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What is the max speed of DDR4 RAM?

DDR3 vs DDR4 – Difference Between Them

DDR3 vs DDR4

RAM is the memory of a computer that can be read and changed at any time. The information stored in this type of Memory is lost when the power supply to the PC or laptop is switched off. It is known as the main Memory or temporary Memory or cache Memory or volatile Memory of the computer system. The full form of RAM is Random Access Memory.

What is DDR3?

DDR3 is an essential type of 3 rd generation SDRAM utilized for system memory. This type of RAM is capable of transferring data from one location to another at a higher speed. The full form of DDR3 RAM is Double Data Rate.

What is DDR4?

DDR4 RAM is the latest variant of RAM, which is used widely in the next generation of computing. Courtesy of the decreased voltage and increased transfer rates of DDR4 can offer optimum efficiency and higher speed. The full form of DDR4 SDRAM is Double Data Rate Fourth Generation Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory.

Difference between DDR3 and DDR4

Here are the difference between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM:

DDR3 RAM stands for Double Data Rate version 3.DDR4 RAM stands for Double Data Rate version 4.
DDR3 RAM was introduced in 2007.DDR4 was reading released in 2014.
The cost of DDR3 is lesser than DDR4.DDR4 cost is higher or more than DDR3.
DDR3 consumes less power than DDR2 but more than DDR4.DDR4 consumes less power than DDR3.
The speed of DDR3 is slow in comparison to DDR4.DDR4 speed is faster than DDR3.
DDR3 maximum memory size is 16 GB.DDR4 has no maximum limit or capability.
The clock speed of DDR3 varies from 400 MHz to 1066 MHz.The clock speed of DDR4 varied from 1066 to 2133 MHz.
DDR3 has lower latency than DDR4.DDR4 has more latency than DDR3.
DDR3 has lower latencyDDR4 has more latency than DDR3
Auto-refresh and self-refresh are performed for content.Only self-refresh is performed for a content.
DDR3 RAM includes ECC memory, which compresses extra data byte lanes.DDR4 RAM offers computing capabilities on different platforms like smartphones, tablets, PC, laptops, etc.
DDR3 RAM works on 1.50 V voltageDDR3 RAM works on 1.20 V voltage.
DDR3 RAM has a 240-pin interface.DDR4 RAM has a 288-pin interface.
This type of DDR RAM is backward compatible with the older RAM generations.This type of DDR RAM is not backward compatible with the older generation’s RAM.
Decade-old demand for DDR3 RAM is waning.The demand for DDR4 RAM is on a constant rise because of its implementation of emerging technologies.
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Features of DDR3

Following are the important features of DDR3 SDRAM:

  • Data transfer rate: 800 to 1600 MT/s (mega transfers per Second)
  • Operating voltage: 1.8 V
  • Lower signaling standard Reduced power x8 prefetch
  • Dynamic ODT for improved write signaling
  • Fly-by architecture
  • Read/Write Levelling
  • Driver calibration
  • Device reset
  • DIMM address mirroring
  • Improved device pinout

Features of DDR 4

Here are important features of DDR4 SDRAM type:

  • Lower signalling standard
  • Reduced power x8 Prefetch
  • Dynamic ODT for improved write signalling
  • Fly-by architecture
  • Read/Write Levelling
  • Driver calibration
  • Device Reset
  • DIMM address mirroring
  • Improved device pinout
  • Data transfer rate 2133 to 3200 MT/s

Advantages of DDR3

Here are pros/benefits of using DDR3

  • DDR3 transfers data at a higher rate, as much as 6400MBps
  • It enables higher bandwidth or peak data rates.
  • DDR3 uses less power consumption.
  • DDR3 offers batter latency compares with DDR2.

Advantages of DDR4

Here are pros/benefits of DDR4:

  • DDR4 offers higher module density and also consumes very less power.
  • DDR4 is well suited for high-speed games.
  • DDR4 offers greater DIMM capabilities.
  • The data rate transfer is faster when compared with its earlier versions.
  • DDR4 can transfer at higher speeds at very low voltage without any cooling requirements.
  • The latency of DDR4 is better than any other DDR versions.
  • DDR4 refreshes its content only by self-refresh, so it also consumes less power.

Performance Comparison of RAM Types

StandardTime in MarketInternal RateBus Clock(MHZ)PerfectchData rate(MT/s)Tranfer rate(GB/s)Voltage
DDR 42014133-2001066-16008n2133-320017-21.31.2

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DDR4 versus DDR5: Is it time to upgrade your RAM?

A close up of desktop computer RAM components

Credit: Getty Images

Adrien Ramirez

Written by Adrien Ramirez

Updated February 24, 2023

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases made through the links below may earn us and our publishing partners a commission.

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Your computer’s random access memory modules (RAM) are critical to the PC’s performance. If your RAM is too slow or you don’t have enough of it, you won’t be able to run the programs you need. For the past ten years, most PCs have run DDR4 RAM, which can reach speeds up to 5000MHz or more and 128GB of memory with the right motherboard.

DDR5 RAM launched in 2021, but has hit the mainstream thanks to the latest generation of processors that natively support it. This includes Intel’s 12th generation chips and 13th generation CPUs, as well as AMD’s Ryzen 7000-series processors.

Compared to DDR4, DDR5 RAM kits have a higher base speed, support higher-capacity DIMM modules (also called RAM sticks), and consume less power for the same performance specs as the previous generation. However, DDR4 still holds some key advantages, like overall lower latency and better stability. Most new PCs still ship with DDR4 memory, but is it worth the extra cash to get something with DDR5 memory, instead?

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Clock speed and data rate in DDR5 vs DDR4 RAM

A picture of the Razer Blade 14.

Some recently released high-end gaming laptops already have DDR5 RAM installed.

A computer’s ability to operate is constrained by its clock speed—how many times the RAM modules can access its memory per second. The standard default clock speed for DDR4 is 2133MHz, whereas the default rate for DDR5 is 4800MHz. To run RAM faster than these speeds, you may have to enable the XMP profile in your PC’s BIOS if it’s not already enabled. Either way, even the fastest DDR4 cannot reach the same high speeds that DDR5 can.

Another of DDR5’s key improvements over DDR4 is its data transfer rate. For Intel’s 12th generation “Alder Lake” processors, DDR4 will run at speeds up to 3200 Megatransfers per second (MT/s), and DDR5 will run up to 4800 MT/s. This means DDR5 transfers data at up to 38.4 gigabytes per second (GB/s), while DDR4 tops out at 25.6 GB/s. Overall, DDR5 can be 50% faster than DDR4’s maximum data rate.

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Our pick: DDR5

Memory Capacity in DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

A shot of a desktop

Your processor, storage drive and graphics card will have a more notable impact on your PC’s performance than your RAM speed.

While DDR4 tops out at 64GB per module (RAM stick), DDR5 can top out at a whopping 512GB per module. Generally, most processors can’t support that. They max out at 128GB of DDR4 memory split across two-to-four DIMM modules. However, since DDR5 is so new, it’s reasonable to expect that future consumer CPUs will take full advantage of its capabilities.

For now, Intel’s 12th generation and 13th generation processors, and AMD’s mobile 6000-series and desktop 7000-series processors only support up to 128GB of DDR5 memory total. That’s four 32GB sticks.

Our pick: Tie (for now)

Latency in DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

A person uses a touchscreen on a laptop.

DDR4 still offers the better value when you compare DDR5’s marginal performance gains to its notable price hike over DDR4 memory.

DDR4’s major advantage over DDR5 is its lower latency. Basically, RAM acts like temporary storage for your computer’s CPU so it can quickly access tasks it performs on a regular basis. (It’s similar to you keeping a dozen Google Chrome tabs open at once because you want the information close by.) The lower the latency, the faster the CPU can access the instructions it temporarily stored in the RAM to perform the tasks.

Total latency is determined by both a DIMM module’s speed and its CAS (Column Address Signal) latency. For CAS latency ratings, lower numbers are better.

A DDR4-3200 CL20 module, for instance, has a CAS latency rating of 20. Most DDR5 modules have CL40 CAS latency, which negates DDR5’s high clock speeds. It’s faster at completing tasks, but it takes longer for the RAM to register it needs to perform a task. So, that DDR4-3200 CL20 RAM will have snappier performance than a DDR5-4800 CL40 module.

The situation is improving for DDR5. The G.Skill Trident Z5 sticks have a CAS latency of 28. When you factor in its speed, that gives it an actual latency of 10 nanoseconds, which can compete with DDR4 latency. However, it will still take a little time before DDR5 kits routinely beat DDR4’s latency.

Our pick: DDR4

Performance in DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

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Modern gaming consoles will sport DDR4 RAM for a while.

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Better specs are great, but they won’t matter if they don’t translate into better performance. Because of DDR5’s high latencies, its performance is not notably better than DDR4 modules in our benchmark testing.

For some workloads, like scene rendering with Cinebench and Blender or video file encoding with Handbrake, the DDR5 system saw modest gains over the DDR4 system. Rendering a lengthy test scene in Blender, for instance, was one to two minutes faster on the DDR5-equipped system. The same video file encoded in Handbrake was also about a minute faster on the DDR5-equipped system.

However, other workloads like gaming saw little to no performance differences. When we ran tests in our AMD Radeon-based graphics benchmark systems, we got the same framerate performance across our reference games. We saw the same results in our Ryzen 9-5950X / DDR4 RAM desktop as our Intel Core i9-12900K / DDR5 RAM desktops.

Meanwhile, our Nvidia-based graphics benchmarks systems actually performed worse on our DDR5 setup. Some games ran up to 20 fps slower on our Intel Core i9-12900K / DDR5 RAM desktop than our Intel Core i9-11900K / DDR4 RAM desktop.

Our benchmarks and testing across prebuilt desktop and laptop PCs echo the same results. When we compare DDR5-equipped PCs to similar DDR4-equipped ones, we see little to no performance gains for gaming.

Over time, we expect this comparison to still hold true; gaming and productivity tasks are rarely bottlenecked by RAM performance or latency. RAM capacity and bandwidth are far more important for those things.

Similarly, specialized tasks like file compression or multitasked video and photo editing can be sped up with more powerful RAM. However, you’ll see better gains from upgrading the storage drive, CPU, or GPU.

Our pick: Tie

Compatibility with DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

An overhead of a laptop motherboard.

The Framework laptop mainboard has RAM slots so you can upgrade your memory later on.

Currently, DDR5 support is fairly limited. DDR5 modules are only supported by Intel’s 12th-gen “Alder Lake” and 13th-gen “Raptor Lake” processors, and AMD’s 6000-series mobile and 7000-series desktop processors.

Most processors and motherboards made in the last decade support DDR4 RAM—including Intel’s 12th-gen processors. Intel’s 13th-gen desktop processors also support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory, and can use the same motherboards. There is no indication that Intel’s 14th or 15th generation processors will support DDR4, but those chips are still a way off—sometime in late 2023 or later.

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AMD’s 7000-series processors only support DDR5 memory.

Our pick: DDR4

Price of DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM

A shot of the HP Victus 16 gaming laptop.

Most laptops and desktops—even those with current gen processors—still ship with DDR4 RAM.

DDR4 RAM has been around for a decade, so it costs about half as much as a DDR5 kit of similar capacity. For instance, this 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 G.Skill Trident kit costs only $95, whereas this 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5-6000 CL 36 G.Skill Trident kit costs $150—that’s 50% more expensive for a DDR5 kit from the same line of products.

DDR5-compatible motherboards are also more expensive than DDR4-only ones. This Asus ROG Strix Z690 motherboard, for example, is over $100 more than its Z590 counterpart.

In time, prices will almost certainly go down on both DDR5 kits and DDR5-compatible parts. On the other hand, as DDR5 becomes more mainstream, DDR4 kits and compatible parts will also grow cheaper. That means DDR4 will keep winning on price point for a long time to come.

Our pick: DDR4

Is upgrading to DDR5 worth it?

A shot of bejeweled RAM.

While DDR5 has greater data transfer rates, the best DDR4 modules still have lower latency.

Considering how long DDR3 stayed relevant while DDR4 was mainstream, it will be a couple of years at the earliest before compatibility and support issues make a DDR5 upgrade necessary. DDR5 is undeniably an improvement over DDR4 for to memory bandwidth and capacity, but its modest performance gains over DDR4 in most nonprofessional tasks and its high latencies sour the deal.

When you add in the price difference, it makes little sense to choose a DDR5 kit for a PC unless you plan to use it for specific, demanding tasks like mass file compression or photo and video editing. Even if you want to future-proof your PC, it makes sense to let the technology develop for a couple of years before springing for a DDR5 kit.

In the meantime, take advantage of the great DDR4 kits on the market today and don’t let FOMO get to you.

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