Single page Print

Memory
Ever since Intel's Haswell-E processors brought DDR4 memory to the desktop last year, we've been reserving the "high end" tier of our memory section for DDR4 RAM. Keep in mind that DDR4 RAM won't work with standard Haswell CPUs, which require DDR3 memory.

Budget

Product Price Notable needs
G.Skill Ripjaws 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1600 $39.99 CPU cooler must not protrude
over memory slots

Memory prices are down compared to last year, which is good news. However, 4GB of DDR3 RAM may still be the most you can fit into a low-end budget.

This Ripjaws combo from G.Skill is one of the most popular options on Newegg, and it's also one of the most affordable. Just keep in mind that the tall head spreaders may interfere with tower-style CPU coolers. The stock Intel cooler will work, but if you're thinking of getting an aftermarket unit, check our CPU cooler recommendations a few pages ahead for something suitable.

By the way, 4GB of RAM won't be enough for some of the latest cross-platform games. Assassin's Creed Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Watch Dogs all require at least 6GB. Keep reading for more generous memory recommendations.

Sweet spot

Product Price Notable needs
G.Skill Ares 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 $65.99 N/A
Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3-1600 $119.99
Crucial Ballistix Sport 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3-1600 $266.99

An 8GB memory kit meets the requirements for the aforementioned games, and it's probably as much as most users need these days. Very heavy multitaskers (and those eager to future-proof their PCs) may feel compelled to spring for a 16GB or 32GB kit, but 8GB rarely causes bottlenecks. Here, we're going with G.Skill and Crucial kits that all have low-profile heat spreaders.

For the record, we didn't choose these kits with memory overclocking in mind, nor did we splurge on modules rated to run at higher speeds. Overclocked memory can cause data loss and stability problems, and memory that's designed to operate above 1600 MT/s doesn't usually pay much in the way of real-world performance dividends. The multiplier-unlocked processors we recommend can be overclocked just fine without bringing memory into the picture, anyway.

High end

Product Price Notable needs
Crucial 16GB (4x4GB) DDR4-2133 $184.99 Haswell-E processor,
X99 motherboard
Crucial 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4-2133 $369.99

Out of the box, Haswell-E supports DDR4 memory speeds up to 2133 MT/s. These 16GB and 32GB Crucial kits are the most affordable DDR4-2133 options with relatively low latencies from that we could find a big-name vendor. They don't have giant heatspreaders that would interfere with a large air cooler, and they're covered by lifetime warranties. Sounds good to us!

If you're really looking to show off, then there are plenty of DDR4 modules rated to run at higher speeds. G.Skill has some of the least expensive 16GB DDR4-2666 kits out there, and if you want to go all out, there are always Corsair's DDR4-2800 DIMMs, which we've been using in our Haswell-E test rigs.