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(Pocket-lint) - Finding the best RAM for your rig is essential, whether you're looking to upgrade your current PC or are starting a build from scratch.

Thankfully, RAM - or random-access memory, to give it its full title - is one of the smallest, most affordable parts of any setup. It's also possibly the easiest component to install.

As with any PC part you invest in, though, you'll want to pick the right RAM for your needs, system and budget. That's where this guide can help.

We've tested some of the top RAM options on the market to help make the comparisons and decision-making a bit easier.

As you'll likely already know, RAM comes in all manner of types, with various speeds and capacities available. That's why we've been using all sorts of RAM in various different PC builds over the years, including budget compact machines, mid-range and extreme gaming PC builds

The following is our round-up of the best RAM we've tried and those products we'd recommend. 


What is the best RAM?

  1. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 3600MHz
  2. Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO 32GB
  3. HyperX Fury
  4. G.Skill Trident Z RGB 
  5. Crucial Ballistix 16GB

Our Top Pick: Best RAM

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Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB

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For

  • Great looking RAM with subtle but customisable RGB
  • Fast and reliable design

Against

  • Not a cheap option

Corsair's Dominator Platinum RAM is chunky, gorgeous and super, super quick. 

This is not only great looking RAM but high-quality memory that's not going to let you down.

Dominator Platinum RGB RAM is available at various different speeds and sizes. We used 3,600MHz in one of our recent PC builds and this, combined with four sticks totalling 32GB, helped us find a good balance between speed and size to get the job done with gaming, video editing and more. 

This RAM also sports some subtle and customisable RGB lighting which is controllable via Corsair's iCUE software. From that same software, you can also monitor temps to ensure everything is in order. All told, this is a great addition to your setup.

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Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO 32GB

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For

  • Tried and trusted for years
  • Solid build quality

Against

  • RGB design might not be for everyone

When it comes to RAM, we think that the right pick for most people will be the one from our mid-range PC build - 32GB of Corsair memory with a splash of RGB lighting to help accent the aesthetics of your build.

It's DDR4, meaning that you'll get really solid speeds from it, and while 32GB is a pretty significant amount of memory for most people, we think it makes sense as a future-proofing decision that'll keep your PC nice and quick for years to come. 

Like the rest of Corsair's RAM, it's solidly built but also has a nice looking aesthetic that enhances your PC build. 

You can buy this RAM in various sizes and speeds, we'd recommend getting over 3,000Mhz if you can afford it. 

RAM we also recommend

There are a number of other RAM offerings worth looking at that we've tested - here are all the details. 

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HyperX Fury HX426C16FB3/8

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For

  • Understated design
  • Capable speeds

Against

  • Not as fancy as other RAM on this list

If you don't think you need as much memory - perhaps because you're building a work PC that doesn't need to power through games, you'll likely be fine with just 8GB of RAM for now, and it'll make sure that costs are kept down.

This stick from HyperX is still DDR4, as you'd hope, and while it's slower than Corsair's options, it's still a great buy for a really affordable price. 

It might not be as much to look at, but this HyperX Fury RAM will still get the job done. It's affordable and a neat option to turn to for a budget build. 

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G.Skill Trident Z RGB

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For

  • Instantly recognisable style
  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent performance

Against

  • RGB stylings may be too much for some

G.Skill's Trident line of RAM has a sky-high reputation, with good reason - it's a great set of memory that also brings a really nice RGB light strip to the party. 

Trident Z offers top-notch performance for your rig and is well worth considering.

You get really solid 3,200 MHz speeds here, and the price for 16GB of memory is very solid, especially given the vouchsafes it comes with as far as quality is concerned. 

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Crucial Ballistix 16GB

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For

  • A great offering for gamers
  • No unnecessary RGB

Against

  • Not as fancy looking as the rest

Crucial is a bit more iconic as a tech brand, and its RAM sticks might not be very interesting to look at, but they do an able job. 

This is another 16GB set, so it's once more perfect for those looking at a mid-range build or upgrade, and it also won't break the bank.

Sure, it doesn't have fancy RGB lighting like a lot of the others on this list, but that doesn't mean you should overlook it.  

Ballistix is a great choice for any build. Delivering excellent performance and great bang for your buck.  

How to choose the best RAM for your system

When selecting the right RAM for your system, there are a few things to consider. If you're building a PC from scratch then what you choose will be different from when you're simply looking to upgrade. 

What you need to know

If you're building a PC from scratch, then the first thing to do is check what your chosen motherboard can support. Most modern motherboards have a dual-channel memory format.

Dual-channel simply means two sticks of RAM work in pairs on the motherboard. You'll need at least two sticks of RAM minimum, but you could fill all four slots for more memory if you need it.

How much do you need?

There are a few different things about RAM that impact performance - size, speed and frequency. The amount of RAM you need will depend on what you're planning to use it for. 

If you're taking on RAM hungry tasks like video editing, 3D modelling, rendering and such, then you'll likely want a large amount of RAM and would see more benefit from having 32 or 64GB. 

Meanwhile, for gaming and fast tasks, you'll want faster frequency. 

What is RAM frequency? 

RAM's frequency is measured in MHz. Generally, the faster the better. Upcoming DDR5 RAM is said to be capable of as much as 8,400MHz which is insanely fast. Currently most DDR4 RAM sticks at around 3,000MHz or thereabouts. As with size, you need to check to see what your motherboard can handle. 

Some gaming motherboards can handle a maximum frequency of 5000MHz but not more and not less than 2133MHz either. You need to ensure you buy RAM that fits in the right category. 

This might all sound complicated but you just need to ensure you have the right architecture (channel, MHz, type and size) and it will work.

What about RAM timings? 

Another thing to look out for is memory timings. These appear in numbers like 15-16-16-35. The lower the first three numbers the better. If you're upgrading it's also important to ensure that any new sticks of RAM you buy match not only in size and MHz but also in this timing frequency logic. You can find out more about RAM timings broken down in a logical way here

More about this story

There are a number of factors we consider when looking at recommending products, and the RAM in this list has been thoroughly tried and tested in real-life situations. Installed in different kinds of builds and used for working, video editing, gaming, surfing and other activities. 

We've tested to ensure the best results possible, though clearly with the nature of RAM and the different RAM speeds, sizes and frequencies, every experience will be different. Please be sure to check what RAM is compatible with your system before purchasing. 

As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.

What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each charging station is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.

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Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.