A crucial piece of the puzzle, pardon the pun.
When building a gaming PC, it can be a difficult to select which RAM to go with. Should you go for the cheapest? The fastest? It largely depends on your budget, your overclocking intentions, and whether those memory sticks will bump into your CPU cooler. To help you decide what is the best RAM kit here are the best memory kits for a variety of budgets.
TL;DR – These are the best RAM kits:
1. Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,200MHz ● CAS Latency: 16 ● Timings: 16-18-18-36 ● Height: 51mm/2.01″
Corsair’s name has become synonymous with reliable, high-performance RAM, and the Vengeance RGB Pro is a prime example of this. This set of memory can easily clock up to 4,600MHz thanks to its effective heat spreaders. The Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro also features edge-to-edge RGB lighting, which you’ll be able to customize down to each individual LED for mesmerizing and dynamic effects. For RAM that offers both a premium aesthetic and fantastic performance, it also comes at a fairly reasonable price.
2. G.Skill Ripjaws V
Best DDR4 RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,000MHz ● CAS Latency: 15 ● Timings: 15-16-16-35 ● Height: 42mm/1.65″
G.Skill is known for its quality and its Ripjaws V series value model will help you save money on a RAM kit without losing out on performance. This 16GB (3,000MHz) set of memory, for example, is more affordable than most other RAM kits offering the same capacity and speed. Alternatively, you can easily buy yourself a 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws V (2,400MHz) RAM kit and really save some dough, and then easily overclock it to 3,000MHz without an extra drop of voltage. The G.Skill Ripjaws V also features a fairly reserved and short heatsink, so it should work well with most PC builds.
3. Kingston HyperX Fury
Best DDR3 RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 1,866MHz ● CAS Latency: 10 ● Timings: 10-11-10 ● Height: 32.8mm/1.29”
If you’re building or upgrading an older system that isn’t compatible with DDR4 memory, the Kingston HyperX Fury is your best choice for a DDR3 RAM kit. It’s a little slow by modern standards with its 1,866MHz speed, but this smart DDR3 can auto-detect your system components to overclock itself to the highest speeds possible. Best of all, it’s fairly inexpensive, so nab this memory kit before it eventually sells out.
4. Ballistix Sport LT
Best Budget RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,000MHz ● CAS Latency: 15 ● Timings: 15-16-16 ● Height: 42mm/1.65″
Crucial’s Ballistix Sport LT RAM is often so cheap that 3,000MHz kits are available at a lower price than many other 2,633MHz or 2,933MHz kits. For only $100, you really can’t go wrong with this reliable, fast memory. If you’re looking to also light up your gaming PC on a budget, a 16GB kit of Ballistix Tactical Tracer (3,000MHz) doesn’t cost much more.
5. HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB
Best Gaming RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,000MHz ● CAS Latency: 16 ● Timings: 16-18-18 ● Height: 42.2mm/1.66″
HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB is an amazing kit of RAM engineered for gaming. Unlike other DDR4 memory kits, it doesn’t start at a 2,400MHz or 2,666MHz base, this memory kicks off at 2,933MHz. It can even be found operating at a native 4,000MHz speed, and we haven’t even started talking about overclocking potential yet. Of course, it has addressable lighting as any other good, modern memory kit should, but HyperX has taken RGB a step further by integrating Infrared Sync tech to ensure lighting effects are always synced across all the DIMMs. Overall, this gaming RAM performs just as well as it looks.
6. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB
Best High-Performance RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,200MHz ● CAS Latency: 16 ● Timings: 16-18-18-36 ● Height: 55mm/2.17″
If you’re looking for the absolutely best memory money can buy, it’s the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB. This memory comes at a higher premium than most RAM kits, but they also offer the highest speeds, next-level cooling with those extra tall heat spreaders, and arguably the best RGB lighting available. Recently, Corsair upgraded its flagship RAM with teeny-tiny Capellix LED technology, which basically shrank the typical RGB bulb from being 2.8mm-cubed to 0.2mm-cubed. The Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB is the perfect memory kit for going all out on a future-proofed gaming rig and they’ll likely outlast everything else in your gaming PC, so you can use it in your next one!
7. G.Skill Trident Z RGB DC
Best High Capacity RAM
Capacity: 64GB (2 x 32GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,200MHz ● CAS Latency: 14 ● Timings: 14-14-14-34 ● Height: 60mm/2.36″
Whereas most sticks of memory have between four to 16GB of memory onboard, G.Skill Trident Z RGB DC packs 32GB of RAM into a single DIMM. That’s already more memory than most PC gamers will ever need, but this is the perfect RAM kit for Mini ITX and Micro ATX systems that only have two available memory slots. Double capacity RAM is a very recent invention that only works with certain Z390 chipset motherboards, so double check if it’s compatible with your system before buying this monster of a memory kit. One other thing you’ll have to keep in mind is that each G.Skill Trident Z RGB DC memory stick is twice as tall as any memory you’ve encountered before, so it’ll likely interfere with most air coolers and even some liquid-coolers.
8. G.Skill Trident Z Royal
Best RGB RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,200MHz ● CAS Latency: 16 ● Timings: 16-18-18-38 ● Height: 44mm/1.73″
Looking to create a gaming PC with the most obnoxious RGB lighting ever? Well look no further than the maximum blingage the G.Skill Trident Z Royal provides. This memory kit enhances G.Skill’s already incredible RGB lighting with glistening crystals. Meanwhile, the body of the RAM is available with either a chromed or gilded finish, which acts like a mirror to further intensify the lighting inside your system. Aside from its frilly aesthetic, the G.Skill Trident Z Royal offers plenty of performance with this 3,200MHz kit I’ve recommended.
9. Corsair Vengeance LPX
Best Low-Profile RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,000MHz ● CAS Latency: 15 ● Timings: 15-17-17-35 ● Height: 31mm/1.22″
In case any of the RAM kits I’ve recommended here are too tall and would interfere with that heatsink tower cooler you’ve been eyeing, you might be better off with some low-profile Corsair Vengeance LPX memory. It’s short enough to work with any setup, but hardly sacrifices any performance to do so. Despite the Corsair Vengeance LPX’s lower height, it still offers an integrated heatsink to help it achieve great performance.
10. Patriot Viper 4 Series
Best Overclocking RAM
Capacity: 16GB (2 x 8GB) ● Memory Type: 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ● Memory Speed: 3,200MHz ● CAS Latency: 16 ● Timings: 16-18-18-36 ● Height: 41mm/1.73″
If you’re an overclocker, why not spend a bit more, and opt for the Patriot Viper 4 Series? Running at 3,200MHz out of the box, Patriot’s Viper 4 Series isn’t just great memory, but an excellent value too. The Viper 4 series supports XMP 2.0, which makes overclocking easy and safe.
What to Look for in the Best RAM
Below we’ve broken down a few things you should consider in your search for the best RAM kit and how much memory you’ll need for PC gaming.
Before you even begin looking at memory kits you should consider what your hardware limitations will be. Start off by checking if your motherboard supports either DDR4 or DDR3 class memory. DDR4 class RAM has been the most prevalent form of memory for more than five years now, however, if you’re running an Intel 5th Generation Broadwell or older system you’ll need to find DDR3 memory.
You’ll also want to look at the specs on your motherboard and figure out the maximum memory speed it can support. Spending some extra money on 3,200MHz RAM is completely pointless if your motherboard can only support 2,400MHz, for example.
8GB of RAM is pretty much the minimum and it should let you play most games without any problems.
As for how much memory you need to game, 8GB of RAM is pretty much the minimum these days and it should let you play most games without any problems. Meanwhile, 16GB of memory will give your system a little bit more room to stretch itself and ‘future-proof’ your rig.
In terms of memory speed, you should look for DDR4 memory that operates close to or above 2,400MHz – or 2400MT/s as it’ll appear on the packaging and online. Users purchasing DDR3 RAM should look for memory operating at 1,866MHz at least, and the closer to 2,000MHz the better. You don’t necessarily need to buy the fastest RAM either as it’s easy enough to overclock your memory.
Whether you’re building a new system or upgrading your computer, adding one of these best RAM kits is a sure-fire way to make it operate a bit faster. A bit of extra memory can do wonders for improving your PC’s responsiveness and multi-tasking capabilities. Plus, adding better or more memory is usually the cheapest way to improve the performance of your rig.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam