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Best RAM for Intel 12th Gen CPUs 2021

GeIL Polaris RGB SYNC
GeIL Polaris RGB SYNC (Image credit: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

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.

Building a new 12th Gen Intel PC

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.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is 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.