Thermaltake is a case maker that has been around for many years, making some of the best PC cases around, as well as some of the worst. The company is looking to expand into other areas of the PC with some fancy-looking RAM modules in the ToughRAM family.
Using SK Hynix RAM modules, large heat spreader with a while or gold (both with chrome) finish, Thermaltake has certainly ticked many boxes. But once you dive into the specifications, a few potential issues show face, including the rather high latency of CL18 at a voltage of 1.35 for the advertized 3600MHz clock speed. With so much choice out there, is the Thermaltake ToughRAM worth considering and could it be a contender for best DDR4 RAM for your PC? Here's what you need to know.
Bottom line: It's not the fastest, most efficient RAM on the market, but Thermaltake's ToughRAM series is a great option for those who want higher speeds at a lower price with RGB lighting.
- 3600MHz XMP speeds
- Should fit inside most PC builds
- Motherboard RGB sync support
- RGB lighting underwhelming
- Restricted capacities
- So-so value
Thermaltake ToughRAM: Price and availability
Thermaltake's ToughRAM is available right now for $130 on Amazon for this exact 3600MHz kit we're reviewing. There are faster kits available, going up to 4000MHz, though the value to performance isn't great and you will see diminishing returns.
Thermaltake ToughRAM: Tech specs
We have a 16GB sample kit for testing, which consists of two 8GB DDR4 DIMM modules. This kit can be used with any modern Intel or AMD motherboard and Intel setup, so long as both are able to handle the higher clock speeds. Utilizing extreme memory profiles (XMP), you can hit 3600MHz.
The RAM kit achieves this high speed at 1.5v, which is a little on the high side for such a speed. Priced at $130, it's well-priced for more budget-friendly builds, but you will have a kit with higher latency than something like the G.SKILL Trident Z Royal at CL18. This won't have a sizeable impact on performance but is worth noting if you want the very best.
Thermaltake ToughRAM: What you'll like
There's plenty to love about the Thermaltake ToughRAM. Although subjective and will need to factor in what kind of PC build you plan to go for, these RAM kits look really good. They remind me of the G.SKILL Trident Neo RAM kits, which are good-looking modules so that's definitely a positive for Thermaltake.
It's easy for companies to get RAM design wrong with awkwardly high dimensions, but Thermaltake has managed to cram everything onto each DIMM stick without making it impossible to install this kit inside a small form factor PC chassis. The main body is plastic (black, gold, red or white) with two chrome strips that resemble the Thermaltake logo.
The top-mounted RGB diffuser bar is separated by those chrome strips but still houses 10 RGB LEDs with a few control zones. Thermaltake allows you to configure the lighting effects using the company's own software suite, but you can use compatible software or your own motherboard BIOS.
Speed-wise, the 3600MHz is the sweet spot for both AMD and Intel systems. To test this kit, two separate rigs were used, one with an X570 motherboard and AMD Ryzen 9 5950X CPU, and the other with a Z490 motherboard and Intel Core i7-10700K CPU. The latency rating of CL18 isn't slow by any means, but it's also nowhere near the fastest around.
The most important factors to consider when buying RAM are the clock speed and latency rating. It's easy to look at a 4600MHz RAM kit and add it to your cart for use in your system, but your CPU or motherboard may not support such high speeds. 3200MHz to 3600MHz is still the sweet spot for DDR4.
But it's not only about speed. The latency rating is measured in CL, which stands for CAS (column access strobe) latency. It simply determines how fast the DRAM module can access data. The lower the rating, the faster the data retrieval. The CAS latency figure is but an element of the overall memory timing. Our 16GB kit here from Thermaltake has a memory timing of 18-19-19-39.
Running AIDA64, we got a latency of 52ms, which is pretty good. Other tests showed minimal differences that one could include in a margin of error. Really, when it comes to RAM in 2021, you'll want to choose the modules that will look the part in your PC build. Most manufacturers, including Thermaltake, make really good RAM and the modules from Samsung and SK Hynix are very good.
Thermaltake ToughRAM: What you won't like
The lighting effects aren't as strong as other RAM modules out there. Corsair's Vengeance Pro RGB range has brighter lighting effects, so does G.SKILL's Trident Z Royal (and even the Z Neo). It just seems Thermaltake's diffusers ... well, diffuse the light a little too strongly. This isn't an issue if you prefer more subtle lighting from your RAM, but if you want bright lights, you'll likely want to look elsewhere.
There's also not that much choice when it comes to capacities. I've only managed to locate these kits as a 16GB bundle. This won't entice those who want 8GB, 32GB, or more RAM.
Thermaltake ToughRAM: Competition
There's plenty of competition out there. Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB comes in close at a more affordable price with lower latency. The only drawback to the Vengeance is the tall heatsink which can make installing CPU coolers (or attempting to install the RAM in a smaller case) a challenge.
G.SKILL's Trident Z Neo is also priced within this range and comes equipped with a latency score of 16-19-19-39. The same 16GB kit is also more affordable than the Thermaltake ToughRAM, which makes it a little hard to recommend this kit when there's strong competition at better prices. There's also a far better choice in capacities and speeds elsewhere.
Should you buy the Thermaltake ToughRAM?
Who it's for
- If you need fast RAM
- If you're building an AMD Ryzen PC
- If you want excellent performance
- If you plan on overclocking RAM
Who it isn't for
- If you want the best lighting experience
Thermaltake makes some good products when the company puts its best on the job and the ToughRAM is largely a great option for gaming PCs. The modules look good, make use of SK Hynix B-die, and perform well under load. In games, you'll not notice any difference between other competing kits and that's only a good thing for choice.
The lighting effects are subtle and could be a little underwhelming (or dim) for some PC builds. This is surprising for Thermaltake, which often throws RGB lighting on just about anything. It can also be viewed as a positive if you're not fond of flashing bright lights. The only issue with the ToughRAM series is the available capacity.
I can only locate 16GB kits. So if you want 32GB you'll need to buy two and if you want 64GB or beyond, you'll want to look elsewhere. It's a shame as Thermaltake did a fine job with this RAM kit. It's certainly one to shortlist for your next PC build.
Subtle Light Show
Great performing RAM
Thermaltake's ToughRAM series contains a few options for system builders, so long as you want 16GB of capacity as that's the only size available. It's fast, looks good, and will easily handle most tasks thrown at it.
Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.