Double-Digit DRAM Price Hikes On The Horizon As PC Demand Continues Epic Surge
Has there ever been a more difficult time to build or upgrade a PC, in terms of parts availability and cost? Not in recent, that is for sure. Certain parts are difficult to find in stock at MSRP, especially graphics cards, but GPUs are not the only core components that care commanding higher prices these days. DRAM pricing is on the rise too, and is expected to keep going up.
Fortunately, if all you need is a kit of DDR4 memory, you can find one easy enough—places like Amazon and Newegg are littered with kits of different capacities and speeds from major players and smaller brands alike. And memory makers continue to crank out new kits. For example, HyperX just recently launched high-speed DDR4-5333 kits.
Pricing is on the rise, though. A recent DRAM memory report highlights a 20 percent jump on contract pricing during the second quarter of 2021, resulting in a 25 percent increase in PC memory products. That is not going to ease in the coming months, either. The DRAM forecast calls for another double-digit gain in the third quarter.
The gain could be anywhere from 10-20 percent, on top of rises already seen in contract pricing. What that ultimately boils down to for consumers is having to spend more on RAM. The timing is also bad because DDR5 memory is right around the corner, as the industry at large prepares a shift.
Intel will kick off the DDR5 era with its Alder Lake launch later this year (rumored for November), and then AMD will follow suit with Zen 4, presumably in early 2022.
That does not mean DDR4 will disappear overnight. In fact, Alder Lake will support both DDR5 and DDR4, just not in the same motherboard. So even if you were to purchase a DDR4 memory kit right now, you could still use it with Alder Lake when it arrives, assuming you buy a DDR4 motherboard as well.
It's not yet clear if Zen 4 will support DDR4 in addition to DDR5, or just the latter. Either way, DDR5 on both platforms will bring increased bandwidth to the table, as well as other potential benefits, such as on-die ECC support. How it all fares remains to be seen.
As to increased pricing, fortunately we are starting off in relatively affordable territory. For example, you can pick up a 16GB kit of Crucial Ballistix DDR4-3200 for $88 on Amazon. The same kit sold for about $74 a year ago, but is still not exactly expensive.
Still, the projected price hike is something to keep in mind. If you're in need of a memory upgrade and spot a good deal on a RAM kit, you might want to pull the trigger.