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CL16 vs CL18 for RAM – A Detailed Comparison [2022 Guide]

Does CL16 vs CL18 matter? Yes, it does. The effect is minor but noticeable if you use your computer for tasks like playing video games.

Most RAM sticks have their CAS latency in their product description but not written on the RAM itself.

Several figures get displayed in a list, like 14-14-14-34. The first one is the CAS latency, and the others relate to technical aspects of RAM memory timings.

You can find this information using third-party software to display the details. CL16 and CL18 mean the first number is 16 or 18.

We’ll explore CAS latency in more detail in this article, including a comparison of CL16 and CL18 RAM.

You’ll learn what you need to know about RAM when buying or building a PC. We’ll be touching on topics like memory speed, clock cycles, and performance.

Here we go!


What Is RAM?

RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and it’s a crucial component in all computer systems.

The Evolution of Ram & Processors

From Visually.

The RAM will determine how fast your computer responds to instructions and the complexity of tasks it can process.

Intensive tasks like video editing and computer programming need large amounts of memory. Lighter tasks like web browsing and checking emails don’t.

What Is CL?

CL is another way of describing CAS latency. CAS stands for Column Address Strobe, a key aspect of RAM functionality.

It marks the first part of a sequence of memory timings. In the example I mentioned above, I used 14-14-14-34. This gets broken down according to CL or CAS latency, Trcd, Trp, and Tras.

It’s unnecessary for our purposes to know more about the last three, but CL plays an essential role. It affects how fast the RAM processes instructions it receives.

What Does CL Mean?

In simple terms, it means the delay in clock cycle time when the RAM accesses system data. This affects how fast the memory can process instructions.

If the CL is too high, your RAM won’t work fast enough. This makes CAS latency essential to consider if you’re performing resource-intensive tasks.

Is Just CL Important?

It’s important to remember that CAS latency and RAM speed are two different measurements. Sometimes you can have a fast memory speed but still see poor performance.

Computer RAMs

In this case, the reason will be insufficient CAS latency for the tasks required. The best way to deal with this is by choosing a lower CL for your RAM stick.

If you have more than one RAM stick, it’s best to aim for the lowest possible strobe latency. But CL is not the only variable to deal with. As you can see, the RAM speed is another one. So is RAM size and type.

What Does CL18 Mean On RAM?

CL18 means that in the sequence of memory timings, the first number will be 18. For example, instead of 14-14-14-34 it would read 18-14-14-34.

As we said above, the other numbers aren’t relevant for our purposes here. But this is how you can determine the latency of your memory. For a more detailed explanation, you can check out the video below.

What Is CL16 In RAM?

Like the above, CL16 means a strobe latency of 16. You can find the details for your RAM by using a suitable third-party application.

CL16 RAM has a slight advantage over CL18 RAM for reasons we’ll get into below. For clarity, memory timings for CL16 RAM would read 16-18-18-34, using the example above.

Of course, the other numbers may vary too.

CL18 Vs CL16: What Are The Differences?

You’ll notice that the latency will differ when you check your memory. This can affect performance because it determines how your RAM is processing instructions.


Even if you have a high RAM speed, it can get undermined by the latency being too high.

The difference between CL16 and CL18 RAM is very minor because 16 and 18 aren’t that different either.

It simply means the first part of their memory timings, the CAS latencies, are different. CL16 has the advantage as lower latency is best for performance.

CL16 vs CL18: Which RAM Is Better?

I’ve seen a slight increase in performance with a lower latency amount because it reduces the time taken to process instructions. The clock cycle won’t get delayed as much, which will reduce processor lag a little. This means CL16 is better.

If you want to make a lasting difference, it’s essential to know the CAS latency of your RAM. It can influence performance for resource-intensive tasks and needs high amounts of RAM.

Gaming is one of these, as are any other activities needing many resources.

CL16 vs CL18: Does It Matter For Gaming?

Continuing on the subject of gaming, the CL16 vs CL18 debate becomes more relevant. Games need the best performance possible to function.

hands with joystick while playing gaming

This means small advantages gained by choosing CL16 over CL18 are very relevant.

I’ve seen that some people will focus only on memory speed, ignoring other details. But this is an incorrect approach because both are relevant and have specific effects on RAM.

Lower CAS latency is an excellent choice to get the most out of your gaming experience. It reduces the lag time between sending instructions and executing them in-game.

Is CL18 Better Than CL16?

No, it’s not. The higher latency means a longer clock cycle delay, which cancels out any gains from a high clock speed.

For everyday tasks, looking at this aspect of RAM is irrelevant. It won’t affect the performance of your system, so you can ignore it.

But for tasks like gaming, the difference is noticeable. For gaming, you’ll also want to search for memory frequency, access speeds, and how long it takes to save data.

The CPU can also be relevant, but the GPU has more influence for graphically intense tasks.

Does CAS Latency Really Matter?

It does because the way you use your system may change over time. This means the memory speed, CL figures, and amount of memory stay relevant.

CAS latency is often the least understood yet matters a lot in our opinion. It’s not good having high-performance memory if the latency isn’t up to the job.

You can adjust the clock speed by overclocking, but this won’t affect the latency unless you change it separately. It’s part of the memory timings.


Still, you should always buy your RAM with a firm idea of what you intend to use your system for. Then you won’t have to consider adjusting it.

RAM Speed Vs. RAM Latency

RAM speed is measured in MHz, or Megahertz. It’s also known as the clock speed. This means a 3200Mhz stick of RAM can get accessed 3200 times in 1 second.

Higher memory speed means better performance.

RAM latency is the delay needed for a clock cycle to complete, and this relates to the RAM speed. Higher speed means lower latency which means better performance.

Where Can I Buy A Good RAM With CL18 Inbuilt?

If you’re looking for CL18 RAM, you’ll want to check out reputable PC stores in your area or look online.

Fingers holding ram

If they have decent customer reviews and accurate product descriptions, you can rely on them to get your CL18 RAM.

But even if they provide good data and come up early in search queries, you still need to do your due diligence.

Where Can I Buy A Good RAM With CL16 Inbuilt?

CL16 is more valuable, so you can expect price and demand to be slightly higher. Buying it means looking at online stores and searching e-commerce websites.

CL16 RAM requires less time during clock cycles, giving it an advantage over other RAM options. You can also rely on the clock speed to get good RAM, but other factors have relevance too.

That’s why it’s essential to look at latency as well.

What Is The Best RAM Latency?

In my opinion, this depends on your needs. If you’re only doing basic tasks, the memory clock and memory speed are less relevant.

What Is The Best RAM Latency

But if you want your system to have RAM with fast clock cycles, it’s essential to consider CAS latency. It has a beneficial effect on memory frequency, access times, and system performance.

If you can buy it for your system, RAM with a CAS latency of 14 is the best you can do at the time of writing.


Is Higher CL Better?

No, it’s not. It’s usually worse. CL18 and CL16 are quite similar, but the latter is better. A higher CL means the RAM will have poorer memory clock performance despite its speed. This is why we recommend lower CL RAM for high-end purposes like gaming.

Does Lower CL Mean Better Performance?

As you may have guessed from the previous paragraph, a lower CL improves memory performance. CL18 vs CL16 comparisons favor the latter because it means a shorter clock speed delay. This reduction in delay during clock cycles increases overall memory speed and performance.

Is Lower CAS Latency Better?

Yes, it is. But it’s not the only aspect of RAM which affects clock cycles. The frequency of the RAM, also known as its speed, has an effect too. For example, 3600mhz RAM is faster than 3200mhz RAM.
But sometimes, the CAS latency can mean the latter will perform better because it responds quicker. This means CL18 RAM at 3600 mhz could perform worse than CL16 RAM at 3200 mhz.

How Do I Know My RAM CL?

It’s easy to confuse CL with memory speed, so when you see 3200 mhz, 3600 mhz, or similar, it’s not what you’re looking for. A CL18 vs CL16 comparison isn’t possible by looking at the RAM speeds shown on the physical RAM. You can access the CL information by using third-party software to help you.

Can You Mix RAM With Different CL?

RAM performance varies based on many factors, and CL is one of these. If you mix RAM with different CL values, it will cause delays in processing instructions. For similar reasons, you shouldn’t mix RAM speeds either. Keep your RAM at the same size, frequency, and latency to reduce complications.

Can You Mix CL16 and CL18 RAM?

We recommend you don’t mix CAS latency. Even though a CL18 vs CL16 RAM memory module seems similar enough, it’s not exact, so you shouldn’t mix them.
Even if the speed is the same for your memory modules, the CL can still influence which one performs best. This means your process for selecting RAM should not involve mixing different CL numbers.

Which CAS Latency Is Good For Ryzen?

AMD Ryzen CPUs vary, but a latency of CL16 is best regardless of the model of Ryzen CPU that your system has. CL16 RAM is available for use in AMD Ryzen CPUs. But, you can also get hold of CL14 RAM if you’re focused on the lowest latency possible.
If you’re opting for very low latencies, your AMD CPU should be high-end to make the most of the extra potential.

Which CAS Latency Is Better For Intel?

The same rules will apply to RAM latency when getting an Intel CPU. If you get a DDR4 3600mhz RAM module, you’ll still be better off with a lower latency when using Intel technology. This is because of the effects of CAS latency which we’ve covered in the article.
No matter how efficient the Intel CPU is or the frequency of your memory, the CAS latency will decide how fast instructions can get processed.

Is 3600 CL18 Better Than 3200 CL16?

As I hinted earlier in the article, CL16 vs CL18 comparisons reveal CL16 is better. 3600 MHz RAM is faster than 3200 MHz RAM, but this difference can get canceled out by latency differences.
Because the difference between 3200mhz and 3600mhz is only small, you won’t notice much of a difference if you’re using the PC for lighter everyday tasks. But if your work involves video editing, coding, or graphics design, a fast CPU, GPU, and RAM are vital. This means selecting a low latency too, like CL16.

Is It Worth Spending More For The Lower Latency?

If you’re a gamer, differences of 10 nanoseconds or less can be crucial for quick reactions in-game. The human mind cannot react that fast, but once we decide, the quicker that decision gets acted on, the better. This is also why high monitor refresh rates and fast GPUs get prioritized in gaming PCs.