Is DDR5 RAM worth it? If you aren't aware, DDR5 RAM is the latest generation of memory that arrived for retail customers back in November 2021, and boasts incredible performance upgrades on its previous iteration.
It had originally been slated for release in 2018, but that was delayed. Then the world sort of fell apart, and a global shortage of microchips led to enormous price inflation. And here we find ourselves in April, asking whether DDR5 is actually worth it.
Before you make any decisions, let us guide you through the key points of DDR5 RAM, so you can decide whether what it offers is worth your time and investment. For many people, DDR4 is doing just fine. Especially as a mature technology. Does DDR5 blow it out of the water? We'll tell you.
Is DDR5 RAM Worth It?
On the surface, there is plenty to recommend DDR5. Greater bandwidth and density over DDR4, but with reduced power consumption. In theory, greater bandwidth translates to superior performance, especially on applications that require a lot of memory. Think gaming, video editing, and 3D tools.
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It is designed to supersede DDR4, which has been around since 2014. DDR4 has, of course, been the industry standard for the majority of that time. But in the early days at least, it wasn't an absolute slam-dunk over DDR3. The top DDR3 kits could still outperform some of the first DDR4 products.
Now, a few months after the release of DDR5 to the mass market, let's take a look at how it's doing.
As we said earlier, when DDR4 was first released, it didn't immediately blow DDR3 away. And at the moment, DDR5 appears to be following a similar trajectory.
Now, we don't intend to get too bogged down in the technical minutiae in this article. But the key takeaways are these. DDR5 does, in general, outperform DDR4. However, the differences in performance that have been recorded so far are not world-changing.
DDR5 does offer superior bandwidth, but this often comes at a cost of increased latency. There are also improvements in terms of energy efficiency. While the difference isn't enormous, you may well notice an improvement in battery life on a laptop, for example.
So if the performance differences aren't going to change your life, then what are the differences between DDR4 and DDR5 that might sway you one way or the other? Let's see.
DDR5 vs DDR4: Key Differences
Obviously, DDR5 and DDR4 are at very different stages in their respective life cycles. And while the differences at the moment may not be vast, you can expect DDR5 to gradually pull away, as manufacturers become more accustomed to the new technology. And there are some significant changes to be aware of.
DDR5 has been designed differently to DDR4, doubling the channels available to improve efficiency. In turn, this should lead to superior gaming performance, and be better able to deal with large volumes of data.
This does come with a caveat though. The design of DDR5 is such that it isn't backward compatible with DDR4. This means it needs a dedicated motherboard, CPU, and cooling system that will work with it. And that, as we know, will cost.
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DDR5 is also capable of supporting far more RAM than DDR4. While DDR4 typically limits you to 32GB of RAM in a memory module, DDR5 can support up to 512GB. Which, if this wasn't immediately apparent, is huge.
This will be of greatest benefit in non-gaming applications, such as 3D rendering, machine learning, and other productivity applications.
Other Things To Consider
Of course, there are other factors at play as well, when deciding whether to stick with DDR4 and DDR5. We'll run through those briefly.
The first is availability. As we mentioned earlier, DDR5 has been affected by the global shortages we have seen in recent times. So even if you do want DDR5, there remains a question over how easily you are going to be able to find one.
This leads to the second factor: cost. As with any supply/demand relationship, when an item becomes scarce, it tends to lead to an increase in prices. DDR5 is no exception to this, and while supply remains disrupted, prices will also be steep. If you can wait until DDR5 is more widespread, you should start to see costs dropping.
And that's just the cost of DDR5 itself. Remember, if your current equipment isn't compatible, you'll find yourself having to fork out for new equipment as well.
So, Is DDR5 RAM Worth It?
Whether DDR5 is worth it will ultimately be a personal decision. But here are the main points for you to ponder before you make that decision.
DDR5 is quicker than DDR4. But this is only true for certain tasks, and the difference in performance is not currently so enormous as to make this an easy decision. And when DDR5 is potentially twice as expensive, but only offering a, say, ten percent performance boost, that doesn't look great value at this point.
What are you planning to use DDR5 for? If you want something for gaming, then current DDR5 options don't necessarily offer enough of a performance boost to justify their cost. But if, on the other hand, you use resource-hungry productivity tools, you may notice enough of a difference to make it worth your while.
Are you upgrading, or starting from scratch? If you are simply looking to swap out DDR4 for DDR5, then check whether your other components will be compatible. If they aren't, then you'll need to price in the cost of those as well.
Check Price: CORSAIR Dominator Platinum RGB DDR5 32GB at Amazon
For many, the cost of upgrading to DDR5 at this point isn't going to be worth it. But if you have money to burn, and feel that those marginal gains are worth it, then DDR5 will give you a performance uplift. Just remember that in a few more months, or a year from now, there will probably be newer versions where the differences are even more pronounced.