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You must be thinking what should you do next with your build. Should you build a rig with your older ddr3 memories or should you just completely skip ddr3 ram and build a Skylake/Haswell-E gaming computer with faster ddr4 memories?
The answer is not just in a single YES or NO. Well I am going to eliminate the confusion between choosing the ddr3 and ddr4 memories in this post with real examples and resources by which you can really decide what to do with your build. As most of the times it’s really simple choosing between two powerful graphics cards, memories play a different role in gaming.
Saying that ddr4 memories will perform better in gaming as they are clocked higher and consume less power isn’t enough to justify the statement as games massively depend on CPU and GPU.
DDR4 memories now are becoming common among gamers as well as non gamers due to their reduced prices and use of Skylake processors. The main reason of choosing ddr4 memory modules is of course the core i3/i5/i7 sixth generation processors as they cost nearly the same as Haswell processors.
But what if you have AMD rig or non-Skylake/Haswell-E builds? Do ddr3 memories really not worth the money and should they be ditched completely right now?
THE MYTH #1: “Speed is often misunderstood in the Ram area. People think more speed means more performance but when it comes to real benchmarks the results are not that much impressive.” But REALLY? Does the speed doesn’t matter.
THE MYTH #2: “The performance of a RAM depends upon Frequency and CAS latency. Generally the Ram with faster speed has more CAS latency which cancel out each other and provides almost same performance.” Again wrong upto an extent.
Well here is a video of comparison between memories clocked at different frequencies by Linus:
Well this video is Ok upto most of the extent. He is a big tech and I am nothing compared to him. But, But he missed one point.
CAS latency isn’t the “True Latency” of a Ram module. Let me explain this in a simple way. A memory works like this:-
The amount of frequency it has is the required bandwidth to transfer the data. The more the frequency the more the data a Ram module can transfer. But it works on cycles and each Ram module has a fixed number of cycles which is known as CAS latency. It can range from 3 to 18. The lower the number of cycles the faster the Ram will be. The older versions of Ram like SDR and DDR memory modules had 3 CAS latency. So does it mean they will respond faster to an operation?
NO, NO. The CAS latency is just the number of cycles each RAM module has to work. But each cycle itself has it’s own timings. For example, the SDR and DDR modules have one cycle equal to
8 and 6 NS(nanoseconds) respectively but the DDR3 memories clocked at 1333Mhz has one cycle equal to 1.5 NS which is way lower than those of SDR and DDR Ram modules. Although the CAS latency of 1333Mhz DDR3 Ram is 9 but the overall true latency of DDR3 memory is much lower. This can be achieved by the following Formula:-
True Latency(NS)= Clock cycle time(NS) x CAS Latency/ No of clock cycles
So if a Ram module has more CAS latency but a far lesser clock cycle time, it will operate faster if the speed is more.
So what’s the conclusion. We see from the above chart that the lowest possible true latency is 13.50 which is of DDR3 1333Mhz Ram module but as the frequency increased the true Latency also increased a little bit but due to the faster speeds they will perform almost equally to each other. Again when it came down to DDR4 2666Mhz memory module the true latency is equal to that of DDR3 1333Mhz memory module.
Therefore the DDR4 2666Mhz Ram module will work faster and is the way to go.
Power consumption and Support
DDR3 memories work on 1.5Volts whereas DDR4 memories work on 1.25Volts. So here we achieved a small step up from previous generation. Well Voltage isn’t equal to the power consumption but in theory and practical lower voltage devices working in the same condition will require less power. As I don’t have the sources for accurate power consumption of both types of memory I can only assume what big authority websites like Anandtech.com and eetimes.com have stated.
But even if the DDR4 memories require less power, there isn’t really a big difference between the total power consumption of a single system and it doesn’t really concludes that you should be getting only DDR4 memories. But in workstations where hundreds of high end computers are working together, DDR4 is definitely the way to go. Because power saving of each computer contributes to big power saving.
But what about support? how much memory can you put into a DDR3 and a DDR4 based system respectively. According to the source eetimes.com a DDR3 memory based system can have upto 128gb of memory and a DDR4 memory based system can support upto 512gb of memory. So what? you ain’t going to have that much. Even a 32 gigs of memory both from DDR3 and DDR4 is over-overkill for a gaming computer.
So here, there is no winner between DDR3 and DDR4 memory if we take concern only about a Gaming Computer.
When it comes to real gaming performance we have to see the actual benchmarks rather than the theory. Anandtech.com did compared the two in different games and the results were some where to the expectations. From those benchmarks we can clearly see that the DDR4 memories performed much faster than the DDR3 in games when the GPU was Integrated but with dedicated graphics cards even if they were low end or high end, the difference was not noticeable at all.
But in non gaming applications like Winrar, the DDR4 outperformed the DDR3 with a noticeable margin and proved to be faster.
Prices of DDR4 memories used to be very high in the last year but as the Skylake systems became more common they cost almost the same as DDR3 memories. A single stick of DDR3 memory clocked at 1600Mhz from Crucial ballistix costs around $30 and the same goes for a DDR4 Crucial 2400Mhz memory. Similarly 16gb of DDR3 memory from kingston goes for around $75 and the same goes for 16gb of DDR4 memory modules although the clocks are different.
On seeing all of these factors, We come to the conclusion that DDR4 memories are best suited for gaming and non-gaming purposes especially if you are using the integrated graphics unit. But does that make DDR3 to be ditched?
No, if you own DDR3 memories or want to build a DDR3 memory based system, go for that. Don’t listen to anyone until there comes a solid proof that DDR4 memories are noticeably faster than the DDR3 counterparts in gaming. But my recommendation will always be DDR4 for now if you want to build an entirely new gaming rig. But upgrading your rig to newer CPU, motherboard only for the sake of getting DDR4 memories is just a waste of money.