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Get the best memory for your gaming PC

Memory is a critical component of every Gaming System. Random Access Memory - or RAM - is your Gaming PC’s short term memory. Memory works as a fast cache for important data that needs to be saved and accessed for brief amounts of time. Currently DDR4 is the most common type of RAM used in Gaming PCs. DDR stands for Double Data Rate and 4 is the 4th generation of DDR-RAM specified by the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association.

For a modern Gaming PC you should use at least 16GB of Memory. Preferably in the form of two RAM-Modules, each with a 8 GB capacity. Most Motherboards have four DIMM-Slots you can use, but be sure to occupy the right slots. The correct DIMM slots to use, and other important information, can be found in the motherboard’s manual. Also you must choose RAM that is compatible with the particular combination of CPU and Motherboard you have.

What to look out for when buying PC memory?

When buying Memory for your Gaming PC there are several things to keep in mind. First you have to check the maximum amount of RAM supported by your motherboard and CPU. The second step is to look up the optimal Memory Speed in MHz. Every CPU has a specific sweet spot when it comes to both the clock speed and Memory’s latency. Here is a brief list of Memory Specifications to keep track of:
  • Memory Type: This should be DDR4 for most Gaming Systems.
  • Capacity: The overall Memory Capacity of the RAM Kit. For example 16GB (8GBx2) for a kit with two 8GB modules.
  • Multi Channel Kit: Most RAM Kits work faster when configured as a Dual Channel Kit.
  • Speed: The optimal Clock Speed of the Memory Modules. Faster is better.
  • Latency: The Latency measures the Access Time to stored information. The lower the better.
  • Voltage: Most DDR4-Modules run on 1.35V. For Memory Overclocking the voltage has to be modified.
  • SPD Speed: The minimal Clock Speed without enabling XMP or other manual settings
After installing your RAM-Modules into the correct DIMM-Slots, you may have to configure them in the BIOS/UEFI. A Memory Kit rated for 3200 MHz with a Latency of 14-14-14-34 is reasonably fast. But in order to utilise higher speeds you may have to enable them by activating the XMP-Profile (Intel Xtreme Memory Profile) in the BIOS/UEFI or select it manually. Otherwise the Memory will run on its slower default speed.

Another thing to keep in mind when buying memory is the relationship between Memory Speed and Latency. Normally Memory with higher Clock Speeds will have a higher Latency. The size of the individual RAM Module can also cause higher Latency. The higher the capacity, the higher the latency. Each CPU has a sweet spot for the ratio of clock speed and latency. For the Ryzen 5 2600X from AMD the sweet spot RAM Module would be a Dual Kit with 3200MHz and a CAS Latency of 14. The Ryzen 5 3600X's sweet spot RAM would be a Dual Kit with 3600MHZ and CAS Latency 16. But if you run the Ryzen 5 3600X with a quad kit 3200MHz with CAS 14 would be faster.