RAM is one of the most important components when building a PC as it’s crucial for its operation, without RAM your PC won’t even boot. RAM is responsible for sending and receiving data with the CPU at extremely fast speeds, it’s this speed that makes it useful. Without RAM, loading applications would take significantly longer than they do now.
A RAM module has a clock speed much like a CPU and GPU does, and it refers to how many times the RAM can cycle per second. A RAM module clocked at 3000MHz will cycle 3billion times a second, this is extremely fast, and we’re going to go over why speed is important. Also, we’re going to go over what CAS latency is and why it’s important.
Answer: Faster RAM is better than slower RAM no matter if you’re gaming or video editing. 3200MHz is better than 3000MHz, and the goal is to maximize the clock speed then work on improving the RAM timings for optimal performance. Bandwidth is arguably more important than latency.
3000MHz Vs 3200MHz
For raw performance, the 3200 RAM module is the better option even considering CAS latency. Comparing a 3000MHz CL15 RAM module vs a 3200MHz CL16 module would show that the 3200MHz module outperforms the 3000MHz module due to the extra memory bandwidth, even though the 3000MHz module has less latency. If your RAM has decent overclockability, then purchasing the 3000MHz module and overclocking to 3200MHz makes far more sense.
The extra 200MHz is most likely to make a performance impact, but it doesn’t mean you should go for this option. The frame rates will likely be identical between the two modules with the 3200MHz system occasionally pulling ahead, but it would be better to go for whatever is cheaper. Many people will tell you that RAM speed makes a bigger difference than RAM latency. In gaming, you may notice a few more FPS going with the fastest RAM module, and the 1% lows will be better.
With all that aside, the 3200MHz modules will transfer 6.6% more data per second, so it’s a difference between 3000000000 and 3200000000 operations per second. With RAM speeds improving over time, the faster module will always be the better option due to it having the largest impact on performance. If you’re stuck between 3000MHz, and 3200MHz go for the cheapest option if it has the potential to overclock to 3200MHz, and further, this will save you money and is the smartest decision.
What Is DDR4 RAM?
DDR4 which stands for Double Data Rate 4 is a type of computer memory much like DDR3, and it’s known for having high memory bandwidth. Released back in 2014, DDR4 modules come in many different speeds which are usually stated on the specifications of the module. DDR4 RAM is far superior to DDR3 due to the lower voltages, DDR3 by default runs at 1.5V, and DDR4 by default runs at 1.2V, this inherently increases the stability of the system.
DDR4 RAM succeeded its predecessor DDR3, and it has numerous benefits over it such as – higher module density, lower voltage requirements, higher data transfer speeds, and it allows for DIMMs up to 64GB in capacity compared to DDR3s 16GB per DIMM. DDR4 is great for gamers due to its high-speed operation and low voltages, this means you can overclock without worrying about thermals.
Also, DDR4 RAM supports much higher clock rates compared to DDR3, the max speed a DDR3 module could be clocked at was 2133MHz, whereas DDR4 can go up to 4266MHz. These are massive performance gains because they’ll be noticed in many applications such as gaming, this is because the processor won’t have to wait on the RAM as much for instructions.
What Is CAS Latency & Why Is It Important
RAM has another metric to describe its performance and that’s CAS latency. You’ll notice a RAMs CAS latency being described by their timings, it should look something like this (CL16-18-18-38). The CL part means CAS Latency, and lower CAS latencies are preferred over higher CAS latencies. It’s important to consider the CAS latency when buying RAM because clock speeds aren’t everything when it comes to performance, we’ve seen this with processors with IPC.
The CAS latency refers to how many clock cycles it takes for the RAM to access the data in one of its columns, for performance, the memory clock speed will make the biggest impact, then the CAS latency will. If a RAM module has a CAS latency of 18, then it will take the RAM 18 clock cycles for it to complete the task, so lower CAS latencies are much better for performance.
It is possible to have two RAM modules with the exact same clock speed but different CAS latencies, in this case, you will want to pick the modules with the tighter timings and with the lowest CAS latency. This module will outperform the module with the higher CAS latency because it can complete its tasks in fewer clock cycles. However, if you’re comparing a 3000MHz CL15 module to a 3200MHz CL16 module, then the 3200MHz CL16 module should out-perform the 3000MHz CL15 module due to higher memory bandwidth.
Can You Mix RAM With Different CAS Latencies?
Mixing RAM modules with different CAS latencies is possible with the release of DDR4, the support is far better compared to DDR3. The system will find a balance between the RAM modules, usually by raising the latency of the fastest module, so yes it is possible to mix different CAS latencies. This may cause instability issues and random crashes, you just have to get lucky.
Two identical RAM modules with different CAS latencies will show you that the modules with the lowest CAS latency will outperform the module with the higher CAS latency. This is due to the data requests being completed in fewer clock cycles, but if you were to mix the RAM modules the fastest one will be forced to run slower. For example, pairing a CL15 with a CL16 module will force the CL15 module to run at CL16 which is obviously worse.
Scenarios like this usually occur when purchasing additional RAM due to your current modules not being in stock, but good PC building practice will show you that mixing RAM modules isn’t always a good idea. This is due to the possibility of random crashes, BSODs bugs. There is no harm in mixing two RAM modules if they work, so the only way you will know is if you try.
In conclusion, the faster the RAM the better for performance due to it transferring far more data per second. However, the difference of performance between a 3000MHz and 3200MHz module is minuscule, especially in gaming, so it’s recommended that you go for the cheapest option if you’re looking to save money. For the best performance, the fastest RAM module is obviously better.