The best DDR4 RAM for gaming is speedy, low-latency, and cheap. It should be one of the cheapest additions to your gaming build right now, in fact. You want solid RAM to pair with a strong CPU, so we found the best sticks to slot into your system for maximum performance.
Generally speaking, most gamers will want either a 16GB or 32GB RAM kit inside their rig. Nowadays you can get 16GB for really quite cheap, and it's a good investment over 8GB of the stuff. That said, if you really wanted to save some cash, you could make do with 8GB now and upgrade to another stick down the line.
You want to look for DDR4 RAM that runs around 3,200MHz for Intel chips and 3,600MHz for AMD's latest offerings. This should give your CPU enough bandwidth cushion to handle gaming and productivity tasks. You might see some over 5,000MHz kits of RAM with an Intel CPU, which are pretty much overkill and not often worth the cash. If you want those sorts of speeds, consider a newer Intel processor and the best DDR5 RAM.
The good news is that affordable low-latency RAM kits are all over, which is excellent for AMD Ryzen gaming PCs. Want to optimize your PC and get the most out of your RAM? Our handy RAM speed for gaming deep-dive should be the first thing you read. We've tested a bunch of DDR4 RAM kits and picked out the best ones for gaming at various different price points.
Best DDR4 RAM for gaming
The Team Xtreem ARGB RAM kit we’re got here for review isn’t your standard DDR4 RAM, it’s one of very few 3,600MHz kits that comes with a CAS latency of just 14. That puts it at the forefront of low-latency RAM favored by gaming PCs, especially AMD Ryzen rigs. As such, it takes the top spot as our pick for the best RAM for gaming.
Not all that long ago, a kit as well-rounded on both price and performance would've been a distant dream. However, a recent DRAM price crash and an increasing process maturity in DDR4 production mean kits such as this can often be had for around $100.
DDR4 memory really is maturing nicely. Just a couple of years ago, a decent DDR4-3200 kit was regarded as high end, but as time ticks on, 3,200MHz is now the baseline for a decent gaming system. You could even argue that 3,600MHz is the current baseline for Ryzen 5000 and Intel 12th Gen systems, for decent performance without any significant price premium, with 4,000MHz and above the new sweet spot.
That's great news for anyone eyeing up AMD's Ryzen CPUs, which favor a memory clock around the 3,600MHz mark—thus ensuring the Infinity Fabric clock is kept at a 1:1 ratio with your memory and your chip ticking over happily with minimal latency penalties. A kit such as the Team Xtreem is pretty much optimal.
So, how does it perform? As is always the case with high performance memory, the benefits are application specific. When compared to a common DDR4-3200 kit you do get the odd bump, though any benefit is hidden when you move to higher resolutions and graphical details. You will see the benefits if you want to extract every last frame with a high refresh rate monitor.
High performance memory is really only desirable when paired with a similarly high spec system. That’s not to say a kit like this is a waste of money. If you’re going to drop $1000+ on a graphics card, why not splash an extra $50 or so on some quality RAM to minimise any potential bottlenecks? We think it’s a no-brainer, especially as this kit will set you back a modest $160.
Each DIMM features diffused RGB lighting that creates a glow-in-the-dark effect. And while that doesn't sound great on paper, it's surprisingly smart in the flesh. Each DIMM has a covering that diffuses the lighting across most of the module and the result is a subtle and understated look. Team doesn’t have its own RGB control app, but the kit can be controlled simply using various motherboard manufacturers’ software suites.
If you want to eke out all your CPU has to offer and ensure your system looks fresh in the process, the Team Xtreem ARGB kit is a great option. With its DDR4-3600 speed and 14-15-15 timings offers a great blend of decent speed and low latency, without the steep price often associated with top tier memory kits. Throw in the modules' appealing visual design and Team has a winner of a kit that deserves your consideration, particularly for AMD users.
Read our full Team Xtreem ARGB DDR4-3600 C14 gaming memory review.
Corsair's Dominator Platinum has been one of the best RAM for gaming kits for quite some time now. Its sleek exterior, patented DHX cooling technology and unrivaled performance have made it a formidable flagship over the years. First teased at CES, Corsair is now introducing the new Dominator Platinum RGB with the same best in class performance and RGB lighting using the company's new Capellix LEDs.
The Dominator Platinum RGB takes the same best-in-class performance as the original, adds higher-clocked SKUs, and 12 individually addressable Capellix RGB LEDs. The new LEDs are brighter and more efficient than previous iterations and are only available from Corsair. Combined with Corsair’s iCUE software, the Dominator Platinum RGB has become the best RGB option out there and also the best high-end performance kit.
At a quick glance, the new design may look similar to Corsair's black Vengeance RGB series, but there are major differences in the lighting. The original Vengeance RGB features non-addressable LEDs, meaning the entire light bar could only be one color at a time. The newer Vengeance RGB Pro on the other hand, features 10 individually addressable LEDs.
Like the rest of the RGB lineup, the Dominator Platinum RGB is controlled via Corsair's iCUE software suite. If you have any other Corsair RGB products, you'll be able to import and synchronize your lighting profiles across all devices. We had some issues mirroring our custom keyboard lighting profiles, but the 11 different predefined lighting link settings worked perfectly.
From a performance standpoint, the Dominator Platinum RGB lives up to its name. Each kit goes through a very tight screening process with hand-sorted memory chips to ensure maximum stability out of the box and generous overclocking headroom. This is a process Corsair has excelled at over the years, particularly with the Dominator series. The Dominator Platinum RGB is no exception.
We received an 8x8GB test kit from Corsair for our quad-channel X299 bench and ran various tests using AIDA64, MaxxMEM and games such as Metro Exodus and Apex Legends. Using the stock XMP settings at 3,600MHz, our kit performed right in line with the original Dominator Platinum and G.Skill's TridentZ. In general, there was only a small margin of difference in performance up to 5 percent between competing kits, but overclocking was much more successful with the Dominator Platinum RGB.
We were able to achieve a stable 4,000MHz with ease while manually overclocking the kit. With a bit more tweaking and minor bumps in voltage, we saw upwards of 4,200MHz, something most competing kits have struggled with. This isn't too surprising, considering Corsair's plans to sell XMP-ready kits up to 4,800MHz. Even with higher voltages and under heavy load, the Dominator Platinum RGB never broke 60 degrees celsius.
The price doesn't differ too much from the original non-RGB Dominator Platinum, but you’re still paying a hefty premium over some of the other kits mentioned in this guide. We still think it's well worth every penny if you can afford it, whichever capacity kit you go for.
Read our full Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB review.
G.Skill’s Trident Z RGB RAM has been a mainstay of memory guide for years now, and it’s no surprise the company’s Trident Z Neo series has also earned a spot here. Like the original Trident Z RGB series, the Trident Z Neo comes equipped with brilliant RGB lighting done in a very tasteful manner. Each module comes equipped with five individually addressable RGB LEDs that can light up any PC build beautifully.
But the real sell for this memory kit in how it's optimised for AMD Ryzen.
This set of Neo RAM from G.Skill runs at 3,600MHz, which puts it in the sweet spot for red team gaming PCs for low latency operation. As a result, this is definitely a more budget-friendly option for mid-range builds with some flair, especially if you can't afford to stretch to the Corsair Dominator kits.
Similar to the overall performance of your Ryzen PC build, the Trident Z Neo offers a fantastic bang for your buck. You can get a 32GB kit for well under $200, which means you can also easily upgrade your machine to an (admittedly unnecessary) 64GB of high-speed DDR4 memory down the road. If you're using your PC for more than gaming then perhaps that large pool of memory will come in handy, just don't expect much out of it for gaming alone.
The Trident Z Neo comes in various speeds and configurations ranging from 2,600MHz all the way up to 4,000MHz. We recommend the 3,600MHz kit but you may find faster ones going for only a little more money.
Okay, so RGB LEDs on your memory sticks don't make your rig go faster, but they can really tie the room together. Or at least your PC's overall aesthetic. And the Colorful CVN Guardian DDR4, at just $95 for a dual-channel 16GB kit, is probably the most affordable route into nailing that all-important RGB look for your gaming system.
At their heart, the CVN Guardian memory modules, which come in 8GB trim, have decent, if a little basic, CL16 timings and are using the Micron E-die DDR4 memory chips. That makes them a good fit for a Ryzen build as it's a little easier on the memory controller than something like the Samsung B-die. That means you might get higher frequencies, though you may not be able to tighten up the actual timings as much.
But for an affordable DDR4-3200 kit, the CVN Guardian performs well, instantly taking to the XMP settings of our test board. There is the potential for overclocking too with the kit capable of hitting at least DDR4-3600 with some slightly looser timings, even still at CL16.
If you're just after some solid, affordable, good-looking memory the CVN Guardian is a great option. It's using recognized Micron chips, both the aluminum heatspreader and RGB lighting looks great, and there is some headroom here too. The only downer is that we can only find one outlet selling it: Aliexpress.
Known for superb binned memory and high-speed kits, G.Skill's Trident Z Royal blends 4,000MHz (effective) operation with a highly stylized design. These DIMMs are just asking to be put center-stage in a showpiece gaming PC build—and it would be far from a slouch either.
At DDR4-4000 with 15-16-16 timings the Trident Z Royal kit is probably the perfect combination of high frequency, low timings and broad platform compatibility. It does require 1.5V to operate at that spec—which is at the high end for a default voltage—but fear not, it will be able to run year after year.
Best suited to high-performance Intel builds, the Trident Z Royal makes for the perfect high-speed pairing. This kit will keep your CPU fed with the data it needs at a rapid rate, and it comes out among the top in every benchmark we could throw at it.
There's also room to overclock this kit if you see fit. This G.Skill Trident Z Royal kit comes equipped with the highly regarded Samsung B-Die IC, known for its ability to scale with voltage. If you have a good CPU memory controller and a capable motherboard, you’ll be able to push this kit well beyond its rated specification. We managed to push it to 4,400MHz without increasing voltage, although we were forced to lower the latency a touch for the kit to capitulate to our OC demands.
The base Trident Z design hasn’t changed all that much in recent years, but it's never looked as good as this. The modules demand to be shown off in a windowed case and look every bit premium kit with their stunning mirror-like silver or gold finish. Atop the modules are sparkling crystalline light bars with the requisite RGB goodness and the colors are especially bright and vibrant. Some might even say it’s too bright.
As always, looks are subjective, but it’s difficult to describe this kit as anything other than stunning. The mirror finish might be a fingerprint magnet, but that’s only if you really must touch it, not that there’s anything wrong with that! The silver version we have here would add a touch of class to almost any build.
Whereas you may want to choose a slower 3,600MHz kit for AMD Ryzen, the Trident Z is a great option for most other high-end PC builds that looks as flashy as it's fast.
Read our full G.Skill Trident Z Royal 16GB DDR4-4000MHz review.
The G.Skill Ripjaws V are a much more mundane set of sticks for your PC. That's not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes you just want to stuff your budget system with some RAM and close it back up, never to be seen again. These Ripjaws are great for a capacity upgrade, or if you don't care much for flashing lights inside of your build.
The G.Skill Ripjaws V are the second generation of DDR4 memory from G.Skill, and it's clear the company listened to the feedback and criticisms from the customers. This series is more affordable, faster, and has a less tacky heatsink than its predecessor. We found the 16GB Ripjaws V kit to be the best option for a decent capacity kit that features great performance right out of the box.
The Ripjaws V did exceptionally well in our benchmarks without any overclocking, beating several kits in the 2,400MHz range. Despite this, you can still achieve an overclock to 2,800–3,000MHz with a simple bump in voltage. You might even reach 3,200MHz or higher, though you're likely to hit some stability issues.
That's something to bear in mind with this kit though, because it's very affordable, it runs at a much slower speed that is ideal for modern systems. Ultimately, this memory will still function well in a gaming PC, but you might not get the absolute best performance out of your CPU as a result of the lower clock speed.
With a reasonable price, however, whether running stock or overclocked, G.Skill's Ripjaws V are hard to beat.
Best DDR4 gaming RAM FAQ
How much RAM do I need?
We recommend a minimum of 16GB for most serious gaming PCs (it’s what we use in our high-end PC build), but it isn’t too costly to upgrade to 32GB these days, thanks to a recent pricing crash. That capacity will provide a hefty buffer if you’re inclined to multitasking, creative or intensive apps, or, y’know, heavy Chrome tab usage—check out our handy guide if you’re wondering how much RAM you actually need.
How fast should RAM be for a gaming PC?
Generally, we’d recommend you stick with two DDR4 modules for a dual-channel build, each with a minimum of 3,000MHz clock speed. That should ensure you’re getting the most out of the best CPUs for gaming. With Intel, you can essentially settle for whatever the best kit you can afford is, while AMD Ryzen patrons will want to look a little deeper.
When it comes to the actual performance you need, well, that's a whole different story. Bandwidth tests easily show the relative benefits of running faster memory (well, duh) but really that’s not what’s important. What matters is does faster RAM makes a real difference to your PC experience. The true answer is both yes and no, depending on what kinds of tasks you perform and the individual application or game.
Generally, file compression sees a big benefit. Rendering doesn’t, but then some encoders, like our Handbrake test, show very decent gains. The gaming benefits when using faster RAM, however, are specific to the individual game. Some see benefits while others gain nothing.
If you’re interested in the highest FPS, then you’ll definitely want to add some fast RAM to your system, otherwise you could be leaving a chunk of performance on the table.
Will DDR5 work in a DDR4 motherboard?
No, it won’t. Even though both types have 288 pins, DDR4 and DDR5 memory is electrically incompatible. The two types have a different notch position, to prevent anyone from inserting a DDR5 module into a DDR4 motherboard, or vice versa.
That means you’ll need a newer motherboard and compatible CPU to run faster, newer DDR5 memory. Essentially you have to build a new PC for the new memory specification.
Do I need RGB LEDs on my memory DIMMs?
No. Absolutely not. But RGB can make your machine look that little bit cooler, and we all know PCs need to run cool.
Jargon buster – RAM terminology
DIMMs – Dual In-Line Memory Module, the physical circuit board that holds the RAM chips that plugs into the slots on your motherboard.
ECC Memory – Error-correcting Code Memory, RAM capable of automatically detecting and correcting errors on the fly, generally used in highly sensitive applications, like scientific data collection or banking. Typically only used and supported on servers and workstations, most desktop boards can run it as non-ECC.
Frequency – The effective speed at which the memory operates, measured in MHz.
CL/CAS Latency – Column Access Strobe Latency, the delay between the memory controller requesting data from the RAM and the available data; the first number listed in a kit's timings.
SO-DIMM – More compact DIMM slots typically deployed in laptops, although these can turn up on tiny machines as well.
Timings – The measure in several memory clock cycles an operation requested by the memory controller will take for the RAM to complete. Lower is generally better.
XMP – eXtreme Memory Profile, instructions for the BIOS that tell it what frequency, timings, and voltage to access RAM at, a shortcut for overclocking without tinkering with each setting individually. Officially for Intel platforms, many AMD boards readily support reading XMP data (though it may go by another name like A-XMP or DOHC).