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The best RAM for 2021

It’s hard to argue with more RAM. Although there’s a sweet spot when it comes to how much RAM you should have in your computer, more memory will allow you to run demanding applications with ease, as well as make the desktop experience feel faster overall. The best RAM can give you all the extra capacity and speed you need and spruce up your rig in the process.

Not all RAM kits are built equally, though. Differences in timings and speed can lead to better performance and stability, so it’s a good idea to choose a reputable kit instead of what’s cheapest. We have options for every build and purpose, from one of the fastest DDR4 kits on the market to a kit that won’t cost more than $50.

Best RAM for 2021 at a glance

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro LED 16GB 3,200MHz

Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro kit.

Why you should buy it: Corsair’s Vengeance RGB Pro is prettier than its LPX counterpart, but still has fantastic performance at a great price.

Who’s it for: Those who want a combination of style and substance from their memory.

What we thought of the Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB 3,200MHz kit:

Corsair’s Vengeance RGB Pro LED memory kits are a perfect middle ground between its more visually impressive Platinum line and the more demure LPX range. Like those kits, it offers fantastic performance and there are a lot of options to pick from. For us, the 16GB (2 x 8GB) 3,200MHz option is the sweet spot, delivering impressive bandwidth and reasonably tight timings for high-performance, low-latency memory that’s great for gaming and productivity tasks.

It’s priced competitively too, even with a memory supply shortage shooting prices up. You don’t need to break the bank to upgrade to these, but there are also plenty of options where you can spend more if our particular choice isn’t what you’re after. If you want greater bandwidth for gaming (AMD Ryzen CPUs can particularly benefit from faster memory) then the Vengeance RGB range goes all the way up to 3,600MHz. Each kit supports XMP 2.0 profiles for easy overclocking, but you can usually push them further manually if you know what you’re doing.

They all support Corsair’s iCUE software as well, for detailed RGB control. The Corsair Vengeance Pro model updates the LEDs for smoother lighting, adds optimization for the latest motherboards, and — most notably — a new aluminum heat spreader to help manage temperatures a little better inside your PC.

Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB 2,666MHz

Corsair Vengeance LPX RAM.

Why you should buy it: If you need masses of memory that don’t scrimp on quality, the Vengeance LPX kits are perfect.

Who’s it for: Those who need power and capacity over anything else.

What we thought of the Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB 2,666MHz kit:

Corsair’s Vengeance LPX range is the most understated of its Vengeance line, and it shows in its more competitive pricing. Ditching the LEDs of its fancier siblings, the LPX range offers the same high-performance, high-capacity of other Corsair memory kits, and there is a wide range of options. You can buy direct kits up to 192GB for several thousand dollars, but for that, you’d need a monstrous CPU like Intel’s Xeon W-3175x.

Considering only a few people can afford such a system and even fewer have workloads that can leverage it, we opted for the Vengeance 32GB LPX kit at a reasonable speed of 2,666MHz. If you need more capacity, you can pick up a 64GB kit for a few dollars less than two 32GB kits.

G.Skill TridentZ RGB 16GB 3,200MHz

G.Skill Trident Z RAM.

Why you should buy it: It’s fast with decently tight timings and an attractive, if understated look at an excellent price.

Who’s it for: Gamers, or anyone who wants performance without the LED premium.

What we thought of the G.Skill TridentZ RGB 16GB 3,200MHz kit:

G.Skill makes some excellent memory products and its TridentZ line covers the whole gamut, from the beautiful, jewel-encrusted Royal range, to the more streamlined gaming series. If you don’t need RGB lighting and your PC has the space to take them, the modules in the 16GB 3,200MHz kit are some of the best out there. They’re fast, with reasonably tight timings, and XMP 2.0 profiles support quick and easy overclocking on Intel and AMD systems. Aluminum heat spreaders round off a design that combines functionality and style.

If you want greater performance, the kits do get faster and the timings tighter if you shop around, but the G.Skill TridentZ RGB offers stupendous value for money and leaves extra budget for buying other important components, like a great graphics card. While the RGB LEDs look very good on this unit, you can choose a non-RGB version to lower the price a little.

Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 16GB 3,200MHZ

Corsair Dominator Platinum RAM.

Why you should buy it: These sticks use a unique lighting arrangement that helps them stand head and shoulders above other RGB modules.

Who’s it for: Those who want complete control over their PC lighting and a unique look to their memory.

What we thought of the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 16GB 3,200MHz kit:

There are RGB LED RAM kits and then there is this RGB LED RAM kit. Corsair’s Dominator Platinum RGB range is one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen, with unique lighting effects made possible by the combination of new LED technology and Corsair’s in-depth iCUE software package.

The Dominator Platinum modules use a new “Capellix” LED packaging system which allows for denser packing of LEDs together. This leads to brighter lighting without increasing power draw, which in turn allows for higher speed memory. We’ve opted for a mid-range 3,200MHz kit and 16GB, which is priced competitively while delivering great performance and that gorgeous LED lighting. You could also consider G.Skill’s TridentZ Royal line if you like the crystalline look, but we’re partial to Corsair’s brand of RGB lighting.

Patriot Viper Elite 8GB 2,666MHz

Patriot Viper Elite RAM.

Why you should buy it: This Viper Elite kit gives you entry-level DDR4 performance in a very affordable kit. The single stick leaves room for a cheap upgrade to 16GB in the future.

Who’s it for: Anyone on a tight budget.

What we thought of the Patriot Viper Elite 8GB 2,666MHz kit: 

In our opinion, 16GB is the best size for a RAM stick. But 8GB is plenty for most people, especially if they’re looking for a lower-priced option. The Viper Elite stick will improve your RAM considerably, and it’s also affordable. The $50 price tag is low enough to make up for its relatively slower bandwidth of 2,666 MHZ. It’s even worth considering buying a second stick if you need more storage later.

You can get the most out of your Viper Elite stick by adjusting your RAM. Some people have overclocked it to 3,000 MHz.

The Patriot Viper Elite is streamlined and attractive. It features a smooth black PCB and silver heat spreader that will pair well with a transparent case.

Patriot Viper Steel 16GB 4,400MHz

Patriot Viper Steel RAM kit.

Why you should buy it: This Viper Steel kit offers some of the fastest DDR4 speeds on the market, and it’s around the same price as a lot of popular RGB RAM kits.

Who’s it for: Those looking for the fastest DDR4 speeds available.

What we thought of the Patriot Viper Steel 16GB 4,400MHz kit: 

Patriot Viper Steel RAM kits occupy the opposite end of the performance spectrum as the Viper Elite kits. The kit we chose is one of the fastest DDR4 kits on the market, giving you a preview of DDR5 speeds before they arrive on consumer desktops. This kit is fast, which will help especially with AMD Ryzen processors, but it also features excellent timings considering the speed. With the timings, the Viper Steel RAM kit can run as fast or faster than DDR4-4600 kits.

It’s important to check your motherboard’s compatibility before investing in a Patriot Viper Steel kit, though. Especially if you haven’t updated your motherboard in a few years, the Viper Steel kit may be limited to lower speeds depending on your configuration.

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