With the launch of the brand new DDR5 memory generation, you might be wondering what motherboard supports DDR5?
This is a question that has crossed the mind of every PC hardware enthusiast or potential buyer who wants to upgrade their system to the brand new DDR5 platform.
It is very important to know exactly which motherboard chipset and platforms support this technology before making your purchase decision of either the motherboard or the memory.
In this guide, we will walk you through the motherboard choices currently available for the DDR5 platform, as well as answer many of the questions you may have regarding DDR5 technology.
Which motherboards support DDR5?
DDR5 memory is currently supported by Intel 600 series motherboards on the Z690, B660, H670, and H610 newer chipsets. These motherboards are compatible with only Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs, such as the Core i9 12900K. The Alder Lake platform is compatible with both DDR5 and DDR4 memory, so you have to choose one of them while building your PC.
DDR5 vs. DDR4
DDR5 is the latest evolution of primary PC memory, debuting at 4800 MT/s while DDR4 tops out at 3200 MT/s. DDR5 has planned performance increases that can go up to 6400 MT/s!
One of the primary features of DDR5 is its increased efficiency and reduced power consumption. It consumes around 20% less power than DDR4, as it works at 1.1V compared to 1.2V of DDR4.
Micron (a notable RAM manufacturer) presents a 36% increase in bandwidth when comparing a DDR5 module with a DDR4 module at the same transfer rate of 3200 MT/s. This jump in bandwidth is due to the evolutionary improvements in the data transfer mechanism of DDR5 over DDR4.
When it comes to latency, there isn’t any notable improvement in DDR5 over DDR4. Corsair notes that the single-access latency is about the same as DDR4, while.
The column access strobe or CAS Latency is slightly worse than DDR4. However, we have to keep in mind that we are comparing the very first DDR5 modules with the top-tier DDR4 modules.
In the near future, when DDR5 has had time to mature, we can expect the latency of DDR5 modules to be about the same as the DDR4 modules of today, i.e. in the 14 to 15ns range.
Can I install DDR4 RAM in a DDR5 motherboard?
It is not possible to install DDR4 RAM in a DDR5 motherboard since memory is not backward or forwards compatible. Of course, DDR4 modules are also physically different and incompatible with the DDR5 slots, therefore this is not a viable match as of right now.
This means that you cannot utilize your current DDR4 modules in a brand new DDR5 motherboard if you are planning to upgrade to the latest Intel 12th Generation CPUs.
Which AMD motherboard supports DDR5?
As of the time of writing, there are no AMD motherboards that support DDR5 memory. AMD’s current 500-series motherboards on the X570 and B550 chipsets support DDR4 RAM only, and this will remain the case.
AMD is planning to bring DDR5 support to its next-generation AMD processors and motherboards. The AMD 600-series motherboards will be released with DDR5 memory support (according to the available information), and they will be compatible with the Ryzen 7000 series CPUs based on the ZEN 4 architecture.
It is also expected that AMD will launch a completely new socket “AM5”, as the company revealed at Computex 2022. The AM5 socket will be physically different from the AM4 socket, so there is no cross-platform compatibility between the two generations.
The new Ryzen 7000 series CPUs and their compatible AMD 600 series motherboards will be the first AMD consumer desktop products to be compatible with DDR5, although there is no confirmation about whether or not they will support DDR4 in addition to DDR5 as well.
Should I buy DDR5 for my gaming PC?
The question of upgrading to DDR5 will be a relevant one for the next few years. Memory is one of the most critical components of any system, and the wrong choice here can prove catastrophic down the line.
Moreover, memory is notoriously one of the most fickle parts of the system as well. It can give you a lot of trouble if there are issues with compatibility or stability.
If you are planning to build a completely new system based on the Intel 12th Generation processors or the upcoming AMD Ryzen 7000 series CPUs, then you should consider the following factors before making your decision about memory.
Of course, the price of DDR5 memory is through the roof. Well, not exactly, but relative to the current generation DDR4 RAM, it is almost night and day. This is understandable, however, as the price trend of new memory generations over the past years has been similar to what DDR5 is showing right now.
So what does that mean? DDR5 RAM is very expensive right now and will only get cheaper from here. DDR4 memory on the other hand is quite a bit cheaper than DDR5 when it comes to “gig for gig” comparisons, but it will rise later on when the mainstream adopts DDR5.
Right now, it does not make a lot of sense to splurge on a brand new kit of DDR5 memory unless you are building a brand new PC from scratch.
It is no surprise that the DDR5 memory kits out right now are faster than the DDR4 kits of yesteryear. In fact, the default JEDEC speeds of DDR5 beat the fastest DDR4 memory kits by quite a lot when we consider synthetic benchmarks.
In the case of real-life performance, however, the difference is less staggering. DDR5 RAM kits are still faster, but they are often in the same ballpark as the fastest DDR4 memory kits.
In certain PC gaming applications, the benchmarks show no significant difference between the two memory generations.
This does not mean much right now for PC gamers. Games and other software applications are not optimized for DDR5 memory right now since it is not mainstream yet. Moreover, DDR5 is still in its infancy while DDR4 is at its prime and about to be replaced.
We can safely expect the performance gap between the two generations to increase as time goes on.
Upgrade Path for PC builders
When it comes to adopting a new generation of any tech product, you always have to think about the upgrade path. In the case of DDR5 memory, PC builders have to approach this question a little differently.
Let’s say you have a DDR4 memory kit right now that is fairly modern and does not require an update, but you want to upgrade your system to the brand new Intel Alder Lake platform. The question now arises, do you ditch the DDR4 RAM and buy brand new DDR5 modules? Or do you stick with the DDR4 memory for now?
This is where you have to consider the upgrade scenario further down the line. It might be better for you to utilize the DDR4 memory that you currently have by buying a DDR4 motherboard for the 12th Gen CPU.
However, you also have to keep in mind that whenever you plan to upgrade your PC to DDR5, you will need to change the motherboard along with the memory as well.
You can avoid this hassle by just splurging for a brand new DDR5 kit right now, but that comes at the risk of becoming an early adopter of DDR5. Moreover, your old DDR4 RAM will be going to waste.
This is a balancing act and something that you need to consider before choosing your memory platform.
The last factor you have to consider if you plan to buy DDR5 memory right now is the early adoption risk. Of course, previous generations of DDR are there as an example of the trend that DDR5 is going to follow, so this one is pretty easy to predict.
Right now, DDR5 RAM modules are at their highest in terms of price, and their lowest in terms of performance. Over the next few months and years, the price of DDR5 will fall slowly but steadily, and the performance will rise in the opposite direction.
Being an early adopter of DDR5 comes with the risk of your memory kit being outdated in a few months, because the new kits will be cheaper, faster, and have lower latency.
Moreover, there are compatibility issues that are present right now with DDR5 RAM that will be resolved in the coming months.
On the other hand, taking the early adopter risk will mean that you will possess the latest and greatest in memory technology and that is worth something!
Which is the best DDR5 motherboard chipset?
As of the time of writing, the four DDR5-supported chipsets are from the Intel 600 series of motherboards. Out of these four, you will need to choose one if you plan to build a brand new DDR5 system based on the Alder Lake platform.
So, here are the differences and features of each of them.
Z690 is the flagship chipset of the Intel 12th Generation CPUs, and it is the only one that supports full CPU overclocking. In addition to full memory overclocking support, Z690 has a total of 12 PCIe 4.0 lanes, and 16 3.0 PCIe lanes. You also get 1×16 or 2×8 PCIe 5.0 lanes and a total of 14 USB ports.
This is the second-best chipset for the 12th Gen Intel processors. It does not have any CPU overclocking support, but it does support memory overclocking. It provides a total of 12 PCIe 4.0 lanes, and 12 PCIe 3.0 lanes. There are also 1×16 or 2×8 PCIe 5.0 lanes available, with a total of 14 USB ports.
With the B660 chipset, you only get memory overclocking support. There are a total of 6 PCIe 4.0 lanes, 8 PCI 3.0 lanes, and only a single PCIe 5.0 x16 lane available. You do have a total of 12 USB ports with varying speeds.
The H610 platform is the most basic platform of this generation, and it does not support any kind of CPU or memory overclocking. There are only 12 PCIe 3.0 lanes available, with no PCIe 4.0 lanes of any kind. You do get a single PCIe 5.0 x16 lane from the CPU, however. The maximum total number of USB ports is 10.
Which are the best DDR5 motherboards?
There are several competent motherboards out there that can challenge for the crown of the best DDR5 motherboard. Of course, Intel’s Z690 chipset is the flagship platform for this generation, so most of the premium offerings belong to this chipset.
We really like the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero (Amazon link) as it features an Intel LGA 1700 socket and it combines an excellent power delivery system with a robust feature set. In the high-end tier, the Gigabyte Z690 AORUS Master (Amazon link) is also one of the best DDR5 motherboards you can buy.
Moving on to the budget segment, the MSI Pro Z690-A WiFi (Amazon link) offers a more basic experience, but it gets the job done at a reasonable price point. The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi (Amazon link) is a very solid option for mini-ITX form factor PC builders who want a compact DDR5 motherboard with durable capacitors for their PC.
Will DDR5 work on DDR4 motherboards?
DDR5 memory does not work on DDR4 motherboards because it is not physically compatible with DDR4 DIMM slots. There is a difference in the notch placement of DDR5 memory that makes it incompatible with DDR4 motherboards. Similarly, DDR4 memory does not work on DDR5 motherboards either.
Does AMD X570 support DDR5?
The AMD X570 chipset does not support DDR5 RAM. There is no currently available AMD motherboard that supports DDR5 memory as of the time of writing, but that will change with the upcoming AMD 600-series motherboards for the Ryzen 7000 series CPUs.
Is DDR5 better for PC gaming?
DDR5 is better for PC gaming than DDR4. The difference is not much right now, but it is there. As DDR5 memory matures and games become more optimized to take advantage of the new generation, we can expect this difference to grow even larger.
Which motherboards support both DDR5 and DDR4?
There are no motherboards that support both DDR5 and DDR4 memory. This is not possible because DDR4 and DDR5 memory modules are physically different. Even though the 12th Generation Intel processors support both DDR5 and DDR4, there are separate motherboard models for both memory types and you have to choose one of them.