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Is DDR5 Worth It? The Benefits of DDR5 (2021)

Find out which Intel and AMD processors support DDR5.

Motherboard Timur Garifov / Unsplash

Last Updated: November 19, 2021

Written by Kevin Jones

Benefits of DDR5

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DDR5 provides twice the bandwidth and density of DDR4 while reducing power consumption. Higher bandwidth translates to faster processing for memory-intensive applications such as games, video and image editors, 3d tools, and browsers.

Additionally, all DDR5 memory will have on-die ECC, which provides error detection and correction before sending data to a CPU. DDR5 ECC is expected to improve reliability and reduce defect rates.

Is DDR5 Worth the Upgrade?

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DDR5 is the path forward in the long run, but current conditions may limit its benefits. Let's dig into the various considerations.

Cost and Availability

Currently, DDR5 is more expensive than DDR4, when available, but is out of stock at most locations.

CPU and Motherboard Upgrade

Intel's 12th generation Core CPU supports both DDR4 and DDR5. However, DDR5 isn't backward compatible with DDR4. Motherboards only support one or the other. This motherboard limitation means that you'll need to choose whether you want to get the lower cost DDR4 memory or get DDR5 with the ability to upgrade it in the future.

Timings

Initial DDR5 memory timings are not very good. Poor timings are typical with new DDR releases. However, it means that the performance may not be much better than DDR4.

If you want to use DDR5 memory in the future with your same motherboard, one option would be to get the initially available DDR5 memory with worse timings. You could then upgrade the DDR5 memory in the future as timings improve.

CPU Support

Currently, only Intel has released CPUs which support DDR5. Lack of DDR5 support from AMD means that if you want to use an AMD CPU, you'll be limited to DDR4.

Future Upgradability

If you get a DDR4 motherboard, you won't be able to use it with DDR5. Motherboards typically only support DDR4 or DDR5, but not both.

Which CPUs Support DDR5?

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Intel's 12th generation Core processors, code-named "Alder Lake," support DDR5. Additionally, Intel is expected to support DDR5 with its next-generation Xeon server processor, code-named "Sapphire Rapids."

AMD has not yet released processors which support DDR5 but is expected to include DDR5 support in their next-generation Zen 4 architecture, which AMD will release in 2022.

Check out my Recommended DDR5 CPUs and Motherboards below.

Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Desktop and Workstation CPUs

Intel introduced support for DDR5 in their 12th generation Core processors in November 2021. These processors support both DDR4 and DDR5, although you'll need to use a motherboard that supports the particular DDR type.

AMD is expected to release a DDR5 processor in 2022.

Desktop Processors That Support DDR5
Processor BrandingProcessor Models Supporting DDR5
Intel Core i9 Core i9 12900K, 12900KF
Intel Core i7 Core i7 12700K, 12700KF
Intel Core i5 Core i5 12600K, 12600KF

Find Intel Alder Lake processors on Amazon (affiliate link).

Server CPUs

Intel's Sapphire Rapids–based Xeon CPUs will support DDR5.

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Best Intel High-Performance Enthusiast CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K

  • Up to 5.2 GHz: perfect for games, video editing, and high-intensity tasks.

  • 16 cores (8 Performance + 8 Efficiency): Quite a few cores considering the frequency! This combination makes it a great all-around system that can handle almost any task.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i9-12900K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Intel Core i9-12900K Processor 16 Cores (8P+8E) up to 5.2 GHz Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)
  • For the Intel Core i9-12900K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset.

  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Master: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory (DDR5 provides the fastest memory speeds)!

      DDR5 memory appears to be out of stock at most retailers, so I recommend sticking with a DDR4 motherboard or preparing for a long wait. Check out our recommended DDR4 motherboard below.

    • 10 Gbps Ethernet port is faster than any home Internet speed available with tons of room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6E makes it easy to reach the fastest speeds and future-proof your Wi-Fi system.
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! Three of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds, and one at PCIe 3.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Master on Amazon (affiliate link).
  • If you're not quite ready to make the jump to DDR5, our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the i9-12900K is Gigabyte's Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • Wi-Fi 6
    • Bluetooth 5.2 is great for streaming music to Bluetooth headphones.
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS Elite AX DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best Value CPU: Intel Core i5-12600K

  • Less than half the price of the i9-12900K, but still excellent performance at up to 4.9 GHz.

  • 10 cores (6 Performance + 4 Efficiency): This core count makes it suitable for everyday multi-threading tasks, such as having tons of browser windows open.

  • Virtualization features make it great for running virtual machines.

  • Check the latest price of the Intel Core i5-12600K on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Intel Core i5-12600K Intel Core i5-12600K Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)
  • For the Intel Core i5-11600K CPU, you'll need a motherboard with the Z690 chipset to support PCIe 5.0.

  • Our recommended DDR5 motherboard to pair with the i5-12600K is GIGABYTE's Z690 AORUS PRO motherboard: GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR5 memory!

      DDR5 memory appears to be out of stock at most retailers, so I recommend sticking with a DDR4 motherboard or preparing for a long wait. Check out our recommended DDR4 motherboard below.

    • Three NVMe M.2 slots, which is excellent! These all run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO on Amazon (affiliate link).
  • If you're not quite ready to make the jump to DDR5, our recommended DDR4 motherboard to pair with the i5-12600K is GIGABYTE's Z690 Gaming X DDR4 motherboard: GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

    • PCIe 5.0 support
    • It supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory!
    • Four x4 NVMe M.2 slots, which is fantastic! All four of these run at PCIe 4.0 speeds.
    • 2.5 Gb Ethernet port is faster than most home Internet speeds with room to spare for file transfers.
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers 20 Gbps USB speeds!
    • Check the latest price of the GIGABYTE Z690 Gaming X DDR4 on Amazon (affiliate link).
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Intel's 12th generation Core CPU uses an LGA 1700 socket.

The LGA 1700 socket will require a CPU cooler that supports the new socket size. Some manufacturers are releasing upgrade kits for LGA 1200 heatsinks to support the new size.

Unlocked Intel CPUs do not come with a stock CPU cooler. These CPUs have a "K" in the name (e.g., 12900K).

Best Dual-Fan Air CPU Cooler: Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510

  • This CPU cooler doesn't have any fancy LED lights, but the dual 120 mm fans do a great job of cooling LGA 1700 CPUs.
  • Suppose you think this cooler will take up too much space. In that case, Thermaltake has a few single-fan TOUGHAIR variants which use different orientations.
  • This CPU cooler has a 2000 RPM max speed for optimal cooling.
  • 180-watt TDP (Thermal Design Power) Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Thermaltake TOUGHAIR 510 Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Other Considerations When Building a PC

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Want to brush up on other new technologies to consider when building a computer? Check out these articles: