DDR4 vs DDR5 for gaming – is DDR5 worth it?

DDR4 vs DDR5 for gaming – is DDR5 worth it?
Romilly Cotta Updated on by

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If you’re building a new machine then you’ll want to weigh up DDR4 vs DDR5 for gaming. In this feature, we deep dive into the specifics of the two memory formats.

DDR5 arrived on the scene a few years ago, and promises a host of performance improvements. With a higher bandwidth that accommodates up to 64GB, DDR5 theoretically gives you a performance uplift in certain workloads, including gaming. There’s also the futureproofing angle – if you’re thinking of upgrading your CPU to one of AMD’s Ryzen 9 7000 CPUs then DDR5 is a necessity.

So does that mean DDR4 is getting left behind in 2023? Absolutely not really. Though the latest line of CPUs isn’t compatible with DDR4, it doesn’t mean it’s outdated. In fact, DDR4 is still highly capable and offers better value for anyone keen to build the best budget gaming PC possible. Of course, DDR5 will become more affordable with time, but if your primary focus is on gaming, upgrading to DDR5 won’t make a hugely noticeable difference.

We’re going to guide you through the key factors influencing whether you should upgrade your RAM to DDR5. We’ll cover the main reasons that might influence your final decision, including the additional costs associated with DDR5, and whether DDR5 is overkill for gaming.

So let’s jump to it, here are the differences between DDR4 vs DDR5.

DDR4 vs DDR5 for gaming – what’s the difference?

The main difference between DDR4 and DDR5 is the memory bandwidth, though the real-world difference depends on the games you’re playing. DDR5 offers up to a 50% bandwidth increase while reducing power consumption. This means DDR5 can access memory at a higher rate, making it faster and better suited for gaming, at least from a technical perspective.

Read More: Is 16GB RAM enough for gaming for PC gaming?

DDR5 also has on-die ECC, a handy function that provides error detection and correction before sending data to the CPU, resulting in a more reliable performance.

Of course, a more practical difference between DDR4 and DDR5 is that they are compatible with different generations of CPUs. If you use an AMD Ryzen 5000 series or older, you can only use DDR4 memory. You’ll have to have bought one of the new AMD Ryzen 7000 series CPUs with a compatible motherboard to use DDR5. Of course, there’s also Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs to consider too.

For some more help, our CPU and motherboard expert Jack has rounded up the best DDR5 compatible motherboards to give you some further insight.

Does DDR5 matter for gaming?

Well, it depends on a number of factors, but in short, it doesn’t matter for gaming unless a 2-5% performance uplift is worth the money upgrading your RAM. Specific game titles are more dependent on CPU performance, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. So FPS performance can be boosted by upgrading your RAM, as it removes bottlenecks in your CPU’s performance. However, remember to manage your expectations.

Unless you’re equipped with high-end graphics cards like the Nvidia GeForce 40-series, DDR5 won’t make much of a difference, especially if you’re gaming in anything below 1440p. The bottom line is that you probably shouldn’t upgrade to DDR5 for gaming unless you’re a serious gamer looking for every possible edge in performance. If you’re convinced and want a hand in researching what RAM is compatible with Ryzen 9 7950X3D, a great future-proof CPU, then go ahead.

DDR4 vs DDR5 – price

As the older memory model, DDR4 is the better value model. DDR4 kits will always be cheaper than DDR5, and also have the advantage of being compatible with older CPU models.

  1. Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 3200MHz memory – was $63 now $38

It’s likely that a lot of gamers thinking of upgrading to DDR5 won’t yet have a compatible CPU either. Don’t forget that you’ll need the latest 12th-generation Alder Lake CPUs or the Ryzen 7000 series. This means you’ll be spending upwards of $1,200 to fully upgrade your gaming rig.

DDR4 vs DDR5 – final word

While the benefits of DDR5 are exciting, it comes at more than just a financial cost. Considering DDR4 launched back in 2014 and is still in full use, gamers should not feel like they have to rush into upgrading their RAM.

Ultimately, DDR5 will bring considerable improvements in performance, though this can only be achieved with up-to-date hardware. Therefore, gamers should consider DDR5 only if they’re keen to future-proof their set-up, and have the funds to do so.

If you’re looking to increase your gaming performance, you’re better off taking a look at the best RTX 4080 graphics cards, or consider upgrading your CPU.

How much does RAM affect performance?

A higher RAM potentially produces an increase in frames per second, though RAM alone is not enough to see a noticeable performance in fps. You’ll need to make sure you have powerful PC hardware too.