There are so many PC parts to think about when you're building or upgrading your gaming PC, and amid that mountain of specs, few parts are more puzzling than memory (or RAM). At the baseline, it may seem simple, as there's the RAM's capacity to think about, with 16GB to 32GB generally being acceptable for mid-to-high-end systems. But, once you start digging deeper, RAM gets astoundingly complex. (If you need a little more info before buying, see our explainer on What is RAM?)
Beyond the capacity, you'll have to consider things like whether you want to take advantage of dual- or quad-channel memory, the memory speed you want to run at (yes, RAM has a clock speed much like a CPU), and perhaps the even more complicated CAS latency and memory timings. All of these things will vary between different memory kits, so you can't expect one 16GB kit of DDR4 memory to be the same as another.
We'll help make picking RAM easy for you by selecting a number of excellent RAM kits, including DDR4 RAM for more budget to mid-range systems and high-end DDR5 RAM that can overclock to insane speeds. There's a handful of sharp-looking RGB kits that complement their speeds with killer looks. Check them out below – and click here to find them in the UK.
TL;DR – These are the Best RAM Kits:
- Corsair Vengeance RGB
- OLOy Owl
- HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB
- Teamgroup T-Force Dark Z
- Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB
- PNY XLR8 Gaming Epic-X RGB
- Teamgroup T-Force Xtreem ARGB
- Corsair Vengeance LPX
- G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series
Corsair Vengeance RGB
For a reliable kit of straight-shooting, high-performance RAM that'll work seamlessly with the latest machines, from budget builds to high-end rigs, the Corsair Vengeance RGB can't be beat. It delivers 32GB of memory split between two sticks for a dual-channel configuration to increase your memory bandwidth. That bandwidth, along with faster frequencies and lower power consumption, can also be attributed to the DDR5 memory over DDR4, so it'll work great with the newest AMD and Intel motherboards.
The two speedy sticks operate at an effective 5,600MHz, which is easy to get up and running thanks to the support for XMP 3.0. And though you do get a higher CAS latency of 40, making timings seem a bit slower, you’ll still enjoy serious performance due to how DDR5 memory operates. To top it off, you get extra flair with 10-zone RGB lighting along the top of the modules, while the whole kit will set you back less than $200.
Best Budget RAM
RAM's getting pretty affordable compared to the steep prices seen during shortages a couple of years ago. The OLOy Owl delivers some of the lowest prices yet without sacraficing performance. This set of two sticks offer surprisingly fast, 3,200MHz memory speeds for RAM that costs less than $50. They even have a fairly low CAS latency of 16 and decent extended timings for such an affordable option.
If you want to ensure you're taking advantage of the full speeds available on these sticks and maybe do some overclocking, you'll just need to ensure your motherboard supports XMP profiles and DDR4-3200. However, you will be sacraficing RGB lighting by going with such an affordable kit.
HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB
Best Gaming RAM
HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB is an amazing kit of RAM engineered for gaming. Unlike other DDR4 memory kits, it doesn’t start at a 2,400MHz or 2,666MHz base, this memory kicks off at 2,933MHz. It can even be found operating at a native 4,000MHz speed, and we haven’t even started talking about overclocking potential yet. Luckily, it has solid XMP performance for that.
Of course, the HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB has addressable lighting as any other good, modern memory kit should, but HyperX has taken RGB a step further by integrating Infrared Sync tech to ensure lighting effects are always synced across all the DIMMs. Just be sure your motherboard supports it. This kit also has a relatively short height of 42.2mm, so it should fit in most builds.
Teamgroup T-Force Dark Z
Best DDR4 RAM
For a DDR4 straight-shooter, you'll get good value out of the Teamgroup T-Force Dark Z. It offers 16GB of memory for under $120, and it comes with a stylish, metal heatsink that'll shield the memory chips while staying fairly low profile at just 43.5mm. Given the price, this set also makes it fairly affordable to go for an upgrade to 32GB of memory, in case you hate closing Chrome when you're gaming.
These DIMMs offer a decent overclock to 3,200MHz right off the bat, and that's paired with a CAS latency of 16 to stay speedy. Those memory modules can get running up to speed on both AMD and Intel motherboards, as long as the board and CPU support up to 3,200MHz. You might be able to push the speeds even further if you're comfortable overclocking, as the starting voltage is 1.35V, so there's a bit of headroom.
Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB
Best DDR5 RAM
The Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB series of RAM makes the leap to the newer generation of DDR5 memory, and it is ready for speed. This 32GB, dual-channel kit can cruise at 5,200MHz. Even though that CAS latency of 38 and the extended timings might look a little slow, DDR5 handles memory a bit differently, so you can still see serious performance. Of course, Corsair tops these DIMMs off with a bit of flair, adding a bunch of RGB lighting to the heat spreader.
You’re going to need a motherboard and processor that can support DDR5 to use this kit, which at present in Intel’s latest Alder Lake and Raptor Lake chips and AMD Ryzen 7000 Series processors. A few motherboards, including Z690 and X670, also work with this speedy memory.
PNY XLR8 Gaming Epic-X RGB
Best AMD RAM
AMD Ryzen processors love fast memory, but unless you’re comfortable tinkering with overclocks in your system BIOS, it may be either difficult or expensive to give those fast memory speeds to your PC. The PNY XLR8 Gaming Epic-X RGB takes a bunch of the guesswork out of the equation and takes out a surprising amount of the cost, too, at under $90.
This dual-channel kit offers a total of 16GB of DDR4 memory, and it’s ready to blaze a trail with memory speeds of 4,000MHz. You better make sure your motherboard can handle those speeds, as some budget models actually have a limit for how fast memory can run. And, if you don’t mind a bit of tinkering, you can still hop into BIOS and see about setting your chip’s Infinity Fabric clock speed to synchronize with the memory’s clock speed to eke out every last bit of performance.
Teamgroup T-Force Xtreem ARGB
Best RGB RAM
As just about every other piece of your computer can turn into a light show, why not include the RAM? Teamgroup has the dazzle on display with the T-Force Xtreem ARGB DIMMs, and it's not making you trade off performance for pizzazz. This RAM kit includes two 8GB DIMMs that can run at up to 3,200MHz with a low CAS latency of 14.
The RGB lighting effects are even more extreme than this RAM's clock speeds, giving you control of the colors across all sides of the DIMM. And you're not even locked into one color at a time. Just make sure you've got room for this RAM next to your CPU cooler, because it's fairly tall.
Corsair Vengeance LPX
Best Low-Profile RAM
If any RAM kits we’ve recommended here are too tall, potentially interfering with that heatsink tower cooler you’ve been eyeing, you might be better off with some low-profile Corsair Vengeance LPX memory. It’s short enough to work with any setup at just 31mm. Despite the lower height, it still offers an integrated heatsink to help dissipate heat, keeping the kit running efficiently.
The Corsair Vengeance LPX is no slouch performance-wise, with two 8GB sticks hitting up to 3,000MHz speeds and offering a low CAS latency of 15. But the RAM has limited overclocking potential at 1.35V, even with XMP 2.0. But luckily, you can use it in almost any of your DDR4 AMD and Intel motherboards.
G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series
Best Overclocking RAM
G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series With DIMMS capable of 6,400MHz speeds that can overclock higher, this 32GB dual-channel DDR5 RAM offers insane performance potential if your CPU can keep up. 19% off $159.99$129.99
While just about everything over 3,000MHz is going to qualify as speedy, which all of our picks surpass, the G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series takes it to another level. These DIMMs are capable of hitting a zany 6,400MHz. Of course, what's the fun in settling for stock speeds, even when they're this high. Overclockers can try to push it even further, just be sure to keep in mind the maximum DRAM voltage is 1.4V.
This DDR5 RAM brings insane performance to your PC, but you’ve got to have an equally stellar CPU to make the most of the G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB Series. You’ll be hitting super tight timing rates, and the XMP 3.0 profile ensures you’re getting your ideal memory speeds out of the RAM. The icing on the cake is the fun RGB lighting on board.
Where to Get the Best RAM in the UK
Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro Best RAM£77.00OLOy Owl Best Budget RAM£66.99G.Skill Ripjaws V Best DDR4 RAM£64.45Kingston HyperX Fury Best DDR3 RAM£75.16HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB Best Gaming RAM£94.98Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB Best High-Performance RAM£139.76G.Skill Trident Z Royal Best RGB RAM£132.00Corsair Vengeance LPX Best Low-Profile RAM£68.99Teamgroup T-Force Xtreem Best Overclocking RAM£149.99
What to Look for in the Best RAM
Below we've broken down a few things you should consider in your search for the best RAM kit and how much memory you’ll need for PC gaming.
Before you even begin looking at memory kits you should consider what your hardware limitations will be. Start by checking if your motherboard supports either DDR4 or DDR5 class memory. DDR4 class RAM has been the most prevalent form of memory for more than five years now, however, if you’re running an Intel 5th Generation Broadwell or older system you’ll need to find DDR3 memory. DDR5 is the newest standard, so the majority of the latest motherboards, like Z690 and X670 offer it.
You’ll also want to look at the specs on your motherboard and figure out the maximum memory speed it can support. Spending some extra money on 3,200MHz RAM is completely pointless if your motherboard can only support 2,400MHz, for example.
As for how much memory you need to game, 8GB of RAM is pretty much the minimum these days, and it should let you play most games without any problems. Meanwhile, 16GB of memory will give your system a little bit more room to stretch itself and ‘future-proof’ your rig. However, if you're working in a creative field like video editing, 3D model rendering, and creating other types of visual media, then 32GB or more memory would be useful.
In terms of memory speed, you should look for DDR4 memory that operates close to or above 2,400MHz—or 2400MT/s as it’ll appear on the packaging and online. Users purchasing DDR5 RAM will want 4,800MHz or higher. You don't necessarily need to buy the fastest RAM either, as it's easy enough to overclock your memory.
Memory Timings and CAS Latency (CL) is one other figure you should keep in mind about the memory you choose it. Timings essentially denote the total number of cycles it takes for the RAM to send data. You can find the timings listed in the memory specs as four numbers interrupted by dashes such as "16-18-18-36" and the first number usually denotes the CAS Latency—so it would be CAS 16 in this case.
The basic thing you need to know is the lower the numbers are the faster your memory is. However, you should also know that faster memory speed results in higher latency. So you should also be wary of RAM that's incredibly fast, but throws in a lot of latency that negates it.
With all of that in mind, you should stick to DDR4 RAM with a CAS latency around 15 or 16 if it offers speeds around 3,000 or higher. DDR5 memory works a bit differently, so a CAS latency of 40 is still decent if it has high memory speeds.
Whether you’re building a new system or upgrading your computer, adding one of these best RAM kits is a sure-fire way to make it operate a bit faster. A bit of extra memory can do wonders for improving your PC’s responsiveness and multi-tasking capabilities. Plus, adding better or more memory is usually the cheapest way to improve the performance of your rig.
Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.
Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.