RAM buying FAQ
How do I set up my new memory?
In the UEFI/BIOS settings, set the memory timings to XMP (Profile 1). That’s it. There’s a bit more information on doing that here. It also works for AMD Ryzen motherboards. If you need to know how to physically install new RAM, check out this guide here.
What’s the main difference between memory brands?
Competitive overclockers will tell you different, but if two kits have similar specs, then the main difference will be brand name, price and the type of heat spreader used. In terms of performance that you can experience… virtually nothing.
Why do manufacturers charge more?
Memory kits tend to deliver identical real-world performance at potentially large fluctuations in price. While it’s true that the more-expensive brands have been tested (binned) and found to be of higher quality, remember that most kits come with some form of lifetime warranty already. The testing is to guide overclockers and point them towards kits that run stably in greater-than-normal circumstances.
Frankly, the look and feel of the heatspreaders might be more important than anything, especially if you know that your PC runs hot. But all the kits on test here are from decent brands and have decent heat spreaders. So they’re all good.
Should I pay more?
Again, this only makes a difference when overclocking but we have seen it affect a recent review system considerably. The expensive Corsair Dominator (on test here) kit allowed an Asus Z270 Strix motherboard to overclock using top automatic settings whereas the Corsair Vengeance kit crashed at the slightest nudge. So if you are worried about stability using even the automatic settings on your motherboard, paying more for the premium brands can give you more than piece of mind. At the end of the day, our test rig’s Gigabyte Designare Z170 easily pushes its Intel Core i7 6700K processor from 4GHz to 4.6GHz and that’s our standard. Your mileage may vary as every motherboard is different.
But CAS latencies?!
Again, unless you’re a competitive overclocker, this will make no difference to your life – just a few extra benchmark points at the cost of potentially a LOT more money. There’s so much misinformation about the subject and things have changed dramatically as RAM speeds have increased. If you want to know more, check out this article from Crucial.
What’s the difference between 2 and 4 sticks of RAM?
Four sticks cost a lot more than two sticks. That’s literally it if real-world measurements are important to you.
When would anyone need large amounts of fast RAM?
RAM kicks in when dealing with massive file sizes. If you’re doing hardcore video editing or photo editing with (multiple) massive RAW files, then more RAM will help. Playing games at 4K resolutions with upgraded, realistic textures may also improve performance… a bit. But unless you know that the application you need requires extra memory, then using a Windows 10 PC for multimedia and gaming, having 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB isn’t likely to make a noticeable difference. The same goes for memory timings.
If you don’t like overclocking, why are you overclocking?
Our test rig's motherboards, like most modern motherboards, has automatic overclocking features built in. Rather than tinkering with multiple settings on a try-and-fail basis, many times over and at the expense of system stability, most modern motherboards, in various ways, ask you if you want to overclock your system a bit. They are usually conservative when doing this but it only takes a couple of clicks. We expect most people won’t bother tweaking anything more than XMP and automatic overclocking settings and reckon that pushing a 4GHz CPU to 4.6GHz – with no impact on stability – is worth doing. Your mileage may vary depending on your own components. But these scores were what we achieved using our test rig and we expect they’ll be of some help.