Choosing the best RAM for gaming can be a daunting task, even for a veteran PC builder. But, just for you, we’ve narrowed down that endless list of DDR4 RAM modules to a handy few memory kits to suit your needs and budgets. As difficult as it may be, purchasing the right RAM is a very important step in getting the most out of the best CPUs and towards future proofing your gaming PC. Basically, it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.
When selecting the top DDR4 RAM for gaming, there are several things you have to take into account. First, consider the total capacity of memory you’re looking for. We recommend a minimum of 16GB for most serious gaming PCs (it’s what we use in our high-end PC build) but it isn’t too costly to upgrade to 32GB these days. That will provide a hefty buffer if you’re inclined to multitasking, or y’know, heavy Chrome tab usage… Check out our handy guide if you’re wondering how much RAM you actually need.
The second thing to consider is the speed of your memory. In some cases, the clock speed of your memory is just as important as the amount of RAM you have. Generally, we like to stick with two DDR4 modules with 3,000MHz or higher clock speeds, even if it means sacrificing a few GB. Assuming your motherboard supports up to four sticks of RAM, you can always purchase additional modules later.
Whatever your specific needs may be, we’ve chosen some of our favorite options for PC gaming below.
Best RAM for gaming
1. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB DDR4-3200MHz
Speed: DDR4-3200MHz | Timing: 16-18-18-36 | CAS Latency: 16 | Voltage: 1.35V | DIMMs: 2x16GB
Ultra-bright Capellix RGB LEDs
Dominator DHX heat-spreaders
Advanced iCUE software
Module height may cause clearance issues
Corsair has outdone itself with the Dominator Platinum RGB. The original DDR4 kit has been our favorite high-end memory bundle for quite some time now. Its sleek exterior, patented DHX cooling technology, and unrivaled performance have made it a formidable flagship over the years, topping our best RAM for gaming list. Now, the iconic Dominator Platinum is back with a stealthy new design and Corsair’s new Capellix LED technology.
The Dominator Platinum RGB takes the same best-in-class performance of the original, adds higher clocked SKUs and 12 individually addressable Capellix RGB LEDs. The new LEDs are brighter and more efficient than previous iterations. Combined with Corsair’s formidable iCUE software, the Dominator Platinum RGB has become both the best RGB and high-end performance kit.
The price doesn’t differ too much from the original, non-RGB Dominator Platinum, but you’re still paying a hefty premium compared to some of the other kits mentioned in this guide. We still think it’s well worth every penny if you can afford it whichever capacity kit you go for.
2. G.Skill Trident Z Neo 32GB DDR4-3600MHz
The best RAM for gaming with an AMD motherboard
Speed: DDR4-3600MHz | Timing: 18-22-22-42 | CAS Latency: 18 | Voltage: 1.35V | DIMMs: 2x16GB
High speed and high capacity RGB kit
Optimized for AMD Ryzen builds
Slightly thicker heatsink
RGB software is lacking
G.Skill’s Trident Z RGB RAM has dominated our guide for years now, and it’s no surprise the company’s Trident Z Neo series has also earned a spot here. Similar to the original Trident Z RGB series, the Trident Z Neo comes equipped with brilliant RGB lighting done in a very tasteful manner. More importantly, the Neo series is optimized for AMD Ryzen builds which make this budget-friendly option the perfect choice for budget-conscious Ryzen PCs.
Similar to the overall performance of your Ryzen PC build, the Trident Z Neo offers fantastic bang for your buck. You can get a 32GB kit for under $200, which means you can also easily upgrade your machine to an (admittedly unnecessary) 64GB of high-speed DDR4 memory down the road.
Like its counterpart, the Trident Z Neo comes in various speeds and configurations ranging from 2600MHz all the way up to 3800MHz. Each module comes equipped with five individually addressable RGB LEDs that can light up any PC build beautifully.
3. G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
The best RAM for gaming if you also want a lightshow
Speed: DDR4-2400MHz | Timing: 15-15-15-35 | Cas Latency: 15 | Voltage: 1.2V | DIMMs: 2x8GB
Beautiful RGB patterns
Same height as non-RGB models
Still no custom lighting profiles
Ryzen builds prefer faster RAM
Light up RAM modules have been around for a while, and RGB-enabled options are now commonplace. G.Skill’s Trident Z RGB is one of the most tasteful implementations of RGB lighting we’ve come across. The kit illuminates itself with five individually addressable RGB LEDs and a frosted diffuser that produces a soft glow that looks fantastic in just about any PC build.
The memory performance is just as good as the looks, with the Trident Z line available in speeds ranging from 2400MHz all the way up to 4600Mhz. Overclocking performance is in line with other Trident memory, and with tuning and tweaking you can usually squeeze a couple hundred more MHz out of the kit. The Trident Z RGB line is well worth consideration for any build.
4. Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 32GB DDR4-2666 MHz
The best RAM for gaming with fully customizable RGB
Speed: DDR4-2666MHz | Timing: 16-18-18-36 | CAS Latency: 16 | Voltage: 1.2V | DIMMs: 4x8GB
3D printable and removable light bar
Robust RGB software control
RGB software doesn’t work on X99
If you’re into personalizing and modding your PC, Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB series is another worthy option. Available in 16GB-64GB configurations at 2666MHz and 3000MHz, the latest Ballistix DDR4 memory is suitable for a wide range of builds without much of a premium. The main selling point here is the kit’s 16 addressable RGB LEDs with eight controllable zones and an easily removable light bar that diffuses and enhances the RGB effects.
Crucial provides free 3D files that allow you to print different light bars to produce a wide range of aesthetics for any build. Power users can modify existing files to print their own gamer tag or custom designs. Alternatively, you can remove the light bar altogether for a blindingly bright effect. The Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB provides the customization G.Skill’s Trident Z RGB series lacks, and when you look at the advanced software and possibilities that come with the Ballistix kit, it’s easy to see how this is a top choice for PC modders.
5. G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
The best RAM for gaming for mid-tier machines
Speed: DDR4-2400MHz | Timing: 15-15-15-35 | CAS Latency: 15 | Voltage: 1.2V | DIMMs: 2x8GB
Great overclocking headroom
Minor stability issues at higher speeds
The G.Skill Ripjaws V is the second generation of DDR4 memory from G.Skill, and it’s clear the company listened to the feedback and criticisms from the customers. The new series is more affordable, faster, and has a less tacky heatsink. We found the 16GB Ripjaws V kit to be the best option for a decent capacity kit that features great performance right out of the box.
Immediately, without any overclocking, the Ripjaws V did exceptionally well in our benchmarks, beating several kits in the 2400MHz range. Despite this, you can still achieve an overclock to 2800-3000MHz with a simple bump in voltage. You might even reach 3200MHz or higher, though you’re likely to hit some stability issues. With a reasonable price, whether running stock or overclocked, G.Skill Ripjaws V is hard to beat.
6. Patriot Viper Elite 8GB DDR4-2400MHz
The best cheap RAM for gaming on a budget
Speed: DDR4-2400MHz | Timing: 15-15-15-35 | CAS Latency: 15 | Voltage: 1.2V | DIMMs: 2x4GB
Budget friendly upgrade
Possible clearance issues with large CPU coolers
The Patriot Viper Elite 8GB may not be the cheapest DDR4 memory bundle you can find, but in our opinion it holds the best value when you’re on a budget. This dual-channel kit is priced lower than competitors like the HyperX Fury and Corsair Vengeance LPX while also offering similar levels of performance. And unlike cheaper kits, the Viper Elite features decent heatsinks and overclockability.
For those looking to take full advantage of what the Viper Elite has to offer, simple overclocking pushes its performance to match that of much more expensive options. One of the awesome things about DDR4 is that it generally operates at 1.2V, and even the slightest voltage increases can give you quite a bit more clockspeed while still remaining cool. We hit 2800MHz and 3000MHz speeds with ease, and 3200MHz is possible.
Jargon buster – RAM terminology
DIMMs – Dual In Line Memory Module, the physical slot on a motherboard (actually a small circuit board itself) where RAM is inserted.
ECC Memory – Error-correcting Code Memory, RAM capable of automatically detecting and correcting errors on the fly, generally used in highly sensitive applications, like scientific data collection or banking. Typically only used and supported on servers and workstations, though most desktop boards can run it as non-ECC.
Frequency – The effective speed at which the memory operates, measured in MHz.
CL/CAS Latency – Column Access Strobe Latency, the delay between the memory controller requesting data from the RAM and the data being available; the first number listed in a kit’s timings.
SO-DIMM – More compact DIMM slots typically deployed in laptops.
Timings – The measure in number of memory clock cycles that an operation requested by the memory controller will take for the RAM to complete. Lower is generally better.
XMP – eXtreme Memory Profile, instructions for the BIOS that tell it what frequency, timings, and voltage to activate RAM at simultaneously, a shortcut for overclocking without tinkering with each setting individually. Officially for Intel platforms, unofficially many AMD boards readily support reading XMP data (though it may go by another name like A-XMP or DOHC).