If you are a graphical designer, multimedia artist, or partake in a career dealing with photography, you have most probably heard about photo editing.
When building a PC for photo editing there is a lot to consider if you are to get the best performance.
Besides the graphics card and the processor, one of the contributing factors in computer performance is the RAM. So, what is the best RAM for Photo Editing?
The best RAM for photo editing will be based on several RAM specifications. The most important are; latency timings, RAM capacity, RAM clock speed, and overclocking capabilities.
List of Best RAM for Photo Editing in 2021
The following RAM sticks stand out one way or another. Some are affordable, others have a very high performance.
- Corsair Vengeance LPX – Recommended RAM for Photo Editing
- TEAMGROUP T Force Vulcan – Affordable Memory
- Crucial Ballistic MAX – High Performance RAM with 5100 MHz Frequency
- Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB – For Overclockers and Enthusiasts
- G.Skill Trident Z Royal Series – High Frequency with Low CL
Photo Editing RAM Reviewed
The RAMs are all DDR4 which is the recommended RAM stick type for photo editing. This is because they have higher transfer rates, are energy efficient, and have higher chip density.
The RAMs also utilize a double-channel setup(2x8GB) which increases bandwidth which will in turn increase data rate hence faster data transfer and improved general performance when editing photos.
1. Corsair Vengeance LPX – Recommended RAM for Photo Editing
Firstly, the RAM has a low-profile height of 34MM which will be crucial for users using small form factor builds.
The RAM also has a Vengeance LPX aluminum heat spreader to pull away heat from the ICs into your system’s cooling path giving more headroom for efficient overclocking hence improving general performance when editing photos
The RAM does not feature any RGB lights to illuminate your desktop which makes it quite cheaper. Although, this is compensated by a sleek design with a colored finishing to match your motherboard.
2. TEAMGROUP Memory D4 – Affordable Memory
The RAM has a simple design with no RGB or ARGB lighting which is mainly what makes it cheaper.
Although the cheapest, the RAM meets the recommended 3200MHZ clock speed which will ensure smooth performance when editing photos.
The RAM also has a latency of 16 which is quite a bargain for that price. The reduced delay when accessing data will ensure smooth performance when editing photos.
The RAM also features an aluminum heat spreader which improves heat dissipation creating more room for efficient overclocking.
3. Crucial Ballistic MAX – High Performance RAM with 5100 MHz Frequency
Firstly, the RAM has a high 5100MHZ speed. This means data is accessed 5.9billion which is more than enough for a smooth experience when editing photos.
The RAM also has a fast data rate of 40800MB/s which is the highest in the list and allows faster performance when rendering photos and loading the photo editing software.
The RAM also has high-quality extruded aluminum heat spreaders that allow maximum heat dissipation hence creating more headroom for overclocking.
The main con of this RAM is the latency timings which is 19-26-26-48. Such a high latency means more delay when accessing data. Although this is compensated by the high clock speed and data rate which means performance when editing performance will still be at peak level.
4. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB – For Overclockers and Enthusiasts
The RAM has a heat spreader embedded with a patented DHX cooling system to pull away heat from modules hence creating more headroom for overclocking.
The RAM also has a controlled dynamic RGB lighting which will illuminate your desktop when editing photos or doing any other task.
5. G.Skill Trident Z Royal Series – High Frequency with Low CL
Firstly, the RAM has a clock speed of 4000MHZ which allows more data to be accessed in a second hence high performance when editing photos.
The RAM also has RGB lights which combined with the G.Skill lighting app will give colorful illumination to your desktop improving the overall photo editing experience.
The RAM also has a fast data rate of 32000MB/s which ensures more data is transferred in less time hence improving overall photo editing performance.
The RAM also has a polished aluminum heat spreader which provides heat dissipation hence providing more room for overclocking your RAM.
The con with this RAM is the high 1.5V SPD voltage which will have a significant impact on battery life although all factors considered, this is still one of the best RAM for photo editing.
RAM for Photo Editing Buying Guide
Some of the features when choosing the best RAM for photo editing include;
How Much RAM Do You Need for Photo Editing?
RAM capacity is the amount of storage available to store short term data from the primary storage. The RAM is way faster than the primary storage which is why it is used for short-term data. The more the capacity the more room available to store data currently in use.
The recommended capacity to run photo editing is 16GB although that will depend on software such as;
While Corel PaintShop requires a minimum of 2GB but recommends 8 GB, DXO Photolab requires a minimum of 4GB but recommends a capacity of 6 GB.
The recommended settings allow your computer to run photo editing software to its full potential even when running other programs. The minimum settings on the other hand allow your computer to run the software but depending on the intensity of other programs being run, the performance may drop.
The reason why 16GB is recommended is despite some photo editing software requiring lesser RAM, the complexity of your projects is also a factor to consider.
This means that limiting the RAM capacity will also limit the level of complexity you can attain with your photo editing projects.
RAM Frequency (higher is better)
Measured in megahertz (MHZ), this is the number of times the RAM will access data in a single cycle. For example, 3600MHZ means data is accessed 3.6 billion times a second.
The minimum requirement for photo editing apps is 3200MHZ since this will allow more data to be accessed in a single cycle hence improving the performance when editing photos. Although the clock speed may need improvement based on the complexity of your projects.
RAM Latency Timings (less is better)
RAM latency works hand in hand with RAM frequency. While frequency is the number of cycles in a second, latency is the number of cycles it takes the RAM to access data.
When working on photoshop we want our RAM to takes the least possible cycles to access data. That is why less is better when it comes to latency.
Latency timings differ between different computers. An example of latency timing is 16-16-16-38. The first number (16) which is the CAS latency is the most common. This is the time it takes memory to respond to the CPU.
The other numbers are RAS to CAS delay, RAS percentage, and tRAS respectively. These timings are important to overclocking your RAM.
This is because when overclocking your RAM, the user basically reduces the timings and increase the frequency so as to boost the overall performance of the RAM during photo editing.
The architecture of your RAM will also determine how effectively you will overclock your RAM. A larger heat sink will allow more heat dissipation which improves overclocking efficiency hence improving computer performance when editing photos.
RAM Stick Type
There are four RAM stick types; DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4. DDR4 is the fastest of the four and the recommended for photo editing. The reasons why it is recommended include;
Faster performance due to faster data transfer rate. The DDR4 RAM has a data rate of between 2133MT/s and 4266MT/s which is a significant improvement from the previous DDR3 which had a data transfer rate of 300 to 2133MT/s. This allows DDR4 to operate faster when editing photos.
DDR4 RAMs also have a higher chip density which goes past 16GB compared to the previous DDR3 that went up to 8GB. This is important since it allows you to install chips with more RAM capacity which will boost your performance when using photo editing software.
DDR4 RAM chips have more power efficiency since they have a power demand of as low as 1.2V which is an improvement from the previous 1.5V in most DDR3 RAMs. This means the RAM consumes less battery enabling you to spend more time on your computer when editing photos.
RAM Stick Setup
There are two RAM setups; Single-channel and multi-channel.
Multi-channel aims to increase the bandwidth by increasing the available data wires in the memory bus. Hence instead of having a single 16GB RAM, opt for two 8GB RAM sticks.
Multi-channel is the recommended setup for photo editing. This not only increases bandwidth which increases the transfer of information between RAM and the hard disk, but it is also cheaper and provides future proof in case one RAM fails.
Also Read: Best RAM for Photoshop
The bottom line to finding best RAM for photo editing is to gauge your expertise both in terms of photo editing as well as technical prowess with PC hardware.
In terms of photo editing you need to understand how complex a project you plan to work on. If, for instance, your project isn’t too complex or the file size is less than 500 MB, then a 16 GB of RAM should be fine.
If the project is complex with very large file size than you will need to go beyond 16 GB of RAM.
Furthermore, whether you should go for an overclockable RAM with powerful heatsinks depends upon how good you are technically with PC setups.
If you do not wish to overclock and stick with simplicity, we recommend going for a basic affordable with as high a frequency and as low a latency as you can.