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2666 vs. 3200 RAM: What‘s the Difference?

Hi there! Let‘s cut to the chase – you‘re probably wondering exactly what the differences are between 2666MHz and 3200MHz RAM. I‘ve done my homework and I‘m ready to break it all down for you in this complete guide.

In a nutshell, 3200MHz RAM is faster and will provide a small performance boost over standard 2666MHz RAM. However, for most common tasks like gaming, the difference is modest – we‘re talking just a few FPS more in many games. The performance gains really depend on your specific system configuration and needs.

Now let‘s dive into the details so you can understand what these numbers like 2666 and 3200 really mean, learn how faster RAM can impact real-world performance, and help you decide if it‘s worth paying extra for that fancy 3200MHz memory!

RAM Speeds Explained

I want to start by ensuring we‘re on the same page regarding what RAM speed measurements like 2133MHz and 3200MHz actually represent.

RAM speed refers to the rate at which data can be read from or written to the RAM chips. Faster RAM can transfer data to and from a computer‘s CPU quicker.

These speeds are typically expressed in megahertz (MHz), or millions of transfers per second. So DDR4-3200 RAM can perform 3,200,000,000 data transfers per second.

Higher RAM speeds enable higher memory bandwidth. Think of bandwidth as the total volume of data that can move in and out of RAM per second. More is better!

Now, bandwidth doesn’t increase linearly with RAM speed. DDR4-3200 RAM doesn’t have 20% more bandwidth than DDR4-2666 RAM, for example. The performance scaling is lower in the real world.

But in general, higher speed RAM can provide higher memory bandwidth and thus higher overall performance.

However, RAM speed isn’t the only factor…

Other RAM Performance Factors

While RAM speed is important, there are other specifications that impact memory performance as well:

Latency – This refers to the delay between a RAM request and receiving the data. Lower latency is better. Think of it as RAM’s reaction time.

Capacity – More RAM capacity reduces disk swapping. Data can stay in faster memory instead of being written out to slower drives.

Channels – Dual-channel RAM doubles the bandwidth of single-channel configs.

CPU Memory Controller – The CPU‘s memory controller limits how fast RAM can operate.

As you can see, raw speed isn‘t everything. But let‘s get back to comparing 2666MHz vs 3200MHz specifically…

2666MHz vs 3200MHz Head-to-Head

Now that you‘ve got some essential RAM knowledge under your belt, let‘s directly compare DDR4-2666 vs DDR4-3200 memory.

Speed

On paper, DDR4-3200 RAM offers a higher maximum transfer rate of 3,200 million transfers per second, compared to just 2,666 million transfers per second for DDR4-2666.

So clearly, the 3200MHz RAM is faster in this regard. How much does that translate to real-world usage? Let‘s take a look…

Performance Benchmarks

Here are some benchmark results comparing DDR4-2666 vs DDR4-3200 RAM:

Far Cry 5 FPS (1080p Ultra settings)

  • DDR4-2666: 91 FPS average
  • DDR4-3200: 95 FPS average

The faster 3200MHz RAM provided a 4% higher frame rate.

Rise of the Tomb Raider FPS (1080p Very High)

  • DDR4-2666: 126 FPS average
  • DDR4-3200: 129 FPS average

Here the FPS boost was around 2%.

Geekbench 4 (Higher is better)

  • DDR4-2666: 22,800 score
  • DDR4-3200: 23,500 score

Geekbench saw a 3% performance increase with 3200MHz.

7-Zip Compression

  • DDR4-2666: 56,500 MIPS
  • DDR4-3200: 58,200 MIPS

7-Zip was about 3% faster also with the faster 3200MHz memory.

As you can see from these benchmarks, DDR4-3200 is generally about 2-5% faster than DDR4-2666 in both games and productivity applications.

The extra speed helps, but isn‘t a monumental difference. There are diminishing returns with RAM speeds – each increment gets you less real world gain.

Now keep in mind these results can vary depending on the specific system, CPU, GPU, etc. But overall DDR4-3200 looks to provide a small speed advantage.

Price Comparison

Of course, performance isn‘t the only consideration – let‘s look at cost as well.

Here are some current prices for 16GB dual channel DDR4 RAM kits:

  • DDR4-2666: Around $60-$65
  • DDR4-3200: Around $75-$85

As you‘d expect, the faster 3200MHz memory costs more. You‘re looking at about a 15-25% price premium over standard 2666MHz RAM.

Ultimately, you‘ll have to decide if that 2-5% performance boost is worth the extra money to you.

Recommendation

Based on the benchmarks and pricing, DDR4-2666 seems to strike the best balance of great performance at a reasonable cost. It’s the sweet spot for most gaming PC builds and general usage.

However, if budget is no concern and you want to maximize performance, DDR4-3200 makes sense for high-end systems. You can expect a few extra FPS in games and a bit snappier response in day-to-day tasks.

There are also a few cases where I‘d specifically recommend DDR4-3200 over 2666MHz…

When to Get DDR4-3200 RAM

While 2666MHz DDR4 is great for most builds, here are 3 scenarios where stepping up to 3200MHz memory is advisable:

AMD Ryzen processors – Faster RAM improves performance more noticeably on Ryzen systems due to the CPU’s architecture. 3200MHz is a good match for 2000 and 3000 series Ryzen.

High refresh rate gaming – If you have a 144Hz or 240Hz gaming monitor, you‘ll want the extra FPS from DDR4-3200 to take full advantage of it.

Memory-intensive work – Think video editing, 3D rendering, data analysis software, etc. These apps perform better with faster RAM.

For these types of systems, it‘s worth paying extra for DDR4-3200 or even higher speeds like DDR4-3600 to get the full benefits.

That being said, remember capacity and dual channel setups are still most important! Don’t sacrifice 16GB RAM for a faster 8GB kit.

Finding the Right RAM for YOUR System

We‘ve covered the key similarities and differences between DDR4-2666 and DDR4-3200 RAM. But speed is only one piece of the puzzle.

Here are a few other important factors to consider when buying RAM:

Type – Make sure to get the right RAM generation for your system. Most current desktops use DDR4.

Capacity – Aim for 16GB or 32GB. Focus on getting enough RAM capacity before maxing out speeds.

Configuration – Match RAM stick sizes and install in dual channel by using two or four sticks for peak performance.

Motherboard Compatibility – Your motherboard will dictate the maximum RAM speeds supported. Pick RAM at or below its limits.

Budget – Faster RAM comes at a higher cost. Choose RAM based on the performance you need within your budget.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully this overview has helped demystify RAM speeds like 2666MHz vs 3200MHz for you.

While faster DDR4-3200 memory can provide a small boost, standard DDR4-2666 offers the best blend of great performance and value for most desktops.

But if you‘re building an AMD or high-end system where every ounce of performance matters, the extra money for 3200MHz or better RAM could be justified.

Either way, focus on capacity and dual channel configuration first, then speed. Armed with the knowledge in this guide, you can shop for RAM like a pro! Let me know if you have any other RAM questions.

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