DDR5 vs DDR4: Which RAM is better for gaming and content creation?
One of the coolest things about the debut of Intel’s 12th Gen CPU platform is that it gives people a significant choice of motherboards – not just high-end “Z” series boards. compared to cheaper, less feature-rich “H” and “B” cards. ‘, but also versions equipped with both traditional DDR4 memory and next-generation DDR5 memory. Most of the initial reviews of 12th Gen CPUs were tested primarily on DDR5 boards, including ours, as that offers the best potential for interesting generational differences, but that leaves open the question of what kind of RAM is truly the best buy for consumers – both short-term and long-term.
Other outlets have expertly covered these differences, but we wanted to add our take on the memory dilemma, focusing particularly on the CPU and memory-intensive sections of modern games. Our slightly later coverage also allows us to assess memory assess a bit further down the timeline, as the initial spike in demand for DDR5 seems to have subsided and prices are starting to change. After all, while DDR4 is clearly the cheaper option here and now, most PC builders keep their motherboards and processors around for more than five years. some sort of delay.
To test our memory, we used a slightly different configuration than featured in our 12th Gen Intel processor reviews. We replaced our Asus Z690 motherboard with an OC memory-focused option from MSI, the MEG Z690 Unify-X, equipped with only two DIMM slots to maximize the performance of a single dual-channel kit. We have also received Memory XPG Lancer 2x 8GB 6000MT/s CL40which is among the fastest you can currently buy and a significant step beyond the 4800MT/s and 5200MT/s memory we had access to in our previous 12th Gen coverage.
Elsewhere, we use the best equipment we had access to at the time of testing: a Intel 12900K processora Asus ROG Strix RTX 3090 OC graphics card, a 1TB PNY XLR8 CS3140 PCIe 4.0 SSD and a 1000W Corsair RM1000x Power source. CPU runs with turbo limits disabled and kept cool by the Incredible Asus ROG Ryujin 2360mm All-in-One. This should allow us to disentangle the biggest possible differences in memory types, although we expect to see similar trends even on smaller systems, as long as you’re in similar limited CPU situations.
In terms of testing, we’ll be looking at our usual CPU test suite, including modern titles with RT, pure pixel games, and a handful of content creation tasks. If there’s another workload you’d like to see analyzed, mention it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter – @wsjudd. In addition to testing our kits in their default configurations, we’ll also test moderate overclocks and lower frequencies to get a sense of how performance scales as you spend more on your DDR4 or DDR5 RAM.
That pretty much does it for the intro, so let’s get straight into testing – starting with some synthetic benchmarks to get an idea of the maximum possible difference we might see when memory speed and type change. Then we’ll quickly move on to our content creation tasks, based on our actual workflow, and then most of the testing will be done in-game.
DDR5 vs DDR4: Which Z690 motherboard makes sense?