With the growing popularity of DDR5, many are wondering whether or not they should buy a computer or upgrade their existing computer with the new memory. Similarly, you should consider what programs DDR5 makes the biggest difference on. The truth is that the average computer user probably won’t notice any major improvements, but productivity users that do editing will notice much faster speeds.
Everyone knows that computers need RAM to make them work. But you may not know that there is a major shift to a new form of RAM that will see speeds up to 160% faster. This number will be partly dependent on the manufacturer, but another major factor is that memory banks are significantly smaller, which means much more memory can be placed on a single stick of RAM.
Let’s dive deeper into what all this can mean for you.
What is DDR5?
DDR5 is a newer form of RAM that allows for much faster transfer speeds. The physical difference between DDR4 and DDR5 is that the architecture is much smaller on these newer chips, which allows for more components. This results in double the number of banks that can provide speeds of up to 84Gbps. It also means lower power consumption and higher capacity DRAM.
The biggest difference between DDR4 and DDR5 is that each bank now uses two 32-bit channels rather than a single 64-bit channel. While that may seem insignificant because you are still limited to the same bandwidth, it does allow smaller transfer blocks, meaning you should see some increased performance thanks to these smaller data-cycle bursts.
Another major improvement in DDR5 is that it requires less power to operate. DDR4 uses 1.2 volts, whereas DDR5 uses 1.5 volts. This lower consumption isn’t enough to significantly reduce energy usage, but it will make a slight difference in mobile devices such as laptops, where every little bit of savings helps.
Power savings may also be significant for those using large servers or operating server farms. A more important result of using less energy is that DDR5 produces less heat. Combining this new efficiency with the RAM manufacturer’s heat management should result in some pretty good improvements to the chip’s overall cooling capabilities.
Who Uses DDR5?
DDR5 is still a relatively new technology that computer manufacturers have not widely adopted. The biggest problem slowing adoption is that DDR5 requires different components, such as processors and motherboards, that are designed to run the newer architecture. Because the technology is so new also means that components are still pretty expensive.
The cost problem is further complicated by supply chain constraints resulting from the pandemic. Because of this, many PC owners and manufacturers alike have decided to continue using DDR4 since it is much cheaper and easier to acquire. Despite these obstacles, DDR5 is still growing very fast in popularity, especially among those who need the absolute best performance.
As prices of DDR5 continue to drop, more people are deciding to upgrade their computers with newer hardware. Similarly, manufacturers are adding DDR5 to select computers that obviously come at a higher cost than their DDR4 counterparts. The good news is that spending a little extra now on a desktop or laptop with DDR5 provides substantial future-proofing for years to come.
Best Uses for DDR5
While you could go straight to DDR5 on a new computer, it may not make sense to spend the extra money. The truth is only certain users will see a noticeable enough improvement in the near future to make upgrading worth it. However, as time goes by, manufacturers will be able to improve their designs which should increase speeds and bring down costs.
You should consider DDR5 if you use a computer for production-oriented programs such as Photoshop or video editing software. Accessing and moving around these types of files will greatly benefit from the increased speed. Similarly, designers that work with 3D models will also notice some speed improvements with their renders.
All of that boils down to speed, and when using a computer for work, time is money. Adding up a few minutes here and there of load time can greatly improve productivity in the long term. However, gamers probably won’t be as impressed as they hoped. While there will be some improvements, it really isn’t enough to justify rebuilding a gaming computer just for the upgrade.
Upgrading to DDR5
Upgrading your DDR4 computer to DDR5 RAM is not as easy as you might think. Most of the time, replacing RAM sticks is very easy and takes less than thirty minutes to complete the installation. However, DDR5 is an entirely different beast and has some specific component requirements that your current computer might not meet.
Therefore, it is usually best to buy or build an entirely new computer when you are ready to upgrade to DDR5. With that said, you don’t necessarily need to start over, as it is possible to upgrade components. If you built your own PC, or yours is easily upgradeable, then you may want to consider upgrading if the computer is fairly new.
The best-case scenario is that your computer has a 12th or 13th-generation Intel processor. These newer generation CPUs are designed to work with DDR5 RAM, so you would only need to buy a motherboard. However, if you don’t have a 12th or 13th-generation Intel processor, you will need to purchase a new CPU and a motherboard.
Now, you may be wondering, what about AMD? Only AMD’s Ryzen 7000 series is compatible with DDR5 RAM. All other AMD processors only work with DDR4. Further complicating matters is that AMD’s Ryzen 7000 series is only compatible with DDR5. The good news is that all of your other components, such as the hard drive, PC case, power supply, and GPU will work just fine.
DDR5 is going to be an impressive evolution and immensely improve computer speeds. However, we are still in the early days of the new technology, and its prices have not yet dropped. More importantly, it is not widely used by computer manufacturers, which makes it hard to get a new factory-built computer with DDR5.
The good news is that you probably don’t need to worry about upgrading to DDR5 yet. The main caveat is for photo and video editors as well as graphics designers who need the absolute highest speeds out of their computers. If you are planning on building a new computer soon, then it may be worth going with DDR5; otherwise, it probably isn’t worth the trouble just yet.
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