Best RAM for Intel 12th Gen CPUs 2021
Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake desktop processors (CPU) have arrived, bringing a new LGA 1700 socket for updated Z690 chipset motherboards. Many of these boards support new DDR5 RAM, though some stick with DDR4 support. Since you're picking up a new motherboard, you're probably also checking out the best RAM to use with your new 12th Gen Intel CPU. We've rounded up a bunch of the best DDR4 and DDR5 RAM right here.
Upgrade to DDR5
GeIL's Polaris RGB Sync DDR5 RAM was some of the first to hit the market, and it impressed us with its clean look, RGB highlights, and huge performance improvements over DDR4. This kit has dual 16GB DDR5-4800MHz sticks for 32GB total, and it comes with a lifetime warranty to protect your investment. Be sure your motherboard supports DDR5 RAM before buying.
Fancy DDR4 RAM
G.SKILL makes some undeniably beautiful RAM, complete with RGB lighting and metal heatspreader. This particular DDR4 kit includes two 8GB sticks for 16GB total. It brings DDR4-3600MHz speeds and CL18 latency for excellent performance on top of the good looks. Be sure your motherboard supports DDR4 RAM before buying.
Speedy DDR5 RAM
Care less about extra RGB lighting and just want some reliable DDR5 RAM to match the black interior of your PC case? XPG's kit includes two 16GB sticks for 32GB total. It has DDR5-5200MHz speeds and CL38 latency for excellent next-gen performance, and it's priced competitively. Be sure your motherboard supports DDR5 before buying.
A staple in many PCs
Corsair's Vengeance RGB Pro is an incredibly popular choice for anyone who doesn't mind sticking with DDR4. It's built well, it has an RGB strip on top for extra style, and its DDR4-3200MHz speed with CL16 timing means it can keep up with high-performance systems. This kit includes two 8GB sticks for 16GB total; be sure your PC supports DDR4 before buying.
Vengeance in DDR5
Corsair's Vengeance RAM is some of the most popular out there, and it's now available in DDR5. This kit has two 16GB sticks for 32GB total of DDR5-5200MHz with CL38 timing. Its black shroud is perfect for anyone who prefers to not have their PC light up like a beacon, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. Be sure your PC supports DDR5 before buying.
DDR5 is quite expensive. This kit with two 16GB sticks (32GB total) doesn't come cheap, but it does come cheaper compared to the competition. It brings a 4800MHz clock, lifetime warranty, and plain styling without heatspreader ideal for builds that are more for work than for show. Be sure your PC supports DDR5 RAM before buying.
Building a new 12th Gen Intel PC
Why you can trust Windows Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake desktop CPUs have moved up to a new LGA 1700 socket, meaning these new chips will not work in your older motherboard. So far the only chipset out for these boards is Z690, and we've actually already rounded up some of the top options. Check out the best motherboards for Core i5-12600K, best motherboards for Core i7-12700K, and best motherboards for Core i9-12900K for an easy shopping experience.
We're in sort of a transition period between DDR4 and DDR5 RAM, and these Z690 motherboards will support one or the other; it should be specified clearly on the product page. This is due to DDR4 and DDR5 RAM being keyed differently. Attempting to jam them into the same slot will not work.
Why go with DDR5? To keep it simple, it's faster and uses less power. Sounds great, so why would anyone want to continue using DDR4? DDR5 RAM costs significantly more, and it's currently hard to find stock. You might also have some DDR4 RAM left over from your previous build, which saves you building costs. In any case, any of the above options will make a great fit in your new PC.
If we're making a further suggestion, check out GeIL's Polaris RGB DDR5 RAM once it's back in stock. It's fast, it looks great (with RGB lighting), it's built well, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. Just be sure your PC supports DDR5. If you'd like to keep things cheaper (and available) with DDR4 RAM, Corsair's Vengeance Pro RGB is never a bad choice. It looks great in an RGB-infused build, it performs reliably, and it's quite affordable compared to DDR5 options.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.