When it comes to building a gaming PC, the three components that will have the most significant impact on your gaming performance are your GPU, CPU, and RAM (Random Access Memory). You can of course throw the speed of your hard drive into this equation too these days, but these are the main three to consider.
With that being said, you ought to make sure you buy a good high performance RAM kit of sufficient size and memory speed to ensure optimal gaming performance. If your PC doesn’t have enough RAM, you’ll have trouble maintaining a steady framerate in-game.
Moreover, RAM speed has an impact on CPU performance, particularly on Ryzen CPUs. Having RAM that’s too slow – or not enough RAM in the first place – will make for a poor gaming experience, regardless of your system’s CPU or GPU.
That’s why we’ve created this guide. We’re going to be covering the best DDR3 RAM kits on the market this year.
Your memory type is obviously important so if you are still rocking a PC that takes DDR3 memory sticks rather than DDR 4 modules, then this guide is for you.
How We Picked
We’ve made a collection of the best value DDR3 RAM offerings. These are all DIMM modules that are compatible with the PC3 12800 specification, and can massively improve your system performance when in ram limited scenarios.
We’ve picked out RAM modules of the DDR 3 memory type for this page, not the more prevalent DDR 4 modules found in more recent hardware changes, that are from reputable manufacturers, and offer reliable performance.
So if you need this form factor for your PC, look no further.
How we tested
We’ve compared the performance of different DDR3 RAM modules, and selected the options that represent the best value to be featured in this lineup. These are our recommended options for upgrading your system RAM, or for equipping a new build with DDR3 RAM.
Best DDR3 RAM for Gaming in 2021: Fast RAM for Cheap
Great cooling solution
Not the cheapest RAM
Latency might be overkill for some users
Heat spreader increases the physical size of the module
Corsair’s excellent Pro Series offers some of the best RAM performance in this category, with very high speeds and low latency over the Corsair Vengeance LPX series.
With a robust anodized aluminum heat spreader, this ram will be able to maintain optimal thermal performance even under load, and it looks fairly stylish as a nice bonus. This is particularly useful for anyone who intends to overclock their RAM and needs to think about power consumption rather than a low voltage.
Corsair has a reputation for building some of the best and most reliable computer kit, and they offer a lifetime warranty on all their RAM modules. Coming with low CAS latency, this is pretty much identical in many ways to the DDR4 ram version.
No advanced cooling design
Not ideal for high-end gaming
This is a budget stick of RAM, and it’s priced accordingly. It’s not especially fast, with the highest latency in our lineup. It’s going to be adequate for gaming, but might be somewhat of a bottleneck for games with high RAM demands. Certainly, this would not be a good choice of RAM module if you’re interested in overclocking.
If you’re looking to equip your system with 8GB or 16GB of RAM on a strict budget, this is a decent option, but it won’t be able to match the performance of more premium RAM offerings such as the Corsair Vengeance LPX.
Well designed heat spreader
Not the most impressive latency
There are cheaper alternatives
Erratic stock for different color variants
This is a good performing DDR3 RAM module, with an attractive and compact heat spreader.
This RAM’s latency is a bit high, but it’s still a fast RAM kit offered at an affordable price. It is pretty fast, affordable, and reliable, making it one of the best DDR3 RAM options on the market. It comes with a Lifetime Warranty from Kingston, for peace of mind.
Different colors are available in these ram sticks, but stock for the different variations in this memory type is somewhat erratic.
Heatsinks for optimal thermal performance
A little on the pricey side
Aesthetic won’t suit all users
Only comes in red
This memory kit has more than 2,000 reviews with an average of 5 stars. It offers a good price to performance ratio and– since this kit is manufactured by G.SKILL– you can rest assured knowing it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
It’s slightly pricier than some of the other options from this lineup and doesn’t top the chart for performance, but it’s still a great option for ram sticks with low CAS latency
Things to Consider
Look at how many RAM slots your system has available, consider the current RAM modules you own, and if you may want to upgrade further in the future. Planning out how many RAM modules you can have in total and deciding on modules accordingly can save you from unnecessarily having to remove modules in the future to free up space for larger modules.
RAM Capacity And Clock Speed
RAM capacity, measured in gigabytes, refers to the amount of data that can be stored on a stick of RAM at any one time. A decent capacity is essential to an efficient system. Without sufficient RAM, your computer will be sluggish and have problems supporting parallelizing workflows.
8GB of RAM is generally considered the baseline for PC gaming, but if you need a system that can support intensive multitasking, we highly recommend going for 16-32GB RAM.
The clock speed of your RAM is measured in megahertz and determines how many times a second stored data can be accessed. Faster RAM ensures loading and boot times are kept to a minimum and that general system processes run swiftly and smoothly.
We recommend going no lower than 1600Mhz for a DDR3 build. This should be fast enough for most modern games, although you may need to apply a mild overclock to iron out the kinks in a RAM-heavy title.
Assessing the Nature of Your Build – A Note on Selecting RAM
Picking out a stick of RAM isn’t as simple as finding the biggest, fastest one. You need to figure out what your motherboard and CPU are capable of supporting.
It’s not a big deal to your motherboard if it can only support, say, 8GB, 1400MHz RAM, and you throw a 1600MHz stick into the mix; it won’t break it. However, it also won’t be able to utilize the excess and will proceed at its own capacities. That means you’ll have wasted money on RAM that’s not getting used.
Heat spreaders run along the top of your RAM. It’s their job to transport heat from the PCB to the outer edges of the stick where it can be expunged by your cooling system. Materials have a vast impact on the efficacy of a heat spreader, but generally speaking, the larger they are, the better they are at keeping running temperatures at a minimum. That said, larger RAM can cause spatial issues, which brings us to our next point.
Things To Consider
Which motherboard can I use these RAM modules with?
These RAM modules all use the PC3 12800 specification, so as long as that is supported by your motherboard, you’re good to go. With the options featuring a large heat spreader, you may want to check just how much space you have available if you’re using it in a small form factor PC, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the vast majority of systems.
Do I need 8GB or 16GB?
It depends on how you intend to use your system. 8GB will be plenty for many different tasks, and certainly for older games, but newer games on higher settings will likely benefit from having access to an increased RAM pool. Don’t forget you may need DDR3 SDRAM if you are looking to upgrade a laptop or vice versa. Also if you are on a newer system you may well not need DDR3 (Double Data Rate) memory at all, but rather DDR4 modules or memory kit.
Is DDR3 RAM Still Good In 2021
Yes, it is still great in this day and age. The real-world performative differences between DDR3 and DDR 4 modules just aren’t all that significant for gamers, but if you’re a content creator, we do suggest that you make the upgrade as you will find high performance DDR4 ram suits your needs better.
Can I Use 1333 And 1600 RAM Together?
The good news is, yes, you can use RAM with different clock speeds together. The bad news is that your system will run them both at the rate of the lower-spec stick. So in this scenario, you may have combined 1333 and 1600MHz sticks, but they’ll perform as two 1333MHz sticks.
Can I Replace DDR3 With DDR4 RAM?
Generally speaking, no, you cannot do a straight trade from DDR3 to DDR4 RAM. They’re made with a different number of pins and are slightly different sizes. You won’t even be able to fit a DDR4 module form factor into a DDR3 expansion slot.
Why Is DDR3 RAM Still So Expensive
DDR3 RAM has held its price incredibly well for a number of reasons, the main one being scarcity. It’s just not mass-produced anymore.
The Corsair Vengeance Pro Series is our top pick for the best DDR3 RAM. It’s got excellent latency, fantastic cooling, and comes with a robust lifetime warranty. Corsair is one of the leading manufacturers of RAM modules, and it’s not hard to see why.