Many computer system enthusiasts want to know about DDR3 vs DDR4 when they wish to assemble one by themselves or take a close look at what they are buying. For them the RAM is one of the components that make a difference to the performance speed and today people have a choice between DDR3 AND DDR4 RAM. For many DDR3 RAM suffices, but DDR4 RAM is being part of the new assembled PCs. You might wonder what kind of difference you would come across if you upgraded to DDR4 modules on your PC. You need to understand whether the technology is simply something new and expensive but an upgrade that makes an appreciable difference.
Part #1 DDR3 VS DDR4: Compare Parameters
If you read the ultimate vs guide: ddr3 vs ddr4 at Gameroe,You will find the factors are divided into different categories; these pertain to physical parameters such as physical dimensions, power requirements and other factors like compatibility, pricing, stability. The prime factors of RAMs that find relevance in most reviews such as latency, memory, clock rate are also discussed in detail here.
Physical changes and voltage requirements – primary factors to consider
This is the first aspect that one can look at when looking to differentiate between DDR3 vs DDR4. DDR3 RAM is built with a 240 pin package while the design of a DDR4 RAM comprises of a 288 pin package. This showcases the obvious change that it has higher capacity of bandwidth; modules usually remain of similar lengths; this indicates that the pin to pin distance has come down in DDR4 RAM to about 0.85 mm which is less compared to 1 mm of DDR3. The contact distance per pin has decreased as a result. The added pins are accommodated by a raised height of the modules of 31.25 mm which is slightly more than 30.35 mm of DDR3. PCB is thicker also which provides space for accommodating more signal layers.
Power consumption is another factor that is worked upon in the latter version of RAMs and the aim is to reduce the same while increasing capacity at the same time. DDR4 versions are designed to operate at lower voltage; they consume about 1.2 volts as compared to the requirement of 1.5 volts of DDR3. Even if the power savings do not sound to be a lot, the savings is about 1-2 watts per module for each system; for a home desktop the power savings might not be appreciable but for a server farm it does make a difference, especially when 1000 CPUs are running, saving about 15Kw power. As demand for longer battery life for notebooks and laptops are on the rise, a DDR4 RAM can help with increased power usage and not draining out the power too soon.
Stability and refresh rate – next two factors that are important
This is a factor of DDR3 vs DDR4 that determines how well a RAM will function even with voltage drop to your system. DDR3 RAMs usually work with a single source of voltage. This impacts the stability when there is a drop in voltage. With DDR4 RAM the stability factor is heightened as voltage reference ICs are provided before every memory chip. This helps to keep the voltage distribution consistent as it is applied to each chip individually instead of supplying to the whole module. Voltage drops are dependent on IC and can also be corrected.
This is another factor that matters for many people, especially those who need high performing gaming PCs. The refresh algorithm should be discussed in light of the two categories of RAM which are static and dynamic. Dynamic RAM refreshes content as per a set interval of time which can differ and DRAMs are differentiated into multiple types accordingly. SDRAM is the prominent one in this category which is known as synchronous dynamic random access memory or SDRAM, which is faster than conventional forms of DRAM or RAM. SDRAMs operate in synchronous mode, which synchronizes the bus inside the CPU. Now that we understand the significance and difference between dynamic and static RAMs, if we look at what DDR3 and DDR4 RAMs have to offer, the former usually has an auto refresh as well as a self refresh function. SR is used when system remains idle while AR is used when a system is running. With such aspects DDR4 has auto self refresh feature of low power, which uses an adaptive algorithm based on the temperature of the device.
In every module the refreshing modes adjust the arrays in an independent manner. This ensures that memory parts coincide with each other which helps to power as well as stabilizes the unit for continuous functioning over time.
Clock speed, latency and memory – three prime factors of RAM
This is another aspect often talked about in reference to the RAMs. It represents how fast RAM helps a computer to read or write data. Differences in clocked speed lay for DDR3 and DDR4 RAMs. For the former version of RAMs the clock speed is between 800 and 2133 MHz. In case of DDR4 RAMs however, the minimum clock speed is 2133 MHz and there is no max value specified. This helps to increase the bandwidth of computers as well.
Latency and memory capacity
This is another aspect that factors in for DDR3 vs DDR4. When bandwidth and clock speed increase there is an increase in latency aspect as well. This is 55 nanoseconds for DDR3 at 2133 while the latency is 63 nanoseconds for DDR4-2133. In this case, lower the value the better it is. Bandwidth and clock speed also offset the latency drop.
This is another aspect that works for RAMs. When you have light, daily tasks to do on the computer, a 4GB RAM will work well; gamers tend to find 8 GB memory fitted RAMs to be more suitable for fast and efficient gaming. For those who need to do video editing opt for higher memory capacities. In general DDR3 RAM is capped at 8 GB for single modules, but DDR4 RAMs are not defined as per the maximum capacity of memory size.
Benchmark quality parameters are standards to compare RAMs with but performance tests also help us understand how the performance differences lie between the two versions of RAMs.
A couple of tests run using the two versions of RAM for PCMark, Adobe Premier and Handbrake showcase certain parameters. For instance, the Handbrake test showcases that DDR4 is faster across the board though the advantage does wane over time. In the case of Adobe Premier CC Encode benchmark, the trend is more pronounced where DDR4 outperforms the earlier model but the difference is not too significant. PCMark 8 Adobe Suite showcases a faster performance from DDR4 which also scales up with time and with increased running of different functionalities.
In general the difference in operation or speed between DDR3 and DDR4 at 2133 is negligible, but when we move to a higher frequency DDR4 is able to turn the tables.
Other factors to consider
Compatibility – This is another factor that needs to be kept in mind when you are looking to make a purchase, whether on a new PC or to assemble one for DDR3 vs DDR4. Remember that replacing a DDR3 RAM in its port with a DDR4 is not possible and neither the vice versa case can be followed. Motherboard manufacturers specify the RAM that is compatible for their systems which helps to remove any confusion. Motherboards that are built between the years 2007 to 2014 would support DDR3 RAM, mostly, the models built after 2014 are likely to be compatible with DDR4 modules.
Availability and pricing – DDR3 has become a standard for most computers built for a decade and in comparison, DDR4 modules are still relatively new units in the market. Since DDR4 offers updated technology, it is priced higher than DDR3. Hence, a DDR3-2133 8 GB kit would be available at a price of $59.29 while the DDR4-2133 comes for a price of $91.49 which brings about a difference of $30.
DDR4 picks up in technology advantages where DDR3 leaves and hence improvements can be found with DDR4 in almost all aspects. DDR4 RAMs prove to be worthy successors of DDR3 from all parameters, design, power consumption, clocking speed and so forth. However, you need to have a system requirement of a higher power to feel the advantage of spending the extra amount on a higher version of RAM that DDR4 provides. It definitely gives a boost in performance, especially in clock speed requirements. Hence, those who are running high resolution games, programs and other applications and need a higher power combined with low consumption of power will find it advantageous to switch to a system compatible with DDR4 RAM. However, for those who need standard computing tasks to be completed and wish for budget computer systems can still opt for DDR3 technology as this RAM configuration is sufficient to carry out multitasking capabilities of standard computers without compromising much. It would be wise, however, to opt for a computer system that offers the possibility of an upgrade instead of DDR3 vs DDR4; this will help you move up your gaming levels and get your system VR ready even with 4k screens.
Part #2 DDR3 VS DDR4:4 Differences Between DDR3 AND DDR4
Here we look at four basic difference between DDR3 and DDR4 RAM. Most of the computers manufactured before 2014 are fitted with DDR3 RAM which usually suffices the basic computing and gaming tasks on standard computers. However the newer models fitted with DDR4 RAM definitely offer several advantages such as less power consumption power and higher clocking speed, greater performance and computational power as well as in supporting higher resolutions with ease.
Here we explore four basic points that make a difference in your choice of DDR3 or DDR4 RAM. Once you know the key basic factors and differences it would help you make certain decisions more easily such as whether you can upgrade the RAM of your computer, what performance differences you can expect and so forth.
1. RAM physical design and compatibility – fitment aspects
RAM or random access memory of your computer holds data that you frequently access or that your processor or CPU does. It helps in quick and easy references and it is reflected in the booting time, applications and the time they take to execute common tasks and so forth. As reading from hard disk drives or solid state drives is a slower process that is where RAM comes in. The connection between RAM and CPU is like a memory bus, which is designed to speed up the processes and uses laser energy that the hard disk or solid state drives. The first factor to remember when looking at the difference between DDR3 and DDR4 is that the physical layout is different, as per the pins and the layout of the same for the different modules. DDR3 RAM uses 240 pins while DDR4 RAM has a 288 pin connector.
For the different physical designs, motherboards and CPUs that are fitted with DDR3 port will not work with a DDR4 RAM. If you are assembling a PC from scratch, you will need to get a motherboard and check for RAM compatibility before you procure the RAM to fit your PC.
2. Clock speed and latency – performance parameters
Another difference between DDR3 and DDR4 is that, data transfer rates, as measured by giga-transfers or million transfers per second, is higher for DDR4. This means that the bandwidth that you get with DDR4 is more and data transfer happens faster as compared to the speed of DDR3 RAM.
The other aspect is the clock speed. This represents the capability of RAM to read as well as written data. Clock speed is higher for DDR4 as compared to DDR3.
The other aspect is the column access strobe latency or CL. This refers to clock cycles which the time is taken from RAM to deliver data to the CPU. High latency is not a value you will want while clock speed being higher is desirable. DDR4 is known to have lower latency and higher clock speed. However, this is not the case in all kinds of DDR4 RAM. For instance the Corsair RAM is known to offer higher clock speed, but that does not always make it better. It is necessary to take all factors into consideration before you decide on your purchase.
3. Voltage and power – energy efficiency
Another factor that is vital as a difference between DDR3 and DDR4 is that the latter uses less power.
Though the difference is marginal, standard voltage consumption of DDR3 RAM being 1.5V compared to DDR4 which consumes 1.2v, for large setup of computers as in a server unit, the power savings would be substantial.
4. Other factors to consider
The final factor when looking at the difference between DDR3 and DDR4 is the price gap. DDR4 being a relatively new technology whose supply is also less as compared to DDR3, comes at a difference of $20 or more for a unit of DDR4 compared to a cheaper unit of DDR3. Though in a single unit purchase, the cost difference does not matter much, in accumulated purchases it does add up.
When it comes to making a choice, it would depend on the other hardware components you are using. It also depends on what you plan to use the computer for; the kind of tasks you would do or programs you would run in the future.
For those who have an existing computer with a 4th or a 5th gen Intel CPU and an old motherboard, it would probably be compatible with a DDR3 RAM. However, if you are assembling a great gaming PC or the latest components like the 6th gen Intel CPU then DDR4 RAM would be a great investment to ensure that your computer can run all the kinds of games and multimedia applications you might load and run on your PC. It would certainly be a version that would be around for quite some time and hence, spending a little more for this version is definitely an appealing choice after you have gone through the difference between DDR3 and DDR4.