It's easy to think that the CPU and graphics card are all that matter when upgrading your PC, and while they are the heavy lifters, it's important not to skimp on the other parts of your PC, too. One piece of the puzzle that's often overlooked is RAM. If you're upgrading an old PC or building a new tower from scratch, you might be wondering if it's worth spending the extra cash to upgrade from DDR3 to DDR4 RAM. In this article we'll explain what DDR4 is, the advantages it provides for gaming, and why you might want to invest in DDR4 for your gaming set-up.
What is RAM?
If you're not au fait with computer terminology and design, understanding the purpose and importance of each part can be pretty daunting. We won't go into detail here but in brief, RAM is your computer's short-term memory. Anything your PC needs for the programs it's currently running will be temporarily stored there, saving the time it would take to delve through the much slower hard drive or SSD. Making sure you have enough available RAM is crucial as it lets you run more programs at once without slowing your PC to a crawl. In addition, the speed and accuracy of your RAM play a big role too.
DDR4 and What it Means for Gaming
So what is DDR4? Double data rate fourth-generation synchronous dynamic random-access memory isn't going to mean a lot to most people, so let's cover the basics. RAM is developed in generations, with a range of improvements brought in with each new iteration. DDR3 was the standard for many years, but we're now seeing DDR4 replace it in most cases.
One of the biggest differences between DDR3 and DDR4 is the speed. DDR4 increases the connecting pin count to 288 from DDR3's 240, allowing for higher frequencies of data transfer. As an example, the HyperX Savage DDR3 RAM offers a max speed of 2133MHz, while HyperX Predator DDR4 RAM starts at a minimum of 2400MHz, with the top-of-the-line version pushing that up to 4600MHz. These higher speeds will mean your games load assets faster, reducing the time spent on loading screens and increasing overall performance.
DDR4 also supports larger sizes than DDR3. Sticks of DDR3 typically come in sizes of 2, 4 or 8GB, while DDR4 allows for 16GB sizes at minimal extra cost. Given most PCs have four slots available for RAM, that means DDR4 allows for more RAM overall. If you like to have YouTube, Twitch or Netflix open on a second monitor or in the background while you game, more RAM will minimize the impact on your gaming experience. DDR4 has also been specifically designed for multi-core CPU systems. Most modern games are designed to take advantage of these CPUs, so having RAM designed for the same purpose should also improve performance.
With higher speeds, more space, and better optimization, you might expect DDR4 RAM to come at the cost of increased power consumption. However, DDR4 RAM actually runs at a lower voltage (1.2V to DDR3's 1.5V), which makes for a 40% reduction in average power consumption. To put it simply, DDR4 offers more space, runs faster, and is more efficient than its DDR3 predecessor. So what's the catch? In truth, there isn't one, but there are a few things to know before you start buying all the DDR4 RAM you can find.
What to Know Before You Buy
Beyond a small step up in price for DDR4, there's a key design point to be aware of. Due to the different number of pins and change in design, DDR4 is not backward compatible with DDR3 systems. That means you need to make sure that your motherboard is DDR4 compatible before upgrading.
If you're building a new PC from scratch, we'd absolutely recommend picking a DDR4 motherboard as this will ensure you're set for the future. Upgrading an old build? You'll need to think a bit harder. Check if your current motherboard is DDR4 compatible with a quick online search of the model before you start. If it isn't, you'll need to get yourself a new motherboard and possibly a new CPU too if you want to upgrade. That's a bigger investment than just RAM, but DDR4 is the long-term future so you'll need to make the jump eventually if you want to keep your gaming machine up to date.
Thankfully, whatever you choose HyperX has you covered. HyperX offers a broad selection of high-end DDR3 and DDR4 RAM for both desktops and laptops, meaning there's always an option to boost the performance of your PC. Visit the HyperX memory page for more information on all the RAM available.