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DDR5 RAM - everything we know about the next gen memory

The next generation of RAM could be inside your new PC by the end of 2021

Corsair's Vengeance RAM in white next to a power supply unit, graphics card, and SSD

In the hardware world, we’ve gone through generations of GPUs and processors, but we’re still rocking the same DDR4 RAM that’s been in the best gaming PCs for almost seven years. Fortunately, DDR5 modules are just around the corner, as production is in full swing and manufacturers such as Corsair are teasing the future standard. Although memory isn’t the most exciting topic compared to choosing the best graphics card, DDR5 still has the potential for big performance improvements in future PC builds with a frequency almost double its predecessor.

It’s not all about improved bandwidth, though, as DDR5 can also handle capacities up to 128GB per DIMM slot, which sounds a lot like unlimited Chrome tabs to us. Of course, you’ll need to pair modules with the best gaming motherboard when they launch later this year, but these speeds and capacities are sure to see DDR5 at the top of our best gaming RAM guide.

The Alder Lake release date is pinned for later this year, meaning Intel will be the first to support the new standard. The Zen 4 release date rolls around in 2022, meaning AMD users shouldn’t have to wait much longer.

Here’s everything we know about DDR5.

DDR5 Release Date

The consumer release of DDR5 should coincide with the launch of Intel’s Alder Lake-S CPUs later this year. Corsair reaffirms that the release is imminent in a recent blog post, saying DDR5 memory is coming “soon”.

Unfortunately, AMD’s Zen 3+ processors are next up from the red team, and these won’t support DDR5. Instead, AMD users will have to wait for Zen 4, which is expected to land on shelves in 2022.

DDR5 Performance

DDR5 brings some incremental improvements over the previous standard. Unlike the maximum 32GB capacity on a DDR4 DIMM stick, DDR5 raises this to a potential 128GB per module. It’s up to program and game developers to code their software to take advantage of all this extra capacity, however.

The base frequency of DDR5 starts at 4,800MHz, rising up to a maximum 8,400MHz – higher than even the most extreme overclocks on DDR4. You can expect the average clock speeds to lie somewhere in between, however, as frequencies are tied to your processor.

DDR5 Price

Early adoption costs for the new memory standard are likely to be high, like we saw with DDR4’s initial release. DDR4 is by no means outdated yet, so you might want to hold out on the next generation of memory until prices settle.

DDR5 Compatibility

It doesn’t seem like all Alder Lake rigs will be capable of running the latest standard, as motherboard manufacturers plan to create both DDR4 and DDR5 motherboards for the new LGA 1700 socket.

AMD rigs won’t see DDR5 until 2022 with Zen 4, as the future Zen 3+ refresh isn’t expected to support the upcoming memory standard.