What is different and which one should you buy?

Now that the latest Intel and AMD processors support both DDR5, a new era in memory has begun. However, this does not mean that DDR4 memory is all in the past. Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen processors support DDR4, as well as AMD’s affordable Ryzen 5000 processors, which are a popular choice for anyone on a budget looking for a good value.

Choosing between DDR4 and DDR5 memory can be one of the most important choices you have to make as long as both standards remain viable. It’s not just a matter of value and performance, but it also determines the types of motherboards and CPUs you can use.

DDR4 vs DDR5: What’s the Difference?

DDR5 RAM modules are virtually identical to existing DDR4 memory modules. This isn’t necessarily a surprise. Unlike the transition from DDR3 to DDR4, the new DDR5 does not have a new or additional number of pins compared to its predecessor. It keeps the 288-pin arrangement but the pins are slightly different. However, the real difference lies in the level of architectural design. While DDR4 modules contain one 64-bit channel, DDR5 DIMMs come with two independent 32-bit channels. The length of the burst has also been doubled from 8 bytes to 16 bytes. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the main differences now:

bandwidth and capacity

One of the biggest advantages of DDR5 memory modules is that they provide a higher level of bandwidth. This is more important now than ever as we keep getting new processors with lots of cores. For example, the Intel Core i9-13900K has 24 cores in total. Even relatively low-power flagships like the Core i5-13400 have ten cores. The mainstream PC market will only get better CPUs with higher core counts in the future, so increasing bandwidth is essential.

JEDEC (Joint Electronic Device Engineering Council) specifies DDR4 data rates (or frequencies) spanning from DDR4-1600 to DDR4-3200, although there are a number of combinations rated for higher speeds. For DDR5, it’s designated as DDR5-3200 to DDR5-6400, but it’s safe to say you’ll see DDR5-4800 serving as a baseline while the latter number continues to increase as the standard matures over time. The higher frequency of DDR5 memory is what gives it a higher bandwidth than DDR4.

Another thing that the DDR5 standard brings to the table is denser memory modules for high capacity. While DDR4 modules outperform 16GB memory chips, DDR5 quadruples that number to use up to 64GB memory chips. Theoretically, we could have up to 128GB of memory per module, which is much more than any DDR4 memory stick offers. It’s still a while before we start seeing 128GB DDR5 modules, but we already have 64GB kits with 2 x 32GB sticks on the market, as well as newer 2 x 24GB kits.

operating voltage

Energy efficiency is also one of the main talking points for DDR5 memory modules. On the surface, DDR5 memory modules have an operating voltage of 1.1V, down from 1.2V in DDR4. This is bound to be different for each cluster as they are overclocked or have higher cache with tighter timings. We’ve seen DDR4 modules expand as high as 1.6V, and it’s safe to say that DDR5 will ramp up further to higher values. We already have DDR5 modules on the market up to 1.35V for DDR5-6800. As faster memory speeds take priority, DDR5 operating voltage will also rise along with it, reaching new highs.

The RAM modules are shown on the Gigabyte Aorus Pro Z690 motherboard

It should also be noted that motherboards are not responsible for voltage regulation of DDR5 modules. These new modules have a power management IC (PMIC) – 5V for mainstream modules and 12V for server-grade DIMMs. PMIC, in case you didn’t know, uses the 5V input from the motherboard and converts it to usable volts. PMIC has many advantages including improved voltage regulation, strong signals, and reduced noise. It’s certainly a nice change, but it makes RAM modules very expensive and is currently one of the main reasons for the DDR5 supply shortage.

DDR4 vs DDR5 RAM: Specifications

Now we have covered some of the main differences between the memory standards, let’s take a look at the main differences to summarize the transition from DDR4 to DDR5 (core specification):




memory speed

1600MHz – 3200MHz

4800MHz – 6400MHz

die density


64GB SDP -> 256GB DIMM


1.2 volts

1.1 volts

Energy management

on the motherboard

on the DIMM PMIC

With that out of the way now, it’s time to compare the units from each standard to see exactly how those changes are reflected in real-world use.

DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM: Performance

For this particular comparison, we’ll be using Kingston’s Fury Beast DDR5 memory alongside an Intel Core i9-12900K. Intel’s Alder Lake-S desktop CPUs were the first consumer-class processors to hit the market with support for DDR5 memory, but they also support DDR4 memory, meaning a direct comparison between DDR4 and DDR5 is possible.

The motherboard we choose for this test will be the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro DDR5 motherboard. You also get a version of this motherboard compatible with the DDR4 kits, which is what we used for this particular comparison while keeping the rest the same. By default, Kingston Fury Beast DDR5 memory modules run at DDR4-4800 at 1.1V. It runs on scheduled JEDEC timings from 38-38-38. However, a quick visit to Intel XMP 3.0 will boost Fury Beast up to DDR5-5200 with CL40 and 1.35V.

XPG RAM module with red heat spreader installed on the motherboard

It goes without saying that both DDR4 and DDR5 modules must operate in a similar system configuration. We compare a 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5 memory with an equivalent 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 kit on a similar test stand. The lack of DDR5 modules on the market limited the number of modules we could use for this test, but we’ll try to add benchmark numbers for more modules to this comparison as we get our hands on other kits.

Here is a quick look at some of the benchmarks we were able to run for this particular test:


Kingston Fury Best 32GB (2 x 16) DDR5-5200 CL40

ADATA XPG GAMMIX D30 32GB (2X16) DDR4-3600 CL18

PCMark 10 (better is better)



Cinebench R23 – Multi (Higher is better)



Blender – BMW (less is better)



Corona 1.3 – RT (less is better)



Handbrake x264, .mkv to .mp4 (less is more)



Handbrake x265, mkv to .mp4 (less is better)



The benchmark numbers reveal some unsurprising results. The differences in performance between the two sets of memory range from negligible to slight. After all, these are CPU benchmarks based on the raw horsepower of the CPU cores, making other factors like memory relatively unimportant. However, in games, the better performance from DDR5 is more noticeable since the CPU plays a different role.

While the transfer speeds of the new DDR5 memory modules are excellent, there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to price, frequency, and latency. However, DDR5 is still in its infancy. We will give it more time to mature and dominate the DDR4 modules in the market.

DDR4 vs. DDR5 RAM: Compatibility

Compatibility is perhaps the most important difference between DDR4 and DDR5. DDR4 has surprisingly good compatibility thanks to Intel continuing to support it with 12th and 13th generation CPUs; It’s also compatible with older Ryzen 5000 CPUs, many of which are still in demand today. Twelfth and thirteenth generation Intel, as well as the AMD Ryzen 7000 are the only desktop CPUs that currently support DDR5, and the Ryzen 7000 is the only one that absolutely requires it.

One important thing to note is that although 12th and 13th Gen CPUs support both DDR4 and DDR5, LGA 1700 motherboards can only support one or the other. This is because DDR4 and DDR5 are physically and electronically different, and it is impossible (or at least very difficult) for a motherboard to support both at the same time. Your motherboard determines what type of memory is compatible, which is important to check if you’re building a new computer.

DDR4 vs DDR5 RAM: Which Should You Buy?

We’ve seen the main differences between DDR4 and DDR5 memory modules along with some benchmark numbers, which show some real-world performance tests. Now for the most important question – which one should you buy for your next computer? The answer to this question depends on your budget for building your PC, what type of CPU you want, and what you’re going to do on your PC.

Kingston Fury Beast DDR5

Source: Kingston

Kingston Fury Best DDR5 RAM

Kingston’s Fury Beast DDR5 memory comes in many flavors, from 4800MHz to 6000MHz.

Since LGA 1700 motherboards only support one memory standard, ditching DDR4 for DDR5 only makes sense if you have the budget for it and really need the extra performance. Our roundup of the best DDR4 RAM and best DDR5 RAM combos will tell you there’s a big difference in price. Add that to the overall design, and you’ll end up paying big bucks in the entry-level cost of DDR5. Not to mention that it is also not easy to find DDR5 memory modules in stock.

A stick of XPG Gammix D30 DDR4 memory.
XPG Gamemix D30 DDR4 RAM

XPG Gammix D30 DDR4 RAM kits are perfect for building an affordable entry-level PC. These clusters have memory speeds of up to 3600MHz and a memory latency of CL18.

So if you are looking for a tight budget for the 12th or 13th generation Intel architecture, we recommend choosing a suitable DDR4 memory kit with relatively high speeds. It can definitely keep up with the current crop of DDR5 modules on the market. However, if you’re putting together a high-end build for high framerate gaming, the extra price of DDR5 is probably worth it and can help bump up the frame rate quite a bit.

DDR4 also makes a strong case for being compatible with older Ryzen 5000 chips, which means you not only save money on memory, but also your CPU and motherboard. Building a Ryzen 7000 PC is very expensive, and DDR5 RAM being a required component is one of the main reasons. However, the Ryzen 7000 is really fast, and the extra price for DDR5 isn’t that bad on higher models.

Overall, DDR5 will be worth it for the type of user who primarily plays at a high frame rate and has a big budget. For everyone else, DDR4 is perfectly fine or even desirable because it is much cheaper.

If you have any more questions regarding our DDR4 vs DDR5 comparison, be sure to let us know by dropping a comment below. As always, you can also join us XDA Computing Forums To interact with other experts in the community to discuss your design, get product recommendations, and more.

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Published by: unlimited-tech.com