Last time we had a look at the performance benefit of installing faster memory was at the end of 2016. A lot of new processors have appeared on the market since then. Intel have upgraded Coffee Lake to six cores as a mainstream platform, AMD have released Ryzen and now Ryzen 2 as well… It is time we took another look at what upgrading to faster RAM will do for your system!
More RAM is better than fast RAM, right?!
It is one of the old wisdoms in the hardware world: more instead of faster (working) memory. The introduction of DDR4 was therefore not very celebrated a few years ago. For a long time, we only saw some slight gains in performance when using higher clocked RAM with integrated graphics cards, which also use the system's working memory as video memory.
In our previous test, we concluded that more usage scenarios showed significant performance gains when memory was used more quickly. Since then, the market seems to have started a race to ever higher clocked DDR4. AMD and Intel officially certified their Ryzen and Coffee Lake processors for DDR4-2666, and AMD's latest APUs are even guaranteed to work on DDR4-2933. In practice, overclocking often allows higher speeds, but increasing the standard speed further is a clear signal from the processor manufacturers.
Smart savings or perfomance loss?
That brings us to two interesting questions. To start with, if you go for a cheaper DDR4-2400 or even DDR4-2133 kit, what is the performance hand-in like? Especially now that memory prices are skyrocketing, every bit of money you save will look pretty enticing. But is this not just an imaginary gain?
Secondly, of course, there is the question of the extent to which current software scaled up with higher memory speeds. Memory manufacturers sell DDR4 modules with speeds of up to 4.600 MHz at astronomical prices, but will they perform better in real life?