Best RAM for Intel's Core i7-9700K

Posted by James I. on 23 oct 2018

With the upcoming release of the ninth generation of Intel’s Core i7 processors, it’s a great time to upgrade your current PC or build a new one. Those looking to build new will be well advised to use a motherboard with the new Z390 chipset, giving access to more USB 3.1 Gen2 ports and WIFI built right into the chipset. However, the new 9700k, like it’s ninth generation brethren, are compatible with the same chipsets as the previous generation, making an upgrade to the CPU instead of a whole new build an enticing option.

Along with a CPU upgrade, now is a good time to upgrade RAM, due to the recent drop in price. While Intel processors are not as fussy about RAM speeds as AMD’s, nevertheless, RAM is an important component, and whether you’re upgrading or building new, appropriate RAM can make or break your experience. In this guide, I will review 5 high quality RAM kits that will pair well with the new i7-9700k, and provide options that will cover different potential criteria you might use to choose your RAM.

Here are some rules of thumb based on the primary thing you will be doing on the computer:

  1. Gaming: 8GB minimum, 16GB preferred. The faster the better, although speeds over 3000 MHz will see relatively little improvement for added cost.
  2. Web Browsing/Desktop Experience: 8GB minimum, 16GB preferred. Faster is preferred but not as crucial as it is for gaming.
  3. Video/Photo Editing/Rendering: 16GB minimum, 32GB preferred. The faster the better.

In addition, I will not be focusing on latency in this guide. CAS latency has little importance to any of the above use cases and overall is only something to worry about when pushing absolute maximum overclocks or chasing maximum frame rates (200+ fps) for competitive shooting games. I will mention what their ratings are as well as how they compare to the other kits on the list.

One more thing to look out for when looking for RAM, particularly when building a Ryzen PC, is the manufacturer of the RAM. This differs from the brand of the RAM, such as Corsair or G.Skill. When looking for RAM, it’s best to look for Samsung B-Die or Micron manufactured RAM, and to avoid Hynix RAM. For the purposes of an Intel build, either B-Die or Micron RAM will work well and provide better overclocking potential. The only RAM on this list that is not B-Die or Micron is the Patriot kit, the budget option, which is manufactured by Patriot themself.

Finally, remember that you will always want DDR4 RAM as opposed to DDR3. DDR3 will not fit into the RAM slots on any motherboard that will accept the new i7’s, and besides, it’s much slower than DDR4.

With all that said, let’s start the list of 5 RAM kits I would recommend for a new or upgraded ninth generation Intel build with the i7-9700K.


1. Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3000 MHz

Corsair

Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 3000 MHz

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Photo credit: Corsair
  • Low profile
  • Aluminum heat spreader
  • Low CAS latency
  • XMP support
  • None

Corsair is a big name in the PC component industry, and for good reason. They make quality cases, fans, cpu coolers, peripherals, and just about anything you can think of. This extends to RAM. The Vengeance LPX line of RAM is built with overclocking in mind. It utilizes an aluminum heat spreader, which is notable for it’s low profile, allowing it to fit under CPU heatsinks that other RAM cannot.

This is a great baseline RAM of 16GB at 3000MHz with plenty of overhead for overclocking, at a great price of $140. No matter the task, this RAM should be sufficient, but if you do any kind of video or photo editing or rendering you will want 32GBs of RAM or more. With a CAS latency of 15, this is among the lowest latency RAM on the list.


2. G.SKILL TridentZ RGB 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200 MHz

G.SKILL

TridentZ RGB 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz

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Photo credit: G.SKILL
  • Great design
  • RGB
  • High RAM speed
  • Expensive

G.Skill was founded in Taiwan in 1989. It has produced quality RAM ever since. Today they also manufacture peripherals, power supplies, SSDs, and RAM coolers. TridentZ has been a popular line of RAM from G.Skill, and with the recent trend towards RGB, they released a version that lights up like a christmas tree. The TridentZ RGB RAM Kit is very good looking and because it can light up any color you could want it will fit whatever theme you want it to.

It does have a CAS latency of 16, however, due to the intricacies of CAS latency, this actually works out to the same latency as the Corsair LPX kit. This kit is rated higher at 3200 MHz, although the difference will be small while gaming, it can make a noticeable difference while video/photo editing and rendering. Get two kits for 64GB and you’ll be set for that. At ~$170, this is premium RAM for those looking for both performance and aesthetics.


3. Patriot Signature Line 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 2400 MHz

Patriot

Signature Line 16GB DDR4 2400 MHz

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Photo credit: Patriot
  • Great budget option for i7-9700K
  • Great for web browsing/application use
  • Fast enough for gaming
  • CAS rating of 16, slower than previous kits mentioned

A brand not often in the spotlight these days, Patriot is an American founded company that produces RAM primarily for businesses and prebuilt PCs. Their consumer products tend to be less flashy and more basic than other companies, but no less useful in the right build. The Patriot Signature Line of RAM is as basic as they come, but for those whose primary concern is budget, this is the RAM for you.

Note that when you are looking to go with budget RAM, it’s important to consider what you will use the RAM for. In this case, I chose a 16GB kit for a web browsing/desktop experience user who likes to have a lot of tabs open and needs several other programs open too. In this case, it’s more important that these things stay in RAM, even if the RAM is slower at 2400 MHz, then for it to get cached on the SSD/HDD. If you’re not a power user, consider 8GB if money is really tight.

At 2400 MHz, this RAM is still plenty fast enough to do just fine for games. It has a CAS rating of 16, which with this kit works out to about 33% slower than the previous kits on the list, however, do remember that CAS latency is not as important as the other specifications. Those looking to squeeze maximum frames from games may disagree, but RAM has a small impact, relative to processor/GPU, on your gaming experience. Those chasing maximum settings will want to opt for faster RAM, but when you are looking to keep to a budget, this RAM will do you well.


4. Kingston HyperX Predator 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 3600 MHz

Kingston

HyperX Predator 32GB DDR4 3600 MHz

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Photo credit: Kingston
  • Blazing fast MHz
  • Handle large workloads
  • Great for gaming
  • Expensive
  • Worst latency on this list at 17 CL.

Those looking for RAM for their rig that will handle rendering or stream and game at the same time, Kingston’s HyperX Predator RAM will provide them with everything they need. Kingston is a company focused almost exclusively on memory products, and the results is reliable storage that provide excellent speed. This 32GB kit, at 3600 MHz, is blazing fast and can handle large workloads. Kingston is a trusted brand, if less popular these days given the rise of Corsair and G.Skill and the all RGB, all the time mentality.

At ~$380, this kit is not cheap, but those looking for maximum gaming performance or use their PC to make money whether rendering or streaming, this kit is worth the cost. For the majority of users, 32GB is unnecessary, and those on a budget would be advised to spend their money on a beefier CPU or GPU rather than more or faster RAM. Those interested in minimizing CAS latency will note that this RAM has the lowest latency on this list, with a CL rating of 17.


5. Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200 MHz

Corsair

Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz

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Photo credit: Corsair
  • Great aesthetics
  • RGB
  • CL rating of 16
  • Expensive 16GB kit

To round out this list, we’re going back to Corsair for what I consider the best looking RAM on the market. A fairly recent release, the RGB Pro line of RAM boasts “mesmerizing multi-zone RGB lighting”. In practice, this is a competitor to the TridentZ RGB line of RAM from G.Skill. In my opinion, Corsair RGB Pro looks better.

Of course, no one buys RAM purely for the looks. This particular kit, 16GB at 3200 MHz, is fast and hits the sweet spot of 16GB. At ~$170, this is a good deal, and is even pretty competitive against RAM lacking the light show this one is capable of producing, and also places it even with the G.Skill RGB kit. Both are great RAM. With a CL rating of 16, this kit is tied with the other Corsair RAM and G.Skill RAM on this list.


Final words

That wraps up our list! Each of these kits hits a sweet spot for the different use cases stated at the beginning of the guide. The RAM market has seen some issues with price fixing, and we are still feeling the effects, however, prices are better than last year and are no longer high enough to really sting. Whether upgrading or building new, these kits will pair well with a new i7-9XXX build. I hope this guide will help you narrow down the right RAM for you. Happy building!