DDR5 Memory Prices Are Freefalling Just In Time For AMD's Zen 4 CPU Launch

Corsair Vengeance DDR5 memory modules
One of the challenges Intel faced when it launched Alder Lake was the high introductory cost of DDR5 memory modules. Perhaps for that reason, Intel opted to also support DDR4 memory with Alder Lake. AMD is taking a different path—it's going all-in with DDR5 when Zen 4 arrives later this year, which is a potentially risky move if memory pricing doesn't budge.

If you're worried about that, you can take a sign of relief. DDR5 memory is on a bit of a downward spiral, falling faster than most people anticipated.  Case in point, this 32GB kit of Corsair Vengeance DDR5-5200 memory was selling for $360 on Amazon in early February, and is all the way down to $224.49 currently. That's a nearly 38 percent drop in just four months.

We're not talking about an outlier, either. DDR5 pricing and availability is improving leaps and bounds in a short period of time. To give another example, this 32GB kit of Kingston Fury Beast DDR5-5600 kit sold for $310.99 as recent as last month and is now down to $219.44, which is a 29.4 percent decrease.

Corsair Vengeance DDR5 price history
Corsair Vengeance 32GB DDR5-5200 price history on Amazon (Source: CamelCamelCamel)

The side benefit to all this is that faster memory kits are less of a gut punch, even if they're still pricier than DDR4. You can pick up a basic 16GB kit of DDR5-4800 for around $113, which meets JEDEC's official specification. But enthusiast kits with faster transfer rates are more plentiful and affordable now than they were when Alder Lake first arrived last November.

Back then, the situation was so dire for builders for that scalpers were selling 32GB DDR5 memory kits on eBay for up to $2,400. At the time, a major system vendor confided in us that obtaining DDR5 was the biggest challenge in assembling and selling Alder Lake systems.

A month later, Micron explained that the DDR5 shortage wasn't due to a lack of memory chips, but non-memory components, which we took to mean power management ICs (PMICs), voltage regulating modules (VRMs), and possibly even printed circuit boards (PCBs). Micron also said it expected the shortage to ease, as it has done.

"Across the PC industry, demand for DDR5 products is significantly exceeding supply due to non-memory component shortages impacting memory suppliers' ability to build DDR5 modules. We expect these shortages to moderate through 2022, enabling bit shipments of DDR5 to grow to meaningful levels in the second half of calendar 2022," Micron CEO and president Sanjay Mehrotra said during an earnings call last December.

It appears that is exactly what is happening, and the timing couldn't be any better for AMD. As good as Alder Lake is, we suspect there are some people who have put off upgrading due to the DDR5 situation in the early going. Now that Zen 4 is around the corner, some of those same holdouts may be waiting to see what AMD brings to the table.

Of course, Intel stands to benefit from declining DDR5 prices as well. Alder Lake is a stout platform and if you've been wanting to build a 12th Gen Core setup around the latest memory standard, you can do so at a much more palatable budget than just a few months ago (especially with CPU prices coming down as well).