DDR5 memory is the latest generation of RAM. This generation has ushered in higher performance levels and lower power consumption compared to its predecessors and is looking to be the new industry standard for RAM going forward.
There are many benefits to DDR5 RAM, but the real question is — do I actually need it? After all, DDR4 RAM is still pretty good compared to DDR3. And, it’s not like DDR4 is going anywhere for a while.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the benefits and issues that you’ll need to consider when looking to upgrade to DDR5.
What is DDR5 memory?
DDR5 (Double Data Rate Memory) is the newest generation of RAM. While there may seem to be no difference between the RAM sticks of the past and present, there are lots of technical changes that make upgrading to the newest generation a genuine consideration for those who want the best experience.
After all, RAM is used throughout your system. Whether you’re using your PC for gaming, work, creative projects, or anything else, you’ll constantly be making use of your PC’s RAM — meaning higher capacity and faster RAM will improve your experience all around.
What is the difference between DDR4 and DDR5?
Where DDR4 DIMMs have a maximum clock speed of 1.6 gigahertz (GHz), DDR5 can have a maximum clock of 4.2GHz and a maximum of 8.4 gigatransfers per second (to DDR4’s 3.2).
The speed benefits of DDR5 aren’t the only benefits, however. Each individual stick of DDR4 can have capacities of up to 64 GB (using Simple Dual Port - or SDP) - whereas DDR5 ups this limit to 256 GB.
Furthermore, DDR5 is more power efficient than the previous generation. DDR5 benefits from high memory efficiency as well as lower latency due to its channel architecture, meaning that all in all, DDR5 will give you a much more smooth and more enjoyable experience than DDR4, regardless of how you're using it.
DDR4 and DDR5 aren’t backwards compatible. You can’t use DDR5 RAM on a DDR4 motherboard, and vice versa. If you’re looking to upgrade to DDR5, you’ll also need to buy a new motherboard. If you’re building a new custom PC, we’d recommend opting for DDR5 to future-proof your system.
Is DDR5 here to stay?
With technology advancing so fast, it can be scary to invest in new generations. After all, what’s the point in investing in DDR5 now if it’s going to be obsolete in a year’s time?
However, DDR5 is probably going to be around for a long while. As a comparison, DDR4 was released to the public in 2014. This means that, if following the same timeframe, DDR6 won’t release until at least 2026. And, even then — DDR5 won’t just stop working once DDR6 is released.
This is why it’s best to futureproof your PC by upgrading sooner rather than later, as DDR5 is looking to be here for a long while.
Do I need DDR5 memory?
The answer to this question is more complex than can be said with other PC components. Where a GPU upgrade is as simple as upgrading the card and possibly the power supply — or even upgrading between 16GB and 32GB of RAM is a matter of installing new RAM sticks — upgrading between generations of RAM is a much larger consideration.
Eventually, you’ll probably need to get DDR5 RAM when buying a motherboard to support a newer CPU. The DIMM slots on the motherboard are only compatible with their correct generation, which means that eventually lots of motherboards will be DDR5 only.
Currently, it’s a question of whether you want to invest in a whole new motherboard and possibly even CPU alongside upgrading to DDR5. While this can be a great investment to ensure that you have the best technology available for a while, it’s also a costly undertaking and so upgrading isn’t a given.
So, if you’ve recently built or upgraded your system and you’re happy with its performance — then upgrading to DDR5 might be a hassle for you currently. However, if your system is already long overdue for an upgrade, investing in DDR5 is a great way to futureproof your system and save money in the long run.
If you’re already looking into upgrading to a Zen 4 or Alder Lake/Raptor Lake processor, then upgrading your RAM to DDR5 is the best way to unlock the true power of your hardware. Even AMD says so!
Do I need DDR5 memory for gaming?
DDR5 memory is a great way to get the most performance out of the games you love. Especially for high-performance-oriented rigs, DDR5 is an extra way to squeeze the most performance that you can out of your system.
DDR5 does have significant performance advantages within some games, although the gains don't apply across the board.
We expect that more games going forward will be able to take advantage of the benefits of DDR5, so if you’re looking for a high-performance rig, DDR5 isn’t a bad shout.
Another benefit of upgrading to DDR5 is the futureproofing element, which is especially prevalent in high-performance gaming rigs. A lot of higher-performance motherboards will quickly stop supporting DDR4 and move to the higher-performing DDR5, which means that investing in a good quality DDR5 rig now can save stress and money going forward.
Do I need DDR5 memory as a creator?
As a content creator, ensuring that your hardware is high quality and efficient is crucial to your workflow. This means that any significant performance benefits from DDR5 can be crucial to improving your efficiency and enabling your creativity in both the short and long term.
However, RAM generally doesn’t have a massive effect on content creation compared to other PC hardware.
While there were minor benefits in some Creative Cloud applications, these benefits aren’t really great enough to warrant an upgrade to DDR5 unless it's essential for your system build — if you’re using a Zen4 CPU, for example.
If you’re looking for ways to boost your performance as a creator, why not check out our guide on the new NVIDIA RTX 40-Series for creators?
What’s the best DDR5 RAM to buy?
There are a lot of great options out there for DDR5 RAM, but where should you start?
The creator of the beloved ‘Ripjaw’ series of RAM — G.Skill — has a powerful top-tier DDR5 memory kit for you to get started with.