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Alex Popovic Published March 26, 2019 Guides

How Much RAM Do You Need for Gaming?

Alex Popovic Published March 26, 2019 Guides
Alex got his first PC when he was only 5 years old. After trying and miserably failing to play Morrowind for a couple of months, he finally got it right. That's the exact moment when his love for role-playing games, and epic fantasy in general, begun. Spending most of his gaming years playing World of Warcraft and single-player RPG titles, he eventually started writing about video games, which is now his full-time job. Alex's favorite video game of all time is The Witcher series, with Mass Effect Trilogy being a close second.
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If it’s your first time building a gaming PC, then it’s fairly common to wonder how much RAM you’ll need for a seamless gaming experience. After all, that was the burning question on my mind during my first build, and it’s one I get asked quite often.

The truth is, there is no good short answer to this question, despite what many gamers or gaming sites would lead you to believe. Many of my friends, multiple industry pros and O.G. gamers regularly debate the actual amount of RAM you need – and with good reason. Games are constantly evolving, as is the gear that gamers use. However, what it really boils down to is this: is the 3-7% increase in performance is really worth it?

Do you want to skip the decision-making part and just start playing as soon as possible? In that case, we recommend buying the highest-performing, best gaming laptop on the market. However, even the best budget gaming computers have more than enough RAM for any game.

Want to dive a bit deeper? Okay, let’s talk RAM.


How Much RAM Do I REALLY Need for Gaming

Before we give you our definitive answer on the subject, you might want to learn what is RAM and how does it affect gaming performance.


What is RAM?

First of all, RAM is only an abbreviation, and it stands for ‘Random Access Memory.’

Simply put, it’s a high-speed type of memory (way faster than even the best gaming HDD is, for example) that is used for storing data that your computer is planning of using soon. That way, you don’t have to wait for long when switching tabs in your browser, or changing between multiple Windows apps.

crucial green ram sticks

In gaming, this essentially lets you load more terrain, or higher portions of maps, without losing any frames per second.

Types of RAM

Basically, there are different generations of RAM. The newest one right now is DDR4, and it’s the most effective for gaming.

Some older machine might be using DDR2 or DDR3, although their performance is notably worse than that of their modern equivalent.

Soon, we can expect the long-awaited DDR5 to drop by and rock our worlds. We don’t know when exactly is this going to happen, but you might want to hold on to your wallet and get it as early as possible.


How Does RAM Affect Gaming?

As we already said, RAM lets you store more stuff for immediate reusing when playing video games. However, there is a different type of RAM called VRAM, and it’s closely connected to your graphics card.

What is VRAM?

The VRAM essentially does the same thing regular RAM does, only for 3d models. The more of it you have, the more complex 3d meshes can be loaded. You can really see the difference between less and more VRAM when turning up the video settings, such as FXAA, shadow quality, and texture quality.

nvidia gpu mounted

VRAM is labeled as GDDR, and it has already progressed up to the sixth generation. For example, the best graphics card for gaming has 11 GB of GDDR6 VRAM, which will allow the insane performance of any video game that might appear in the next half a decade.

There is plenty of science between gaming and both RAM and VRAM, which you can read up on elsewhere on our website if you’re interested in what does RAM do for gaming.


So, How Much RAM Do I Need?

Today, most common RAM sizes are 8 GB and 16 GB. Just a little below them, regarding the frequency of usage, comes 4 GB, which you can find on older configurations.

However, some gamers have 32 GB of storage, or even 64 GB, in rare cases. This might sound impressive but even those fiercely fighting the 8 GB vs. 16 GB battle will agree that anything above 16 GB is overkill with the current game requirements.

Let’s pretend that you are using the newest models of all the PC components, such as the GPU and the CPU.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 4 GB: You will be able to run all of the titles but will experience significant FPS drops in some, and some will be almost unplayable.
  • 6 GB: Same as above, only you will encounter fewer FPS drops and less unplayability.
  • 8 GB: You will be able to run every game that is released smoothly, for the next 2-3 years.
  • 16 GB: You will be able to run every new title with the highest settings for almost a decade from now.

After reading this, you probably understand why we won’t go into guessing for how long 32 GB, 64 GB, or 128 GB will be able to carry you. That’s right, it’s cause we aren’t psychic.

There’s one more important thing to mention. If you’re planning on doing some hardcore video editing, 3D modeling, or similar actions on your PC, it’s probably worth it to pick-up 32 GB of ram. Furthermore, if that’s what worries you, getting one of the best SSDs for gaming might improve your work performance significantly.

Professionals in these domains use some programs that require an extreme amount of RAM, and they all have 32 GB or even more, so they could work smoothly.


How Much RAM Do I Have?

In case you don’t know how much RAM you have, we can help you. Here are all the steps required, for different operating systems:

How Much RAM Do I Have: Windows 10 & 7?

For Windows 10 & 7 checking how much RAM you have is as easy as it gets.

Just open the start menu, either by clicking the icon at the lower-left part of your screen or by pressing the windows button on your keyboard. From there, type RAM, and wait for the search function to get you some results.

search bar ram info

Next, look at the list of search results and either click on the ‘Show how much RAM is on this computer’ (Windows 7) or ‘View RAM info’ (Windows 10).

windows ram info

A new window will open, where you will be able to see how much RAM you have installed, and how much of it is available for use.

How Much RAM Do I Have: Mac?

If you’re a MAC user, simply open the Apple menu in the top right corner of your screen. Choose ‘  ’ which is the first option on the list.

about this mac menu

From there, you can see all sorts of information about your Mac, including the amount of RAM memory that you have installed.


Final Words

Hopefully, now you know just how much RAM do you want for gaming. We said ‘want’ instead of ‘need,’ since we established that you only need 8 GB. However, you can opt to get more if you want to prepare for the future.

Additionally, we talked a bit about the science behind random access memory, and how it impacts the games that we all know and love.

If you have already decided on how much RAM you want, you might be hesitant about which brand to pick. Head on to our other article, and find out what the best RAM for gaming is.


Sources:

  1. Random Access Memory, Wikipedia
  2. What Is a RAM Card, ComputerHope, April 26th, 2017
  3. Jeff Tyson & Dave Coustan, How RAM Works, How Stuff Works
  4. How RAM Affects Performance, Dell US
  5. John Lister, How to Check for Corrupted RAM, Chron
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