How much is fast memory worth? For people who simply must have
the latest and greatest in high-powered PC hardware, price is no
object. Which is a good thing, because the price will be
considerably higher than even enthusiast PC builders are used to
paying for next-gen RAM. According to a statement from MSI,
enthusiasts can expect to pay a 50 percent premium (at least) for
the new DDR5 memory standard when it debuts later this
The DDR5 upgrade will accompany Intel's new 12-generation Alder Lake processors, and when
hardware suppliers start selling compatible motherboards later this
year. While DDR5 was finalized for manufacturers in 2020, it's yet
to actually appear on any retail products. Speeds will range from
4800 to 6400MHz, with a maximum single-die density quadrupled to
64GB. Combined with improved channel architecture and doubled burst
length for faster communication with the rest of the PC, DDR5
stands to bring a dramatic performance improvement over DDR4 memory
found in current machines.
But that improvement will cost you. An MSI blog post says that due to the additional
components required in the more complex manufacturing process,
users can expect DDR5 RAM to be 50 to 60 percent more expensive
than DDR4 at the same capacity at launch. The manufacturer
predicted that prices will remain elevated above DDR4 levels for
approximately two years.
That's significantly more than the 30 to 40 percent premium than
brand new RAM generations usually command, according to MSI. And it
doesn't take into account the ongoing chip shortage, or the retail
squeeze that the shortage entails. Compounded with the ongoing
hoarding of component scalpers on the secondary market, it's
possible that speedy next-gen RAM could become yet another hurdle
to overcome for would-be home computer builders. The same factors
have sent high-end graphics card prices soaring by
100-150 percent for over a year.
OEM desktop manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo will likely be
unaffected by this, as they order directly from hardware suppliers.
But those relationships can't change the high cost of initial
manufacturing or the ongoing chip shortage. The bottom line is
this: Expect to pay quite a lot more than you were hoping to when
DDR5 memory finally becomes available for PC users.