DDR3 VS DDR4 RAM 2021

For a very long time, many years, DDR3 RAM was the king in the field of random-access memory (RAM) until 2014 when the DDR4 RAM launched. For people looking to buy or build a new system, this may be the concern on their minds - DDR3 RAM or DDR4 RAM?

What about the DDR4 RAM is better than the DDR3 RAM? Does the DDR3 RAM still reign supreme in certain areas? Is an upgrade to the DDR4 RAM a worthwhile decision?

Well, in this post, we answer all the questions we know you have about these two RAM - the DDR3 RAM and DDR4 RAM. From the differences in design, function, cost and availability. And then, of course, we answer the question you certainly have on your minds "is an upgrade worth it?"



In this post, we would both the DDR3 RAM and DDR4 RAM in the following area

1. Change in design

2. Voltage application

3. Latency

4. Power consumption

5. Memory capacity

6. Cost differences

DDR3 RAM

DDR4 RAM

Bandwidth capacity

Lower bandwidth capacity

Higher bandwidth capacity

Stability

Less stable

More stable

Latency

Lower latency (good)

Higher latency (bad)

Power consumption

More

Less

Power saving

Good

Better

Memory capacity range

512 MB to 8 GB

4 GB to 16 GB

Cost

Lesser price

More expensive



Change in Design of DDR3 vs DDR4

The difference in design between the DDR3 RAM and the DDR4 RAM is that it has moved from a 240-pin package to a 288-pin package. To accommodate the increase in pin package, the pin-to-pin distance of the DDR4 RAM is much smaller with 0.85 mm compared to the distance of 1.00 mm in DDR3 RAM. Still to make room for the increased number of pins, the DDR4 RAM is also made to have greater height of 31.25 mm compared to the 30.25 mm in DDR3 RAM, there is an increase in the height of 1.00 mm. The printed circuit board (PCB) is also made thicker by 0.2 mm in the new DDR4 RAM (with an increase from 1.0 mm in DDR3 RAM to 1.2 mm in DDR4 RAM).

Another change in design asides physical changes is the change in clock speed. The clock speed for DDR3 RAM is set at the range 1333 to 2133 MHz; while that for DDR4 RAM has a minimum of 2133MHz and no defined maximum limit. The clock speed generally is a measure of the rate with which the RAM can write or read data.

This change in design translates to an increased bandwidth capacity with the DDR4 RAM compared to the DDR3 RAM.

DESIGN CHANGES

DDR3 RAM

DDR4 RAM

Pin package

240-pin package

288-pin package

Pin-to-pin distance

1.00 mm

0.85 mm

Module height

30.25 mm

31.25 mm

Printed circuit board (PCB) thickness

1.0 mm

1.2 mm

Clock speed

1333 MHz to 2133 MHz

2133 MHZ with no max limit

Bandwidth capacity

Lower

Higher


Voltage Application

The aim of the DDR4 RAM design with regards to the voltage applied is that a consistent amount of voltage gets to all the module. This is different from the DDR3 RAM where a single voltage gets applied to all the modules. This means that with the DDR3 RAM, some modules may get more voltage than others.

The benefits of this change in the design and voltage application result in a more stable RAM and modules in the DDR4 RAM.

DDR3 RAM

DDR4 RAM

Voltage applied to modules

Single voltage

Consistent voltage

Stability

Less stable

More stable


Latency

The latency, which is the delay that occurs with RAM as data moves from the RAM and the computer. This is usually called the column access strobe (CAS) latency or simply said as CL. The lower the latency, the better it is. As this means that it takes less time between a READ command and when moment data is available. Latency, which is the time interval, has its measurement is in nanoseconds.

With DDR4 RAM, the latency is higher compared to DDR3 RAM. However, what is usually of concern and with regards to RAM found to be wrong is low bandwidth and high latency. DDR4 makes up for its high latency by having a design that gives a high bandwidth capacity.



But, in the real sense of this, speaking of latency, DDR3 triumph over DDR4 by having a much lower latency when compared.

Below, is the latency for both DDR3 and DDR4 for comparison for different clock speed models of both RAM.

CLOCK SPEED

DDR3 LATENCY

DDR4 LATENCY

1600 MHz

10 nanoseconds

None

1866 MHz

11 nanoseconds

None

2133 MHz

11 nanoseconds

15 nanoseconds

2400 MHz

11 nanoseconds

15 nanoseconds

2666 MHz

11 nanoseconds

15 nanoseconds

2800 MHz

12 nanoseconds

16 nanoseconds

3000 MHz

16 nanoseconds

3200 MHz

16 nanoseconds

3333 MHz

16 nanoseconds

3466 MHz

18 nanoseconds

3600 MHz

18 nanoseconds


Power Consumption

With every upgrade in RAM or any system, the manufacturers have the intention to reduce power consumption. Well, the new DDR4 RAM has its design geared towards power saving. As compared to the DDR3 RAM which operates on 1.5 volts, the DDR4 RAM operates at 1.2 volts instead. This reduced operating voltage translates to a save per system of 1.2 Watts (W) per module. And this means that for a home desktop there can be a save of 15 W and as high as 15 KW for a server cluster.

This means that with the DDR4 RAM, there is an increased time of usage before the need for charging the system arises.

DDR3 RAM

DDR4 RAM

Operating voltage

1.5 Volts

1.2 Volts

Power consumption

More

Less

Power saving

Good

Better


Memory capacity

The memory is one area that should certainly not become overlooked. As for many gamers and other system users, especially with multitasking, the memory capacity is such a big deal. When it comes to the DDR4 RAM, the manufacturers worked to double the maximum of the DDR3 RAM, intending to provide more memory capacity for use. In DDR3 RAM the memory range is from 512 MB to 8 GB while that of DDR4 RAM is a range from 4 GB to 16 GB.

DDR3 RAM

DDR4 RAM

Memory capacity range

512 MB to 4 GB

4 GB to 16 GB


Cost differences between DDR3 and DDR4

Since the DDR4 RAM is much newer, release in 2014 compared to the DDR3 RAM with release date seven years before, in 2007. It only makes sense that the DDR4 RAM costs way more than the DDR3 RAM. The price varies with place of purchase. However, usually, the price of the highest clock speed for DDR3 RAM (DDR3-2133) is about the same price for the lowest clock speed for DDR4 RAM (DDR4-2133) maybe just 20-30 USD extra in price.



Is it worth it? Do I need to upgrade?

Now, the question many people probably have is, "is it worth it?" I have shown you all the features of the DDR4 RAM and compared with the DDR3 RAM. But, it is no news that the DDR4 RAM costs way more than its predecessor, the DDR3 RAM.

Should you worry about going out and get this new RAM when you can get the DDR3 RAM for less? Is it truly worth it?

Well, here is my answer - Yes, it is worth it. If I wrote this post in 2014 when the DDR4 RAM launched, I probably would have said, it wasn't and a big "No!" because at the time, there were rarely any CPU chips and motherboards for the DDR4 RAM. However, now, after almost 5 years of its release, the DDR3 RAM is beginning to face out and may soon become regarded as obsolete as most new generation CPU chips, and motherboards are for DDR4 RAM in their design.

This means that soon, the question of whether the DDR4 RAM is worth it will very soon not be of any use. As it is either you get the DDR4 RAM for your newer systems, or you cannot fit the motherboards and CPU chips to a RAM it is compatible with.

But then if you are still using a motherboard and CPU chip that only accommodates the DDR3 RAM, it makes no sense to upgrade as they will not be compatible in shape, design or form. In this case, stick to the DDR3 RAM.

So, a more straightforward and clearer answer to the question of if the DDR4 RAM is worth it is to ask yourself what RAM your CPU chips and motherboards accommodates in its design; then, get the compatible RAM.


Conclusion of DDR3 VS. DDR4

So, now you know all the ways the DDR4 RAM is an upgrade from the DDR3 RAM; from the change in design, bandwidth capacity, memory capacity, power-saving and clock speed. When it comes to latency and cost, the DDR3 RAM still triumphs.

The DDR4 RAM is becoming more common as newer generation motherboards and CPU chips come out regularly and they are usually made to be compatible with the DDR4 RAM.

There is more to consider when choosing to upgrade to the DDR4 RAM or not.

With all that you know now, it is up to you - is it worth an upgrade?

Thoughts on "DDR3 VS DDR4 RAM 2021"

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