Best RAM for the Ryzen 7 2700X

Posted by James I. on 30 oct 2018

Introduction

When you want to buy a new system, be it on Intel or AMD, sooner or later you will need to look at DDR4 memory. But with the vast amount of different kits, what exactly should you look out for? In this article I will try to go over that for the Ryzen 7 2700x (which should also hold true for the other Pinnacle Ridge CPUs). But first I want to make clear that for gaming the performance gap will only really show between the different memory kits if you are CPU and not GPU limited, so there probably will be a smaller difference (if any at all) between a slower and a faster RAM kit when you are playing at 4k UHD compared to 1080p because at higher resolutions you are more GPU limited.

The first thing you will probably notice differing between different kits is their clock speeds, e.g. 2400MHz, 3000MHz, 3200MHz and so on. This is one of the important parts that will affect your performance. Here higher is better, but of course that doesn’t necessarily mean that going higher and higher will give you more performance in real-world applications, but I will go into a little more detail about this later on.

The second thing you may notice when looking at different RAM kits are their timings, most notably their CAS latency (CL). They can also be important for your performance and also give insight in some cases regarding the manufacturer of the memory. The ones that stand out here and are also recommended most of the time are the Samsung B-Die memory modules as they perform and overclock the best. If you want to learn more about timings, this article from Gamers Nexus gives some insight on that. To sum up timings, lower is better in general.

Another point that I want to address is the rank of the RAM. The two types that appear nowadays are single and dual rank memory modules. In this community post there is a short explanation as to what that means as well as some performance figures with different settings. But in short, dual rank memory seems to be a bit faster than single rank memory at the same speeds but it won’t be able to reach the same speed that single rank RAM does (and so it won’t overclock as good as single rank too). Most of the time 8GB modules and below seem to be single rank while 16GB sticks are usually dual rank.

And the last thing that I want to mention is the channel configuration which can also have a big impact on performance depending on the workload. The Ryzen 7 2700x supports dual channel memory configurations which means that two sticks of memory have to be plugged into the corresponding slots on the motherboard which will effectively double the bandwidth compared to single channel.


Ryzen 7 2700x memory compatibility

The second generation of Ryzen processors officially supports up to 2933MHz, so that is the speed that you are pretty much guaranteed to achieve, everything after that is overclocking territory for these CPUs, but most of the time up to 3200MHz should work just fine for most people.

The best thing to do in the beginning is to look into the QVL of your motherboard because it lists what RAM modules were tested to work on that specific board, so just because one set of memory modules work on one motherboard for example that doesn’t mean it will work on all of the other available ones. But that also doesn’t mean that because a specific RAM kit isn’t on the QVL it won’t work on your motherboard, it just means that it wasn’t tested by the manufacturer and you don’t know if it will work until you plug it in. The maximum RAM speed you will be able to achieve also depends on your motherboard, so you won’t necessarily be able to run the memory at a certain speed just because someone else managed to do it.

And the last thing to remember here is the rank of the RAM. As I said earlier dual rank memory won’t clock as high as single rank memory and according to this discussion it seems like around 3200MHz is the limit for dual rank RAM on the second generation of Ryzen while many people are able to push single rank modules much further than that.


Optimal RAM speed for Ryzen 7 2700X

RAM speed (and timings/latency) is especially important for Ryzen because of the infinity fabric it uses to connect the two CCXs (CPU complex) which is largely impacted by memory latency and bandwidth.

The general consensus is that 3200MHz RAM is the sweet spot in terms of price-to-performance ratio. Up till that point you will see a decent performance bump for each increase in clock speed. After that you will see diminishing returns and sometimes no performance increase at all anymore. And if you want to get the most performance out of your memory then 3200MHz modules with CL14 are what you want to go for as they house the popular Samsung B-Dies (here is a list showing you many RAM kits which use them).


1. G.Skill Flare X 16GB 3200MHz CL14

G.SKILL

Flare X 16GB 3200MHz CL14

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Photo credit: G.SKILL

This kit was released alongside the first generation of Ryzen and was also optimized for that purpose, so of course this is one that is very popular and recommended amongst Ryzen owners. It is a 16gb kit consisting out of two 8gb modules using a black PCB and black, shiny heat spreaders, so it should look just fine in most systems. It comes with an XMP-profile using 3200MHz with timings of 14-14-14-34 at 1.35 Volts and uses Samsung B-Dies which is optimal from a performance standpoint, and thus it overclocks very well (if you want to overclock your B-Dies these timings by The Stilt are a good starting point for that, but remember that just because it works for some people doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for yourself). It has a height of 40mm and as such it should fit under most of the big tower-style coolers, but not all of them. As the kit is optimized for Ryzen it works at the specified speed and timings for almost everyone. But of course there is one downside and that is the price. It comes in at around $225 which is around the price most of the 16gb kits of 3200MHz CL14 memory is located. In conclusion that means if you want to get the maximum out of your system, then this kit is a very good choice, especially when you tweak the timings and frequency, but if you want value then you may want to look into some of the other choices.

In the PC hardware space nowadays, there has to be RGB of course which also naturally includes RGB memory. I can’t really decide which one is the best because that is different for each individual person. But my top choices if you want RGB RAM are either the Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro or the G.Skill Trident Z RGB.


2. Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro

Corsair

Vengeance RGB Pro

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Photo credit: Corsair

This series of memory from Corsair was released very recently around mid-2018. They are available in different configurations with either 8GB or 16GB modules ranging from 16GB to 128GB kits with speeds starting at 2666MHz all the way up to 4266MHz.The sweet spot here for most users would be the 3000/3200MHz 16GB kits. If you want the performance, there are 3200MHz CL14 memory modules using Samsung B-Die which naturally are a little bit more on the expensive side, but there are also modules at the same speed with CL16 that are much cheaper coming in at around $180.

One thing you have to consider however is that they are unusually high coming in at around 51mm, which means they won’t fit under most of the big air coolers, but you probably wouldn’t want to cover them up either way. You’ll have the choice between black and white heat spreaders. And of course, the most distinguishing feature is the beautiful lightbar housing 10 LEDs on the top covering the complete length of the modules. At the moment you can adjust the lighting either through the iCUE app from Corsair, MSIs Mystic Light or Gigabyte RGB Fusion, while ASUS Aura Sync support is supposedly being worked on.


3. G.Skill Trident Z RGB

G.SKILL

Trident Z RGB

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Photo credit: G.SKILL

Being one of the first RGB RAM to be released at the start of 2017, the Trident Z RGB memory from G.Skill is still a very popular choice. It supports all of the main motherboard manufacturers RGB software (Asus Aura Sync, MSI Mystic Light, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, ASRock Polychrome RGB). Just like the Vengeance RGB Pro, G.Skill also presents a very big lineup with either 8GB or 16GB modules leading to kits with up to 128GB and varying speeds starting at 2400MHz going all the way up to 4600MHz. Similarly, there are 3200MHz CL14 and also CL16 kits, with the latter one coming in around $170.

One thing to take note of is that G.Skill went on to release AMD-optimized memory kits later one which can be identified through the X at the end of the model name (e.g. F4-3200C16D-16GTZR vs. F4-3200C16D-16GTZRX). They are nice to get when they are close in price to the original, non-AMD-optimized Trident Z RGB, but not necessary as it seems, because the second generation of Ryzen has better memory compatibility than the first. They are not as tall as the Vengeance RGB Pro coming in at around 44mm.

I personally prefer the looks of the Corsair RGB RAM, but that is something that each person has to decide for themselves, either way, both of them are good choices and have a big lineup to choose from.


4. G.Skill Ripjaws V

G.SKILL

Ripjaws V

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Photo credit: G.SKILL

The latest addition to the Ripjaws lineup is a great budget choice, especially the 16GB 3200MHz CL16 kit coming in at just below $140. But of course G.Skill also provides a large lineup here with 4,8 or 16GB modules creating 8GB to 128GB kits between 2133MHz and 4000MHz. This is great if you only want 8GB of RAM for now and upgrade later on as well. You have the choice between five different heat spreader colors, namely black, red, silver, grey and blue (but not every memory kit is available in all of the colors). It stands at around 42mm tall, so similarly to the Flare X, the will probably fit under most of the air coolers, but not all of them.

If you want a simple design while not spending too much money but still get good performance, the Ripjaws V will provide that to you.


5. Corsair Vengeance LPX

Corsair

Vengeance LPX

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Photo credit: Corsair
The last RAM that I want to cover here is the Vengeance LPX RAM. They are also very budget friendly with a simple, yet good looking design, coming close to the price of the Ripjaws V, but the main reason why I am including them here is their low-profile design. They come in at only 34mm which means that they should be able to fit under all big tower-style coolers. They are also offered in varying sizes and speeds with 4,8 and 16GB modules making up 8GB to 128GB kits starting at 2133MHz and going all the way up to 4600MHz. Similarly to the Ripjaws, they are available in different colors: black, blue, red and white. So, if you have a big air cooler and want some low-profile memory that fits under it, the Vengeance LPX lineup provides you with a big lineup with a fair price.

Final words

At the end, all that’s left to say is, while Ryzen loves memory and around the 3200MHz mark is the sweet spot, ultimately the choice is up to you whether you want to buy a fast RAM kit with low latencies and spend a little bit extra for that or if you’re going for a little bit slower memory and save some money there. It also depends on the purpose and the workloads of your system (and for gaming also on your graphics card). More CPU-intensive and memory bandwidth dependent tasks will profit from faster RAM with tight timings, while in other workloads you may see no increase at all from going with better, more expensive memory. The amount of RAM you want to get is also dependent on aforementioned points and while for gaming 8GB is the bare minimum nowadays, 16GB will be much better and should last you for a while.

Other useful resources:

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/8c78b6/best_ram_speed_to_buy_with_2700x_and_x470_mobo/
  2. http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answers/id-3711965/ram-ryzen-2700x.html
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRIeG1CuzYQ
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6RWEnUsLSY
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHBsR1Y68G8