Which RAM is best?

There are thousands of intricate parts that make a computer work efficiently. The central processing unit (CPU), graphics card, and motherboard play critical roles. But without sufficient random-access memory (RAM), your device won’t be able to handle tasks or apps.

RAM serves as the short-term memory inside a computer and stores working data to retrieve information quickly. Therefore, the more RAM you have, the faster your computer will be able to “think.”  To put some pep into your computer’s process, you can’t go wrong with the Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 16-Gigabytes DDR4 RAM.

What to know before you buy RAM

It has to be compatible with your motherboard

It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of choices for RAM, but one of the most important things to note is your motherboard’s specifications. If you bought a motherboard in the last five years, the chances are good that it has a frequency of 3,200 megahertz. That makes it compatible with DDR4 RAM. Unfortunately, if you have a motherboard that uses the slower DDR3, you’ll need to look for DDR3 modules.

The amount of RAM you need

For internal computer components, faster and more significant is usually the best. But RAM can be a strange beast, and you might not see as much of an improvement as you hoped. First, consider the amount you need (as opposed to how much you want), considering that 16 gigabytes is often the sweet spot. But that will also largely depend on how you use your computer. For example, if video games or content creation is your focus, you could benefit from 32 gigabytes. 

The number of slots available on your motherboard

Before you rush out to buy some RAM, you must once again take a look at your motherboard. Depending on the age, your motherboard will have a few RAM slots. The standard is two, but more boards are now available with four or six slots. A bit of mathematics comes into play here, as RAM is available in multiples of eight. So, for example, if you want 16 gigabytes of RAM and have two slots, you should buy two 8-gigabyte sticks. With that said, you don’t need to fill all the slots to reach your target.

What to look for in quality RAM

Overclocking to get more bang for your buck

Computer enthusiasts who want to squeeze every ounce of power out of their machines use overclocking to get the job done. Overclocking makes components perform faster than the manufacturer intends through special software and compatible hardware. While the process isn’t necessary, it is good to have the option. 

RGB lighting to dazzle spectators

Colorful RGB lighting effects have made their way into most computer components, even RAM. So if you have a specific color scheme or enjoy changing your light show, look for good-quality RAM that allows for it. Often, the RAM will be compatible with your other components so that you can sync the colors and effects. 

Heatspreaders to keep things cool

Your computer might have a fancy liquid cooling system inside, but it can benefit from any help it gets. Good-quality RAM will have spreaders to remove as much excess heat off the modules as possible.  

How much you can expect to spend on RAM

The average price of RAM will largely depend on the manufacturer, the frequency of the RAM and the memory size. For example, fast 16 gigabytes of RAM available as two 8-gigabyte sticks retail for $60-$80, while a single 8-gigabyte module retails for $30-$40. For heavy lifting, 32 gigabytes of RAM can cost upward of $100.

RAM FAQ

Can you use different frequency RAM together?

A. You can, but it is often not the best — and only if your motherboard supports it. Also, keep in mind that your computer will access the higher frequency RAM at the same rate as the slower RAM speed.

Does the RAM speed and motherboard have to match?

A. That depends on the motherboard’s specification, but it is always a good idea to get the same speeds. If the rates don’t match, your motherboard won’t perform at its peak.

What’s the best RAM to buy?

Top RAM

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 Gigabytes DDR4 DRAM 3200 Megahertz

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 Gigabytes DDR4 DRAM 3200 Megahertz

What you need to know: Available in several colors, this two-pack is perfect for matching your case’s style.

What you’ll love: This sleek black pair of 8-gigabyte RAM modules feature an aluminum heat spreader to cool them down as much as possible. They are rated as 3200 megahertz but can be overclocked through the XMP 2.0 software for an extra bit of performance. 

What you should consider: Some users have indicated that you should check the timings of the RAM and the motherboard and make adjustments for a smoother experience. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top RAM for the money

Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 8 gigabytes 3200 megahertz

Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 8 gigabytes 3200 megahertz

What you need to know: If you don’t need a two-pack of RAM, then this one module of 8 gigabytes will solve your problem.

What you’ll love: The Viper Steel has an aluminum shield that protects it from the internal heat of the computer’s case. It is compatible with AMD and Intel motherboards and features a diamond-cut Viper logo.

What you should consider: After installing the RAM and your computer doesn’t post at 3,200 megahertz, adjust the settings in the BIOS.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Crucial Ballistix 3200 Megahertz DDR4 DRAM 32 gigabytes

Crucial Ballistix 3200 Megahertz DDR4 DRAM 32 gigabytes

What you need to know: This two-pack of 16-gigabyte RAM modules has been engineered for gamers and creative users who need all the power they can get.

What you’ll love: Compatible with Intel and AMD motherboards, the Ballistix RAM modules are widely used by gamers. They can be overclocked to run faster than the default 3,200 megahertz, and the aluminum heat spreader is available in several colors. 

What you should consider: These RAM modules don’t have any RGB lighting.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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