Steve from Hardware Unboxed has once more put DDR4 and DDR5 RAM on the ring to see which fairs better in games. Three resolutions were tested, each delivering different results.
For his benchmarks, Steve put a $170 G.Skill Ripjaws V 32GB DDR4-4000 CL16 kit against a $130 G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB 32GB DDR5-7200 CL34 kit. At 1080p he saw a 7% average fps increase in Assassin’s Creed Mirage, 9% in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, and 14% in Watch Dogs: Legion. However, titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Far Cry 6 simply didn’t care which RAM was used, delivering identical fps with both. The only outlier was Total War: Warhammer III, which was up to 10% faster on DDR4.
As you can expect, RAM becomes less of a factor in GPU-bound games. That said, if the game is CPU-heavy, then memory could play an important role. An example of this would be Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which saw up 26% performance uplift.
Averaging the 1080p results showed 7% average fps increase when moving from a DDR4-4000 kit to DDR5-7200. Not bad, yet not worth changing a platform for.
I see this as excellent news for games, indicating that upgrading RAM isn’t mandatory. At least if your machine has fast DDR4.
In my opinion, regardless of the winner, if you are building a new system you should go with the newer DDR5. The platforms are simply up to date with faster PCIe and storage slots. Not to forget their potential for supporting upcoming CPUs and fast RAM. Just look how AMD’s AM5 motherboards got a boost to DDR5-8000 and above via a simple BIOS update.
On the other hand, if you are still rocking some DDR4 memory, don’t feel forced to upgrade. While you could see some performance uplift, you would benefit much more from a CPU or GPU upgrade. In many instances, reducing one graphical setting to medium could net you that much fps for free.