Alder Lake might have placed Intel back in the lead, but users who held off until Raptor Lake are the real winners. All three 13th-gen chips released in 2022 deserve praise, but the 13600K is in a league of its own. It matches the 12900K’s gaming capabilities while costing just $300 and trailing the new flagship by a tiny margin. Now that prices are in check, the best RAM for Intel i5-13600K isn’t such a tall order either.
There are several compelling reasons to get a 13600K straight away! It’s reasonably priced and works with the first generation of LGA 1700 motherboards if you don’t find the refresh compelling enough. Better yet, you can get a DDR4 motherboard and lose little by sticking to a memory kit you bought previously.
Whichever upgrade path you want to follow, we’ve assembled seven RAM models that will mesh perfectly with the rest of your build.
We didn’t go overboard with DDR5 since the most expensive kits’ performance doesn’t justify the price difference. Regardless, you’ll find everything from finely-tuned next-gen RAM to compelling choices that barely cost more than $100 for 32GB and much more in between.
G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB
The Z5 has been our favorite since it came out, so another top spot isn’t news. However, we went with the 5600MHz version this time. It costs $30 – $50 less than the 6000MHz alternative yet performs about the same in most cases. Better yet, savvy users can overclock it to match our usual recommendation.
G.Skill was one of the first manufacturers to jump on the DDR5 bandwagon, and they did so in style! The Z5 proudly carries its NEO heritage, which is especially evident if you opt for the silver & black version. The color layout is different, and the telltale tri-fin design has been revamped for a new age. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing kits ever as a result.
We can’t forget about the Z5’s successful RGB implementation, either. Its diffuser is simple, with only a dip in the middle that houses the logo for visual interest. Boundaries between LEDs aren’t apparent since the diffuser blends them together fluidly. You may use G.Skill’s handy lighting config utility to create the perfect light show or have your motherboard’s built-in alternative do it.
Excellent DDR5 RAM with Room to Grow
While DDR5 prices are in steady decline, the Z5 RGB isn’t cheap for its specs. RGB plays a part, but so does Samsung B-die G.Skill uses for its integrated circuits. The die is famous for its stability and overclocking potential. You get a hint of the latter from the specs, as the RAM runs at 5600MHz while needing just 1.2V to maintain a latency spread of 36-36-36-76.
Such low power consumption leaves lots of room to try & push the frequency higher. You can reach as high as 6200MHz with a 0.2V bump, which is impressive for the current DDR5 generation. You won’t gain much real-world performance, but it’s comforting that a little know-how can save you some money.
So, how does the Z5 perform? Like with all first-gen DDR5, the improvements over DDR4 are modest. You’ll see the most tangible gains in latency testing, compression, and video transcoding speeds. The 13600K is primarily a gaming CPU, so how much you’ll get out of better RAM depends on the games & resolution you like.
For example, it makes sense to overclock this kit if you’re rocking a 240Hz 1080p monitor. Doing so nets you a low double-digit frame boost in games like CS: GO.
You’ll already be pushing the 240Hz boundary, so how much sense this makes is debatable. Gains at 1440p are noticeably smaller whether you’re using the best DDR4 kits or the Z5’s XMP as a baseline.
Corsair Vengeance DDR5
You couldn’t care less about RGB and just want a good balance of price to performance? Bling springs to mind first when thinking about Corsair, but their Vengeance line fits your requirements perfectly! It’s the best RAM for Intel i5-13600K if you’re building an optimized DDR5 system without regard for the gamer aesthetic.
The Vengeance might be colorless, but we never implied it lacked style. Corsair decked it out with lots of small visual elements that make each stick fun to look at before you pop it into the case.
There’s a central gray bit featuring the Vengeance logo as well as a neat triangle pattern that forms a black umbrella-like pattern that expands as it reaches the edges.
iCUE is among the most elaborate lighting software suites available. You’d think that memory which lacks RGB wouldn’t benefit from it, but Corsair found a way to make iCUE useful.
Specifically, iCUE offers memory monitoring that displays the current temperature and frequency. It’s also possible to set RGB sources your PC does have to behave differently if there’s a sudden increase in thermals.
The Smart DDR5 Choice
Despite being cheaper, the Vengeance uses the same die as our winner. Its XMP 3.0 settings are identical, except for 0.05V more needed to maintain them. No diffuser means the Vengeance can easily fit under any air cooler and has even less trouble with AIOs.
That voltage uptick to the RAM’s core settings makes for slightly worse overclocking. It’s still possible to reach 6000MHz while keeping the power requirements around 1.4V.
Given the similarity of their specs, it makes sense for our top two kits to perform almost identically, whichever test you throw at them. Either provides excellent results in gaming, allowing both the 13600K and your GPU of choice to reach peak performance levels. A 6400MHz kit would have upped those counts by an extra frame or three, but the price difference isn’t worth it.
G.Skill Trident Z NEO
DDR5 is in its early stages, so we applaud Intel for letting users stick to DDR4 for their Raptor Lake build. The lauded Trident Z Neo is the premium 13600K RAM option if you go down that route. It’s expensive as DDR4 goes but still in the budget tier compared to current DDR5 kits. As we’ll demonstrate below, it can still keep up.
Looking at the Z5 and NEO side-by-side, it’s clear how the older kit’s split personality influenced the future of G.Skill’s RAM design. It’s still among the most attractive kits out there and a refreshing source of contrast whether you’re rocking a conventional stealthy build or want a gleaming white PC.
While both look mesmerizing, we prefer the NEO’s take on RGB. Its diffuser is taller, so you have a larger light-emitting area to work with. The prongs are also smaller and have gaps, so they cast shadows while letting more light through on the sides. The height difference is only 2mm, so the design is what counts more.
This is the third kit in a row to feature Samsung B-die. DDR4 doesn’t have an onboard voltage controller, and 1.35V is a normal power draw for it. The timings sit at 16-19-19-39, while 3600MHz was ideal for the last AM4 Ryzen processors. Not that Intel CPUs didn’t benefit as much, especially since XMP was the only option.
The NEO received all the benefits of a mature RAM platform and world-class integrated circuits. These resulted in a kit that runs well out of the box but can be made to shine even brighter with a few tweaks.
One way is to lower the timings, causing the RAM to run stable at CL14. Conversely, you can go the more conventional route & dial up the frequency to 4000MHz at default timings.
There’s not much to improve upon the NEO, so how does it fare against DDR5? Hardware Unboxed provides some hard data that proves DDR4 is far from irrelevant. They used the NEO and a 6000MHz version of the Z5 to benchmark the 13900K. It made sense for them to use 1080p since that’s where the differences are easiest to highlight.
The short version is that DDR5 isn’t much better than top DDR4 kits yet. There are outliers like Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Watchdogs Legion. However, there are three games for every such outlier in which the Z5’s lead is only statistical.
Patriot Viper Venom RGB DDR5
Capacity: 32GB (2x16GB) | Clock speed: 6200MHz | CAS Latency: 40 | Die: SK Hynix M | RGB: Yes | Supported profiles: XMP
- Great value for the money
- Updated aesthetic with attractive RGB
- Tinkering can improve performance
- Unremarkable out of the box
The second generation of DDR5 memory combines higher frequencies with steadily dropping prices. The time is right to ditch our previous DDR4 Patriot suggestion and go with the Venom’s DDR5 version instead! It’s reasonably priced yet offers good working frequencies, nice-looking RGB, and room to tweak for those who dare.
Some companies barely touched their DDR4 designs, while others took the generational jump as an invitation to redefine their products. Patriot is among the latter, as the Venom RGB is nothing like its predecessors. If anything, the silver and gray color scheme, coupled with bands around the diffuser, makes us think of a hybrid between Toughram and the Trident Z Neo.
The Venom has plenty of original accents, like the menacingly red Viper logo and colorful RGB. You can get it without, which replaces the diffuser with a black bar. Both versions stand 43mm tall, so purchasing the one with lighting makes more sense if you have a case that can show it off. Patriot provides proprietary effect adjustment software, but the RAM works just as well with major motherboards.
A Serpent for the DDR5 Age
M-die has become the golden standard for first-gen and affordable second-gen DDR5 memory. 6200MHz doesn’t scratch the ceiling of its capabilities, but it’s now affordable enough to entice 13600K owners. The timing is nothing special. However, you can shift to a different XMP profile if tighter timings are more important than high frequencies for your use case.
Savvy users shouldn’t need to, as the Venom retains some untapped potential. You could easily reduce the timings to CL36 while pushing it 200MHz higher. It would be more of an exercise in OC skill than a genuine performance boost, but even incremental improvements can make a difference.
Silicon Power Zenith
It’s been months in the making, but we’re finally here – you can now get decent DDR5 memory for less than $100! Less than $90 even, if you manage to find Silicon Power’s Zenith RAM on sale. It’s not JEDEC-specced either, but clocks in at a respectable if now entry-level 5600MHz.
We hope our RAM articles managed to convey how little that means most of the time in the real world. If it does to you, the Zenith’s excellent overclocking potential still makes it some of the best RAM for Core i5-13600K around.
Unlike the first generation of “affordable” DDR5, the Zenith looks like proper gaming hardware. It has a heat spreader, which is already an improvement.
Moreover, Silicon Power gave the spreader a unique, wavy shape. The waves create alternating convex and concave surfaces that look cool and help get rid of heat. You may choose stealthy black or show the pristine white version off through your case’s transparent side.
A Diamond in the Rough
Ditching RGB is a sensible cost-cutting measure for budget RAM. It also lets manufacturers create shorter DIMMs without clearance issues. The Zenith’s height of 39mm makes it an excellent choice for SFF builds or users who keep their 13600K’s temperatures in check with beefy air coolers.
The Zenith’s specs look quaint in contrast to the latest DDR5 releases. Keep in mind that 4800MHz RAM cost as much upon release as 7200MHz kits do now, though. 5600MHz is excellent for the price, doubly so since Silicon Power is another company that embraced M-die.
Keeping the frequency and timings timid allows regular buyers to get exceptionally cheap memory with meager DDR5 power requirements to boot. Readers aware of M-die’s limits and flexibility may already ponder the overclocking possibilities. They’re right, too, as the Zenith offers around 0.2V of headroom and can climb much higher than its XMP indicates.
How much? Think 6400MHz at CL36, or 6000MHz at timings that match or exceed the latest AMD-optimized kits. If you don’t overclock, the Zenith takes its position toward the bottom of the DDR5 performance charts in artificial testing. Results are much more in its favor once you turn to actual productivity or gaming.
It’s true that games like Escape from Tarkov scale nicely with higher frequencies. Conversely, Cyberpunk 2077 and lots of other titles barely respond to the changes at 1080p, let alone higher resolutions.
Kingston FURY Beast RGB DDR4
We continue our foray into affordable memory territory with a new DDR4 kit from Kingston. It launched as part of the company’s rebranding effort after Kingston severed ties with HyperX. The Fury Beast is every bit as competent, bringing decent specs and a splash of color at tantalizing prices.
The Fury Beast bears many marks of its once ubiquitous predecessor. The lean black PCB and large logo on its side are telltale signs. Kingston ensured its new kit stands out through creative use of embossing and several “clamps” that tie the heatsink’s two halves together.
The diffuser is among the thinnest we’ve seen, with barely any height to let light through its sides. Even so, the top has several indents and a fury logo. The clamps mentioned above create breaks in the lighting and accentuate the memory’s good looks.
Ferocious Performance at a Tame Price
Manufacturers usually make a big deal out of the ICs they use or at least make their specs publically available. Kingston is being evasive, though, since neither Thaiphoon Burner nor CPU-Z gives clear answers. Based on the performance and price, our money is on one of SK Hynix’s offerings.
The Fury Beast’s stats are plain to see, and they aren’t out of the ordinary. It is tuned to 3600MHz with unremarkable CL18 timings. Unlike the DDR4 memory we’ve examined so far, the ICs here don’t allow for overclocking.
There might not be a way to advance the Fury Beast past XMP, but it’s clear from our above examples that this matters little. The kit is on par with the stock Viper Steel RGB.
It’s technically the worst entry on our list, yet time and again, testing shows that most games and software don’t care much about memory optimization past a certain point.
Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR5
Type: DDR5 | Capacity: 32GB (2x16GB) | Clock speed: 5200MHz | CAS Latency: 36 | Die: Micron A | RGB: Yes
- Looks fantastic
- Outstanding companion software
- Unique RGB lighting
- Not far behind leading kits despite weaker specs
- Very tall
- Lighting only syncs with iCUE
Our last item is a guilty pleasure, especially if your goal is to put a good gaming system together without breaking the bank. You don’t NEED the Dominator Platinum, but it’s the best RAM for Intel i5-13600K bar none if you want your rig’s style to reflect its performance.
The Dominator Platinum has always been an outlier appearance-wise. Even when the lights are off, it turns heads with a freakishly tall heat spreader and its unusual lighting cutouts. Its visual identity is among the most consistent, as only the logo has changed since its DDR4 iteration.
Capellix is one aspect that won’t need improvement until other LED manufacturers step up. These proprietary diodes are tiny and barely draw any power yet shine more forcefully than their conventional counterparts. The drastic size decrease allows for 12 individually addressable RGB zones.
Light Up the Night
The caveat is that you have to use iCUE for lighting customization. That’s barely an inconvenience since iCUE is intuitive while giving you the freedom to create untold effects and color combinations.
Moreover, the RAM’s colors synergize perfectly with Corsair AIOs and peripherals, so a uniform look is easy to achieve. Other brands and motherboard support are left out, though.
The colorful illusion Corsair built around the Dominator Platinum shows cracks once you look at the specs of some kits. Granted, the top-end 6400MHz Samsung B-die kit is awesome, but it’s also ridiculously expensive. We went for a much more modest 5200MHz alternative with Micron A ICs.
You’ll still be paying almost as much for it as for the Z5. That creates a situation where a lack of true progression ends up being in Corsair’s favor. Thrifty buyers have the Vengeance, while users who are happy to invest more in the best RGB money can buy don’t get shortchanged even though the specs appear worse. It’s debatable whether spending more on RGB is worth it, but we’re glad you have the choice.