What’s the Difference Between DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 RAM?

RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory, is a short-term storage location your pc makes use of for working processes. You won’t assume a lot about RAM apart from the quantity of it when shopping for a brand new pc.

But not all RAM is created equal. Different generations of RAM present completely different speeds and are solely appropriate with sure programs. Here are the variations between DDR2 and DDR3 RAM, in comparison with the newer DDR4 RAM.

What Is DDR RAM?

If you’re new to RAM, you won’t know what “DDR” means. This abbreviation stands for double information price.

In easy phrases, working at a double information price means the RAM can switch information two occasions per clock cycle. As you most likely know, all information on a pc is digital, which means it’s represented by a 1 (on) or a 0 (off).

One clock cycle is represented by the CPU sign going from off to on and again once more. This is often measured from the midway level, as you may see in the chart beneath.

DDR Clock Cycle
Image credit score: MisterSanderson/Wikimedia Commons

This double information price is a serious improve from outdated SDR (single information price) RAM, which solely operated as soon as per clock cycle. Original DDR RAM first grew to become usually accessible in 2000, and like SDR RAM, is now out of date. Virtually all RAM you’ll discover accessible now’s some era of DDR.

But why do these generations of RAM change?

DDR Generations Explained


Original DDR RAM was outmoded by DDR2, DDR3, and now DDR4. These are all future generations of the similar expertise with sooner pace and different enhancements, and are all the similar bodily dimension.

This isn’t out of the abnormal, since many computing requirements evolve over time. But you may surprise the place DDR2 and DDR3 got here from, and why they emerged.

The era of RAM used with a pc is carefully tied to the growth of processors and motherboards. As corporations like Intel come out with new CPU expertise, they require new motherboard chipsets. This is a set of digital elements that permit all the elements of a pc talk correctly.

New generations of RAM are essential to work with the newest chipsets. This is why we’ve seen DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 RAM after the authentic era. Without these developments, we wouldn’t be capable of put RAM into newer programs.

Importantly, RAM just isn’t backwards or forwards-compatible. If your motherboard is designed for DDR4 RAM, DDR3 RAM merely received’t work in it. It’s thus important when constructing or upgrading a PC that you just purchase the proper era of RAM for compatibility.

Each era of RAM has its notch in a barely completely different place, so it’s not possible to place the incorrect sort in your pc.

RAM Generations Chart


8gb ddr4 2133 ram crucial

You may surprise how the newer generations of DDR RAM stack up. Let’s take a look at DDR2 and DDR3 RAM variations first. While you’re unlikely to search out DDR2 RAM in lots of locations at present (it did change into accessible again in 2004) it’s nonetheless helpful for comparability.

While original-generation DDR RAM ran two information transfers per clock cycle, DDR2 RAM can produce 4 transfers per cycle as a substitute. DDR3 takes this even additional, as it could actually produce eight transfers for each clock cycle.

When it comes to hurry, DDR3 is unsurprisingly sooner. One solution to measure RAM pace is megatransfers per second, or MT/s. This refers to the variety of operations the RAM can full each second; 1MT/s is a million transfers per second.

While DDR2 RAM has information switch charges starting from 400 to 1,066MT/s, DDR3 smashes this at 800-2,133MT/s.

Voltage is one other essential facet of RAM generations. DDR2 RAM makes use of 1.8V, whereas DDR3 is decrease at 1.5V. Lower voltage means the RAM makes use of much less energy, thus placing much less pressure on the CPU.

You can discover sticks of DDR2 RAM which are 4GB, however the most typical most is 2GB. Practically, DDR3 RAM caps out at 8GB per stick, although some 16GB sticks can be found.



Continuing with our dialogue of RAM variations, how does DDR4 RAM stack up? DDR3 was launched in 2007 and whereas it’s nonetheless used with some older programs at present, DDR4 has change into the customary.

DDR4 runs at a good decrease voltage than DDR3, at simply 1.2V. It’s additionally able to extra operations per second, starting from 1,600MT/s to three,200MT/s.

Samsung sells a single 32GB stick of DDR4 RAM, but it surely’s fairly costly. The most you’ll see in the wild is often 16GB.

If you’re in the market, we have now a shopping for information overlaying the finest DDR4 RAM

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Coming Soon: DDR5 RAM

At the time of writing, DDR4 RAM is the customary. But DDR5 is on the horizon, anticipated to launch someday in 2020.

It will most likely be just a few years earlier than DDR5 turns into customary, so that you’re effective to construct a pc with DDR4 RAM now.

How RAM Differences Affect You

We’ve thrown round a whole lot of values above, however don’t really feel overwhelmed. The common consumer shouldn’t ever have to fret about which era of RAM to purchase. You can merely let the motherboard/processor you need to buy dictate what RAM to get. When constructing a pc at present, you’ll virtually definitely have a setup that makes use of DDR4 RAM.

You may surprise how the completely different RAM generations have an effect on efficiency. For the common consumer, it actually received’t make a lot of a distinction. DDR4 is theoretically sooner than DDR3, but it surely’s not usually that RAM pace is the bottleneck in your system.

In most instances, different upgrades will enhance your pc’s efficiency extra

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. Swapping an outdated HDD for an SSD, including extra general RAM, or upgrading your processor can have a a lot larger impact than barely sooner RAM.

The major state of affairs the place the intricacies of RAM actually matter is in heavy use, resembling in servers. These machines run heavy hundreds continually, which means that each little bit of efficiency is important. In regular use, you’d be hard-pressed to really feel a distinction between two programs with an identical stats apart from the era of RAM.

Other Important Aspects of RAM

If you purchase a prebuilt pc off the shelf, the whole lot is already assembled, so there’s no fear. But for those who’re constructing your personal PC, you have to be conscious of different RAM values except for the era that we’ve targeted on right here.

Have a take a look at our common information to RAM

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, which matches into extra element on different specs.

DDR vs. DDR2 vs. DDR3 vs. DDR4: Cleared Up

Now you understand the fundamental variations between DDR2 and DDR3, plus what DDR4 brings to the desk.

In essence, DDR2, DDR3, and the relaxation are incremental enhancements on the similar expertise. Aside from ensuring you buy RAM that’s appropriate along with your system (ideally the latest era), you don’t want to fret a lot about it. But it’s helpful to know what all these numbers and letters imply for RAM.

If you’re a PC gamer, dive deeper into this subject with our information to RAM for gaming

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