The DDR5 shortage is potentially just as bad as the graphics cards shortage, and as we've charted out below, that means that some 32GB kits are being scalped for $2,500. The more lenient scalpers (via PCMag) are selling DDR5 memory kits on eBay for twice and sometimes up to three times their cost. Luckily, only Intel's 12th-Gen Alder Lake processors currently make use of DDR5. However, Alder Lake processors, which are some of the best CPUs for gaming on the market, are equally happy with the best DDR4, so early adopters aren't forced to pay ridiculous prices for DDR5 — unless they want to.
The transition of the voltage regulation from the motherboard over to the memory is both a blessing and a curse for DDR5. It's great to have a power management integrated circuit (PMIC) on the module itself, since it not only improves voltage regulation but also brings other features, such as threshold protection and power management. The problem is that the PMIC plays such a crucial role in DDR5 that you can't produce DDR5 without it. That's basically what's happening right now.
A global PMIC shortage has put memory manufacturers in a bad predicament where they have the available ICs and no PMICs to finalize production. We've spoken with three major vendors, and they've confirmed that the shortage of PMICs and prolonged due dates have affected DDR5's availability. One manufacturer told us that it has zero DDR5 stock at the moment, and the next run won't happen until next month. Sadly, the brand is only estimating up to 300 units for the worldwide market.
Obviously, not having a steady stock of PMICs not only thwarts production but also delays R&D efforts. Manufacturers are working with what they have. One of our sources informed us that the company only has a handful of PMICs, which slows down overclocking development and prevents the team from properly testing new products.
DDR5 RAM Pricing
|Memory Kit||Retailer Pricing||eBay Pricing||Price Difference|
|Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR5-5200 32GB||$329||$2,500||660%|
|T-Force Delta RGB DDR5-6400 32GB||$399||$1,999||401%|
|Team Elite DDR5-4800 32GB||$279||$1,499||437%|
|Adata XPG Lancer DDR5-5200 32GB||$299||$1,100||268%|
|Crucial DDR5-4800 32GB||$273||$890||266%|
|OLOy Blade DDR5-4800 16GB||$169||$820||385%|
|GeIL Polaris RGB Sync DDR5-4800 32GB||$428||$810||89%|
|Crucial DDR5-4800 16GB||$136||$535||293%|
Alder Lake officially went up on preorder on October 27, and so did many DDR5 memory kits. However, the supply was extremely limited since many memory kits sold out instantly and weren't even available for purchase. Scalpers immediately took advantage of the DDR5 shortage and started putting up eBay listings for ridiculous amounts of money.
The more lenient scalpers (via PCMag) are selling DDR5 memory kits on eBay for twice and sometimes up to three times their cost. Others are just preying on the weak and flipping DDR5 memory for small fortunes. One seller has put up Corsair's Dominator Platinum RGB DDR5-5200 32GB (2x16GB) memory kit for a whopping $2,500, a 660% increase over its retail $329 price tag. Another eBay listing has two such kits for $5,000.
The sad part isn't just that the only obtainable DDR5 memory kits are out of reach, but it's the fact that some consumers are paying these kinds of prices. According to a screenshot from eBay's Terapeak tool, eBay merchants have moved up to 15 DDR5 memory kits during the last week with selling prices between $1,099 and $2,500.
Early DDR5 memory modules are utilizing PMICs from Renesas. Once more manufacturers like Richtek and Amtek jump into the fray, there should be a steadier supply of PMICs. Samsung has also announced that the company is producing PMICs for its own DDR5 products.
If you plan to upgrade to Alder Lake, you currently have two options. One is to just wait this DDR5 shortage out. Alternatively, you can opt for a Z690 motherboard with DDR4 memory slots. The bad news is that motherboard brands are currently only offering DDR4 support on the lower tier models. There is more variety (and quality) on the Z690 offerings with DDR5. At least Raptor Lake will in all likelihood reside on the same platform. Small consolation when DDR5 kits are selling for as much as a complete RTX 3080 gaming PC.