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Best RAM 2021: Top memory upgrades for your PC

Whether you're browsing the web, playing games, editing video, or carrying out heavy workstation workloads, RAM can make the difference between the job being slow and tedious or fast and snappy.

After the question "how much RAM do I need?" the next big question I get asked is, "what RAM should I buy?"

That's a tough question to answer because there are a bewildering array of PCs and Macs out there, and things can get super complicated and in-depth if you are someone who wants the fastest, most cutting-edge RAM in order to squeeze the last drop of performance from your system.

Swapping RAM in most PCs (even laptops) isn't that hard, but finding the right RAM can sometimes be challenging, especially if you aren't familiar with the specs and what things like DDR or speed mean. If this is you, I recommend that you check out RAM suppliers such as Crucial or Kingston. These sites will guide you to the right RAM for you.

As for fitting instructions, the web -- in particular, YouTube -- is full of great information. Rest assured, replacing RAM is the easiest upgrade you can do.

But, if you are a bit more comfortable with knowing what ARM you need, I've pulled together a compilation of my favorite RAM. This is hardware that I've tried and tested and offers great performance and value for money.

Best overall

Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB

Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB

Things don't get much better than this! Super-fast RAM modules, super reliable chips thanks to Corsair's excellent quality control, and super stability thanks to testing and excellent heat spreaders.

And also, cool LED lighting, which is fun, right?

This RAM is not cheap -- you're looking at over $1,000 if you want 64GB of high-speed RAM, but you will be getting the very best out there.

$1,015 at Amazon

Best for gaming

G-Skill Trident Z RGB

G-Skill Trident Z RGB

At the more restrained end of the performance (and price) spectrum we have the G-Skill Trident Z RGB. I've fitted (or recommended) this RAM into dozens of gaming system, and never had a word of complaint.

Highly rated RAM, and a firm favorite of mine for gaming systems.

$159 at Amazon

Best for everyday systems

Crucial Ballistix

Crucial Ballistix

We're now into what I consider "mainstream" RAM. This is RAM for everyday systems. Systems that will run day in, day out, where I'm not concerned about benchmarks or tiny speedbumps from having the fastest RAM possible.

It's hard to go wrong with Crucial Ballistix. It's the RAM that I use and recommend for systems where reliability is more important than performance.

$77 at Amazon

Best for Macs

OWC RAM upgrades for Macs

OWC RAM upgrades for Macs

If I'm buying RAM for Macs, OWC is the brand I go for. Yes, you can buy cheaper, but it's hard to buy better.

The advantage of dealing with OWC is that this is a company that knows what works in which Mac and makes no-compromise RAM that is 100 percent compatible.

The company even has DIY install videos to make the upgrade as painless as possible.

$154 at Amazon

Best budget option

Timetec RAM

Timetec RAM

I want to call this budget RAM, but that doesn't do it justice. You're getting good quality RAM modules at a sensible price.

Timetec offers a good selection of RAM modules -- desktop, gaming, laptop, server, and Mac -- at a price that's hard to beat.

This is the perfect RAM for dropping into a system and forgetting, and a great choice for upgrading an older system.

$55 at Amazon

RAM tips

  • 16GB (2 x 8GB modules) is the sweet spot in terms of price and performance.
  • Mixing and matching different RAM is a recipe for problems.
  • If in doubt, check the specs of your system with the manufacturer of the system or the motherboard.