Skip to main content

This innovation in RAM is great news for your PC

Non-binary memory. It might not be set to give you the same performance uplift as a new graphics card, and it’s not as intriguing as AMD’s X3D CPUs, but it’s still an interesting new wrinkle in how you build a PC. Non-binary memory effectively allows half steps in RAM quantities, so instead of only having options for sticks of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB (and so on), you can now buy a 24GB DIMM, or a 48GB one.

That might not sound like much, but in the coming years as games demand more than 16GB — but where 32GB would be overkill — these new 24GB memory kits are going to be very popular for the cost-cutting they facilitate.

Several DDR5 sticks sitting on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

What is non-binary memory?

Non-binary memory is memory that uses different-sized memory modules to create RAM sticks that offer mid-step memory quantities. They still function like RAM in every way, and (even though the name suggests otherwise) still encode data in RAM in a state that represents 1s and 0s. RAM is still RAM, even when it’s non-binary.

The difference with this type of memory is how it’s manufactured. Where traditionally, memory has been built with modules that are sized in even numbers — 4Gb (that’s gigabit, not gigabyte) chips, 8Gb chips, and most recently with DDR5, 16Gb chips That latter module equates to 2GB (gigabyte — note the capital B) per chip, letting manufacturers create 16GB sticks of RAM. Using new manufacturing methods, however, Samsung, Micron, and other memory manufacturers have been able to increase the density of these modules, so they instead are 24Gb in size, or rather, 3GB.

That allows for the creation of larger, atypical memory sticks, like the 24GB and 48GB memory kits that have started filtering through into the market.

At the time of writing this new manufacturing technique is only possible with DDR5 memory, but we may see it backported in the future to earlier generations of DDR memory, or even see it utilized to provide graphics cards with greater VRAM densities, or in SSDs for greater storage capabilities.

Is non-binary memory better?

We’re still waiting to see how these new generations of RAM kits perform before we can say for sure whether non-binary memory is intrinsically better, but we can make some assumptions. The fact that the memory modules are denser means that you’ll be able to have greater quantities of memory in your PC eventually — load up with four 48GB kits for a massive 192GB of memory if you like! For those not looking to push their memory to extremes, though, you can save money by only buying the memory you need. You may not need to buy a 32GB kit when 24GB will do just fine. The same goes for 64GB and 48GB.

Some manufacturers have claimed that the new non-binary memory kits are able to offer better energy efficiency and even tighter timings than traditional memory configurations. We want to test these claims firsthand before saying anything definitive, but it seems like the new non-binary DIMMS may have a performance advantage too.

Should you buy non-binary memory?

If you already have enough DDR5 memory, there’s almost no reason to upgrade to non-binary memory just because it’s the hot new thing — check if you have enough memory, here. However, if you are thinking about a memory upgrade, or are planning on building a new Ryzen 7000 or Intel 13th generation PC, then it’s well worth considering non-binary memory.

However, you’ll need to consider the costs involved. While there is the potential for cost saving with non-binary memory, that’s because capacity has increased, so you’re only really saving if you opt for larger kits. A single 24GB module might be more affordable than buying a 32GB kit with two 16GB sticks of RAM, but you’ll be restricted to single-channel performance with just one DIMM. That’s a big drop in potential memory performance, which at current DDR5 prices, just isn’t worth the sacrifice.

A 48GB kit is unlikely to be as affordable as a 32GB kit unless you find some kind of unique deal. Only buy 48GB if you will see a benefit from it — and if it’s just for gaming, you probably won’t — and make sure that that cost saving over 64GB makes sense.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
The best DDR5 RAM you can buy right now
A pair of G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5 RAM modules.

Every gamer, video editor, and graphic designer on the planet needs fast RAM and plenty of it. You'll want to make sure your computer is future-proofed with the best DDR5 RAM you can get, even if you're not a hardcore gamer.

Thankfully, DDR5 RAM prices have dropped significantly since the technology first came out in late 2020. With AMD's upcoming Ryzen 7000 CPUs and Intel's 12th-gen Alder Lake platform, now is the time to start shopping for the DDR5 kit for your next PC.

Read more
AMD may release Intel’s next rival in memory overclocking
Close up shot of the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB memory in white.

It seems that AMD may be working on a new memory overclocking standard for its upcoming AM5 platform. The company has recently trademarked "AMD EXPO," and a reliable source reveals that this tech might be the new rival to Intel's XMP 3.0.

If proven true, the tech will make it much easier for AMD Ryzen 7000 users to optimize their DDR5 RAM, including frequency, voltage, and timings.

Read more
Best Buy laptop deals: Cheap laptops starting at $179
Apple M1 MacBook Air open on a desk with plants in the background.

Best Buy is a great outlet if you’re on the hunt for an affordable new laptop. This is true whether you’re looking for laptop deals in general or something more specific like gaming laptop deals, as the retail giant has a ton of laptop models to choose from and many are currently seeing a discount. Among the available Best Buy laptop deals are HP laptop deals, Dell laptop deals, Lenovo laptop deals, and even MacBook deals. With so many laptop deals to shop at Best Buy right now, we thought we’d round up the best of them. Below you’ll find all of the information you need to save on a new laptop at Best Buy, and if you aren’t finding what you’re looking for here you can also find some laptop deals among the current Amazon deals and Walmart deals.
Acer Chromebook 315 — $179, was $199

The Acer Chromebook 315 is one of the larger Chromebooks you’ll find, as its display comes in at an impressive 15.6 inches. This makes it a great option for people who want some extra screen real estate, but who still like to do their work on the go. The Acer Chromebook 315 has plenty of power for a Chromebook, and is made as much for comfort as functionality. Its slightly larger size will come in handy when doing creative work and an integrated numeric keyboard gives it the feel of working on a desktop. The Acer Chromebook 315 is able to reach up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, meaning you can work on the go all day without needing to take a charger with you.

Read more