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Memory Buyers Guide

We recommend 16GB for almost all users whilst a cost effective 32GB option provides headroom for more demanding applications as well as the ability to have more applications running concurrently without performance degradation.  Upgrades to 64GB or higher are typically only required for specific applications and un-necessary for the majority of users.

When it comes to memory upgrade options you may see reference to 32GB as 4x8GB or 2x16GB.  This is because memory is best installed in matching pairs and there are 2 or 4 slots on most systems in which we can install memory.  The difference between 4×4 and 2×8 on 4 DIMM boards is that the 2×8 uses 2 slots leaves additional room future upgrades and the 4×4 has all slots full.

All of the Intel 2nd to 4th generation i5/i7 computers use DDR3 memory.  Intel 6thgeneration and later use DDR4 memory and 12th/13th generation CPUs support DDR4 OR DDR5 (dependent on which motherboard you select) whilst the new AMD 7000 series processors exclusively support DDR5 memory.

Memory speeds are often referred to as in MHz values – so you’ll see 3200MHz (DDR4) or 5600MHz (DDR5) or similar speeds listed with memory.  The correct term is actually megatransfers per second (MT/s) but MHz is more widely used and understood in the industry so remains the term used here.  Faster isn’t necessarily better as both memory speed and latency impact performance.  Value priced memory at 3200MHz with CL16 latency will typically perform the same as 3600MHz with CL18 (higher/worse) latency.  Most processors have offically supported memory speeds above which the higher speeds are classed as “overclocking” and not guaranteed.  For the most part we recommend 1600MHz (DDR3), 3200MHz (DDR4) and 5600MHz (DDR5) memory speeds for the majority of users as offering the most stable/compatible and best value for money options.  If you purchase memory with say a rating of 7000MHz (DDR5) it is possible that the CPU controller may only run that memory at 5600MHz or 6000MHz – this is not a fault with the memory OR the CPU as the official supported value is much lower and the you are essentially playing the “silicon lottery” as to how fast (above spec) your CPU will support… your memory may support that speed with future CPU changes.

Memory latency typically prefixed with C or CL (ie CL16 or C40) refers to the latency (response time) of memory modules with higher numbers being lower (worse) performance.  DDR5 latency will typically be much higher than DDR4 latency so is not directly comparable as the memory speeds are much higher.  When comparing two memory options at the same speed, the lower latency number will offer performance improvements, for example DDR4 3200MHz CL16 is much faster than 3200MHz CL22 memory.

For Intel 12th/13th generation processors we recommend selecting DDR5 when pairing with higher-end i5 and i7 models.