DDR5 vs DDR4 RAM – Is waiting for DDR5 worth it?

If you’re considering the RAM or memory for your computer, then you’re already going to be familiar with DDR4. It was first released back in 2014, and although it took a few years to overtake DDR3, it’s now firmly accepted and loved by computer users worldwide.

Fast-forward to 2021 and we’re still anticipating the big brands like Samsung to release their version of DDR5, which will push us forward in terms of the memory for our computers. It’s more than likely that DDR5 will come to mobile via Samsung first, and we’re probably going to see that this year.

But in what areas is DDR5 better than DDR4, and how do they compare to each other? Well, although they’re similar in many ways, it’s definitely a big improvement that many in the industry have been waiting for. We’re going to look at both of them to work out if it’s going to be worth the wait.

DDR5 vs DDR4 RAM

DDR5 is going to be better than DDR4 in pretty much every different aspect. Most notably, DDR5 will have a higher bandwidth with reduced latency, all whilst consuming less power than DDR4. It will also allow us to have greater RAM capacity, and therefore a much more powerful laptop or computer.

But all of this isn’t going to happen overnight. The truth is that the release of DDR5 will continue to be exactly like when DDR4 was first released. People will generally be pretty underwhelmed for a while, as there won’t be a dramatic difference between the two.

However, we do know that there won’t be any improvements to come for DDR4. With all the focus on getting DDR5 up to its maximum potential, it’s fair to say that DDR5 will be a lot better than DDR4. However, it will likely take a bit of time to get there.

With there being a lot of talk about RAM and Intel Optane Memory, people are interested in getting faster computing speeds. And it seems like DDR5 is the next step to doing this. But in which specific areas are there a difference between DDR4 and DDR5?

Well, there are a couple of key differences to note which will make DDR5 RAM the better choice of the two. Let’s run down the specs of both of these two types of RAM so we can compare.

Note: It’s also worth noting that you don’t want to get confused between DDR5 and GDDR5. DDR5 is your memory or RAM, whilst GDDR5 is relevant to your computers graphics card or GPU. Although they sound similar, they’re different things.

Data Rate

The most noticeable difference between the two will be in the data rate. The DDR5 will initially increase to 4.8Gbps, and then later be improved to 6.4Gbps. This is much better than the DDR4, which was only capable of 3.2Gbps at its peak.

What does this mean? Well, theoretically we’re going to have double the bandwidth when all is said and done. It’ll go from the DDR4’s 25.6 GB/s bandwidth to 51.2 GB/s, which is quite significant.

This essentially means that the data can be put on and retrieved from your memory much faster than with the previous version. These are just the official specs, and with overclocking, you can actually get faster than this on DDR4 (up to around 5.0Gbps).

That means that in the future, we’ll likely be able to increase DDR5 way beyond 6.4Gbps as well. In most people’s minds, this is the key difference between the two.

Memory Efficiency

The memory efficiency of the will also be improved significantly, with the burst length being increase up to 16 from its original 8 in the previous generation.

Basically, when a DRAM transfer is being initiated, there will be cycles between the addresses and operation. Bursts are the blocks that are used to reduce the system transferring content expenditure. The burst length is simply a determination of the DRAM technology.

This will allow the data to be read quicker without any interruption, and is another reason why people are thinking about waiting for DDR5 before purchasing a new laptop.

Capacity

As with any laptop or computer, probably the main thing that people look for is the RAM capacity. In 2021, the average for a new laptop is 8GB, but we’ll probably be looking more towards 16GB or more for editing, and definitely for gaming (increased RAM can even have an effect on your FPS).

With DDR4, the maximum that we can get on one stick is 32GB. DDR5 has 4x this amount, which means that we can 128GB capacity on just one stick of RAM. This comes down to the amount of GB that can fit onto the RAM itself.

ram-slots
DDR4 vs DDR5 ram: Whilst most laptops have 2 RAM slots, desktop computers often have 4 or even 8 RAM stick slots. With an increased capacity for each stick, gaming PC owners will rejoice.

Whilst there aren’t any 128GB RAM sticks available to the public right now, we do know that the potential is there. So in the coming years, it’s likely we’re going to see a lot more about DDR5 RAM and what it’s actually capable of.

Voltage & Power consumption

If we look at the voltage of DDR3, which was 1.5V, this was reduced down to 1.2V in the DDR4. In comes the DDR5, which will have a voltage of 1.1V, a small but significant improvement.

All this simply means is that DDR5 requires slightly less electrical power than its predecessor. Of course, the lower that your voltage is, the less energy that’s going to be used, and the less heat that’s going to be produced. So, although it’s only 0.1V lower, it is definitely still worth noting.

When will consumer DDR5 be released?

We know that we’re definitely going to see it released in 2021, but when? Well, from what we know so far, we’re probably going to see it sometime in Q3 of this year. This is what Teamgroup, who are well established in the computer memory space, have said – we’ll see if it’s true or not then.

It’s also worth noting that DDR5 won’t be compatible with DDR4 slots due to the differences in pins, voltage and overall specifications. So, don’t go rushing out to get DDR5 RAM for your DDR4 motherboard just yet, as it’s not going to fit.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you’re looking to get a new computer right now, then it probably won’t be worth waiting for the first releases of DDR5 memory.

Although it has been released in 2020, it will likely not begin to take off until 2021 and it’ll be 2022 before we even think about it overtaking DDR4 in terms of sales. So unless you can wait this long, then it makes sense to just stick with DDR4 for now.

Remember that you won’t be able to use DDR5 with a DDR4 compatible motherboard. RAM generally isn’t something that’s worth waiting for a new generation of, so it’s likely not going to be a good idea to wait around.

But we are due to expect the first releases of DDR5 in 2021, so let’s see what’s around the corner.

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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