DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM: Key differences to know

Almost all electronic devices you use, including personal computers, laptops, gaming consoles, and even servers that power the web and the largest social media companies, use DRAM ( Dynamic random access memory) technology to help processors function. So why do we still have DDR3 vs DDR4 debate?

We tried to bring across the following in this article :

  • What is DDR3 or DDR4 and why do we care?
  • Best Buys of these RAM types
  • Differences between DDR3 and DDR4
  • And much more...
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DDR4 (double data rate fourth generation), as the name indicates, is a revolutionary step forward in-memory technology, offering better power efficiency and faster data speed compared to its predecessor DDR3 memory.

Compared to DDR4, DDR3 memory may not look that different.

Both of them offer similar form factors; however, some key differences set them apart, making the former the ideal choice for new-gen computers. 

Read this article before you consider upgrading to a new memory module to resolve high RAM usage woes in Windows 10.

In this article, we take a look at all the DDR RAM types, compare DDR3 vs DDR4, and then see why DDR4 is the best of all DDR yet. So, let’s get started.

What is DDR3?

Double data rate third generation (DDR3) is a memory standard designed as a successor to DDR2, offering better speed, reliability, and power efficiency.

It uses 240 DIMM Pins, while DDR4 memory uses 288 DIMM Pins.

DDR3 offers a clock speed of 800-2133Mhz, where 2133 MHz is the peak it can offer with the usual clock speed varying between 1660-1800MHz. 

Best buy DDR3 RAM

Corsair Vengeance Pro Series 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 MHZ

Best DDR3 RAM
  • High speed DDR3 memory compatible with Intel z68 and Intel Z77 motherboards designed for overclocking with eight-layer PCBs and ICs helping you extract the maximum performance.
  • Tested latency –  9-9-9-24
  • Efficient heat spreader provides effective cooling to improve overclocking potential

What is DDR4?

Double data rate version 4 (DDR4) is the successor to the DDR3 memory. In DDR3, auto-refresh and self-refresh are performed to refresh content.

However, in DDR4, only self-refresh is performed, resulting in lower power consumption making it more efficient than DDR3.

DDR4 memory is also relatively faster than DDR3, with its minimum clock speed starting at 2133MHz and has no defined maximum clock speed. The DRR4 key notch is in a different place for easier identification.

As a result, you can put a DDR3 in a DDR4 slot, and a motherboard with a DDR4 slot cannot use DDR3 memory.

Best buy DDR4 RAM

Viper Steel Series DDR4 16GB (1 x 16GB) 3000MHz Module

Best DDR4 RAM
  • 3000Mhz high speed 16GB single module DDR4 memory with Aluminum heat spreader with unique and specific design element.
  • Support for both AMD and Intel CPUs
  • XMP 2.0 Support for Automatic Overclocking

DDR vs DDR 2 vs DDR3 vs DDR4

DDR

DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM

Introduced in 2000 as an alternative to SDRAM, DDR, based on SDRAM, was twice as fast as the data transfers that occurred on both edges of the clock signal.

DDR could also operate at a lower clock rate using less energy without compromising on the speed. DDR used 184 DIMM pins.

Pros:

  • It offers a great balance between transfer rate, cost, and power consumption 
  • Transfer rate 200-400 MT/s
  • Faster speed and power efficiency meant high performance 
  • Supports both ECC and CRC to detect and correct error 

Cons:

  • Difficult to manufacture

DDR2

DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM

Fast forward to 2003, as the technology progressed, computing devices needed something more efficient than DDR; hence DDR2 was introduced.

With an internal clock running at half the speed of the data bus, it was 2x faster than its predecessor while being more power-efficient.

The DIMM Pins count also saw an increase to 240 Pin from 184.

Pros:

  • Twice as fast as DDR with up to peak 800 MT/s transfer rate 
  • Power-efficient at 1.8 volts
  • Cost-effective 

Cons:

  • Incompatible with standard DDR slots

DDR3

DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM

2007 was the year that saw the launch of DDR3. With its internal clock cut in half again, it offered twice the speed of DDR2 at 2133MT/s with better power consumption numbers.

Apart from the speed, the bandwidth on each successive memory module also saw exponential growth from 1GB in DDR to 16GB in DDR4.

The So-DIMM Pins count was increased to 204 as well.

Pros:

  • Better thermal performance 
  • Improved power efficiency numbers at 1.5v
  • Improved data speed and increased bandwidth capacity 

Cons:

  • Expensive than its predecessors 
  • Not backward compatible 

DDR4

DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM

Then came the most widely in use DRR type, DDR4, released in 2014.

Following the footsteps of its predecessors, DDR4 offered increased bandwidth capacity, improved power consumption number, and increased the data transfer rate up to 3200 MT/s with a voltage of 1.2 volts.

Needless to say, the newer technology was also relatively expensive than DDR3.

Pros:

  • Increased clock speed help utilize the powerful processors to its potential 
  • Improved power consumption numbers 
  • Increased capacity of DIMMS of up to 64 GiB in capacity

Cons:

  • Not backward compatible 

DDR3 vs DDR4 key differences 

DDR3 DDR4
Less expensive than DDR4Expensive higher than DDR4
Auto-refresh and self-refresh are performed to refresh content Only self-refresh is performed to refresh content 
Less power efficient at 1.5vPower efficient at 1.2v
Supports maximum of 16GB memory Has no defined maximum limit
Slower clock speed at 800 to 2133 MHzMinimum clock speed is 2133 MHz and has no defined maximum limit 
Lower latency than DDR4Slightly high latency than DDR3

To summarize, DDR4 being the latest standard is the fastest, more reliable, power-efficient and capable DDR available today.  If you are looking to build a new PC or upgrading your laptop, DDR4 is the memory to consider.

However, make sure to check the RAM type in Windows 10 to know the DDR type supported by your computer. Next, go and find the best DDR4 RAM and DDR3 RAM for your desktop computer, depending on the compatibility.

FAQs: Learn more about DDR3 vs DDR4 RAM

Can I use DDR3 instead of DDR4?

No. the DDR4 motherboard is not backward compatible with DDR3 memory, and you cannot put DDR4 memory in a DDR3 motherboard.

Is DDR3 still good in 2021 for gaming?

Yes. Provided that you have a DDR3 compatible system with a decent CPU and 16GB of DRR3 RAM, you can play most games in 2021. 

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