Usually the most exciting moments in the world of PC tech are when a brand new technology is being brought to the market for the first time ever. This is no different with the recent release of DDR5 memory, which promises to have better frequency, higher density and better performance due to the higher amount of banks and bandwidth present in the modules.
This all sounds very nice on paper, but what does this mean in real world situations? Is my gaming PC suddenly going to perform twice as good, or will my video finish rendering twice as fast? Well, the short answer is no, it will not. As good as this technology is, there is a high chance that the performance increase it promises will barely be noticeable when using your computer on a day to day basis, as performance goes hand in hand with all the other parts you have in your PC.
Let’s start at the beginning though; What exactly is “RAM” or “Memory”? You might’ve heard your friends joke around and tell you to just “download more RAM” whenever your PC runs slower than usual. This in fact, is not possible, believe it or not! (All jokes aside though, do not click on any links that promise to make your PC faster!).
RAM stands for “Random Access Memory”, which is a high speed storage solution that computers (and applications) use to quickly access and store temporary data. Let’s think of it as short term memory. Before DDR5, we had DDR4, which had less storage, speed and used a different technology overall than DDR5. Before that, we had DDR3, which in turn had less storage, speed and used a different technology overall than DDR4. You can see how this ties into your computer’s performance, as your computer is able to store and access “Random Access Memory” much faster (and better) with each new generation of RAM.
Now that you know the basic principles of RAM, let’s introduce you to the PC that we’ll be using to compare DDR4 memory with DDR5 memory:
|Parts||DDR4 System||DDR5 System|
|Memory||KINGSTON FURY 2X16GB 3600MHZ DDR4 BEAST||KINGSTON FURY 2X16GB 6000MHZ DDR5 BEAST|
|Motherboard||ASUS PRIME Z690-P D4 ATX 1700 Z690 DDR4||ASUS PRIME Z690-P ATX 1700 Z690 DDR5|
|Processor||INTEL CORE I9 12900K 3.2~5.2GHZ||INTEL CORE I9 12900K 3.2~5.2GHZ|
|Graphics Card||ZOTAC GEFORCE RTX 3080 AMP HOLO||ZOTAC GEFORCE RTX 3080 AMP HOLO|
As you can see, these systems are exactly the same except for the motherboards, which require a specific DDR version to work together with the RAM. This is because DDR4 and DDR5 RAM is not backwards compatible with older generations, meaning you are unable to use a DDR5 RAM kit on a DDR4 motherboard. If you want to upgrade to a DDR5 system, you will have to upgrade your motherboard as well. However, we have picked the most similar motherboard to do the comparison as they only differ in the RAM slots.
To test our gaming performance, we wanted to see how DDR5 held up against DDR4 RAM in various different situations. This is why we approached this test with 4 different types of games. One massive multiplayer open world game, one arena shooter, one linear single player game, and to end things off, a popular benchmark tool we use to test various other statistics as well. Here’s the results:
RAM is usually pretty important when using applications such as Photoshop, After Effects, Blender, etc… This is why we decided to use a few different popular tools to see how DDR4 stacks up against DDR5 when using it for programs like this. Here are the results:
It’s safe to say that the results are rather underwhelming. For gaming, we see a small increase with single player games, but even this varies from game to game. Other than that, the performance is about the same or worse. As for applications; While the results were slightly better than DDR4, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really worth spending that extra money on a DDR5 upgrade.
All things considered though, back when DDR4 was released for the first time, we had a similar experience with the performance of DDR4 vs DDR3. We’re still in the early days of the DDR5 cycle, so we’re pretty sure that things will get better, faster and more affordable in the next 2-3 years.
If you’re a PC tech enthusiast who is looking for the latest and greatest, and you don’t care about a few hundreds euros difference, DDR5 is the way to go, because it will also future proof you for later upgrades. If you’re just looking to play a game casually, we can safely say that there’s currently no reason to upgrade to DDR5.
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