April 1, 2023

There are still a bunch of Black Friday RAM deals even though the official date has passed, and there is a good chance more will materialize for Cyber Monday, and throughout the holiday season. RAM might not be a big ticket item, but some of the best buys are often little upgrades like a new SSD or some memory. Having more RAM means PC will run smoother and allow you to do more things, and it can also translate to improved game performance—although there are limits, and you shouldn’t go chasing RAM speeds (opens in new tab)

The good news is that memory is already in a healthy place in terms of value for money, with high-quality sticks available for some of the lowest prices ever. The best RAM for gaming (opens in new tab)really doesn’t have to cost the earth. Savings on top of that can only sweeten the deal further. It really is a great time to be in the market for more memory, basically.

If you’re looking to build a new machine, potentially to make use of the new RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT graphics cards, then you’ll want to grab some memory that you know will last you. And here you want RAM with a fast operating frequency and as low a latency as you can afford. If you’re running an Intel system, then DDR 3200 will serve you well, while the latest AMD chips work best with DDR4 3600 memory.

We’ve scoured the markets for Black Friday deals, focusing on Amazon (opens in new tab), BestBuy (opens in new tab), and Newegg (opens in new tab) (as they have the best component selections), to pick the best value RAM kits out there right now. Here’s what we’ve unearthed so far:

What to look out for in a Black Friday RAM deal

When buying memory, there are a few things to look out for, but the main thing is to stick with trusted brands: Adata, Corsair, Crucial, G.Skill, HyperX, PNY, and T-Force. Also, it pays to look at the specifications and make sure that you’re buying what you think you are. If you have time, you should check the memory compatibility charts of your motherboard (these tend to be on the website for your motherboards as well).

In terms of the actual specifications, the big one is the capacity. These days we see 8GB as an absolute minimum and are erring towards 16GB for gaming machines. If you like to mix serious work with your gaming, then an argument could be made for 32GB, but it’s largely overkill except for a few niche cases. Still, 32GB should mean you don’t have to upgrade for a long, long time. Whatever you choose, you want at least two sticks to make sure your memory channels are being used (mainstream AMD and Intel CPUs have dual-channel memory interfaces).

The frequency should be easy to spot, as it tends to be in the name of the product, and written as either DDR4 3200 or 3200MHz DDR4. It’s not quite as easy as saying that faster is better, but as a rule of thumb, it’s not a bad place to start. Again, for the latest Intel chips you’re looking at DDR 3200MHz, while for AMD, DDR4 3600MHz is the sweet spot (Zen 3 potentially ups this to 4000MHz, but we’re not quite there yet).

The latency can be a bit trickier to track down, and generally requires diving into the details. There are actually a lot of latencies that define how long the RAM takes to respond to requests, but the one you’re most interested in is the CAS Latency, or CL, as this gives you an overview of how quick the memory is. You want this low. For fast DDR4 memory, a CAS Latency of 16 is a good aim, although DDR4 3600 at CL18 isn’t a bad place to be either.

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