Deciding between RAM speeds (frequency) can be a tough challenge for a lot of people. Whether or not you are just upgrading your current PC or building a new one, this can be a tough decision. Especially when we get up into the higher frequencies. For example, when we compare 3000MHz vs 3200MHz. This is a common question for many as higher frequencies tend to cost more. But can you really notice a difference between the two? Sometimes selecting the faster option is not always the best choice as you must consider other factors as well. Such as your CPU, latency, motherboard, and power consumption.
It also depends on how you primarily use your PC as well. It may not even be worth getting the faster variant of 3200MHz. If you are not utilizing it to its full potential anyway, you will not notice much difference at all. However, if you are a PC enthusiast or gamer the difference may be noticeable.
3000MHz vs 3200 MHz Ram Frequency
Before we begin to compare the two it is important to understand what RAM is and what it does. When I talk about RAM speed or frequency, in basic terms this is how much data it can handle per second. This is measured in megahertz (MHz). For example, when we take a RAM stick with a 3000MHz speed, it would be able to handle 3,000 mega transfers per second. If you take a 3200MHz stick of RAM, it will have 3,200 mega transfer cycles per second.
As you can see, the higher the frequency is the more data transfer cycles can happen each second. This can be extremely useful when you are deciding what ram to purchase as technically faster is better. But the difference between 3000MHz and 3200MHz is quite marginal. To be exact, based on frequency alone the difference would be 6.6%. Noticing this much of a difference would be quite difficult for anyone.
However, if you are an enthusiast or a gamer this might be worth it for you. While the improvement is not that significant. 3200MHz RAM still is technically faster. This may make all the difference to you if you are looking for that little extra boost in your PC.
But again, there are many other factors that need to be considered. As mentioned before, sometimes selecting the highest ram frequency does not always mean the best possible performance.
If you are not sure what your current speed is, I have written a guide on how to check it.
Other Considerable Factors
There are many other things that contribute to your RAM’s performance. This will help you decide whether to get 3000 MHz RAM or 3200 MHz Ram. For this, you will need to look at your PC components and the RAM’s other specifications.
All RAM will have a Column Address Strobe or Signal (CAS) latency associated with it. This is how many clock cycles it will take the RAM to access data in one of its columns. If your RAM has a CAS latency of 10, it will essentially take 10 clock cycles to perform the given task. This can include both retrieving and sending any data.
As a rule of thumb, a lower CAS latency is typically better as it will take fewer clock cycles to perform a task.
When we take both the RAM frequency and the CAS, this will determine how well your RAM performs. This is because they are both connected to the RAM’s clock speed. For example, if we took two sticks of RAM that had a CAS of 16 with a frequency of 3000 MHz and 3200 MHz. The 3200MHz RAM would perform faster.
Basically, before making any decision on what ram to get, it is especially important to look at its latency.
Of course, this will have an overall impact on the performance of the RAM. For example, I would much rather have 16GB of 3000 MHz Ram over 8 GB of 3200 MHz RAM. With the higher frequencies tending to cost more, you may be tempted to purchase a smaller size. I personally advise against this as not having enough memory could cause even bigger problems and headaches for you.
Personally, I believe it is important to have enough RAM memory first before you begin to consider the frequency.
3000 MHz & 3200 MHz Component Compatibility
Of course, not all components may be compatible with your desired choice of frequency. Having a higher frequency of RAM would be unnecessary and useless if you do not have the hardware to support it. Generally, the two components that will affect your potential ram frequency is the CPU and the motherboard. If one of these two components does not support the RAM’s frequency it will run at a slower speed than its potential.
For Example, if your CPU only supports a RAM speed of 3000 MHz, 3200 MHz would be useless. The RAM will run at the maximum allowable speed that the CPU can support. While this will have no negative effect on your RAM, purchasing a frequency in excess of the CPU’s limit would be useless. It will not provide any increase in performance essentially just going to waste.
The same is true with your motherboard. Not all motherboards are capable of supporting higher frequencies of RAM. Just as your CPU, your motherboard has the potential to limit your RAM’s frequency. If it does not support 3200 MHz RAM, it will run at the maximum supported frequency.
Before making any rash decisions it is important to ensure that your current components can support the increase. This can be done just by conducting a little bit of research.
Which Is Better?
When we only consider frequency alone 3200 MHz is the better choice. This is primarily due to the increase in RAM speed over the 3000 MHz counterpart. But, just as I have mentioned earlier, there are other important factors that need to be taken into consideration. One of the most important factors to account for is the latency of the RAM. Selecting the higher frequency may not always be the best decision if it comes with a slow latency.
Rather than basis your decision on the fastest frequency possible. I believe the decision should be based upon selecting the frequency that will give you the best performance possible. In order to easily identify this, you can use a simple formula as follows. While using this calculation, a lower score is better.
CAS Latency x 2000 / Frequency
Here is an example of 3000 MHz vs 3200 MHz using this formula below.
13 x 2000 / 3000MHz = 8.66 (Faster)
15 x 2000 / 3200MHz = 9.38 (Slower)
This formula is extremely useful in identifying which frequency will give you the best performance. So when you are considering between two speeds it is very important to take into account the latency as well.
Will You Notice the Difference Between the Two?
To be quite honest it will be quite difficult to notice a significant difference between the two. With both RAM frequencies operating at high levels already, their performance can be quite comparable. If you remember from earlier on in this article, the frequency difference is about 6.6%. Had this difference been larger, I would go ahead and say that yes you would notice a difference.
With that being said, I believe you will definitely notice a difference once we take into account latency and RAM size. But based on frequency alone, no you will not be able to notice it.
All in all, deciding between 3000 MHz and 3200 MHz RAM requires some further consideration. Selecting RAM just because it has a higher frequency does not always mean that it will provide you with the best performance. When you are upgrading your PC’s RAM you are typically doing it to increase its performance. Now, it would be silly to select the fastest and most expensive RAM just based on frequency alone. It is important to look at the other factors such as CAS Latency to identify which speed will offer you the best RAM performance. It is also important to ensure that your PC can support the increased speed. Otherwise, the increase in frequency will just be put to waste.