The new DDR5 standard brings a lot of significant improvements to the market. Some are more important than others, but they all have something in common: they all have to do with increasing access to better performance. But how much progress exactly are we talking about? To what extent has DDR5 progressed over DDR4 to justify a rapid upgrade strategy?
It would be helpful if you looked at how far DDR4 has come since it became the industry standard. DDR5 memory delivers many notable performance gains and innovative architectural advancements. Developers, content providers, and people who use computers are interested in what DDR5 can do better than DDR4 and how they can use it.
DDR5 RAM has a faster base speed, can handle larger DIMM modules (also called “RAM sticks”), and uses less power to do the same job as DDR4 RAM. However, DDR4 maintains significant advantages, such as lower latency and enhanced stability.
Even though DDR5 memory is becoming more widely available, it still needs to be standard in most new PCs. However, is it worthwhile to invest in a device with DDR5 memory?
In the article, we will discuss the following:
- Pros and Cons of both products
- Pricing and availability
Table of Contents
Primary differences between DDR4 and DDR5
With DDR5, the main difference between versions is that each 64-bit rank currently has two 32-bit channels; it is still 64 bits but divided into two 32-bit accessible channels. Splitting a 64-bit channel in half does not increase bandwidth, but it makes it possible to use smaller transfer blocks to handle the doubled (or 16-data-cycle) burst length, increasing overall performance.
Other important changes include on-module voltage control, a drop from DDR4’s 1.2-volt inner voltage to 1.1-volt, on-die ECC for single internal defects (more on this later), nearly doubling the data speeds of DDR4, and almost doubling the latencies of DDR4.
This third “improvement” seems to slow response times, but since doubling the clock cycles cuts down on latency, the “longer” timings shouldn’t affect performance much.
The most extensive DDR4 RAM module available is 64 GB, but this is a rare, expensive, and specialized piece of equipment. It is available with 4 GB of storage, depending on the number of RAM sticks and the capacity of each stick. Typical PCs will have between 8GB and 32GB, with most gaming PCs running two sticks of 8GB DDR4. However, some will have two sticks of 16GB DDR4.
DDR4 can handle more data at once than previous RAM options, which helps keep the system stable over time. It is also safer for overclocking tests because it can handle much more information without getting overworked. And finally, it reduces stress on the computer as a whole.
Most of the time, DDR4 memory has tighter timings than DDR5, which means it has less overall latency at the same speeds but can’t reach the same high frequencies as the newer standard.
- Better speed and bandwidth.
- Lower Power Consumption.
- Designed for powerful processors.
- Better capacity.
- Performance will be CPU-dependent.
- Presence of capacitors.
DDR5 is the next evolution of the PC’s main memory. The main goal of this version is to increase the density and bandwidth of RAM while reducing how much power it uses. The main reason for making DDR5 and putting it on the market is that it can hold 64 GB per integrated circuit (IC, or the chips on the memory modules). This represents a fourfold increase compared to DDR4.
Other changes, like a data rate that is twice as fast, could help those who want to get more performance out of integrated graphics on processors that support them. But it’s important to remember that DDR4’s capacity limits will linger long after new programs push high-end builders to seek alternative solutions. DDR5 may be young, but it is the future.
- Better design and architecture.
- Additional features compared to DDR4 RAM
- Less energy consumption compared to DDR4 RAM.
- Higher DRAM capacity.
- Motherboards and DIMMs compatibility.
DDR4 vs. DDR5 – Which One Should You Choose in 2023
DDR4 and DDR5 are both memory types that can be installed on a computer. They both provide high-speed, limited-capacity, fast-access storage so that the CPU and graphics card can get all the data they need without waiting for data to load from even direct storage drives like SSDs.
Despite their outer similarities, varying speeds and storage capacities make them different from one another. Some processors can use both types of memory, but most motherboards only let you choose one. When building a PC, the type of memory you choose should come before the choice of a motherboard.
But in addition to these speeds, what other advantages do DDR5 and DDR4 both have?
Power and efficiency
Similar to previous memory generations, DDR5 is more effective than its predecessor. Regular operation of DDR5 memory can happen with only 1.1 volts, but DDR4 memory needs 1.2 volts. This indicates that they consume relatively little power. This makes them a perfect addition to mobile PCs, where every bit of power reduction helps the battery last longer.
While that would not have much of an effect on desktop PCs, it will help keep temperatures down, and early DDR5 kits have shown that they don’t need significantly more cooling power than their DDR4 predecessors despite their increased speed.
This is even more interesting when considering that the voltage controller module for DDR5 kits is on the memory sticks rather than the motherboard. This helps save even more power and makes it simpler to grow platforms that need more extensive memory kits.
DDR4 has a maximum of 64 GB per module (RAM stick), but DDR5 can have 256 GB per module. Most processors can usually handle up to 128GB of DDR4 memory, which can be split between two and four DIMM modules. DDR5 is still new, so future consumer CPUs will likely be able to support 256GB or more of DDR5 memory.
DDR5 memory can only be used by a limited number of Intel and AMD CPU series as of this writing. They can utilize up to 128GB of DDR5 memory collectively. But both manufacturers expect to release a new range of DDR5-compatible desktops in the upcoming years.
Intel’s 12th and 13th generation Core CPUs, which have the code names “Alder Lake” and “Raptor Lake,” both work with DDR5. Currently, available Ryzen 7000-series processors from AMD also include support for DDR5 memory. This includes the three unlocked CPUs (12600K, 12700K, and 12900K), but all of the standard CPUs support DDR5 as well.
The above Intel chips are also compatible with DDR4 memory modules, so we can use the same CPUs to test both specifications. However, it requires a separate DDR4-compatible motherboard. This is because none of the Intel 600 series chipset motherboards, including the Z690, H670, B660, and H610, support both DDR5 and DDR4 memory.
Before purchasing one of these LGA 1700 motherboards for the Alder Lake-based PC build, you must select which standard you will follow in the near future.
Price and Availability
DDR4 RAM has been around for a decade, so expect to pay two to three times its current cost if you want a DDR5 kit. An actual “early adopter fee” keeps people from buying new technologies before their prices drop significantly.
In contrast, as DDR5 gains in popularity, the pricing of DDR4 kits and similar compatible components will decrease, as vendors want to make DDR4 a better value. If you are economically stable and wealthy, you can go with DDR5.
For example, the 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 G Skill Trident kit costs $150 on average, whereas this 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL 36 G. A Skill Trident kit costs $350 on average, which is roughly two and a half times the price of a DDR5 kit from the same product line.
DDR5-compatible motherboards cost more than DDR4-only motherboards. For example, the Z690 version of the Asus ROG Strix motherboard costs about $100 more than the Z590 version. The early adopter tax is valid, and if you wait even 6 months to a year, costs for DDR5 kits and DDR5-compatible components will likely decrease.
On the other hand, as DDR5 slowly becomes more popular, DDR4 kits and related parts will become less expensive, making it an even better deal.
Should you upgrade to DDR5?
A DDR5 for a PC is a much better investment if you are going to be using it for heavy work like mass file compression or video editing. Still, the price difference is so significant that DDR5 memory is not a revolutionary improvement in terms of RAM speed. Compared to reasonably priced DDR4 memory, it does not offer much better gaming or efficiency, and even when compared to much slower modules, it is not worth it for most people.
Considering how long DDR3 was popular while DDR4 was the standard, you would not need to upgrade to DDR5 for compatibility and support for at least two to three years. Regarding memory bandwidth and capacity, DDR5 is definitely better than DDR4, but it only performs slightly better than DDR4 in most non-professional tasks.
However, it can make a significant difference in certain games, so upgrading may be worthwhile if you intend to play the affected games. But if you want a noticeable increase in frames per second, consider upgrading your CPU or graphics processing unit.
You might have little choice, though, as Raptor Lake and Zen 4 make DDR5 memory easier to get. Given this, the previous standard, DDR4, is gradually becoming incompatible with the new standard.
Almost certainly, DDR5 memory will be the only one that can be used in computers in the future. However, if you already have DDR5 RAM in your PC, you will be able to upgrade without too much trouble or cost in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does DDR5 increase gaming performance?
Even with the best DDR5 kits, high-end gaming RAM is unstable because performance and latency have to be balanced. In some games, faster DDR5 can make a big difference, but even faster kits can have the opposite effect. And there are games where RAM speed is entirely unrelated.
Which DDR5 kit is best to buy?
A decent DDR5-5200 kit is sufficient for most users at the moment, as it provides a noticeable boost in CPU-limited games without costing significantly more than DDR4-8800.
How long will DDR4 continue in the market?
Given how long DDR3 typically lasts and how popular DDR4 was, it will be at least two years before you are required to upgrade to DDR5 for compatibility and support.
DDR5 memory bandwidth and capacity are higher than DDR4 memory bandwidth and capacity; however, the high latency and negligible performance gains over DDR4 in most non-professional applications limit enthusiasm.
What do I need to do to use DDR5?
If you want to run a PC with DDR5, you will need a CPU that currently supports DDR5 memory.
Talking about the RAM speed, DDR5 memory is not breaking new ground. It offers average gains in gaming and performance compared to similarly priced DDR4 memory, and even when compared to significantly slower memory, the difference is barely apparent.
However, the current standard, DDR4, is likely to be incompatible with this new standard shortly. The most recent Intel 12th and 13th generation processors and Ryzen 7000-series processors supporting DDR5 RAM have made desktop PCs faster and more powerful than ever.
Almost definitely, future computers will only be able to utilize DDR5 memory. If you already have DDR5 RAM in your PC, you will be able to improve it with little effort and cost in the future.