Best Memory (RAM) for 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen CPUs 3900X, 3700X, 3600

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Best Memory (RAM) for 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen CPUs 3900X, 3700X, 3600

Wondering what RAM would be perfect for your Ryzen PC Build?

RAM/Memory is one of the core components you need to build any PC. Although its specifications have always been affected performance, we haven’t seen such a drastic performance boost until AMD’s Ryzen processors came along.

I’ll go over why memory is so crucial to the performance of Ryzen CPUs as well as various factors you need to consider before buying your kit.

If you’re looking for a quick and dirty 16 GB RAM recommendation for Ryzen, here you go:

Understanding RAM: What Do You Look for When Buying Memory?

What Does it Mean? What Does it do?

RAM stands for Random Access Memory.

It acts as a fast, volatile memory for your operating system to access data. Now, they’re called volatile because they lose the information stored in them when you turn off your PC (or cut power supply to them), unlike your HDD and SSD.

However, the speeds they can write and read at are mind-boggling, even compared to modern NVMe (flash) SSDs, which is what makes them so useful.

hdd vs ssd vs ram

In fact, a relatively inexpensive 3000 MHz memory module is at least 4-5 times faster than the fastest flash storage you can buy today.

Think of RAM as a short-term memory for your PC. It is used for everything you do on a PC. Whether you’re opening a file, switching between browser tabs, gaming, or even rendering a complex scene, your RAM is an invaluable asset to these operations.

DDR4, DDR3, DDR2? What is DDR? How Does it Affect Performance?

DDR or Double Data Rate is an advanced version of SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory). While SDRAM sent signals once per clock cycle, DDR transfers signals twice per cycle.

Constant improvements in the access time and rate of data transfer necessitated hardware-level changes, which is why standards like DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 emerged. Each successive iteration improves upon its predecessor.

I recommend going through Transcend’s extensive DDR info page if you want to learn more about the various DDR standards and the improvements they brought to the table over the years.

Memory Clock Speeds (Clock Cycles)

You might’ve come across various MHz specifications when buying RAM. The number given with this unit is simply the maximum cycles per second it can handle. So, a memory rated at 3600 MHz is capable of performing 3.6 billion cycles per second.

Then does a higher clock indicate faster RAM? Well, yes and no.

There are many factors at play when it comes to memory speeds in real-world usage. They’re often limited by latency, processor architecture, and other things. However, as a simple rule of thumb, faster memory clocks will usually be faster than RAM with lower memory clocks.

Memory Timings & CAS Latency

When buying memory, you’ll often see a series of four numbers – something like this: 14-16-16-35. These numbers are called memory timings; they indicate the delay/latency between each command.

RAM Latency

Image-Source: guru3d.com

As I said above, memory speeds and latency both contribute to making a RAM module ‘fast.’

In theory, you could buy a higher-clocked RAM that’s slower than lower-clocked RAM with better timings.

Avoiding this is important because manufacturers will often try to sell you overpriced memory kits using marketing jargon and ultra-high clock speed specifications.

Before we begin breaking down timings, visualize your RAM as a simple spreadsheet with rows and columns to simplify things. Let’s consider the above timings – 14-16-16-35

  • The first number in the memory timings is called the CAS (Column Access Strobe) latency or CL. It indicates the time taken by any RAM module to start responding to any request it receives, and so, lower is better.
    If you’re thinking of it as a spreadsheet, it’s the time taken to find and activate a column in RAM. In this case, that delay is 14 clock cycles.
  • The second number is Row Address to Column Address Delay (tRCD). Now, once you access a column, there’s a delay to find the correct row with the required information. In this case, that number is 16 and is the tRCD of that memory module.
  • The third number is Row Precharge Time (tRP). This timing number indicates the delay to identify another row within the same column. In this case, 16.
  • The last number is Row Active Time (tRAS). This particular number will be much higher than all other figures in memory timings because it indicates the minimum number of clock cycles a row needs to stay open to ensure that data is read or written correctly.
CPU-Z RAM Timings Ryzen 3rd Gen 3900X

Example of Memory Timings and Clock

In the above case, your actual data rate is the double of listed DRAM frequency, i.e., 1197.1×2 ~ 2400MHz.

To find the latency of your RAM using CAS latency and memory clock, you can use this simple latency calculator.

Tweaking Memory Timings Manually

TechPowerUp’s DRAM calculator for Ryzen is making waves all around. Using it is pretty straightforward.

Every memory module you buy is manufactured by one of three companies – Samsung, Hynix, or Micron. The DRAM calculator detects the grade and manufacturer of your memory die before suggesting memory timings that should work.

Ryzen DRAM Calculator

Image-Source: Techpowerup Ryzen DRAM Calculator

As you can see, you can calculate a safe timing, a fast timing, and an extreme timing. I recommend starting with the safe timing and then proceeding to tighter timings recommended by the FAST and EXTREME calculations. These timings have to be set in your BIOS.

How Much RAM do You Need?

With the launch of mammoth 32GB memory modules, you can now run an astounding amount of RAM in your system. However, do you need all that much?

The amount of RAM you need depends on the primary goal of your PC build as well as the applications you use.

Are you building a PC to render high-quality video footage or complex scenes? Applications like Adobe Premiere Pro officially recommend 32 GB of RAM if you’re working with 4K footage. However, I’ve seen it use much more when handling bigger files.

So, I’ll make it simple for most of you:

  • For gaming, you don’t need more than 16GB memory at the moment.
  • For rendering and other memory-intensive workloads, I’d recommend at least 32GB.

What is a QVL? Does it Matter?

A QVL, or Qualified Vendor List, is a list published by motherboard manufacturers that categorically reveals the memory modules that were tested by them and are confirmed to be working at their rated speeds.

To check against this list, you’ll need to know the serial number of your memory module(s).

Take this RAM kit on Amazon for example:

Corsair Ram On Amazon

Image-Source: Amazon

See those series of numbers and alphabets in the brackets at the end? That’s your serial number. In this case, it’s “CMK16GX4M2B3000C15.” Let’s match it against the MSI Prestige X570 CREATION motherboard’s QVL page.

QVL Page MSI

Image-Source: MSI

You can see multiple versions of this same memory module tested on the X570 Creation Motherboard, even in 4-module configurations. What’s more, every one of them is working at their rated speed of 3000 MHz.

Does this mean that if this serial number isn’t listed, there’s no chance of this RAM working at its rated speed? Absolutely not.

Cross-referencing a serial number with a QVL is just a way to guarantee the rated clock speed of your memory kit on your motherboard.

In some regions, it’s tough to find RAM that’s been tested for compatibility and listed in a QVL. That’s okay.

If that’s the case, then explore the motherboard’s QVL carefully. Check how many manufacturers and how many configurations have been tested, and are running successfully at rated speeds.

The more extensive a QVL, the better the internal memory configuration – improving the chances of your RAM working just fine on that motherboard, even if it’s not listed on the QVL.

Even after all this, you might end up with a RAM kit that just doesn’t run at its rated speed. Make sure you keep your BIOS updated for any future improvements and attempt to get to the rated speed after each update.

When I built a PC with 1st Generation Ryzen, my 2400 MHz memory kit wouldn’t boot at that speed. I tried everything, to no avail. However, 6 months and a few BIOS revisions later, it started working, no problem!

Note – Modern Fast Boot settings don’t allow the memory timings to synchronize with the plethora of clocks in a system on first boot. If your system isn’t booting the first time, attempt to train your memory by clearing your BIOS and repeating this step 3-4 times.

Single/Dual/Quad Channel Memory Configurations

Single, dual, and quad-channel memory configurations indicate the bandwidth available for memory to work simultaneously.

So, a single-channel memory configuration would have half the bandwidth of a dual-channel configuration and one-fourth the bandwidth of a quad-channel one.

To avoid any confusion, let me start by saying that the AM4 socket (Ryzen) doesn’t support quad-channel memory.

Quad Channel RAM Sockets AM4

Some Motherboards will Have the Correct RAM Configuration Printed (top right) on the Board (Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite)

Yes, most motherboards do have 4 RAM slots. But populating all four of them means running them on dual-channel mode. Some people need more memory than bandwidth and can use these slots.

However, if your workload demands high memory bandwidth, you should consider HEDT platforms like X399 (TR4) for Threadripper.

Note – All rumors point to an October release of a new generation of Threadripper CPUs from AMD. If I were in the market for an HEDT build, I’d hold off on any purchases for a couple of months.

Running single-channel memory isn’t ideal; even games have started to punish systems with single-channel memory.

Moreover, buying a single 16GB memory module is almost as costly as a dual-channel 16GB (8×2) kit.

For any workload, go with dual-channel memory. Nothing less.

Consult your motherboard manual to identify the slots you need to use for dual-channel memory. Usually, they’ll be slot 2 and slot 4.

Populate the slots marked as ‘first’ and then add memory sticks to the remaining slots if you need more.

RGB or No RGB? Any Difference Besides Looks?

Short answer…no difference at all.

RGB memory modules look great in cases with tempered glass panels and clean builds with excellent cable management. However, I’d take that extra premium for RGB and go for a memory module with higher speeds and/or lower CAS latency, to be honest.

G.Skill-Trident-Z-RGB

Image-Source: G.Skill

But even I have to admit, some of those designs look pretty sick.

Memory Module Height

With the advent of RGB, RAM modules are getting thicker, higher, and more prominent in general. While this isn’t usually an issue if you’re sticking with the stock Ryzen coolers, CPU coolers with larger heatsinks are starting to pose a challenge – I’m looking at you, BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 4!

I jest, it’s a fantastic air cooler for any CPU.

Consult your CPU cooler product page to find its RAM clearance. Here’s an example from the Noctua NH-D15 product page that tells you exactly what you need to know.

Noctua Cooler Manual

Image-Source: Noctua

Ryzen’s Infinity Fabric, Latency, and Memory Clock Speed

During the launch of AMD’s 3rd Generation Ryzen processors, one slide caught everyone’s attention. The slide contained invaluable information about how Ryzen’s infinity fabric and memory clocks interact.

AMD 3rd gen ryzen memory latency

Image-Source: AMD

The Infinity Fabric is a proprietary interchip interconnect for AMD CPUs and GPUs. Since AMD’s Ryzen processors consist of multiple core complexes, this directly affects real-world performance.

Ryzen’s architecture leverages infinity fabric to communicate across core complexes. Reducing the latency between this communication makes the processor snappier and more responsive to tasks.

Here’s the slide from their presentation:

The infinity fabric performance sweet spot is DDR4 3733. Now, before you go hunting for 3733 MHz memory, I think that those who want the best can safely consider 3600 MHz CL16 RAM. A 2ns latency reduction isn’t worth the extra premium you might have to pay.

Here’s a benchmark from ComputerBase.de showing performance differences in a relatively CPU-bound scenario:

computerbase memory ryzen

Image-Source: Computerbase

As you can see, the real performance drop-off happens when you go below 3000 MHz of CL16 memory.

Tighter (lower) timings, like the 3200 MHz CL14 at the top of the chart will make much more of a difference than memory that’s just clocked higher with high latency.

The value sweet spot for an average buyer using a Ryzen processor is 16GB (8×2) 3200 MHz CL16 RAM.

RAM/Memory Recommendations for Ryzen Processors

3rd Generation Ryzen processors now support many more memory modules at much higher clock cycles. All the kits listed below should work at their rated speeds and timings by changing to the correct XMP profile in your BIOS.

Value Champs (3200 MHz CL16)

When shopping within this category, buy whatever you can find on your motherboard’s QVL list. If you find all of them, then go ahead and pick the cheapest or the best-looking one!

Every one of these modules is rated at 3200 MHz with a CAS Latency of 16.

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3200 MHz CL16

Corsair’s Vengeance LPX is probably one of the most widely-used RAM kits out there and hence, is supported by most boards. All the motherboards that I’ve personally tested have run this particular kit at its rated speed without a hitch.

Corsair Vengeance LPX

Image-Source: Corsair

If you can’t find the other kits on your motherboard’s QVL, pick this one!

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 3200 MHz CL16

Crucial Ballistix offers one of the most affordable kits on the market today. They work well with many motherboards and feature the timings similar to the other options in this category.

Crucial Ballistix Sport

Image-Source: Crucial

If both Corsair and Ballistix are priced equally, go with the one you think looks better. They’ll both work just fine.

With RGB

G.SKILL Trident Z RGB Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3200 MHz CL16

Although the Trident Z is among the costlier options with the same memory timings as the Corsair and Crucial options I recommended above, it does look pretty good.

gskill tridentZ RGB

Image-Source: G.Skill

If you’re building a system with a tempered glass side panel and RGB components, this memory kit from G.Skill is certainly the best one out there.

It offers excellent memory timings and should work with most AM4 motherboards out there.

Performance Champs (3600 MHz CL16)

The memory kits in this category offer a 3600 MHz clock with a CAS Latency of 16 – making them perfect for any Ryzen build. Of course, the performance improvement you get will depend on your specific workloads. However, if you want the best performance at a great price, this is it.

G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3600 MHz CL16

The price-point for this memory kit is exceptional. It offers blazing-fast 3600 MHz CL16 memory at a price tier that is crowded with 3200 MHz options with the same timings.

gskill ripjaws

Image-Source: G.Skill

If you’re not set on RGB and want the best performance you can get, while spending smart, the G.Skill Ripjaws V is my recommendation.

G.Skill Trident Z Royal Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3600 MHz CL16

If anyone’s perfected the art of making drop-dead gorgeous RAM modules, it has to be G.Skill. Even though it’s priced much higher than its peers, the Trident Z Royal is a tempting option for those who want both performance and a stunning RAM kit.

gskill tridentz royal

Image-Source: G.Skill

They’re tested for both AMD and Intel platforms and should work on most motherboards at their rated speeds and timings without any issues.

 

I hope you’ll have an easier time picking out memory for your Ryzen build now. What memory kit did you decide to buy? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below; I’ll do my best to help.

Jerry from CGDirector - post author

Hi, I'm Jerry - a Freelance Technical Content Writer and Strategist.
I've been building PCs for the past 15 years, and I'm not stopping anytime soon.
Feel free to comment and ask for my inputs on your PC builds; I'll do my best to help out!

181
Comments

Nate McGechie

Hi, great informative piece!
Looking at upgrading soon and heading back to team red! I read elsewhere that 3600Mhz if running a B450 or x470 mobo is pointless, and only x570 will support this. Is this actually true? I don’t see the point in the price/performance for gaming at this stage in investing in a x570 board, but desperately need a RAM upgrade as well! I don’t want to buy the wrong RAM.

Kirill Obraztsov

Hi Jerry. ever since my cat and girlfriend teamed up a few years ago to waterboard my poor, innocent gaming laptop, ive been playing games on lowest resolution at like 20fps. it hurts and i cant even do any basic graphic design or 3D modeling like i wanted too.

I will be building a new system soon but i have a strange idea, I want to build it into a hard shell suitcase. i will have to mount the mobo in the suitcase somehow and i was thinking about putting a moniter in the top portion too, basically i want a “portable” workstation/gaming beast.

i plan on having a gtx 2070 super ultra gaming whatever and then sell that off when the 3080’s come out. i was thinking about the gigabyte aurous elite wifi x570 for the amd 3900x cpu.

im thinking about 16X2 GB of ram, perhaps 3200 cas 14 if its not too much more then 3600 -16.
or maybe the royal XD

my issue is that i have no idea where to put the RGB for maximum FPS and CPU efficiency. lol just kidding about the last part.

I know i will have to cut a lot of things and what not. but ive never built any pc before, cant decide on air or closed loop for the cpu and i dont really know where to start and what to do. any help and recommendations with parts is appreciated.

Thanks for your help

patfish

HI Jerry!
I build a 3950x Workstation at the moment.
As motherboard, I will take a ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero or maybe (because of the 3xM.2 Slots) a Gigabyte X570 Aorus Master. What you think?

The only thing I’m not really sure is the RAM. I like to install first 2x32GB and maybe upgrade in the future to 128GB.

What would you prefer? (Corasair 2x32GB 3200 CL16 or 3600 CL18?)
1) https://www.corsair.com/de/de/Kategorien/Produkte/Arbeitsspeicher/VENGEANCE-LPX/p/CMK64GX4M2C3200C16

or

2) https://www.corsair.com/de/de/Kategorien/Produkte/Arbeitsspeicher/VENGEANCE-LPX/p/CMK64GX4M2D3600C18

The Price is nearly the same, and they are both on no QVL sheet of any company (i think they are to new)
If i can overclock it a litte bit on a easy way it would be great (but its not must!)

I do manly Compositing/3D and Color Grading.

3DS Max
Houdini
Nuke
After Effects
Davinci Resolve

best regards,
pat

BstuSCO

Nice clear article. What’s your opinion on downclocking ram so to speak. I mean running my rated CL16 3600@ say CL14 3200. I assume as it’s rated at 3600 then running it at 3200 with tighter timings shouldn’t be an issue. But, would it even be worth it?

Dan

Another excellent article!

I cant decide which RAM to pick, and maybe im overthinking this?
(This is for my TRX 3960x + Asrock Creator)

I went to the mobo’s QVL page:
https://www.asrock.com/mb/AMD/TRX40%20Creator/index.asp#Memory

The recommendations you posted are great but I’m trying to get 4x16gb RAM (64GB) and found these:

https://amazon.com/gp/product/B07WHF2RQ4/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

They come up on the QVL sheet, but I wanted to know your thoughts or if there something else you’d recommend?

Dan
Sam Spade

Great article but…. the part I was interested in is cut off!
From the article:
So, I’ll make it simple for most of you:

For gaming, you don’t need more than 16GB memory at the moment.
For rendering and other memory-intensive workloads, I’d recommend at least

So for rendering and other memory-intensive workloads, what do you recommend?

Flo

Hey Jerry,

I’m highly intrested to buy an AMD Ryzen 9 3950x in the upcoming months and my issue is this:
I want to buy 128Gb of ram
https://de.pcpartpicker.com/product/k2mFf7/corsair-vengeance-lpx-64-gb-2-x-32-gb-ddr4-3200-memory-cmk64gx4m2e3200c16

i’ve read in your post that amd doesnt support quad-channel.

So now my question is: should i get a tr4 or just go as i planned?

Aaron

hi
i bought AMD Ryzen 5 3600x and try to have a set of memory.

#1:
3600x has System Memory Specification 3200MHz and Memory Channels 2.
If system memory is 3200, should i stick with 3200?
Does 3600mhz makes any difference when system memory is only up to 3200?

#2:
Also, another question is memory channel is 2. I still can put 4 memory without any problem right?
Just to clarify, channel 2 means I need to install even number of memory into 2nd and 4th slots or 1st and 3rd slots.

#3:
*I am building this pc mainly for gaming. Should i stick with 16gb (2×8) or will be better off 32gb (4x8gb)?

Sorry for too many questions, Thank you in advance.

Tony Kollberg

Good article that straightens out several questions!

I am going to buy a Ryzen 3600 and will not overclock and focus is gaming, so I was thinking about starting with 16 GB RAM (2×8). However, I wonder what is best between 3200 CL14 and 3600 CL16? The difference is very small in the tests I have looked at, and some programs are better with low CL while some are better with higher Mhz (i dont know why). I want to run with G.Skill and RGB. Do the memory modules get hotter and more unstable at 3600 Mhz than 3200 Mhz?

What happens if I add 2×8 Ram to 32GB, then it will be Quad Cahnnel, will I lose performance then?

Is it better to run 2×16 (dual channel) than 4×8 on Ryzen? I think 4×8 looks better with RGB. For me, the most important thing is that it is stable and fast, the visual is secondary.

Best regards Tony

hoshos

Hi Guys, I ordered

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016ORTUIA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s03?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I thought it’ll come with the same package as like amazon imaged but it comes with different package see this link
https://i.imgur.com/7XRPaqF.jpg

please tell me if it same or different?

Thanks