The age of DDR5 may be dawning, but most of us are happy enough with our DDR3 setups. Even so, just to ensure our builds are primed for the future of gaming, there’s no reason we can’t upgrade our RAM within the context of the DDR3 format.
The only problem you face is deciphering which DDR3 Ram sticks do actually offer higher system performance. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re all alike because in many ways, they are. The only way you can really find your answers is to engage in hours of monotonous testing or reading through pages of other people’s test results.
Not to worry though, DDR3 fam! We’ve done all the tedious stuff for you and rounded up five of the best DDR3 designs in the business. Load up your motherboard with some of these bad boys and you’ll see an instant refinement in system efficiency.
Best DDR3 RAM in 2021
Anodized Aluminum Heat Spreaders - Run very cool, perfect for overclocking.
9-9-9-24 Latency - Exceedingly low latency makes for an efficient system.
Lifetime Warranty - Buy and use with confidence.
Aesthetics - They look great!
Price - They’re quite expensive for a memory format two generations deep.
Size - You may have trouble combining them with a dual-tower CPU cooler.
RAM like the Vengeance Pro is the very reason why DDR4 simply isn’t necessary for many of us. Coming in pairs of 8GB sticks, stock clock speeds reach as high as 1600Mhz, which is impressive in its own right for DDR3, but what really hits the spot about the Vengeance Pro is the potential for overclocking.
Fitted with brawny anodized aluminum heat spreaders, these things keep their cool under a full load, providing plenty of thermal headroom for some tactical voltage increases.
DDR3 is already known to have lower latency than DDR4, but another fantastic thing about the Pro is just how much lower it is. The CAS 9 rating increases system efficiency, amounting to faster load times and slightly boosted frame rates.
Now let’s consider the cosmetic side of things, shall we? Personally, we absolutely love the Vengeance aesthetics. They’re not overly ‘gamery’, yet these sticks appear quite tough. We’d go as far as saying they make a rather stylish addition to a build.
To put the icing on the DDR3 cake, Corsair is so confident in the quality of the Vengeance Pro that they offer a full lifetime warranty with purchase.
1866MHz Clock Speed - Mega fast for DDR3.
Heat Spreaders - Disperse heat more efficiently than most.
Aesthetics - Beautifully shaped and available in a ton of awesome colors.
CAS 10 - Higher latency than our top pick.
Color Scarcity - your favorite color may be hard to source.
The Kingston HyperX Fury is something of an oxymoron. On the one hand, it’s capable of juiced, 1866Mhz clock speeds – an incredibly impressive DDR3 feat. And on the other hand, it has CAS 10 latency. That’s still way lower than DDR4 modules, but it’s not as swift as the Vengeance.
The question is, does the Fury’s boosted clock speed make up for the slight increase in latency? Well, we’re happy to report that, yes, it definitely does. This is one of the most efficient DDR3 RAM designs on the market.
What’s more, the Fury’s heat spreader game is on point! As it’s designed to auto-overclock to the limit set by the BIOS, it’s designed to eat up heat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Available in an array of beautiful colors, these sticks can really breathe new life into a build. There’s something about their sleek asymmetry that really pleases the eye. Looking like the barrel of some sort of futuristic pistol, they’re sure to inspire the envy of all your friends.
Price - Easier on the old wallet than our top two.
CAS 9 Latency - Swift performance.
Low Profile - Pair well with a smaller case or larger CPU cooler.
8GB Capacity - Fine for gaming, but 16GB is thought of as the standard.
Gold Finish - These are loud sticks...visually speaking.
Named for the Greek god of courage and war, you instantly know the G.Skill Ares means business. Running at 1600Mhz, with a CAS latency score of 9, it’s a fantastic budget option for optimizing a DDR3 build.
They arrive in a set of two, each with a 4GB capacity, which is perfectly fine for 99% of modern AAA titles, but for RAM-heavy games or intensive computational multitasking, they might slow you down a little.
The heat spreader is fairly well-designed, ensuring things don’t get too spicy under load, and the straight cut shaping is a refreshing touch, but we could take or leave the orange-gold finish. It’ll look great in a mostly black build, but if you already have a multitude of technicolor components and a wealth of RGBs, it might be a bit jarring.
Finishing on a positive note, measuring only 3.2cm tall, these are relatively low profile sticks and should fit in behind a beefy CPU cooler, no problem.
16GB Capacity - This is all most will ever need.
CAS 9 - Low latency means faster data transfer.
Low Profile - Will fit in a densely populated case ecosystem.
Small Heat Spreader - Won’t cope well with extreme overclocks.
Price - It’s a premium product and is priced accordingly.
We’re back with a vengeance for our penultimate pick, the Corsair Vengeance LP. If our chunky Corsair champion was physically too much RAM for your build, you’ll want to pay close attention to this one.
With similar specs to the Pro, the LP arrives out the box ready to push your system to the limits without dominating the landscape of your build. Each measuring just over 2 ½ cm, they’ll tuck in neatly behind a large CPU cooler or simply afford you some wiggle room in an SFF case, making alterations way easier.
Running at 1600MHz, with a CAS latency score of 9, they’re about as swift as DDR3 gets. Furthermore, they have a nice neutral design, ensuring they fit in no matter how tame or wild your already established build themes are.
Of course, there is one downside to a low profile design, namely, the smaller heat spreader. With less surface area to work with, it has a harder time of dispersing thermal buildups. Besides that, it’s fast, compact, looks great…we really can’t fault it.
Price - Snatch one up for a fraction of the cost of our other picks.
Capacity - 8GB is enough for most games.
Brand Reliability - Patriot is renowned for their quality components.
No Heat Spreader - It’s best to avoid overclocking.
CAS 11 Latency - Not as fast as most other DDR3 RAM.
If you’re not particularly bothered about overclocking, and you simply want something you can plug in, then sit back and enjoy some honest-to-goodness gaming, the Patriot Signature is definitely the RAM for you.
Running a 1600Mhz, it brings snappy system performance at an incredibly budget price point. Seriously, if you haven’t had a peek at the price yet, check the link above, and try to stop your jaw from dropping.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to look too hard at the Signature to deduce where costs have been cut. Instantly, you’ll notice it doesn’t have a heat spreader or any protective casing at all for that matter, so it’s not particularly suitable for overclocking.
It also features CAS 11 latency, which is very high for a DDR3 module, but take another look at that price tag. Even with these diminished capacities, you won’t find a better bang for buck 8GB stick of Ram anywhere. It doesn’t exist.
Things To Consider
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.
CAS latency is a measure of the gap between your CPU sending a READ command (asking for access to data) and the data being made ready for access. All you really need to remember is that the lower the CAS latency, the better.
DDR3 RAM usually has a CAS rate of 9 or 10, but as you’ve seen from the Patriot Signature, in some cases, it can be even higher.
If you want a high-performance system, stick to CAS 9, but it’s not really all that bigger deal if you end up with a 10. The difference between them is roughly 1.25ns, so in all likelihood, you won’t notice the difference between them, especially for gaming.
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.
RAM Height and Clearance Space
Powerful RAM can end up being pretty tall, which isn’t a problem in itself. Almost any form factor case will be able to accommodate tall RAM. It only becomes a problem when you have to fit other large items in there as well, specifically, CPU coolers.
CPU coolers can be pretty beefy themselves, especially dual-tower systems. If you already have or plan on getting a CPU cooler, you’ll need to measure the clearance space it leaves your RAM, otherwise, you simply won’t be able to fit both components in at the same time.
Last but in many respects, not least, we need to find you RAM that looks awesome! We know, we know, it’s purely cosmetic and won’t have any impact on performance, but we all want our builds to look slick, so there’s no harm in shopping around for the one that looks the best.
Which DDR3 RAM is Best?
Featuring lofty clock speeds, a great visual design, and unparalleled heat spreading technology, the Corsair Vengeance Pro is objectively the best DDR3 RAM you can buy. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best RAM for you and your build. You may be able to get by just fine with something more affordable.
What is the Fastest DDR3 RAM?
The highest tier DDR3 RAM can run at speeds up to 3000Mhz, but the fastest ever recorded DDR3 clock speed was attained by professional overclocker, James Trevaskis, who managed to push a 4GB DDR3 – 3000Mhz G.Skill stick to 4404MHz.
Is DDR3 RAM Still Good in 2021?
DDR3 RAM is still great in this day and age. The real-world performative differences between DDR3 and 4 just aren’t all that significant for gamers, but if you’re a content creator, we do suggest that you make the upgrade.
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 shouldn’t even be able to fit a DDR4 module into a DDR3 expansion slot.
Is 1600MHz RAM Slow?
1600MHZ RAM isn’t exactly lightning-fast in today’s climate, but it’s still pretty quick RAM clock speed capable of supporting most gaming styles.
Is DDR3 Faster than DDR4?
There’s quite a bit of confusion on this front, but no, DDR3 isn’t as fast as DDR4. The myth arises from the fact that DDR3 has a lower CAS latency, but that small CAS difference is completely eclipsed by DDR4’s epic clock speeds.
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.
So, what did you think of our list, folks? There’s a little of something in there for everyone, no matter what sort of system you’re dreaming up.
If you’ve got the cash, we highly recommend choosing the Corsair Vengeance Pro. Even though DDR5 is rearing its beautiful head, the DDR3 Pro offers a certain degree of future proofing. It may be expensive, but it will stave off a pricey system overhaul the longest.
The Kingston Fury is relatively similar to the Pro, so if you prefer the way it looks, there’s no reason not to choose it instead, or alternatively, the Vengeance LP is a shoo-in for an SFF build.
The Ares is a decidedly mid-range option; however, it will support a gaming build without breaking a sweat, but if pure value for money is your priority, the Patriot Signature is undoubtedly the way forward.