Crucial has discounted its most popular RAM kit, a 2x8GB kit rated at 3200MT/s CL16. This is right at the sweet spot for price versus performance, and is a great choice if you're building a new PC or upgrading an older one. Normally these 16GB kits cost £55 or more, but today you can pick up this Ballistix memory for £46.79, the lowest price we've ever seen on RAM of this specification - and more than £20 off its RRP.
So why is this the sweet spot? Well, from my own RAM testing, you lose a lot of performance from memory below ~3000MT/s. From 3000MT/s to 3600MT/s, you get a nice batch of extra performance, and after this diminishing returns kick in and you start to pay more and more for each extra scrap of horsepower. So DDR4-3200 is comfortably in the middle of that bang-for-buck zone. A CAS latency of 16 (CL16) is also good - measurably better than the CL18 RAM you tend to see on budget DDR4-3600 kits, without the large premium for ultra-fast CL14 RAM. This means, whether you're in a CPU-limited task that's dependent on bandwidth or latency, you'll have good all-around performance.
So let's run through the two scenarios where getting this DDR4 makes sense: building a PC and upgrading an old one.
If you're building a low-end or mid-range PC, DDR4 is the default choice and we can move swiftly on. If you're going for something high-end, you might consider a DDR5 motherboard, but the value just isn't there presently. Motherboards that support DDR5 tend to be more expensive than their DDR4 counterparts, and the RAM itself is almost twice the price with no noticeable performance gain guaranteed. In some scenarios, you can see gains in the seven to 15 percent region when comparing higher-end DDR4 against more expensive DDR5, but in others the two RAM types are more or less indistinguisable - and in yet more scenarios, the lower latency of DDR4 makes it a better choice. So even if you go for a Z690 board, consider a DDR4 one and spend the extra cash on your CPU or GPU where it'll make a difference.
So, for building a new PC, picking up some inexpensive but performant DDR4, like the Crucial Ballistix DDR4-3200 kit this post promotes, makes a lot of sense.
Next scenario: upgrading an old PC. There are a ton of PCs out there built in the early days of DDR4 RAM, from 2014 onwards, that are running with RAM rated for 2133MT/s, 2400MT/s or 2666MT/s. These speeds weren't bad at the time compared to DDR4, but with supremely cheap DDR4-3200, there's no reason not to upgrade to something a little more performant. Systems built around AMD's early Ryzen processors are particularly prone to picking up a lot of extra performance from fast RAM in CPU-limited scenarios, but Intel systems will see a nice speed boost too. Best of all, 3200MT/s RAM won't be a struggle for even older motherboards to hit, unlike more modern RAM at 3600MT/s and above.
So whichever camp you fall into, I think this RAM kit makes a lot of sense. I think there's a third camp as well: folks with only one RAM stick in their PC. In this case, if your stick is 4GB or below, or below 3000MT/s, I'd recommend taking it out and replacing it with a proper two-stick kit like this. If you have one stick of RAM but it's relatively fast, then you should instead look to get another stick identical to the one you already have, ensuring that both sticks can run at their rated speed. Having two sticks will allow you to run your system in dual-channel mode, which is significantly faster than single-channel mode.
Finally, I'd be remiss to end this post without issuing a warning: no matter what RAM you have, make sure it's running at its rated XMP or DOCP speeds in the BIOS. Even if you're an experienced PC builder, it's so easy to miss a BIOS update or a power loss that causes your BIOS settings to be reset, and then your RAM will default back to the JEDEC standard speed of 2133MHz - likely to be well below what your RAM's actually capable of. If it is running at this speed, enabling XMP in the BIOS is normally a one-click operation; consult your motherboard manual for more information. You can check your RAM speed in Task Manager on Windows 10/11, under the Performance tab and then the memory section, or you can use program like Speccy or CPU-Z.
For more delightful information on memory, check out James' brilliant guide to installing RAM - with handy tips like which way around it goes and which slots should be filled first. Thanks for joining us and happy RAM-ing!