So how much RAM do I need for gaming? We'll discuss the sweet spot for RAM in different applications and how to determine your needs.
Gaming on personal computers (PCs) has been a favorite hobby for some time, but newer gamers may be asking how much RAM do I need for gaming? I was curious about what the latest recommendations were for 2019 and decided to do some research to see what I could find.
So, how much RAM do I need for gaming? How much RAM you need will depend on the games that you want to play and how much processing power they require, but the general guideline is somewhere between 4GB and 32GB.
It's worth noting that you can get by on 4GB of RAM for many different games, but that is the bare minimum, and you can expect some lagging and other challenges when you attempt to play a game using the minimum amount of RAM. For smoother gameplay, you'll want to have at least 8GB of RAM for moderate gaming, and 16GB of RAM is generally preferred.
What is RAM and What Does It Do?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and it's a physical component inside of your computer that resembles a small ruler. These tiny pieces of hardware are very advanced and work to temporarily store data for your computer so that it can access that data quickly and perform more complex functions.
RAM is a critical part of how your computer works, and when you are gaming, there is a large amount of data that your computer needs to access in a fast order so that the game can play smoothly. If your ram isn't big enough to store this data, your computer will run slowly as it needs to store and access the data from your hard drive instead.
Accessing the data from the hard drive poses a whole other set of problems, and serves only to slow down the performance of your machine. Having a more significant amount of RAM will allow your computer to store more information in an area where it is accessed more quickly, which makes your whole experience of using your computer feel quicker.
Other gadgets such as your phone, tablet, and laptop also have and use RAM, but the amount that they have at their disposal will vary depending on the device. The RAM on your computer works with your hard drive to store and manage data appropriately, but they are separate things and perform different functions.
The motherboard in your computer will only support certain types of RAM that are in specific sizes. For example, your motherboard may not be able to accommodate 32GB of RAM, and the only way to remedy that situation is to replace your motherboard. It's also important to note that 4GB of RAM is not the same as 4GB of space on your hard drive.
Your hard drive will keep and store data that's written to it for as long as you need it to, but the RAM in your computer empties whenever you shut off your machine. When you put your computer into hibernation mode, whatever data is left on your RAM gets copied over onto your hard drive so that it can be retrieved later.
This emptying of the RAM whenever you shut off your PC is the reason why the programs you had open are closed when you restart your machine. Putting your computer to sleep doesn't empty the RAM in the same way and allows some of the data to continue to be stored there.
Features to Consider in Your PC
If you want to know how much RAM you have or you are looking to upgrade your system, you may first want to figure out what features your current PC has so that you can make the most of an upgrade. When looking at the features of your PC, there are a few items you'll want to consider:
It can be helpful to make a list of all of the functions that you use your PC to complete so that you can best decide how much RAM you need and any other updates that you'll need to make to optimize your machine.
Once you have that list, you can then look at your current RAM and decipher what kind of specifications it has available. For example, look at how much RAM you have right now, and see if there's any remaining space on your current motherboard. If you can upgrade to large RAM in each slot, that may be the best option.
Keep in mind that if you are building a gaming computer, it may be in your best interest to go a little over the amount of RAM that you need so that your machine will have a longer useful life. When asking yourself "how much RAM do I need for gaming?" the answer may be that you need about 16GB now, but in a few years, you'll need 32GB.
If the cost to add more RAM is negligible and your motherboard will support it, it may be best to get more RAM now and enjoy how speedy your PC will be as you play through any game of your choice. Using the recommended 16GB of RAM for the optimal "sweet spot" isn't a bad idea, but you may end up needing to add more RAM sooner than you might think.
Troubleshooting Your Ram
If you are having issues with your RAM or suspecting that you may be having problems, the first thing you can do is reseat your RAM inside of your computers' tower to ensure that there is good contact between the RAM and the motherboard.
To do this, you'll want to open up the tower, locate your RAM on your motherboard and double check that each ruler shaped piece is securely inserted.
There isn't really a reason that RAM comes unseated, but it can happen whenever you move your tower, and sometimes it just seems to happen without any instigating event. You'll notice small clips on either side of the RAM, and when you push gently on the RAM, you should hear those clips snap into place.
Now is also an excellent time to take a can of compressed air and go over the surfaces in your computer case to ensure that everything is free from dust and debris. A buildup of dust on the inside of your case can cause the computer to overheat and can also make it malfunction.
It's also a good idea to run a memory test program if you suspect RAM issues to figure out if it's the RAM that is failing or if another component is at fault
Other Kinds of Ram
There are a few different kinds of RAM that are available, and since RAM is frequently used as a blanket term for many things, it's useful to know the difference.
When people talk about RAM in reference to their computers, they may also refer to it as "memory," but more precisely they're talking about dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM. If you want to get more accurate, modern systems use synchronous dynamic random-access memory or SDRAM.
These names are just technicalities, and the most common type of RAM sold is called DDR4. If you look in an older machine, you may find older types of RAM that are DDR3 or DDR2 even, but the numbers only indicate the generation that the RAM is part of in terms of production.
If you are looking to play a lot of video games with your PC, you'll also want to be aware of video RAM or VRAM for short. This type of memory is used with your graphics card or chip and allows your computer to handle more graphics-heavy gaming without using only the standard RAM on your motherboard.
RAM for Gaming Purposes
Some gaming websites will claim that you need to have at least 8GB of RAM to enjoy most modern games available today; however, this may not be entirely true. There are several games that play quite nicely with only 4GB of RAM at their disposal, and those titles include some of the biggest hits including:
If you are looking to upgrade an existing PC, absolutely plan on getting at least 8GB of RAM, or you'll be wanting to upgrade very shortly, and you may have issues doing so with the capacity of your motherboard.
If you are going to buy a PC, get at least 8GB of RAM, or 16GB would be even better. This extra RAM ensures that you'll have enough for the next several years without needing to upgrade and deal with the hassles of adding more RAM.
With more RAM you will get more speed, but at some point, you won't be able to notice it as a user, and you'll have invested a lot of money that could have gone to another higher performing part like your motherboard or graphics card.