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

CG Director Author Jerry James  by Jerry James   ⋮   ⋮   251 comments
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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 module part 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 module’s part 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 number isn’t listed, there’s no chance of this RAM working at its rated speed? Absolutely not.

Cross-referencing this 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.

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Jerry James - 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!

251
Comments

Florin

Hi Jerry, I’m building a new PC and I don’t know what memory to buy. About the same price I find 16 GB 3600 G.Skill Trident Z Neo RGB CL16 and 32 GB 3200 HyperX Fury RGB CL 16. Which helps me more in games? Thanks also KTGW

Elias

Hi Jerry,

This is by far the best article I’ve read on RAM (and I’ve spent many hours researching). Thank you!!

I’d like to ask you; I’m currently in the process of building a mini itx pc with a Ryzen 3900X (I use photoshop and premier pro for work) and have just ordered this RAM – CMK32GX4M2B3200C16. I’m not sure if the B3200 will be compatible with the mobo I plan on getting (Asus X570 Rog Strix i gaming) and if I should’ve opted with another version/revision of this RAM like the Z3200 or D3200?
Is it worth returning this and going for a 3600 Cl16 option?

Also would you suggest I chose another motherboard for my build?

Cheers!!

Elias

mrJJ

I must be getting old. I find G.Skill Trident Z Royal so ugly I don’t have words for it. looks like some lady jewelry. Frankly, its the most hilarious ram i ever saw. But all reviewers seem to find them super good looking. So i do wonder why i don’t find them attractive the slightest. o.O

Stavros Dordios

Hey Jerry

I want to ask you a question about my RAM.

My build is :

CPU: Ryzen 7 3700x
MOBO: MSI B450 Tomahawk Max
RAM: HyperX Fury 8GB DDR4-2400MHz
SSD: Samsung 860 Evo 500GB
PSU: Corsair TX-M Series TX750M Gold Plus Edition
Case: Aerocool Cylon Black
GPU: Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB Windforce OC 3X
CPU Cooler: AMD Prism Wraith
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB and 1 Seagate Barracuda 1TB

And i want to upgrade my RAM kit because my current RAM is pretty slow for Ryzen 7 3700x and i think i would buy the G.Skill TridentZ Neo 16GB DDR4-3600MHz with CAS Latency 16.
I see in a lot of articles that is a good choice and one of the best RAM kits for Ryzen 7 3700x.
What do you think is it a good choice or i can buy other RAM kit ? I and want your opinion as well.

P.S : Very good article it help me to understand the RAM.

Your help is appreciated .

Many thanks
Stavros

Dave

So would the ripjaw 3200 with a cl14 out perform the ripjaw 3600 cl16?

Samir

Hey, what are your thoughts on crucial ballistix 3600MHz CL16 8×2 GB ram? I recently found them for 135aud which is a pretty good deal and was wondering if it was a good choice.

Greg Palmer

I’m currently in the market for 32gb of ram to go in a build with a Gigabyte Aorus x570 Master with a 3900x cpu. The this thing’s going to be a workhorse, don’t need any rgb carnivals going on in the case but if they have them I don’t mind. The 3600 Corsair Vengeance LPX 2×16 price is good but it’s a CL18. Not sure about that. Would I be better off with something with less latency? Am I better off with 2×16 rather than 4×8?

Shree Harsha

Hi Jerry,

thank you for your article. it is very well written. i am building a PC for my young son for gaming /steaming (OBS).
i am building with
Ryzen 7 3700X,
ROG strix X570 e-gaming
i am inclined towards the Trident Z Royal 3600 CL18, 16 Gb ?. Want to know if 32 Gb is overkill or 16 Gb is fine ?
Also i am planning on using Asus Geforce GTX 1050 TI (4 GB) from my old system for the time being. will this GPU throttle the performance of the new PC ? if yes, then which GPU is a good choice this new build ?
Do you have a recommendation for a case to show of the Build ..!!?

your help is appreciated .

many thanks
Shree

KiBlade

HI, I was wondering if my build needed any swapping out, I recently completed my PC build but was looking to maximize performance if it meant spending a bit more especially in regards to the RAM thank you.

CPU: Ryzen 9 3900x
MOBO: MSI x570 Gaming Pro Carbon
RAM: Team Delta RGB 16GB (2 x 8gb) DDR4 3000MHz gaming RAM
SSD: Crucial MX500 25GB M.2 Type 2280
PSU: Corsair RM750x 80 Plus Gold Fully Modular ATX Power Supply
Case: Corsair Carbide RGB Tempered Glass Window ATX
GPU: ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 5700 OC Edition
CPU Cooler: All in One Multi Chamber SilverStone PF240-ARGB Permafrost 240mm
Hard Drive: 1TB Seagate Barracuda SATA 6Gb/s 32MB Cache internal hard drive

I was also wondering if an upgrade to a RTX 2070/2080 super would be worth it (by returning my previous GPU in exchange). In Australia, the cheapest 2070 super costs 170 AUD more than my current GPU while a 2080 super can cost up to 600-700 AUD more (approximately double the price). Gaming is the primary focus of this PC rig, although multi tasking would be nice, thank you so much in advance.

newbieBuilder

Hi, thank you very much! I’ll probably go for this kind of config, what do you think?

CPU: Ryzen 7 3700x
MOBO: MSI B450 Tomahawk Max
GPU: GIGABYTE RTX 2060 8GB GDDR6 SUPER AORUS
RAM: HyperX 2x8GB Fury DDR4 3200MHz CL16
SSD: Samsung evo 860 500GB
PSU: CORSAIR TX Series Modular TX650M 650W Gold
CASE: MS TITAN II PRO RGB 4x120mm A-RGB