GeIL Polaris RGB SYNCSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Best answer: No. DDR4 is compatible, but the performance benefits of going with DDR5 can't be ignored, and there are other caveats to using DDR4 as well that make it largely a better bet to go with DDR5.

No need to upgrade from your DDR4, but there are caveats

The best RAM isn't the cheapest of PC components, so if you can reuse stuff you already have it takes the edge off putting together a new or upgraded PC. Fortunately, Intel's new 12th Gen "Alder Lake" CPUs are compatible with both DDR4 and DDR5 memory.

However, there is a small caveat with that. Intel's specs for the 12th Gen chips say that DDR4 is supported at 3200MHz and above, so assuming your kit meets that requirement it'll be good to go. You will need a new motherboard for 12th Gen regardless, and you'll have to be extra careful that you buy one compatible with DDR4 if you're going that route.

DDR5 will have a performance edge

GeIL Polaris RGB SYNCSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Using a 12th Gen CPU with DDR5 RAM will give a number of workloads a performance edge, despite having higher timings. The sheer clock speed and additional memory bandwidth will benefit intensive tasks such as gaming.

That's not to say that these tasks will suffer with DDR4, and in lighter use you probably won't be able to tell the difference.

For more on how the Intel 12th Gen chips respond to DDR5 RAM, be sure to check out our reviews of the Intel Core i5-12600K and the Intel Core i9-12900K. All told, it's probably a better idea to get DDR5 RAM since you'll be buying a new motherboard regardless, and this way you're going to be better set for the future.

GeIL Polaris RGB SYNC

GeIL Polaris RGB SYNC

It's expensive, but if you can fit the GeIL Polaris RGB SYNC into your PC budget, we recommend you do so. The available speeds and error checking, not to mention other advancements included with DDR5 RAM, make this a solid choice for premium desktops.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.