DDR4 vs. DDR5: The Best Memory for PC Gaming

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,262   +7,176
No matter what, my next build will be DDR5 with probably an Intel 13th or 14th Gen 9900k.

I’m gaming just fine with 32GB DDR4.

Games don’t really demand more than a 8-core CPU and 16GB DDR4 with a decent GPU and SSD.
 

HardReset

Posts: 1,625   +1,275
But wait... Raptor Lake will support DDR4 memory, and while it’s possible DDR5 will be of more benefit in a year, it’s still not going to be massive and gamers will almost always end up GPU limited in games, rather than CPU limited. The big issue with this future-proof argument is the same as before, they hinge on the investment paying off in the long run with very few short-term advantages.
Source? Saying something for sure needs much more than just rumours. I doubt Intel has confirmed this.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,506   +2,736
Predictably early DDR5 is not really fast enough to beat down quality later DDR4 memory enough to make financial sense. It does still win, albeit imperceptibly to the user.

It's just a matter of time until we see much faster modules with similar latencies. Another year. Then we'll be all aboard the DDR5 train.
 

Faelan

Posts: 140   +145
Quote “It should also be noted that for the vast majority of games you can still easily get away with 16GB of RAM.”

Yeah… well… I started up a Liberation campaign in DCS World on the Syria map and that alone took just over 32GB. That’s a problem when you “only” have 32GB. Getting 64GB of DDR5 is not only expensive, but also virtually impossible since they’re sold in 32GB kits and I can only buy 1 kit at a time in my country, assuming I’m faster than the bots that is. So 64GB DDR4 it is. Got a good deal on an ASUS mobo and with the 100 euro cash-back promotion going on, I’m not going to take a huge hit on what will probably be a short lived setup. I got family members who will be very happy to take over those parts. Glad to see that it won’t impact me in any bad way running MSFS at 4k though.
 

Nintenboy01

Posts: 214   +169
I think the big L3 caches of today somewhat diminish the impact of faster VRAM. With the older Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffe Lake Intel chips you could see significant gains going from 2133 or 2400 Mhz DDR4 to 3000 or 3200MHz or higher, likely since their L3 caches were kinda small. The 3D vcache on the upcoming Ryzens will likely also help compensate for lower bandwidth DDR4.
 

Fastturtle

Posts: 58   +33
Have to agree with you on the ROI for DDR5 right now as simply being able to hand down a working system with a tweaked Win10 install is as important as the latest/greatest hardware.

I have a family member getting a Haswell (4th Gen) Intel with 32GB and Win10 Pro and some judicious upgrades such as a 1TB SSD for the boot drive and a 3TB Spinner for bulk storage. Even though they're moving from an 8th gen i5, it's a laptop so performance is gimped badly by igp and only 16GB and they don't even have HT, unlike the E3-1230 Xeon they're getting. I even have another such unit with Intel's IGP - E3-1225 Xeon that is going to be given to the local Boys/Girls Club as there's nothing wrong with it for Homework. It'll even handle some light duty educational software that doesn't require a net connection. No the GPU isn't going to be great since it'll get similar to a 1050 Ti. Not great but certainly not the worst out there.
 
Thanks for the article. A question and a comment:
1) Do you expect any difference in the results if a CPU lower in the sku stack is used? A lot of people will be opting for i5 and i7 solutions.
2) When you look at the sweet spot for DDR4/DDR5 in the next article, consider people may be wanting to plop in the DDR4 from their old mobo...and this might be as low at 2400 speed...it'd be nice to not only know where the sweet spot is, but also where performance takes a dive.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,597   +1,419
A lot of work and data produced which is always appreciated but I cant help feeling it was pointless. You may aswell have tested the difference between a 12 core and 16 core CPU in games at the same clock speeds. Modern games dont use anywhere near the level of bandwidth with DDR5 or even 3600 DDR4 (Yes I can see we have the Dunia engine as an exception).

But I would like to know where DDR5 does have a benefit and by how much. I am not familiar with those workloads, do they exist? Surely someone must be paying the heinous prices for DDR5 and getting some value out of it? Does video editing benefit? Encoding? Databasing?
 

valoryea

Posts: 17   +12
Still banging it with my circa 2012 gaming rig. 3rd-gen core i7, DDR3-1600. I've upgraded to SSDs, more disks, input/output peripherals, and a mid-life switch to Nvidia GTX 970.

Good thing I have such a long backlog of classic games to play through, so am not enticed to buy new spanking hardware to play the latest and "greatest" titles.
 

valoryea

Posts: 17   +12
A lot of work and data produced which is always appreciated but I cant help feeling it was pointless. You may aswell have tested the difference between a 12 core and 16 core CPU in games at the same clock speeds. Modern games dont use anywhere near the level of bandwidth with DDR5 or even 3600 DDR4 (Yes I can see we have the Dunia engine as an exception).

But I would like to know where DDR5 does have a benefit and by how much. I am not familiar with those workloads, do they exist? Surely someone must be paying the heinous prices for DDR5 and getting some value out of it? Does video editing benefit? Encoding? Databasing?
Yeap I'm interested to know how video processing/rendering workloads are affected.
 

Nintenboy01

Posts: 214   +169
I wonder actually if at some point the RAM companies tell the CPU vendors to stop putting in big caches on their CPUs. That will likely make differences in RAM speed more apparent. Or they have software and game companies engineer in such a way data spills over the caches often or doesn't get so easily predicted so faster RAM shows an advantage
 

pcnthuziast

Posts: 1,311   +1,093
My 2666 c16 kit is slow, but what to upgrade to? Would it hold back a 12700k with a 3060 in any meaningful way? 1% lows maybe? Keep for another year and wait for ddr5 to mature, get fast low latency ddr4 now??
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,506   +2,736
My 2666 c16 kit is slow, but what to upgrade to? Would it hold back a 12700k with a 3060 in any meaningful way? 1% lows maybe? Keep for another year and wait for ddr5 to mature, get fast low latency ddr4 now??

Do you have a very old CPU? If you go to a 12700k from say a 6/7th gen which were only 4 cores at best then you'll see worthwhile gains even with an old memory kit. If you already have at least 6 cores then you are probably safe waiting a year. Then going to a full DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 setup.

If you must upgrade now then personally I would just overclock the RAM a bit, even dumping more voltage into it. See what headroom it has, you might be surprised to see it hit 3000MHz and CL16 or even tighter latency with a bit more voltage. Would be fine. May as well at this point. I have ran a 3200MHz CL16 kit at 3600MHz and CL15 for years now with a voltage bump. Depends on the RAM really.
 

pcnthuziast

Posts: 1,311   +1,093
Do you have a very old CPU? If you go to a 12700k from say a 6/7th gen which were only 4 cores at best then you'll see worthwhile gains even with an old memory kit. If you already have at least 6 cores then you are probably safe waiting a year. Then going to a full DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 setup.

If you must upgrade now then personally I would just overclock the RAM a bit, even dumping more voltage into it. See what headroom it has, you might be surprised to see it hit 3000MHz and CL16 or even tighter latency with a bit more voltage. Would be fine. May as well at this point. I have ran a 3200MHz CL16 kit at 3600MHz and CL15 for years now with a voltage bump. Depends on the RAM really.
I'm not impatient and will most likely wait. I have a 6700k so 8 logical cores. My 3060 hits 97-100% usage in almost every game I play. Just bought Death Loop which supposedly requires a 6 (physical) core cpu and I play at 4k with DLSS and Ray Tracing on performance mode with the high prest overall and mostly get over 60. Granted there are more demanding areas likely ahead and I will drop to medium and disable the RTX for those parts if need be, but it works and I consider it a pretty demanding new game. While I do get some stutters in some games here and there because the frame times and 1% lows aren't always the greatest, overall my cpu is not a massive bottleneck as far as I can tell and I only want an upgrade at some point because I very much enjoy pc tech and hardware and having new gear gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. :)
 

Gezzer

Posts: 249   +124
The results of all the testing reinforces something I've always maintain, performance be it eliminating bottle necks or tweaking for optimization is never going to result in prefect across the board improvements. You'll drive your self crazy if you obsess about that stuff.

In the end it all depends on the programs you're running. Some need all the cores you can throw at them. Others high clock speeds and/or great IPC will net you better results. Games are often GPU limited, but how much can vary a lot. And the optimal amount/speed for your RAM? Who knows TBH.

That's why I take all the "you need an 8 core CPU to be future proof", "you need at least a i7 current generation for that GPU" or "32GB is the sweet spot for the fastest RAM you can find", etc, with a grain of salt.

I currently have a number of systems I game on, an ancient i7 875K@ 3.7GHZ, with a GTX980, and 16GB of RAM. A i7 4790K@ 4.6GHZ, 2 GTX 980 in SLI, and 32GB of RAM which was my main until just recently and ran titles like Cyberpunk 2077 with out a hitch. And I just built a i5 10600FK@ 5GHZ, with a RTX 2080S and 32GB RAM.

But the truth is I could of waited on this last system because I'm finding my i7 4970K is still viable for the majority of games I play. I'm hitting 45-55 fps in New World with the settings on high @ 1440p pretty consistently with no hitching. If I was running a 1080p monitor I'm sure I'd be hitting close to 80-90 fps, maybe even 100.

In the end as far as I'm concerned "run what ya brung" and most importantly just have fun with it.
 

MaxSmarties

Posts: 518   +298
At current price DDR5 is worthless. Just for fun I tried a 12700K configuration and it was over 1300€ just for CPU, motherboard and RAM.
 

MaxSmarties

Posts: 518   +298
The results of all the testing reinforces something I've always maintain, performance be it eliminating bottle necks or tweaking for optimization is never going to result in prefect across the board improvements. You'll drive your self crazy if you obsess about that stuff.

In the end it all depends on the programs you're running. Some need all the cores you can throw at them. Others high clock speeds and/or great IPC will net you better results. Games are often GPU limited, but how much can vary a lot. And the optimal amount/speed for your RAM? Who knows TBH.

That's why I take all the "you need an 8 core CPU to be future proof", "you need at least a i7 current generation for that GPU" or "32GB is the sweet spot for the fastest RAM you can find", etc, with a grain of salt.

I currently have a number of systems I game on, an ancient i7 875K@ 3.7GHZ, with a GTX980, and 16GB of RAM. A i7 4790K@ 4.6GHZ, 2 GTX 980 in SLI, and 32GB of RAM which was my main until just recently and ran titles like Cyberpunk 2077 with out a hitch. And I just built a i5 10600FK@ 5GHZ, with a RTX 2080S and 32GB RAM.

But the truth is I could of waited on this last system because I'm finding my i7 4970K is still viable for the majority of games I play. I'm hitting 45-55 fps in New World with the settings on high @ 1440p pretty consistently with no hitching. If I was running a 1080p monitor I'm sure I'd be hitting close to 80-90 fps, maybe even 100.

In the end as far as I'm concerned "run what ya brung" and most importantly just have fun with it.

Well, your post makes absolutely sense, but if you are happy to play CP2077 with a GTX980 and 4790K you probably have lower expectations than me.