RAM, or Random-Access Memory, is where your computer stores all the temporary data before it sends it to the processor. The type of RAM you have determines how fast your computer will perform.
While the RAM size and number are essential factors to consider, the measure of RAM speed or frequency is also critical to evaluate. Three of the most commonly used RAM frequencies are 2400MHz, 3200MHz, and 3600MHz, and they all have their unique features.
When it comes to 2400MHz vs 3200MHz vs 3600MHz RAM, the most notable differences lie in their clock speed and transfer time. The 2400MHz offers the lowest clock speed and highest transfer time among the three options. The 3600MHz offers the highest clock speed and lowest transfer time when compared to the other two. The 3200MHz lies in the middle in terms of clock speed and transfer time.
But to identify which RAM frequency is perfect for your applications, you need to delve into the whole concept of RAM frequency. Let’s start our discussion with an overview of RAM frequency.
Understanding RAM Frequency
RAM speed depends on bandwidth, frequency, channel number, and other factors. However, most PC builders refer to RAM frequency when they talk about RAM speed. The frequency of a RAM refers to the number of commands the RAM can process every second. It is measured in MHz. A RAM’s frequency depends on its DDR (Double Data Rate) version.
DDR RAMs are also called DRAM. In the table below, we have listed RAM frequency ranges for every DDR version.
|DDR Version||RAM Frequency Range||Availability|
|DDR1||200-400MHz||Phased out in 2005|
|DDR2||400-1066MHz||Phased out in 2010|
|DDR3||1066-3300MHz||Phased out in 2015|
|DDR4||1600-4800MHz||Considered as current generation standard|
|DDR5||4800-6600MHz||Will remain as the standard until 2025|
|DDR6||To be announced||To be announced|
How to Check Your RAM Frequency?
The process of checking the frequency of an installed RAM is different for Windows and Mac users. Below, we have outlined both.
How to Check RAM Frequency on Windows?
Using Task Manager
- Right-click on the taskbar or press Win key + X
- Select Task Manager
- Go to Performance
- Click on Memory from the graph list on the left
- Check the Speed on the right. That is your RAM frequency.
Using Command Prompt
- Press Win key + R
- Type in cmd and press Enter
- When the Command Prompt opens, type wmic memorychip list full and hit Enter
- A list will be displayed. Check the Speed measure to find your RAM frequency
How to Check RAM Frequency on MacOS?
- Click the Apple logo
- Select About This Mac
- A menu will pop up. Click on the Overview tab
- A list of hardware components will appear. Navigate to Memory and find your RAM specifications, including the frequency
2400MHz vs 3200MHz vs 3600MHz RAM
Now that you understand the basics of RAM frequency let’s get into our main point of discussion – 2400MHz Vs 3200MHz Vs 3600MHz RAM.
“As we already mentioned, the main difference between 2400MHz, 3200MHz, and 3600MHz RAM is in their performance based on transfer time and clock speed. However, they also differ in their DDR version availability. We will discuss all of them below.”
A RAM’s clock speed refers to the number of cycles it can process per second. The higher the number, the better the speed and performance. In other words, if the frequency is high, then more information can be processed every second.
A 2400MHz RAM stick can process a maximum of 2.4 billion cycles every second. Similarly, the clock speed of a 3200MHz RAM is 3.2 billion cycles per second, and it is 3.6 billion cycles per second for a 3600MHz RAM.
Therefore, among these three RAM frequencies, you can expect the best performance from the 3600MHz RAM and the lowest performance from the 2400MHz RAM. Naturally, 3200MHz will perform better than 2400MHz, but worse than 3600MHz.
Simply put, transfer time refers to the time a RAM takes to transfer the required amount of data. It is measured in nanoseconds (ns). Ideally, the lower the transfer time, the faster the RAM works.
Usually, 2400MHz offers a transfer time of 0.417 ns, 3200MHz offers 0.313 ns, and 3600MHz offers 0.278 ns. Naturally, 3600MHz offers the fastest transfer time, and 2400MHz offers the slowest transfer time, whereas 3200MHz falls between these two frequencies.
Another relevant measure here is the CAS latency (Column Access Strobe latency), which refers to the number of cycles a RAM takes to access, process, and feed data to the processor. The lower the CL, the better a RAM’s performance. However, this is only true when you compare two RAMs of the same frequency.
A 2400MHz RAM shows 9-15 CL, a 3200MHz RAM shows 14-16 CL, and a 3600MHz RAM shows 14-19 CL. At first glance, it may seem that 2400MHz RAM will perform the fastest. However, since the performance of a RAM depends heavily on its clock speed as well, a RAM with a higher clock speed and a higher CL can still outperform a RAM with a lower clock speed and CL.
The maximum capacity of a RAM module is another important factor to consider. The higher the RAM capacity, the better performance you can expect. In fact, a 16GB 3200MHz RAM can perform better than 8GB 3600MHz RAM. But do note that all 2400MHz, 3200MHz, and 3600MHz RAM kits are available with a maximum of 64GB capacity.
A RAM’s operation voltage refers to the amount of power required to run it. The lower the operation voltage, the more energy efficient the RAM is. All the 2400MHz, 3200MHz, and 3600MHz RAM require an operation voltage of 1.2 to 1.4V to work at their peak performance.
As we have already discussed, DDR RAMs are classified based on the DDR versions or generations. The more updated your RAM’s DDR version is, the better compatibility it will have with newer PC specs.
Not all RAM frequencies are available for all DDR generations. While 2400MHz and 3200 MHz frequencies are available for DDR3 and DDR4 RAMs, 3600MHz frequency is available for only DDR4 RAMs (as of 2022). Therefore, before choosing a RAM frequency, carefully consider the hardware specs of your PC, especially the motherboard.
For regular desktop use, such as office work, web surfing, watching movies or TV shows, etc., these tasks do not require very high RAM frequencies. That’s why you will not notice much of a difference by upgrading the frequency. RAM capacity and channel configuration matter more when it comes to solving your RAM’s speed-related issues during regular tasks.
However, when it comes to gaming, the answer is not that direct. Most game engines are sensitive to DDR versions and capacity rather than RAM frequency. However, using higher RAM frequency will slightly improve the game’s performance, probably by 1-5 FPS. Therefore, you will experience less frame loss. The higher the change in frequency, the more improved performance you will get.
As a result, the performance change will be more noticeable if you change your RAM frequency from 2400MHz to 3600MHz. However, switching to 3200MHz from 2400MHz will not cause that much of a noticeable change.
For those who have to regularly deal with rendering tasks, such as graphic designing and video editing, RAM frequency is an important factor to consider. RAM frequency plays a significant role when it comes to 3D graphics and video rendering, as these tasks can be taxing on your CPU. And since your RAM is directly connected to the processor, CPU performance can be significantly improved by a higher RAM speed when it comes to processor-centric tasks.
Higher RAM frequency makes your RAM work faster, which in turn will slightly boost your CPU’s performance. However, this change will not be as dramatic as changing RAM capacity. Therefore, 3600MHz will perform slightly better than 3200MHz and 2400MHz.
2400MHz vs 3200MHz vs 3600MHz RAM: At a Glance
|Clock Speed||2.4 billion cycles/second||3.2 billion cycles/second||3.6 billion cycles/second|
|Transfer Time||0.417 ns||0.313 ns||0.278 ns|
|Number of Pins||288||288||288|
|Operation Voltage||1.2 to 1.4 volts||1.2 to 1.4 volts||1.2 to 1.4 volts|
|RAM Type||DIMM, DRAM, and SDRAM||DIMM, DRAM, and SDRAM||DIMM, DRAM, and SDRAM|
|DDR Version||DDR3 and DDR4||DDR3 and DDR4||DDR4|
What RAM Frequency Should You Pick?
2400MHz vs 3200MHz vs 3600MHz RAM. What RAM Frequency Should You choose for your PC? The answer is:
“For better performance, 3600MHz is the best RAM frequency to choose. A 3200MHz RAM will also provide adequate performance, which is better than 2400MHz. And if your PC is primarily used for gaming and rendering tasks, it is recommended to get a 3200MHz or 3600MHz RAM. Otherwise, 2400MHz RAM will suffice for regular desktop use. However, to boost performance, focus more on RAM capacity and DDR version rather than RAM frequency.“
Your choice of RAM frequency will be dictated by your motherboard specifications. Not all motherboards support all frequencies. Check what RAM frequency your motherboard supports, as buying a 3600MHz RAM will be pointless if your motherboard can only support upto 2400MHz.
Another factor to consider is affordability. The higher the RAM frequency, the more expensive it will be. If your budget and motherboard allow for it, we recommend getting 3600MHz RAM, as it will offer you the best performance.