RAM for gaming
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RAM Gaming title

Being a PC gamer has a degree of “I earned this” to it. Unlike our fellow console gamers, we need to do certain things to ensure we can play a game on our PCs. Playing something like The Witcher 3 or Batman Arkham Knight isn’t as simple as heading to our hub of choice and installing it. We have to consider whether our graphics card will hold up (my Achilles heel!), if we have the HDD space (console gamers run into this, too, actually), and how the processor will hold up. One that shouldn’t cross people’s minds as often as it tends to is RAM.ram for gaming icons 1RAM (Random Access Memory) is, in layman terms, the computer’s attention span. It allows the computer to retain its knowledge of certain actions until it turns off. This allows it to perform those actions repeatedly, without having to re-queue them, skipping file searching. It acts as volatile, or temporary, memory that is deleted when the PC is turned off. What does this have to do with PC gaming, though?

 

In short: everything. While the processor is responsible for organising tasks and instructing the completion of them, RAM locates and executes the task. It is pulling information constantly, which contributes to load times and screen lag. This is why the question of how much is needed is so important. The RAM chips in your PC can only hold so much information at any given time. How much space, then, do you need to optimally run most games? The briefest response is: 8GB.

RAM gaming componenets

In recent memory, Assassin’s Creed: Unity made the news for requiring an insane amount of work on the gamer’s part to get it to run. The CPU alone was considered too pricey (it was), and the video card averages about half a grand. Quite a hefty load. Except the RAM. The RAM runs at 6GB minimum, and 8GB is recommended. This is pretty commonplace in the industry, as very few games are constantly doing things to the tune of 9GB and up. In fact, in researching 40 games that have come out in the last two years, I couldn’t find a single one that benefitted more than a minute amount from the RAM increase.

 

The rumour that having 16GB of RAM is necessary is highly misleading. Even for the online gamers, most PCs come with sufficient RAM to run the biggest games (both League of Legends and World of Warcraft only require 2GBs, and most PCs come with between 2GB and 4GB nowadays). In order to max this out, you would need to be running The Witcher 3, Batman Arkham Knight, and Assassin’s Creed Unity, at the same time in order to tap out this amount of RAM. It won’t all run (processor’s have feelings, too, and this is anarchy in their eyes) but you won’t have the RAM to blame.

 

Therefore, in the interest of time, and RAM space, you could go for the 16GB RAM, or even the crushingly powerful 32GB RAM, but you will never notice any difference. 16 and 32 are really best for people who do high-intensity work on their PCs, like graphics and animation. It doesn’t require a juggernaut to hold up the fort with even the biggest video games, and RAM should be viewed as a minor decision. Stick with the 8GBs and focus your money and time on cooling systems, processors, and graphics processors. Your PC can hold up, I assure you, at least in the random memory department. If you’re still getting hit with lag, look into your processor or GPU, as the problem is very likely hiding in there.

 

Guest Post by Thom Compton, tech writer for Cubed3.comgpu for gaming title

23 COMMENTS

  1. I’m very glad I read this as I was considering adding more RAM, I have 8GB at present but that should be enough. I’ve already had to upgrade my graphics card because Lara Croft just laughed and shook her pretty head at my measley 1 GB of DDR on my old card. I now have a card with 4 GB DDR and Return of Tomb Raider plays ok.
    Maybe it’s time to consider replacing my CPU which is knocking on a bit.
    I sometimes find it a tad annoying that we PC people have to spend our hard-earned on kit to make the latest games work properly.

  2. Also take into account background processes. If your only using your computer for games, and nothing else what so ever, then sure. But most people will have quite a few background tasks to take care of too.

    Skype, Chrome, Backups, Virus scans,other pieces of software will all dig into this pool and things can get extremely tight very quickly. Sure you could religiously close everything you have down, but what about people like myself that might be doing some Dev work, or a school kid doing research and wants to open up GTA 5 for an hour to relax.

  3. This is all well and good unless you are playing XCOM 2. I’m pretty sure it would fill 128GB of RAM if given the chance.

  4. I used to have 8GB RAM and for years it barely maxed out on usage. When my computer boots it used to use something like %25 in use for the OS etc. Games like Arkham Knight, GTA V would take it up to %80 – %85. Even though it isnt %100 I knew that some day it will for gaming.

    So I switched to HyperX Fury 16GB and now it idles at %12 for the OS and about %30 – %50 on gaming depending on what game. Some dont even require 4GB and is still the minimum in some games. 16GB is deffo what you need for this era of gaming. Keep the system comfatble so it has plenty to spare and the CPU can relax a bit and the GPU can handle the grunt work

  5. Generally speaking 8GB is enough, I prefer 16GB just so my PC has breathing room to multi-task when running a memory intensive game.
    X-Com 2 just isn’t optimised very well, install on a HDD instead of an SSD and you will see further performance reduction.
    There is one exception to a suggested 8GB and that is Minecraft loaded with mods, Java will consume all the memory it can when you have a large mod pack installed like FTB (Feed The Beast).

  6. I find this article highly misleading, you state that Assassin’s Creed Unity requires only 2gb of memory to run, yet the minimum spec for this is 6gb, a quick search on the internet shows is cannot run on 2gb, same goes for Batman, same for the witcher 3.

    Yet for some reason you seem to think you can run all three at the same time on a system with between 2-4gb of Ram.

    For Gaming 8gb of Ram is really required, and ideally if for some reason you really wanted to run all three of these together, yes ideally you would want to have 32gb of Ram

  7. Having more RAM because you can is useless. I for one use 8GB Corsair Vengeance RAM along side a 2GB GTX 770 and a i5 4670k. This crushes anything I throw at it, so having RAM higher than 8GB is kinda useless at the moment if you are just gaming.

  8. It may be good idea to install Hardware monitor and see how much ram is getting used after running highly demanding game or (and) having opened few other tasks simultaneously. It will log the maximum ever used amount of ram. I love this app, very useful, highly recommended. From what I’ve experienced 8GB of ram is more then enough.

  9. Ive used the same PC for a good number of years. It has 6GB of system ram (yes its tri-channel) its that old. It runs fine. I have over 250 hours played in XCOM2, I do dev work in Visual Studio, unity and unreal, I use blender, I run multiple monitors etc etc.

    Ive just tested and I can run xcom2 on 1 monitor and play youtube videos in a linux VM fullscreen on another monitor.

    Good game engines will take how much RAM you have into acount and attempt to use all of it to the best effect. There would be little point having ram in your system that never got used, but thats not the same as needing that ram in the first place.
    Anything more than 16GB for gaming (flight sims and super high rez textures for example) is a waste and for most people 8GB will be fine.

    Its slopy, lazy coding that leads to games eating up RAM.

    The only game that has ever given memory warnings is planetside2. Again its sloppy coding. Running a 3rd party app alongside the game to “cleanup” fixes the problem.

  10. If you’re building a system now and want to future proof it for the next 5 years then I’d recommend 16GB. RAM requirements are not going to fall and for the sake of the extra few quid it’s worth it.

  11. I have 8GB of G-skill Ripjaws 2133 DDR3 in my build.
    I believe that in most gaming scenarios, above 8GB (currently) is wasted and actually, timings and frequency of the ram are much more important.
    This is backed up by looking at my weekly usage on CAM softwear that shows the MOST I have used is 51% at any time (during gaming and streaming)
    Of course, true power users need a ton of RAM, but for most, 8GB is fine

  12. I Think there is an unwritten law at play here which states that modern games will soak up all the resources go are prepared to give them and still want more. Be it RAM, Graphics card power, processor power, hard drive space and speed and indirectly of course power supply and cooling requirements.

    They are not the only culprits, anything to do with video also tends to be a resource grabber, Programmes like Adobe After Effects will use as much RAM as you will let them.

    I personally am using 8GB and for most normal stuff this is plenty but fire up a video editor or After Effects you need as much of everything as you can afford some games are the same.

  13. 16Gb will give the ‘minute’ increase in FPS in aforementioned top end games, yet agreed 8Gb will definitely suffice. Tip of the day, run Process Lasso by Bitsum, and select Bitsum High Perf Mode and Gaming mode….phenomenoninal results!

  14. Does no-one think the actual speed of the memory is important? Or how about 2x4Gb instead of 1x8Gb? If all gamers have the fastest memory allied to the fastest Motherboard speed, then just go for double the recommended amount and you’ll be fine. Any more and it’s a waste of money as when you do need more Ram, other things will have changed which may outdate your expensive Ram.

  15. I use 16 gig ram and have turned off widows 10 paging file for the last 6 months and regularly play BF3 BF4
    BFBC2. I use a Samsung 512 gig SSD. This I hope means I am not accessing my drive so much as I would with a pagefile.

  16. Had 8 gig in my system for the last 5 years or so. never maxed it out even with more than 1 game running in the memory.

  17. Linus did a video on this very topic. He tested 128GB RAM then took out all but 1, 16GB stick and found that the difference is so tiny in game that you honestly wouldn’t notice if you have 1 or the other. I have 16GB DDR4 because I found it cheap, and I couldn’t imagine needing more currently for most tasks.

  18. some of the best 3d mark scores have always been with lower amounts of ram than what is considered the norm.

  19. Depends really, I would say the set standard for any computer should be about 8 GB, since we are in a 64bit computing world. 8GB seems to be the new 4gb and at the price it cannot see why you shouldn’t have it. It can handle games well, general multitasking and increase the response time a little. As more games are getting more advanced and system heavy I would say 16gb is a good way to go as well, considering more people are doing editing along with gaming whilst alt tabbing or streaming, then you have VR and monster graphics cards. I noticed my 1070 gave me an extra 20 FPS in a few games with 16 gb of ram over 8, I would not even consider 4 any more.

  20. I have often been informed when loading certain games off a disc, that my Graphics Card has insufficient memory to run the game, at first I used to cancel the loading and running because of the warning, one game in particular was “SWAT 4”, which I used to play on my sons PC, and I have a HIGH END GTX 980 TI Graphics Card.

    Anyway, my son, who knows MORE about these things, told me that with the card I have, and the rest of the gear in my PC, that I should ignore the warning, which was considered irresponsible in the warning message.

    So one day, I decided to try my luck, and low and behold, I had NO PROBLEMS on running the game, which I was VERY pleased about, as “SWAT 4” is one of my all time favourite games.

    I thank you for giving us the insight to the RAM needs of a computer, it is re-assuring to know we are right, and those who say different, are definitely WRONG.

    Thank You very much, Yours Sincerely, Brian T P.

  21. If you have 8gb (like me) in your current pc there’s no reason to upgrade. Shut down unnecessary programs in background while playing an it’s enough. If I were doing a brand new build though, for the price difference just go for 16, future proofs yourself. Personally though never seen mine go over 5.5gb while gaming but I usually just have windows, antivirus, and temp monitoring program nothing else(no chrome, Skype, you tube on second monitor, Spotify etc).

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