Video games today often put an emphasis on RAM depending on the genre and required specifications. Top down RTS games can expect to run on systems with a lower amount of RAM while your triple A FPS titles coming out this year demand substantially more. It’s the job of most game developers to design options for every spectrum of hardware in the PC gaming world. This is not only beneficial to minimum system specs but those looking to exceed requirements with their hardware.
In this article we will look at the amount, type, and importance of RAM in your gaming PC.
How Much RAM Do You Need for a Gaming PC?
Most modern games require at least 8GB of RAM. That said, 16GB of RAM is becoming the standard.
If you don't know how much RAM you currently have in your system, go to the task manager and click performance to see the RAM tab in your system. From here you will be able to see the amount, speed in MHz, and current usage.
What is RAM?
If you are fairly new to the world of computing you may have heard the use of the term RAM or random access memory used in a multitude of different systems within a computer. RAM is used in the way its title implies, for random system tasks and as certain programs see fit.
There are different forms of RAM dedicated to different types of workloads in computers. Let's talk about the uses and designations.
VRAM is RAM dedicated to only video processing and is found in graphics processing units allowing faster computing in conjunction with a dedicated graphics chip. In recent systems, you can expect to find as low as 4GB of DDR6 (Double Data Rate v6) memory ensuring the performance of a mid tier graphics card in 2014 for ½ of the MSRP price seven years ago creating super performant cards at a lower price.
Dedicated RAM fits into the two or four slots that you see in a motherboard. They are for general use in a system and have a multitude of uses between video game loading screens to opening and modifying programs that require to cache large amounts of data allowing for faster load times depending on speed and other factors.
Cache (System memory)
Cache is the most finite amount of memory in a computer due to its implementation in components. HP explains this implementation of cache in a multitude of components within a system. Components like CPU’s, graphics cards, and even hard drives, SSDs, and NVME have a small amount of cache that allows the CPU to pull information up to 100 times faster than conventional DRAM processes.
Ram Type and Important Factors
For the rest of the article we will only refer to DRAM customization as it is the most addressable when configuring system memory specifications.
Specifications of RAM
RAM often comes in different iterations over the many years. The current generation of RAM is DDR4 (Double Data Rate v4) and is found in a multitude of different settings. Here are some qualities to look for when identifying potential RAM for a system.
Column Address Strobe (CAS) Latency timing
Among speed, CAS latency timing (or CL for short) is an equation to measure the amount of time needed to perform a “hit” on certain info within a memory module and return it to the processor to complete the transaction. This can measure from 22 being the slowest up to 3 being the highest across a multitude of different system types. For gaming the standard time should be around 16 CL.
Memory speed is measured in mhz and is the base for measurement for CAS latency. Common ram speeds are 2400, 2666, 3000, 3200.There is a reason behind every variation. Different motherboards support different memory ratios depending on the board type and included features. Top of the line boards have the most compatibility while lower end boards can only run a specific timings and can slow memory down if it does not support the superior speed. Apex uses a minimum of 3000 mhz RAM in all of our systems.
Sticks for Single or Dual Channel
RAM is often sold in kits. Kits most commonly come in two sticks per box allowing for single channel memory. This means two kits can fill four slots, enabling Dual channel to allow more memory bandwidth for the CPU. This overall improves the performance marginally depending on factors like speed in CL.
Amount of RAM Needed for Gaming?
8GB of RAM
This option is for the people who need the absolute bare minimum of their system. With 8GB of ram, workloads aren't expected to go beyond a few tabs open in chrome and no major rendering programs. Depending on your graphics card and CPU you may have trouble loading open world games and larger assets in game files.
16GB of RAM
16 GB of RAM is the recommended minimum for most modern gaming PCs. The system has ample RAM to run background processes and contribute to the current running game. 90 percent of the time the RAM will not be the bottleneck if you have over 3000mhz at CL 16 for normal gaming.
32GB of RAM
32 GB of RAM is the most ideal for people who can afford it. If you don't want to worry about having multiple tabs open while gaming on high settings. In my current system, 32 GB of RAM has served most of my needs. My only gripe is that even for 32 GB of RAM, Photoshop, at times, is slower than I would like. That said, these are very minimal pitfalls considering my current requirements to run the games and programs I like.
64GB of RAM
In most top end conventional motherboards, 64GB is often the maximum supported on systems.This is one of the most extreme options that we incorporate in the top of the line PC’s at Apex. Using 64 GB can service both games, rendering programs, and multiple webpages at the same time with little to no issues. In addition with being at higher speed, you can expect you system to operate at the highest speeds .
Takeaway for How Much RAM You Need
When looking at how much RAM to include in your system, know that there is never such a thing as too much RAM. Apex recommends that you have at least 16GB for most gaming and productivity work. Make sure to check out our new configurator, making sure you know exactly what type of RAM is being put in your system on any of our custom gaming PCs.
Written by William Wilson