Supplier Squeeze: Will Rising DRAM Prices Put A Damper On Your Next PC Build?

Closeup of DDR5 memory with RGB lighting in a PC.
Have you checked the pricing on DDR5 and DDR4 memory pricing lately? Neither one is through the roof, thankfully, but costs are apparently still on the rise. According to the folks at TrendForce, a market research firm with a pulse on the memory industry, DRAM suppliers continue to tweak inventory levels in an effort to further drive up prices.

"As they continue to improve their lose situations by boosting capacity utilization rates, the overall demand outlook for this year remains tepid. Additionally, significant price increases by suppliers since 4Q23 are expected to further diminish the momentum for inventory restocking. As a result, DRAM contract prices for the second quarter are projected to see a modest increase of 3–8%," TrendForce states.

DRAM suppliers have been cutting back inventory levels, but those efforts have not yet produced the results that they're hoping for. However, there's reason for suppliers to be optimistic, and that reason is an uptick in consumer adoption of DDR5 platforms.

Previous generation systems supporting DDR4 become older by the day—AMD's Zen 4 platform goes all-in with DDR5 memory support, while Intel's latest-generation Raptor Lake/Raptor Lake Refresh perform best when paired with fast DDR5 memory.

Additionally, manufacturers are putting in place "more advanced, cost-efficient production processes for DDR5," which sets up an expectation for profits to "rise significantly." As such, suppliers are taking aim at price increases in the second quarter of this year, which is reflected in the 3-8% figure outlined above. The emergence of AI is also expected to play a role.

"Notably, even though DDR5 prices have already seen a notable rise in Q1—exceeding the average increase for other products—the expected emergence of AI PC demand may lead to a slight moderation in DDR5 price increases in Q2," TrendForce adds.

Trendforce's price projection chart for DDR5 and DDR4.

That 3-8% forecast applies almost across the board, including mobile, graphics, and consumer DRAM as a whole. DDR4 pricing, however, is forecast to rise a little bit higher, to the tune of 5-10%.

None of this should worry consumers, at least in the short term. Unlike when DDR5 first came onto the scene, memory pricing is not cost prohibitive, even for larger capacity kits. Here's a partial snapshot of the current landscape...

Closeup of Corsair's Vengeance DDR5 RAM on a black background.
There are plenty of fast 32GB DDR5 kits for right around $100 or even less, and 64GB kits for under $200. Meanwhile, it's easy to find 64GB DDR4 kits for under $150, with RGB lighting to boot.

While some higher memory prices might be imminent, according to Trendforce's latest DRAM report, these could conceivably be offset later this year when Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals roll into view.
Tags:  memory, RAM, DRAM, ddr4, ddr5