MSI Intel Z690 motherboard DDR4 vs. DDR5 performance tested

With Intel’s new 12th generation Core processor platform, there are a lot of choices to be made by a PC DIYer or systems buyer. After you have pondered over and picked the processor – there will be a lot more choice come January – there are oodles of Z690 motherboards, with wildly different specs to consider in ATX, mATX, and micro-ITX form factors. Again, come January there will be many more motherboards, with new mainstream/entry-level chipsets.

One of the key decisions to make is whether to jump on board the DDR5 train or stick with more economical DDR4 (particularly economical if you can migrate some used RAM). As motherboards don’t sport both types of slots, this is a key decision that needs to be made. Helping along, and obviously, as a way to promote MSI hardware, the MSI overclocking lab has been testing various DDR4 and DDR5 memory sticks and kits in various capacities, speeds, and from various manufacturers.

In a technical blog post, MSI mixes all sorts of permutations of processor and memory. We’ve added a couple of examples of the testing in the gallery above. The top row (first three images) looks at some Intel RKL Z590 DDR4 vs. ADL Z690 DDR5 testing, and the lower row (second set of three images) considers the impact of increased DDR5 memory density on the ADL Z690 platform. If you check out the source, you can also ponder over DDR4 vs. DDR5 on Z690 and other test permutations.

The key takeaway from the above tests completed by MSI’s OC labs team is that even the lowest tier DDR5 memory offers read, write, and copy performance to easily elbow past the best of DDR4. However, with latency, it is a different story, with MSI summing up that “tightly tuned DDR4 memory like 3600 CL15 still offers much better latency than even the best DDR5 kit on the market today”.

Intel Core i9 12900K & Z690 DDR4 (2x8GB) vs. Intel Core i9 12900K & Z690 DDR5 (2x16GB)

In this last test, we’ll compare the memory performance of a DDR5 kit with a DDR4 kit. This time, the only difference is that we’re using higher density modules on the DDR5 platform (2x16GB), while the 12900K on the Z690 DDR4 platform continues to use a 2x8GB kit.


List of Memory Modules

The following memory dies were used for these tests:


– Samsung 3200 C15
– Samsung 3600 C15
– Samsung 3800 C15
– Samsung 4000 C15
– Samsung 4266 C15
– Hynix 4600 C20
– Hynix 4800 C20
– Hynix 5000 C20
– Hynix 4200 C20


– Hynix 4800 C40
– Hynix 5000 C40
– Hynix 4800 C40
– Hynix 5000 C40
– Hynix 5200 C40
– Hynix 5400 C40
– Hynix 5600 C40
– Hynix 5800 C40
– Hynix 6000 C40
Please note that these tests were conducted with mature DDR4 memory offerings, while DDR5 is still in the early stages of development. Also, these benchmark numbers can vary with the processor used, memory latency, voltage, and a few other factors. They are meant to be indicators.


Now, the benchmark results look quite a bit different, don’t they? Even the lowest tier of DDR5 memory can now go toe to toe with the very best DDR4 has to offer when it comes to read, write, and copy performance.
Latency-wise, the best DDR5 kits now match higher-tier DDR4 kits like 3800+ CL15. However, tightly tuned DDR4 memory like 3600 CL15 still offers much better latency than even the best DDR5 kit on the market today.

Looking at bandwidth along is one way of differentiating the kits, but the effect on real-world performance isn’t delineated. This is something we will do in the near future.

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