lake S CPU with older DDR4 RAM?

Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake S chips actually support both DDR4 and DDR5 (along with low-power versions). Intel launched Alder Lake with DDR5 motherboards, but knowing that new technology brings higher prices and low availability, motherboards that also support 12th-gen Alder Lake and current DDR4 memory will be common for at least the first year or two.

Is DDR5 more future proof?

This is a very tricky question, but in general, paying the high price of new technology because it’s “future proof” rarely pays dividends. In October of 2021, DDR5 is likely to be very expensive compared to DDR4, so it’s typically better to wait for prices to equalize before jumping in—but much of this depends on what you value.

It also depends on how you see your investment in RAM too. Paying a premium for DDR5 in 2021 or early 2022 means you can use that RAM when building a new system in 2026 (where you’d have to toss the DDR4). But typically it’s better just to upgrade to a new memory standard a few years after it drops, when the RAM will be larger, faster and cheaper.

Will next-gen CPUs be faster with DDR4 or DDR5?

We really have no answer to this right now. We can say that during previous memory transitions, the price premium was rarely worth it to those looking for practical impacts. That was typically due to the newer RAM typically starting very conservatively with speed and timings, with the older RAM benefiting from years of being pushed as fast as it could go.

(Video) DDR5 Explained – All You Need To Know AMA & Giveaway

DDR5 somewhat changes that, as it looks to offer superior bandwidth out the gate even compared to the fastest DDR4 modules. Even so, greater memory bandwidth doesn’t always pay the dividends people expect outside of integrated graphics performance.

FAQs

What is DDR5 in computer? ›

Double Data Rate 5 Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DDR5 SDRAM) is a type of synchronous dynamic random-access memory. Compared to its predecessor DDR4 SDRAM, DDR5 was planned to reduce power consumption, while doubling bandwidth. The standard, originally targeted for 2018, was released on 14 July 2020.

What is the point of DDR5 RAM? ›

Compared to DDR4, DDR5 RAM has a higher base speed, supports higher-capacity DIMM modules (also called RAM sticks), and consumes less power for the same performance specs as DDR4. However, DDR4 still holds some key advantages, like overall lower latency and better stability.

How does DDR5 RAM work? ›

For DDR5, burst chop and burst length will be extended to eight and sixteen to increase burst payload. Burst length of sixteen (BL16), allows a single burst to access 64 Bytes of data, which is the typical CPU cache line size. It can do this using only one of the two independent channels.

Is there DDR5 RAM for PC? ›

CPUs and motherboards that support DDR5 RAM for Desktop PCs are expected to be available by late 2021. Crucial DDR5 RAM for Desktop PCs will be available as soon as the first CPUs are available.

What motherboards are compatible with DDR5 RAM? ›

Currently, only Intel 600 series motherboards offer support for DDR5 RAM. This include the Z690, B660 and H610 chipsets. Since RAM modules are NOT backwards compatible, you CANNOT use a DDR5 RAM module on a DDR4 motherboard.

What is a good speed for DDR5 RAM? ›

For an Intel DDR5 system, a good kit around the 5200MHz range will be fine, while for a high end system you'll want something a little faster at 6000MHz or even 6400MHz if you really want to get every last drop of performance.

Do you need a new motherboard for DDR5? ›

The DDR5 upgrade challenge- new motherboard and CPU

Your new DDR5 RAM will require a compatible motherboard and CPU. So unless you've already upgraded to a DDR5-compatible motherboard and CPU, you'll need to make a significant investment to make the jump to DDR5.

Is DDR5 worth cost? ›

For many, the cost of upgrading to DDR5 at this point isn't going to be worth it. But if you have money to burn, and feel that those marginal gains are worth it, then DDR5 will give you a performance uplift.

Does DDR5 RAM speed matter? ›

The official maximum clock speed for DDR4 was 3200MHz, while DDR5 starts at 4800MHz, an increase of 50%. Although latency significantly went up, from CL14 on most 3200MHz DDR4 kits to CL40 on most 4800MHz DDR5 kits, DDR5 is still supposed to be faster. So, does RAM speed matter? The short answer is: It depends.

Is DDR5 better for gaming? ›

For reference, that's the same as DDR4-3200 with a CAS latency of 16. At this point, and with faster overall frequencies, gaming starts to benefit too. While this may only translate into a few frames per second, it helps make DDR5 a more attractive platform for gamers.

Can I put DDR5 RAM in a DDR4 slot? ›

What is this? The simple answer to the question is no. A DDR5 RAM cannot be installed into a motherboard designed for DDR4, DDR3, DDR2 or DDR1 sticks.

How much RAM do I need for gaming? ›

16GB is the recommended amount of RAM for playing most games and will provide a noticeable increase in performance from 8GB. You will also be able to run applications in the background without affecting gameplay.

What is difference between DDR4 and DDR5? ›

DDR5 provides twice the bandwidth and density of DDR4 while reducing power consumption. Higher bandwidth translates to faster processing for memory-intensive applications such as games, video and image editors, 3D tools, and browsers.

How do I know if I have DDR5? ›

DDR5 memory is for a graphic card and the interface for a graphic card is generally pci-express slot (pcie) and a quick google of the motherboard shows it has a single pci express card. Yes it will work, just put the graphic card into the slot it fits into and plug in the power in the back of the card.

Which is the better motherboard? ›

The best motherboards at a glance. ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II — Best AMD: AM4, ATX, 2.5Gb LAN, PCIe 4.0, 14+1 VRM. ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi — Best Intel: LGA1700, ATX, 2.5Gb LAN, PCIe 5.0, 18+1 VRM. Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Master — Best enthusiast AMD: TRX40, ATX, 5Gb LAN, PCIe 4.0, 16+3 VRM.

Which type of RAM is fastest? ›

SRAM (pronounced ES-RAM) is made up of four to six transistors. It keeps data in the memory as long as power is supplied to the system unlike DRAM, which has to be refreshed periodically. As such, SRAM is faster but also more expensive, making DRAM the more prevalent memory in computer systems.

How often should RAM be replaced? ›

You should replace your RAM every 5 years, or whenever it becomes the bottleneck of your PC and prevents you from running the games and software that you use. RAM will last the lifetime of your computer, but if you have a small amount (under 8GB), you may need to upgrade it to run everything you want.

What will DDR5 improve? ›

That's especially notable when you consider that DDR5 kits also feature the voltage controller module on the memory sticks themselves, rather than on the motherboard. This improves power efficiency further, and allows for greater scalability on platforms where larger capacity memory kits are necessary.

Why is DDR5 so hard to find? ›

DDR5 RAM supplies are scarce due to a shortage of a power management chip (PMIC), according(Opens in a new window) to 12chip.com, citing sources in the supply chain. The same power management chip is also reportedly 10 times more expensive than the PMIC used in DDR4 RAM sticks.

Is DDR5 future proof? ›

Other than that you shouldn't concern yourself with future proofing. Future DDR5 will be better than the current crop, and it will work better with future motherboards and CPUs.

Can you buy DDR5 RAM? ›

CPUs and motherboards that support DDR5 RAM for Desktop PCs are expected to be available by late 2021. Crucial DDR5 RAM for Desktop PCs will be available as soon as the first CPUs are available.

Is DDR5 better than DDR4 for gaming? ›

Weirdly, DDR4-3600 performed better than the other DDR4 setups, an oddity that remained in retests. Regardless, DDR5 is what you want here, with a massive 27 percent difference between the fastest DDR4 and fastest DDR5 options in our test.

Is it better to have more RAM or faster RAM? ›

Generally, the faster the RAM, the faster the processing speed. With faster RAM, you increase the speed at which memory transfers information to other components. Meaning, your fast processor now has an equally fast way of talking to the other components, making your computer much more efficient.

What is a good RAM speed? ›

In terms of memory speed, you should look for DDR4 memory that operates close to or above 2,400MHz—or 2400MT/s as it'll appear on the packaging and online. Users purchasing DDR3 RAM should look for memory operating at 1,866MHz at least, and the closer to 2,000MHz the better.

Does RAM speed make a big difference? ›

RAM doesn't process any data, but just moves it around your computer like a traffic guard. Much like cell service, the more bars you have the better the phone can access the internet. So yes, having more speed is better.

How much faster is DDR5 compared to DDR4? ›

DDR4 vs. DDR5: What's the Difference?
FeaturesDDR4DDR5
Speed (Data Rate - Gbps)1.6 to 3.2 Gbps4.8 to 8.4 Gbps
Input Voltage1.2V1.1V
Power ManagementHandled by MotherboardHandled by on-DIMM PMIC
Channel Architecture72-bit bus (64 data + 8 ECC) 1 channel per DIMM40-bit bus (32 data + 8 ECC) 2 channels per DIMM
2 more rows
6 days ago

Is 32gb DDR5 good for gaming? ›

Recommended DDR5: Corsair Vengeance DDR5

At an effective frequency of 4800 MHz, this memory hits the fastest speeds supported by Intel Alder Lake (e.g., 12th Gen Core) CPUs without overclocking. Compact heat spreaders avoid conflicting with a CPU cooler. 32 GB provides ample memory for gaming and multitasking.

Can motherboard support both DDR4 and DDR5? ›

ASRock Z790 and H770 Motherboards Will Support Both DDR4 and DDR5. Intel's upcoming Raptor Lake architecture will support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory standards, according to a leaked list of in-development ASRock Z790 and H770 motherboards obtained by Videocardz.

How do I know if my graphics card will work with my motherboard? ›

To make sure a new graphics card will work with PC, you'll need:
  • PCIe x16 slot on your motherboard.
  • Adequate clearance space in your case.
  • Power supply with both 8- and 6-pin PCIe Graphics (PEG) connectors.
  • CPU and RAM that are fast enough not to be a huge bottleneck.
Feb 21, 2020

Can I use DDR5 RAM on DDR3 motherboard? ›

Yes. Graphic card memory and system memory have nothing to do with each other. You can use a GDDR5 graphics card on a motherboard that accepts only DDR3 system memory.

Is 32 GB of RAM overkill? ›

In most situations, 32GB of RAM can be considered overkill, but this is not always true. There are situations where 32GB is an appropriate amount to have. It is also a good way to futureproof your PC as requirements increase with time.

What's more important SSD or RAM? ›

Which Is More Important RAM or SSD? The more RAM your computer has, the more it can run complex programs and handle those better. On the other hand, SSD reads and writes faster than your old HDD, which results in better boot time and faster-accessing data from your computer.

Is 8 GB RAM enough for 5 years? ›

Yes, 8 GB will get you through light usage spanning YouTube, Word and pdf reading. But make sure you get your other components correct like a good (not great) CPU and a SSD. In future, it's likely 8 GB would not be sufficient.

Is DDR5 faster than DDR4? ›

Our hands-on tests. We tested both DDR4 and DDR5 on Intel's 12th-gen i9-12900K in May, and our tests found DDR5 was an average of 11% faster across different testing benchmarks.

Does DDR5 need a new motherboard? ›

No, only the motherboards designed to support DDR5 can only support DDR5. This is because RAM modules are not backwards compatible. As of now, only Intel 600 series motherboards offer support for DDR5 RAM. This includes the Z690, B660 and H610 chipsets.

Is DDR5 compatible with DDR4? ›

The simple answer to the question is no. A DDR5 RAM cannot be installed into a motherboard designed for DDR4, DDR3, DDR2 or DDR1 sticks. There are a few important reasons to this: RAM sticks have different physical profile across generation.

Can I use DDR4 RAM on DDR5 motherboard? ›

While the Alder Lake memory controller supports both DDR4 and DDR5, the modules are fundamentally different in terms of architecture and power supply. The latter is a key roadblock as a DDR5 motherboard lacks the ability to manage the power supply of a DDR4 module, so this would have to be done via the converter.

Is DDR5 worth getting? ›

DDR5 provides twice the bandwidth and density of DDR4 while reducing power consumption. Higher bandwidth translates to faster processing for memory-intensive applications such as games, video and image editors, 3D tools, and browsers.

Does DDR5 make a big difference? ›

Even if the latency is roughly the same between DDR4 and DDR5 currently, the amount of data that DDR5 can transfer per second is much higher. This increased bandwidth will often lead to an overall improvement in performance.

Does DDR5 make a difference? ›

In addition to higher bandwidth and improved power consumption, DDR5 will also offer higher capacity per memory module. Memory density and banks go hand-in-hand. When you increase the density, you also have to augment the number of banks to accommodate the extra capacity.

Can you buy DDR5 RAM? ›

CPUs and motherboards that support DDR5 RAM for Desktop PCs are expected to be available by late 2021. Crucial DDR5 RAM for Desktop PCs will be available as soon as the first CPUs are available.

Why is DDR5 sold out? ›

The CEO of Micron, Sanjay Mehrotra, told investors and financial analysts that "demand for DDR5 products is significantly exceeding supply due to non-memory component shortages impacting memory suppliers' ability to build DDR5 modules.

How do I know if my motherboard supports DDR5? ›

DDR5 memory is for a graphic card and the interface for a graphic card is generally pci-express slot (pcie) and a quick google of the motherboard shows it has a single pci express card. Yes it will work, just put the graphic card into the slot it fits into and plug in the power in the back of the card.

What is the fastest RAM available? ›

The Xtreem ARGB is the fastest DDR4-3600 C14 memory kit that we've tested so far. The memory market only has a handful of DDR4-3600 C14 memory kits at the 16GB (2x8GB) capacity. And with a price tag of $169.99, the Xtreem ARGB is the least expensive of them all.

Can I put DDR5 RAM in a ddr3 slot? ›

GDDR5 is soldered to the graphics card and cannot be used as system memory.

What is the difference between DDR4 and DDR5 RAM? ›

Another thing that the DDR5 standard brings to the table is denser memory modules for high capacity. While the DDR4 modules topped out at 16Gb memory chips, DDR5 quadruples that number to use up to 64Gb memory chips.

Videos

1. DDR5 vs DDR4 Memory: Differences & Should You Wait?
(ThioJoe)
2. DDR5 - Is It REALLY Worth It For PC Gaming?! 🤔 (DDR5 RAM Vs DDR4 Memory Gameplay Benchmarks) | AD
(PC Centric)
3. Easily improve your DDR5 XMP's performance // for ASUS motherboards
(Actually Hardcore Overclocking)
4. DDR5 VS DDR4 A Breakdown of the Next Generation
(Axial GT)
5. DDR5 Explained - All You Need To Know - ASUS & @Crucial: Computer Memory, Storage, and Tech Advice
(ASUS North America)
6. DDR5 is FINALLY HERE... and I've got it
(Linus Tech Tips)

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated: 11/16/2022

Views: 6442

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.