Best DDR3 Gaming RAM and PC Memory 2016
Building a Gaming PC
So, you want to build a gaming PC and want to know how much memory you need and what the best gaming RAM would be for the games you play. In this article, I'll go over a few of the criteria I use and then give you a list of a few of my favorites.
How Much RAM does Your PC Gaming Rig Need?
First of all, you've probably heard that you can never have too much RAM. This is only sometimes true. If you're building a PC on a budget, then buying too much might detract from the amount you have to spend on improvements or on more gaming crucial components, like your CPU and graphics card.
The honest answer to this question is that it depends completely upon the types of games you play and the settings you play them on. I mention settings here because if your graphics card forces you to lower settings on a graphically-intense game, then that will lower the amount of RAM you'll need, as well. It's all about not creating a bottleneck for your CPU and processor where you'll lose FPS because you don't have enough RAM.
In Other Words:
Over the last few months I've put together PC gaming builds at just about every price point you can think of. Every build should have at least 4GB of RAM and 8GB at the top end.
With a budget of $500 and under, I recommend 4GB. At $600, I recommend 8GB, and not until you have a lot of money to spend( see my $1500 gaming PC build) do I recommend 16GB.
Getting 16GB at that price level is completely on the assumption that you're building a rig for something beyond just gaming. At that level, I'm assuming you'll be running a lot of programs at the same time or doing photo or video editing.
If you're not, then more than likely 8GB of RAM will be that sweet spot where you won't create a bottleneck. For additional information on how much RAM you need, I highly recommend this Tom's Hardware article for benchmarks.
What about RAM Speed and CAS Latency for PC Gaming?
A lot of high-end users worry about getting faster RAM or RAM with low CAS Latency. Several tests done over the last couple of years show that the difference this makes when it comes to PC gaming is pretty negligible past speeds of 1600 and after Sandy Bridge processors.
Also, spending time overclocking your RAM probably won't get you the desired improved FPS numbers you are looking for. (For more information, you can see these benchmarks that AnandTech ran back in 2011 and these current ones from Tom's Hardware.)
Overall, you can get a little bit of a benefit going from DDR3-1333 and DDR3-1600. Beyond that, there's very little difference between going from DDR3-1600 to say DDR3-2133. Sometimes you can even find those for the same price. All things being equal, go with the faster RAM. Otherwise, it's really not that big of a deal.
Where it does help:
If you're going to do a lot of compression on your PC or use it as a photo or video editing rig, then there are marginal gains to be made by going with faster RAM.
5 Best DDR3 Gaming Memory and Ram Kits for the Money in 2016
1. G. Skill Ripjaws
If you're looking for quality and willing to spend just a little bit more, then I'd go for G. Skill Ripjaws RAM. It's what performance users at sites like Overclock.net use and trust.
That being said, as far as reliability is concerned, any good RAM is going to come with a lifetime limited warranty. G. Skill RAM (as well as all the RAM I'm listing below) have lifetime limited warranties.
Sometimes it comes down to price:
Go with quality DDR3 RAM that runs at 1.5V or lower and 1600. Rebates matter a lot here, so while G. Skill RAM is generally pricier than some of the other models below, if you find it on sale, then all things equal it's what I'd go with.
2. Crucial Ballistix
Numbers 2 through 4 on this list don't make any real difference. You might say that I'm a bit of a G. Skill fanboy for saying that, but the truth is the last several sticks I've bought were not G. Skill (I bought something else that was cheaper).
In other words, I've used and purchased all of the RAM on this list at one time or another.
If you don't care about big fancy heat spreaders, then you can save a lot of money by going with Crucial's Ballistix. As far as performance, it's on par with other brands, and as far as quality, it's a brand that I've never had a problem with.
3. Corsair Vengeance
This is probably the most popular RAM among gamers, but as far as performance, there's little difference here. I will say that this RAM looks great and that the black, in my opinion, really compliments many of Gigabyte's motherboards.
If it's on sale, then I have no problem recommending it.
4. Kingston HyperX and Final Thoughts
You'll notice that I didn't include any of the higher-end overclocker type RAM like Kingston's Predator. That's because I simply don't feel it's necessary for PC gaming.
That being said, if I were paying attention to benchmarks or needed the faster speeds, then offerings like the Predator or G. Skill's Sniper series would make more sense.
Be sure to cast your vote in the poll below and participate in our open discussion area.
On the Bubble About ADATA:
Another series of gaming RAM I've been considering adding to this list is ADATA's XPG. It's cheap, reliable, and seems to work very well. While I certainly don't have the experience with this RAM that I do with the others, it might still be worth looking at if you're in the market.
Interactive Reader Poll for DDR3 Memory / Ram
What's the Best Series of Gaming Ram?See results without voting
What about DDR4 Performance for Gaming?
Believe it or not DDR4 has relatively little impact on gaming performance. This will stay true until timings can get tightened up. If you're thinking about upgrading now, be sure it's worth your investment.
© 2013 Brandon Hart
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