Even a cursory look at the market would tell you that gamers are spoilt for choice right now when it comes to RAM technology. There are simply several generations and specifications to choose from.
And if you wanted RAM for a regular PC, you would be good with any old piece of tech available, given that any regular 4GB to 8GB capacity RAM would be ideal. However, gaming PCs are a different breed and require something more.
And this is not surprising, because when you start ramping up your gaming PC you’re not doing so to play minesweeper and solitaire, no. As a gamer, you’ve got your eyes on the latest AAA games, and these come with certain system and memory requirements that are not necessarily needed in the regular PC you use at the office.
Particularly, you need a good selection of RAM sticks to make sure you have a system that can stand up to the rigors and demands of desktop gaming.
Fortunately, there are enough RAM choices available on the market to make your search an interesting one rather than a tedious one. You can find a RAM stick for many budgets, so you need not feel left out if you don’t have the heaviest war chest to start off with.
You can still get your hands on a PC gaming RAM that meets the requirements for your PC build, even if you don’t have the capacity to pay top dollar. And this is one of the major perks that come with PC gaming: flexibility and choice, the likes of which are completely non-existent in console gaming.
Building your own gaming PC build is something only PC gamers can relate to. Hence the market exists just to fill this niched need. Furthermore, in service to the cause we provided our own list of the best RAM for gaming in 2021. Hopefully, by the end of our list you would have a better idea of the best choices available to you on the market today.
Best RAM for Gaming 2021: DDR4 & DDR3 Options
|Product||Key Features||Our Rating|
|Trident Z RGB 16GB (2X8GB) DDR4 PC4-34100C19 4266MHZ Dual Channel||• 4266 MHz|
|Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB DDR4-3200Mhz||• 3200 MHz|
|G. Skill Trident Z Neo 32GB DDR4-3600MHz||• 3600 MHz|
|Night Hawk RGB 3200MHz 16GB Kit (2x8GB) CL16 DDR4 SDRAM||• 3200 MHz|
|G. Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-2400MHz||• 2400 MHz|
|Patriot Viper Elite 8GB DDR4-2400Mhz||• 2400 MHz|
|Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 32GB DDR4-2666MHz||• 2666 MHz|
|Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3600MHz||• 3200 MHz|
|HyperX Predator RGB DDR4-2933 (4 X 8GB)||• 2933 MHz|
|Ballistix Sport Gray 8GB DDR4-2400||• 2400 MHz|
Every experienced PC builder understands that sticking to the recommended RAM specifications will not do if you intend to do some streaming. This is because in addition to space for normal function, streaming requires additional room to stream, capture, and run multiple apps at the same time.
All these tasks can take a toll on your PC RAM memory, so experts and enthusiasts always recommend looking into ‘doubling’ your RAM when building a gaming PC. Even if you have no intention of streaming now, you may change your mind later, so it helps to think ahead.
Hence the major selling point of the Trident Z RGB 16GB. The features of this gaming RAM incorporates the doubling you would require for streaming and gaming and running several apps, so that you don’t have to worry about building the doubling yourself.
The Trident Z RGB has an insanely high bandwidth of 4266Mhz which is more than enough for running heavy game like Battlefield 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. 4K gaming in general, would not be a problem if you get this RAM for your PC build.
Finally, the Trident Z RGB is good to look at. You don’t just want any component, you want one that has aesthetic value as well, especially if you intend showing off your PC to your friends to score bragging points. With the Trident, you can assign lights to each of the modules so that your rig is nicely lit up during gameplay.
Even by Corsair’s lofty standards, the Dominator Platinum RGB outdoes itself. This DDR4 RAM kit has quite the following among the gaming build community, and it is not difficult to come to terms with why.
The Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB comes is a slick looking exterior, and promises outstanding performance thanks in part to its patented DHX cooling technology.
In addition to that, you also have higher clocked SKUs, and 12 individually addressable Capellix RGB LEDs which are more efficient and brighter than the LEDs from pervious Corsair models. You also have Corsair’s iCUE software incorporated for extra performance and effectiveness, making the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB one of the most versatile and most effective choices anyone can make from our list.
Now, this gaming RAM comes at a hefty price compared to other options out there; but given what it offers in terms of quality and performance nobody would call it overpriced.
Yet another entry from G. Skill’s Trident Z family, which is not at all surprising given the amount of quality that goes into this particular line of products. The Trident Z Neo is similar to many other products from this particular family of products in the sense that it comes equipped with brilliant RGB lighting and other features.
But more importantly, the Trident Z Neo comes optimized for and compatible with AMD Ryzen builds, which makes it an option worth investigating if that is the sort of gaming build you have in mind.
With the Trident Z, builders of Ryzen PCs can be sure of getting the best value for their money. For less than $200 you get a 32Gb kit which you can easily upgrade to 64GB high-speed DDR4 memory later on.
And just like other Trident Z models, you can get the Trident Z Neo in different speeds and configurations ranging between 2600MHz and 3800Mhz.
The Night Hawk RGB 16GB comes with enough colors packed in to make a good first impression when you turn your gaming build on for the first time. You also get to enjoy the rapid-fire performance and a ‘dual channel’ mode comprising 16GB, and also a bandwidth of 3200MHz, all of which results in a performance that is virtually free of any lag.
Fans and experts agree that this gaming RAM works best for gaming PC builds that are intended for streaming and YouTube editing, with a smattering of gaming in between—especially MMORPG gaming.
The 16GB of space offered by the Night Hawk is more than enough for this purpose, capable of handling all the pressures of multi-tasking and playing RPGs online. And for good measure, you also have heat sinks available to effectively siphon any built-up heat resulting from extreme performance so your machine doesn’t get overwhelmed during use.
To top it all off, there are customization options that allow you to fine tune settings to your tastes, allowing you to build a machine that is completely yours from the onset.
The G. Skill Ripjaws V is the second iteration of DDR4 memory sticks from the manufacturers G. Skill. And it is a significant step up from the first models, meaning the feedback from the gaming community was well-received and implemented.
The Ripjaws V is more budget-friendly, faster, and has a more efficient heat sink to manage performance and heat regulation.
If you are in search of a decent 16GB kit that comes with enough features and performance for that PC gaming build you’ve been dreaming of, this is it.
You get all the perks right out of the box. This gaming RAM does not require any overclocking to outperform the majority of kits in the 2400MHz range. Yet you can still bump things and overclock to the 2800-3000MHz range by simply upping the voltage draw.
You can even amp things up beyond 3200MHz if you desire, though this would come with some stability issues you don’t want to deal with unless absolutely necessary.
All in all, given the reasonable price and the reliable performance—overclocked or not—the G. Skill Ripjaws V is a strong contender for one of the best 16GB gaming RAMs available today.
This may not be the most budget-friendly DDR4 kit you would come across in your search, but it certainly is among those that offer the best value for your money spent.
The Patriot Viper Elite 8GB DDR4-2400MHz is actually priced less than strong rivals like the Corsair Vengeance LPX and the HyperX Fury. But it still offers similar performance stats.
And unlike gaming RAM kits that are priced lower, the Patriot Viper comes with decent heat sinks and strong overclockability.
And this is great, because the key to unlocking the power of the Patriot Viper Elite lies in leveraging overclocking to push its performance levels up to match those of its pricier rivals.
Another notable thing you would love about this gaming RAM is the fact that as a DDR4 it generally operates at 1.2V, and even a small increase in voltage draw would improve its clockspeed without overheating the device.
With the Patriot Viper Elite, simple overclocking is capable of taking you up to the 2800Mhz-3200MHz range.
The Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB from Crucial is a great choice if you happen to love modding and personalizing your gaming PC. You can get this DDR4 gaming RAM in several configurations between 16GB and 64GB at 2666MHz and 3000Mhz, making it versatile enough to be suitable for many different types of builds.
However, in spite of that, many would cite the 16 addressable RGB LEDs with eight controllable zones and a detachable light bar as the main selling point of the Ballistix Tactical Tracer.
If you stand on that side of the debate, you wouldn’t be short of evidence to support.
The manufacturers, Crucial, provide free 3D files to enable you print various light bars to produce a range of lights for any builds. Experienced users can even modify existing files to print their own customized designs and lights.
Or you could just take away the light bar completely to increase the brightness. The level of customization present in the Ballistix Tactical is hard to find in other gaming RAMs, and this is the real reason you should be interested in getting it.
If you would like a kit that offers advanced software and possibilities you could do much worse than the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB.
If you’ve got the budget for it, why not go for the best money can buy? In this case, that would be the Corsair Vengeance LED 32GB with its insane amount of memory space.
The Corsair Vengeance 32GB comes with dual channel mode already incorporated to ease the running of multiple programs on your PC, and the massive 3600MHz bandwidth shows that during the manufacturing process, manufacturers had gamers and their needs firmly in mind.
Most games in 2020 and beyond would easily succumb to the sheer power that this gaming RAM brings. Plus, the aesthetics are nothing to be snuffed at. The modules comes with a soft glow that pulses on and off while the RAM is plugged into a running PC.
Apart from performance, by giving a lifetime warranty the manufacturers made sure you would have more incentive to look into this device. Once you get this, you are guaranteed lifetime support to make sure you are always getting the best value for your money spent.
With its outstanding overclocking ability and performance, the HyperX Predator is one of the easiest gaming RAMs to get excited about. But you do need to have some experience with overclocking in order to unlock the full potential that lies therein.
On the whole, aesthetics-wise and performance-wise (even on a base level), there is a lot going right here to justify the premium price tag that this gaming RAM comes with.
If you’re on a budget, the Ballistix Sport would be a great place to start your search for a gaming RAM. It is also a great entry point for those who are building their very first gaming build.
Games made after 2012 would easily be carried by the specifications of this gaming RAM. While you would probably do well with 4GB of RAM with most modern games, you would be better served staying on the safe side by going for 8GB of RAM. You don’t want to worry about having to replace it too soon after purchase.
Another perk of the Ballistix Sport is the fact that it is compatible with the Intel® XMP 2.0 standard which is to say that, for those bold enough, you could get away with trying to overclock the memory bandwidth speed. However, such moves are best left for experienced hands. It is not uncommon for PCs to fail to boot up when the wrong overclock figure is attempted with RAM.
Should that ever happen though, you would have the best opportunity—or excuse, whichever works for youo—to go for another RAM of the same module so that you end up with double the memory in your PC build. Incidentally, this is also a great way to incorporate ‘dual channel’ mode into your PC build.
The Ballistix Sport Gray comes with limited warranty as well as copious amounts of documentation to help you properly install it into your build if you are unsure of what to do.
Factors to Take Note of When Shopping for a Gaming RAM
Whether you’re shopping for a new build or you’re looking to upgrade your current gaming PC, you may find yourself confused about the nitty-gritties that would constitute a great gaming RAM in your situation.
You may be scratching your head over details like how much space you really need, what memory timings mean, and what exactly clock speed and overclocking is.
In this section we work through these details to ease you in on the finer details involved in getting a gaming RAM.
While we would mainly be focused on gaming desktops, you should take note that almost all the details translate over to laptops as well. Laptops simply need you to acquire a SO-DIMMs kit (small outline dual in-line memory modules kit), instead of the longer DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) that are used in your typical office desktop.
Another thing to note about laptops is the fact that they sometimes have their memory soldered to their motherboards, so you want to make sure to have a look you PCs manual before committing to any buying decisions.
Quick-fire Shopping Tips
How Much Space Do You Need?
For many people 16GB would satisfy all their needs and leave a little extra on the side for seconds. In fact, gamers who simply use their PCs for regular mainstream tasks can do well with 8GB, even though opening too many browser tabs and running one program too many could leave the computer limping.
Because you can get 16GB RAMs for as little as an extra $25, you should seriously consider making the upgrade to give yourself more breadth to the things you love with your gaming PC. This is especially important if you intend creating content with your PC.
Make Sure You Aren’t Paying for Overclock Speeds Your System Cannot Even Support
You may already know that memory speed is limited. And this is especially true if you’re using a low-end, mainstream Intel CPU and its chipsets. Therefore, you want to pay attention to where the limits lie with your gaming PC.
There is no reason why you should buy a gaming RAM rated for 3600MHz when your PC only supports 2666MHz. Not only would you not be able to clock those higher speeds, but also you may end up at falling to a lower fallback speed.
Take a look at the manufacturer’s specification for supported speeds and then buy in alignment with that.
Higher Speeds Are Best Enjoyed When Used with Integrated Graphics
Players looking to game without a dedicated graphics card will find that they will get better frame rates by using faster memory. That said, you might want to spend a little bit more on the components that would help sustain and support those faster speeds and higher clocked memory.
This leads to slightly higher costs, but it would make a lot of sense to spend a little more on a dedicated graphics card in order to provide a better gaming experience overall.
Many Games and Programs Are Not Augmented by Faster RAM and Timing
There is a fairly small amount of software available that offers significant upgrades in speed and timing in gaming RAMs. Usually, you can save a lot of money by skipping going for slower RAM, and opting for a larger gaming hard drive, graphics card, or better CPU.
Take the time to look at the sort of programs you run or games you play. If your research shows you that these do not benefit from faster RAM speeds then you need to not prioritize RAM speed.
Heat Spreaders and Lights are Not as Necessary as You Might Believe
Here’s the thing: most gaming RAMs out there do not run fast enough (unless you apply extreme manual overclocking) to need heat spreaders.
If you have air blowing over your memory, through the case, bare sticks would work just fine.
Something similar can be said about RGB lights. They hold great aesthetic value, and you should consider that if aesthetics hold a lot of weight to you. However, lights have little to do with improving the performance of your RAM.
So, if you don’t care how your memory stick looks and your case lacks a window or heat sink, you need not worry about whether or not you need a stick that has exposed PCBs and memory. Just concentrate on getting a memory kit that offers the specifications you are after.
RAM Terminology to Know When Thinking of Purchasing
DIMMs—Dual In-line Memory Module, this is the physical space on a motherboard where the RAM is inserted.
ECC Memory—Error-Correcting Code Memory, that is RAM that is able to automatically detect and correct errors on the go. This is usually used in very sensitive applications like empirical data collection, research, and banking. Desktops usually run this sort of memory as non-ECC, so you are more likely to see it being used on servers and workstations.
Frequency—this is the speed at which the memory or RAM operates, and it is measured in megahertz or MHz.
CL/CAS Latency—Column Access Strobe Latency, this is the delay between the memory control requesting information from the RAM and the information becoming available. It is the first number listed in a RAM’s timings.
SO-DIMM—More compact than regular DIMM slots, they are usually used in laptop PCs.
Timings—These are the measure of the number of memory clock cycles it will take for an operation requested by the memory control to be completed by the RAM. The lower it is the better.
XMP—eXtreme Memory Profile, this pertain to the instructions for the basic input and output system which dictate what frequency, voltage, and timing to activate simultaneously for the RAM. Knowing XMP and how to manipulate it is a huge part of overclocking.
Overclocking—Manipulating or modifying specific factors like voltages and timings to allow RAM modules to operate at greater speeds than they normally would out of the box.