Best RAM for Gaming of 2018: Complete Reviews with Comparisons

Best RAM for Gaming
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RAM is the single most noticeable upgrade that any PC owner can add without forking over an arm and a leg on the performance boost. From the immediate increase in speed that you notice upon boot up, to decreased loading times, higher frame rates and faster window switching, RAM is invaluable to gamers.

One can often squeeze out the power needed from an older rig by just upgrading the RAM to a hefty amount of high-clock-speed goodness.

High-end users are well-aware of just how much a RAM upgrade helps everything run, always opting for as many bays as possible with each new motherboard.

Here we’ll be presenting you an in-depth look at the best RAM for gaming, detailing seven of the top options out there.

RAM for Gaming Comparison Chart

Best RAM for Gaming Reviews

1. G.SKILL Ripjaw Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

With its ultra-low CAS9 latencies and cool, racy-yet-practical heatsinks, the G.Skill Ripjaw Series 8GB DDR3 desktop gaming memory kit is an affordable, reliable high-performance upgrade. Its blend of affordable and cool-operation makes it a worthy choice for anyone looking to get the most bang from their buck. Here’s a closer look.

Product Highlights

Two DDR3 4GB memory modules with a standard clock of 1600Mhz are supplied in this pack. Pulling 1.5V, the low power, and low temperature gives a balance which is perfect for overclocking. Dual-channel DDR remains a leading choice for any gaming rig and the G.SKILL Ripjaw Series DDR3 is a stable, affordable choice.

Thanks to the 1600Mhz 9-9-9-24 CAS9 timing, the kit is designed to provide optimal computing power for the Intel P67, Z68 & P55 chipsets, while working equally as well in the AMD 790/890 series platforms. CAS9 is also the quicker technology, even if by a small margin.

What's to like about the G.SKILL Ripjaw Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

You can push G.SKILL’s memory to 2,133Mhz and have it run perfectly stable without needing to add any additional cooling. Another upside to opting for this manufacturer is their fantastic track record. Most users report outstanding longevity from all G.SKILL RAM. Go for their dual-channel kit and you’ve got overclockable RAM which is set to last. Built to be pushed beyond its limits, if you enjoy tinkering then this gaming RAM is a must-buy.

What's not to like about the G.SKILL Ripjaw Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

While the heatsinks fitted are of a high-quality and work well to dissipate heat even after hardcore gaming for 10 to 12 hours, you do get better gaming memory. What you won’t find is anything that matches the value from this reputable manufacturer. There’s no need to replace anything but some power-users will want 9-9-9-26N memory and a better cooling solution to match but it’s not really necessary. The overclocking boost hits a good high as-is.

PROS

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    High-performance CL9 latency
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    Fantastic overclocking – clock measured at 2,133Mhz stable
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    Low voltage and cool operating temperature

CONS

  • Negligible increase in performance from alternative RAM

2. Patriot Viper 3 Series, Black Mamba, DDR3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit

Here we have a high-performance DDR3 memory kit from one of the most popular manufacturers in the gaming sector. Patriot are well-known for their reliable, peak performance standards which are matched in longevity and quality. Let’s take a close look at the ‘Black Mamba’ 8GB DDR3 kit for dual or quad channel systems.

Product Highlights

Akin to most competing memory kits in its price range, the Patriot Viper 3 Series gives you 2 x 4GB DDR3 modules which run at 9-9-9-24 CAS latency stock-standard, supporting XMP 1.3 overclocking. With a standard voltage of 1.5V, this RAM runs at 1600Mhz standard but can be pushed higher.

Overclocking without loosening up CAS timings gives a stable 1866 MHz while staying cool enough to run for hours without any impaired performance. Each module is a little taller than most RAM kits, measuring 1.63” high to be exact.

What's to like about the Patriot Viper 3 Series, Black Mamba, DDR3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit

Affordable is surprisingly accommodating for over-clockers, Patriot’s memory manages to clock up to 2133Mhz by changing the CAS to 10-10-11-2, but this will require you to up the voltage (a measure which the temperatures handle well). At 1.5V with the clock adjusted to 2200Mhz, inexperienced users get a solid speed boost without risking any damage or needing to tinker with timings and power. The black coloring and sleek heatsinks also make this memory a very attractive choice for most rigs.

What's not to like about the Patriot Viper 3 Series, Black Mamba, DDR3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit

Given the slightly higher height profile of this memory from Patriot, potential owners should take care when using a large CPU cooler. Those with big coolers may need to switch out their protection for something more space effective especially when fitting two of these kits for a quad-channel setup.

One should also keep in mind that this memory is best for gamers who are not technical by nature. At higher clock speeds such as 2133Mhz, the Patriot RAM runs steady but is beaten in top-end performance ever-so-slightly by a number of competitors yet it remains in the top five overall in the opinion of most benchmarks.

PROS

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    High overclocking potential at 2200Mhz
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    Stable, long-running performance
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    Attractive, effective heatsink

CONS

  • XMP 1.3 instead of XMP 2.0 technology
  • RAM is taller than standard

3. Kingston HyperX FURY 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM

Budget system-builders know Kingston’s all-to-well, with many users turning to their trusted high-value memory modules since the range first launched in 2012. However, what was once just a budget-brand has now surpassed its quality and performance dramatically in the 1600Mhz CL10 HyperX Fury memory kits. Seated as one of the best options for high-end gamers and those pinching the most out of their price alike, this is a gaming memory kit we have to take a closer look at.

Product Highlights

One of the highlights of this leading gaming memory kit is how the Fury series detects the appropriate speed and timing of your motherboard. Overclocking kicks in automatically without you needing to configure a thing. The same can be said for all sizes within the Fury range of RAM but the speed rating of the 16GB dual channel set is PC3-12800.

Automatic overclocking reaches a top clock of 1866Mhz, while standard timing is set at 10-11-10 at 1.5V. This kit consists of 2 x 8GB DDR3 1600Mhz dual-channel modules which can run with a voltage as low as 1.3V, while also capable of 1.5V. The CAS latency is configurable between CL9 and CL11, giving good scalability for manual overclocking.

What's to like about the Kingston HyperX FURY 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM

This RAM’s low profile carries the standard DDR3 height is an asset to any gamer who owns a robust, large CPU cooler. You’ll also find the heatsinks are slimline, sleek and look great. Those who love customization will appreciate how you can pick from black, red, blue or white.

With a lifetime warranty giving free technical support when needed, you can rest assured that you’ve bought RAM which will last. Overclocking is nothing short of amazing when you play around with the timing and voltage manually. You can find a good balance at 1866Mhz on CL9, or even push it all the way to 2400Mhz with rock-solid stability.

What's not to like about the Kingston HyperX FURY 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM

The only potential problem with this value-packed memory from Kingston is that the plug-and-play overclocking has been reported as not working on certain chipsets. Any issues encountered do appear to be isolated as both AMD and Intel compatibility is broad and comprehensive. Nonetheless, if your auto-overclocking fails, it’s not too hard to set your CAS manually in most BIOS’s.

PROS

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    Configurable CAS latency
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    Standard height fits easily into all configurations
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    Low voltage operation
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    Great range of colors
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    Outstanding overclocking potential at 2400 MHz

CONS

  • Isolated auto-configuration issues

4. Timetec Hynix IC 16GB Kit (2x8GB) DDR3L 1600MHz PC3L-12800 Non-ECC Unbuffered Desktop Memory

With a price which is hard to match and a no-frills design, the Hynix Timetec IC 16GB DDR3L kit is the ultimate option for budget gamers. Even though it is missing the cooling of a heatsink and the aesthetics to boot, it manages to remain viable thanks to its cost and mid-range power. Here we’ll be showing you who this kit is best suited to while covering the potential pitfalls and the areas where it excels.

Product Highlights

In terms of generic RAM intended for non-technical users, the 16GB DDR3L gaming memory from Hynix is near-unbeatable. You get 2 x 8GB dual channel modules of non-ECC unbuffered memory. The RAM is dual voltage, operating at either 1.35V or 1.5V. As a DDR3L, Hynix’s kit is compatible with both standard and eco power modes.

What's to like about the Timetec Hynix IC 16GB Kit (2x8GB) DDR3L 1600MHz PC3L-12800 Non-ECC Unbuffered Desktop Memory

With this RAM running at 1.35V (the 512x8JEDEC standard of 1.28V ~ 1.45V), the kit is a great choice for those who want to upgrade older systems to a maximum memory capacity. Most 4GB dual channel modules run at 1.35V, allowing you to slot in a kit of two 8GB modules which still running at optimal performance. Compatibility is flawless across the board, with few to no users encountering any detection or configuration issues in their desktop setup.

What's not to like about the Timetec Hynix IC 16GB Kit (2x8GB) DDR3L 1600MHz PC3L-12800 Non-ECC Unbuffered Desktop Memory

Gamers who are looking to squeeze out the highest clock speed technically possible will be a little disappointed by this kit. Even though it is capable of being overclocked, doing so without any dedicated cooling is very risky. Power-users with a technical mindset would do better to add a few dollars and go for a gaming kit designed to be overclocked.

PROS

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    Great overall value
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    Excellent option for entry level to mid-range gamers
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    3V & 1.5V operation

CONS

  • Limited cooling capability
  • No heatsink

5. CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

Corsair continues their tradition of well-priced high-performance gaming RAM with the Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3 1600 Kit. If you can fit the slightly taller-than-normal memory into your machine then you have a cheap solution delivering astounding speed and reliability. Here’s a closer look at this great desktop gaming memory kit for mid-range upgrades.

Product Highlights

Each kit gives you 2 x 4GB 240-pin DDR3 (PC3 12800) desktop modules operating in dual channel mode. Corsair’s Vengeance memory is designed for the Intel Sandy Bridge Platform but works flawlessly on DDR3 AMD boards as well. It is, however, optimal in a Sandy Bridge 2nd generation setup. The standard CAS is set to 9-9-9-24 as you would hope for from any good gaming memory in the 8GB dual channel range.

What's to like about the CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

With Intel Extreme Memory Profile support, you’re given reliable automatic clock speed configuration relative to your board, and you can tinker with voltage settings and CAS timing to squeeze out the best gaming performance possible. As with the rest of Corsair’s trusted range, each kit comes with a lifetime warranty and every kit is specifically designed for overclocking. You won’t be able to squeeze more speed out of anything matching its specifications and both the temperature and stability is astounding.

What's not to like about the CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

Unlike certain products, this kit from Corsair does not automatically configure itself. The timing and voltage are set to a default giving a 1600Mhz clock speed but you have to manually enable dual channel in your BIOS. Another caveat to going for this kit is that the heatsink and module size is quite large and difficult to fit into slimline systems or systems featuring bulky CPU coolers. You may just need to replace your cooler if upgrading to the maximum RAM your board can handle.

PROS

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    Designed for Sandy Bridge 2nd generation
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    Intel XMP overclocking

CONS

  • No automatic BIOS configuration
  • Oversized heatsink

6. HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB 16GB 2933MHz CL15 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP RAM Memory with Infrared Sync Technology Memory

If you’re a DDR4 user and want to guarantee unbeatable gaming performance without breaking the bank then the Kingston HyperX Predator DDR4 16GB 2933Mhz CL15 memory kit is your ultimate option. Between the dynamic RGB lighting conveying a clear essence of high-end class and powerful performance, and the extreme overclocking afforded by the aggressive aluminum heat spreader, you easily have the best RAM for gaming of 2018 at a price which is far lower than you’d expect. Let’s delve deeper into this definite winner’s specs and stability.

Product Highlights

This is gaming memory which almost runs better than it looks, which is quite an achievement given the HyperX Infrared Sync technology and perfectly matched fierce black aesthetics. Kingston’s RGB lighting is completely customizable thanks to their infrared sync. It allows you to design your own pattern-based effects lifting the looks of your rig to a notch above and instantly drawing the attention of any onlookers.

CAS latency is configurable between CL15 and CL19 while your clock can be tuned all the way up to 4000Mhz with perfect stability and cooling. Each module measures just 6.75 x 2.25 x 0.34-inches which makes it extremely versatile and a match to even the most cramped casings with large CPU coolers.

What's to like about the HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB 16GB 2933MHz CL15 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP RAM Memory with Infrared Sync Technology Memory

The prime performance of this Predator kit measures up equal on both Intel Z270/Z370/X299 and AMD Ryzen platforms. Each high-density module runs easily at 3333Mhz without much tweaking needed. 3200Mhz is even easier to hit.

Those who are lucky enough to own a processor from the latest Coffee Lake range from Intel will love the way that you can adjust to a high frequency with relatively low difficulty thanks to the fair latency timing at CL15. Yet, you don’t have to own the highest-end hardware. The predator gives an outstanding balance of bandwidth and performance even at its standard clock of 2933Mhz.

What's not to like about the HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB 16GB 2933MHz CL15 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP RAM Memory with Infrared Sync Technology Memory

Those who stay on the cutting-edge of gaming technology will love how this memory is fully supporting of Intel XMP 2.0 profiles. Everyone else will have to hope that the XMP fallback sets the clock and voltage correctly, otherwise, you’ll need to set it up manually. This monster memory module kit may be amazing but it comes at a high cost. Some will argue that you can’t put a price on speed like this, and in a high-end machine, who are we to argue.

PROS

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    Unbeatable DDR4 performance
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    Flexible CAS latency timing

CONS

  • Higher end of the price spectrum

7. Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L 1600 MT/S (PC3-12800) Unbuffered SODIMM 204-Pin Memory

As another keen competitor in the affordable mid-range memory module market, the Crucial 16GB kit is a solid choice with good value. If you’re a notebook owner who wants to lift the performance of their machine to a new high without replacing the entire unit, this kit makes one of the most promising options around. We’ll be taking you through a look at why the Crucial 16GB Kit of DDR3L 1600MT/s notebook memory is a well-priced contender for the best mobile gaming RAM of 2018.

Product Highlights

Crucial has been making memory since the original SDRAM technology and remains a winning offering to this day. Each kit supplies you with two 8GB DDR3/DDR3L 1600 MT/s SODIMMs which use CL11. They carry a convenient standard size of 1.18 x 0.38 x 2.66 inches and all fully compatible with any DDR notebooks without the need to configure the clock speed or voltage at all. Thanks to its DDR3L memory type, the RAM can run at either 1.35V or 1.5V depending on your individual setup.

What's to like about the Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L 1600 MT/S (PC3-12800) Unbuffered SODIMM 204-Pin Memory

Good notebook gaming memory is well-known to typically set the buyer back a considerable sum. Laptop RAM has been so expensive in the past that most users disregard the notion of playing games using anything other than a desktop rig. However, Crucial has put together a 16GB kit which brings the perfect blend of pricing and performance.

Most mid-range notebooks have an upper memory limit of 16GB making this a suitable match while high-end users have the option of fitting a full 32GB in the form of two kits. Even this is possible without costing a jaw-dropping amount of money thanks to this stable, affordable memory kit. You can’t fault the clock or stability neither.

What's not to like about the Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L 1600 MT/S (PC3-12800) Unbuffered SODIMM 204-Pin Memory

One of the only possible issues with this RAM kit for notebook gaming is how it utilizes CL11 memory instead of faster, more recent CL9. While the specs typically end up in a 2% to 4% bonus in performance at the most, the difference will only be of interest to high-end system builders who truly want the best their mobile gaming hardware can take.

PROS

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    Considerable value for the money
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    Enough RAM to fill the upgrade quota of most notebooks

CONS

  • CL9 would have been preferable to CL11

BUYER'S GUIDE

There are certain factors to keep in mind which prove invaluable when buying the best RAM for gaming of 2018 for your rig. Here we’ll be taking you through the specifications you need to take notice of while also walking you through a couple of frequently asked questions so that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt which RAM is optimal.

Memory Type and Capacity

Firstly, you need to find out whether your motherboard supports DDR3 or DDR4. If you’re upgrading your rig in 2018 then it’s unlikely that you’ll be looking for second-hand DDR2. If you’re a DDR3 user, first check whether your configuration uses DDR3 or DDR3L, running at a reduced power consumption of 1.35V. Not every system will need this tech. Regardless of which type of RAM you need, you also need to determine how many free bays you have and what the maximum memory capacity is of your motherboard.

It’d also be a good idea to see what RAM you’ve got and whether you’ll be adding to your existing total or replacing the module/s completely. Most decent boards support dual threading and/or quad threading. If yours does then it’s essential to buy a dual memory kit consisting of two modules of matching timing and clock speed.

Clock Speed

Your default clock speed comes with its own pre-set configuration for the voltage required and the CAS latency configuration. When you first install the kit, this is the clock which your memory will adopt automatically. Always compare the default and the maximum clock speed of any prospective purchase. Some memory comes specifically designed to take advantage of overclocking without any degradation to the lifespan of the product.

Other types will supply the same quantity of RAM but only allow of lower maximum clock speed. Less technical users should be more concerned about the standard speed rather than the RAM’s potential performance after CAS latency tweaking.

Overclocking and CAS Latency Timing

Both overclocking and CAS latency timings go hand in hand, yet the type of CAS latency technology that your modules use also makes an independent difference of its own. If you’re the type of person who wants to fine-tune their setup to tip-top performance then you’re going to be looking for memory featuring robust heatsinks and a range of latency configuration options.

As a general rule, CAS9 is the fastest type of latency in terms of DDR3 memory and DDR4 kits normally feature CAS14 or CAS15. Lower gives lower delay but this doesn’t scale directly. A higher CAS latency normally lets you overclock your gaming RAM to a far higher degree.

F.A.Q.

Can I fit two different types of ram?

You can mix different brands and sizes of RAM with very little chance of any irregularities occurring. As long as your memory is of the same DDR standard, e.g. DDR2, DDR3, DD4 or DDR3 SODIMM notebook memory, you can use any combination of modules. If the individual clock speeds of each module vary, or the voltage is fixed at a different power, then the faster more powerful RAM reverts to the lower performance setting.

The only RAM which you can’t combine is ECC memory and non-ECC memory. Each technology works differently, addressing errors in a way which conflicts with each other. Whichever type you opt for you need to stick to. If you do decide to combine RAM of different brands then first make sure that their specs work or your dual channel performance bonuses will be lost.

Does an AMD or Intel motherboard change what RAM I need?

The DDR type of your rig determines what RAM you need. DDR3 AMD boards and DDR3 Intel boards use the same memory but certain memory manufacturers produce for particular platforms. Such RAM will work better in certain specific Intel chipsets and others in AMD’s offerings such as the recent AMD Ryzen. If you are a technophile who demands performance which is as good in theorycraft as it can be determined, you need to find out whether you can procure a kit which complements the chipset of your motherboard.

How much RAM do I need?

You need as much RAM as it takes to boot your operating system and run your games smoothly. Just 2GB of RAM is needed to run Windows 10 but this won’t help your gaming much. The types of games that you play and the other uses of your rig determine what RAM will be optimal.

There is no such thing as too much RAM even though in excessive amounts not all applications will utilize the potential. Don’t ever go with less than 8GB of memory if you plan to play games, with 16GB in a dual channel kit being the preferred option for most. The difference it makes to your overall performance will continue to astound you.

Will I need to reinstall Windows?

Modern memory does not cause such a severe hardware change that present-day operating systems revert to having to be reinstalled. All you need to do is remove your side cover or the protective plate of your notebook and clip the RAM in securely. The worst that can happen is your computer may not boot past the BIOS, requiring you to first confirm the configuration of the new memory. Most of the best RAM for gaming of 2018 configures itself automatically and some even overclock to the highest possible speed without you needing to do a thing.

Do I need a heatsink and lights?

Both are very different options for the prospective buyer. High-end gaming memory has begun to feature RGB lighting kits which are completely configurable allowing you to set in custom patterns and arrangements. This lifts customization to an all new high but the only gamers who’ll reap the rewards are those who have already added a racy chassis, high-performance cooling, and an array of colors and lights.

A heatsink, on the other hand, is essential to anyone who is considering overclocking while as a standalone component serves as a hallmark of quality and long-lasting performance thanks to the superior cooling provided. You don’t have to have either but they’re both worthwhile in the right scenario.

FINAL VERDICT

If you’re one of those gamers who’ve taken the plunge, or are about to, and are on the search for DDR4, then you can’t go wrong with the HyperX Predator DDR4 16GB. Notebook users are in a similar situation, and the value of the Crucial 16GB SODIMM Kit puts it clearly ahead of the competition making it the best notebook RAM for gaming around.

DDR3 users have a good range of kits to choose from. However, ultimately the best RAM for gaming of 2018 for those just-behind the cutting edge is the Kingston HyperX FURY 16GB Kit with its nippy CL10 and flexible clock. A close second but without the overclocking capabilities is the Timetec kit but the sheer power of the HyperX FURY still makes it the better choice.

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