Best Budget DDR4 PC Gaming Memory 2016

Fast DDR4 memory like Kingston's Predator has broken recent world records. Does the extra money you pay for it really equal increased performance?
Fast DDR4 memory like Kingston's Predator has broken recent world records. Does the extra money you pay for it really equal increased performance?

If you're thinking of upgrading to a compatible X99 or Skylake gaming system, what are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so right now? Also, with DDR4 ranging from as low as $10 per GB to $20 per GB, is it worth it to pay for the higher performance memory sticks? In this post, I'll talk about what you can expect and give you a list of the RAM I feel gives you the best overall value for your money.

DDR4 Current and Future Compatibility:

While DDR4 isn't compatible with previous generation Haswell or Broadwell CPUs it is compatible with Intel's sixth generation Skylake processors. In addition, it's compatible with current Haswell-e and Broadwell-e enthusiast X99 systems.

Gaming and Performance Benefits for DDR4 vs DDR3:

Yes MT/s is higher and power usage is lower; however, as of right now there are few performance gains made by switching to DDR4. As timing gets tighter and games and programs learn to take advantage of it, this is likely to change.

What about for Dual GPU Setups?

There is a slight performance boost in minimum FPS for certain games. However, this performance boost is not for every game and is negated by other categories in which DDR3 still performs better.

If there's no performance boost, why go with DDR4 right now?

DDR4 makes sense to a lot of people simply because it's mandatory for use with Haswell-e and Skylake processors. In addition, it allows these systems to have a bit more longevity.

Why budget DDR4 is your best option:

With the ability to overclock DDR4 and set timings lower there is little to no real benefit with going with RAM that posts flashy stock speeds. Ideally, you'll find ram that's cheap that you can overclock to at least 2400 Mhz and 15 CL. If you want better ram, consider upgrading down the road when manufacturers have gotten some of the kinks worked out.

DDR4 Pricing with Stock Numbers

To take a look at the current marketplace for ram here's a look at 2016's top rated 16gb DDR4 memory kits so far priced from low to high:

Price Range
Crucial CT2K8G4DFD8213 / CT2C8G4DFD8213
$143 - $155
Crucial Ballistix Sport
$156 - $175
G. Skill Value
G. Skill 4 Series (1.35V)
Corsair Vengeance LPX
Kingston HyperX Predator (1.35V) HX430C15PB2K4/16
Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD16GX4M4A2666C16

What do you think?

Is higher speed Ram worth it right now?

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

3 Good Gaming DDR4 Memory / Ram Kits in 2016

Since most Haswell-e users are power users as well it's hard to make the case for the more expensive ram here. Even the cheapest ram on the list, the Crucial CT2K8G4DFD8213 can easily be set at 2666 with 14-14-14-32-1T. From that point on most shouldn't be seeing the kind of performance improvement that justifies the price differential.

This is especially true when considering that Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 memory costs over twice as much. If you want a heatsink for looks, consider purchasing a separate one or going with other value memory like the Crucial Ballistix Sport and the G. Skill Ripjaws 4 Series.

1. Crucial Model CT2K8G4DFD8213

5 stars for the Crucial CT2K8G4DFD8213

As I mentioned above this model has great overclocking potential and is solid ram overall.

Don't let the lack of heatsinks fool you, those won't do anything for you anyway.

Here you're paying for everything you need and nothing you don't. If they're on sale, the Crucial Ballistix Sport, shown below, is also very desirable in this price range.

2. Crucial Ballistix Sport

While I'd rather not have two Crucial models in a row it's hard to ignore value performance and the Crucial Ballistix Sport gives you just that. Legitreviews was recently able to get a stable 2666 with 12 CL with this particular model.

For $10 to $15 this upgrade will be reasonable for most performance users.

3. Corsair Vengeance LPX

If you're going for speed, you can still do so with something like Corsair's Vengeance LPX model CMK16GX4M4A2666C16. This was confirmed by Tom's Hardware who was recently able to get DDR4-3119 stable to beat out Kingston's DDR4-3071 from its DDR4-3000 memory.

Right now this memory is relatively cheap per capacity and certainly does improve performance for certain applications. If you're a photo or video editor I'd recommend at least a 2x8GB configuration. Gamers can likely get away with a 4x2GB kit.

Other DDR4 Series Kits Worth Mentioning

If it's in stock for a decent price I like G. Skill's Value and Series 4 ram here as well.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately the higher priced DDR4 kits really aren't worth the money unless you're on a team trying to break some record somewhere. For now, go with something cheap until you can upgrade to something even better for cheaper later on.

An alternate option would be to wait for the holiday season coming up to make your purchase. Rebates are generally available at that time that make ram 25 to 40% off consumer retail prices.

Have something you'd like to add? Please let us know in the comment section below.

© 2015 Brandon Hart

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