How Much Memory Do You Need For Games?

That's my memory, that is.

Do not glaze over. Or leg it in favour of a CaptainSparklez binge session on YouTube. We’re going to muscle through this together. By ‘this’ I mean the not-obviously-scintillating matter of system memory, also known as RAM. More specifically, I’m talking about two key questions. Does it matter what kind of memory you use? And how much of the stuff do you need? You know. For games. Luckily, this subject lends itself rather nicely to the sort of easy, sweeping and simplistic generalisations of which pathologically idle journalists are fond. But that’s good for you, too, as it means this stuff isn’t actually all that complicated and some actionable answers are attainable. These answers, in fact.

TL;DR
– 16GB of RAM is only about $40 / £35 more expensive than 8GB.
– If you are building a PC, go for 16GB of RAM. Don’t worry too much about the detailed spec. Just make sure it’s compatible.
– If you have a stable rig with less than 16GB, consider upgrading but bear in mind the ongoing transition from DDR3 to DDR4 for Intel’s new Skylake CPUs and AMD’s upcoming Zen chips.
– In the unlikely event you only have 4GB, upgrade to at least 8GB immediately.

Remember this

Like most things when it comes to PC performance, what you absolutely, positively need and what will make your computing life in general more pleasant and your gaming in particular more enjoyable aren’t the same thing.

There’s a minimum you can get by with but that will drive you utterly mad. And then there’s the point beyond which the returns begin to diminish rapidly. It’s that latter metric I’m interested in.

If modern games only take up this much space, what’s all the fuss about?

Think of it this way. You might technically be able to play a game with 4GB of RAM, but the level load times will be catastrophic, and you’ll have a permanent hangover thanks to the application switching lag and the general sluggishness of it all. On the other hand, while there may be theoretical gaming scenarios in which more than, oh I dunno, 16GB is of benefit, they’re so rare as to be effectively irrelevant to nearly all of us nearly all the time.

Capacity is king

Why does memory amount as opposed to memory speed impact your PC’s performance?

The answer is pretty simple. The software and applications you run have a certain memory footprint. Whether it’s a browser tab or a high-end game, the data needs to live somewhere. In practice, there are three main places. The cache in your CPU (not very big and in any case largely data mirrored with RAM), your system memory or RAM and the hard disk.

For an application you aren’t running at all, even in the background, it can reside in hibernation on the hard disk. But for an app you are using, it needs to all fit in RAM to ensure speedy access. Because RAM is orders of magnitude faster than a hard disk. Even the fancy SSD sort of hard disk.

When you run out of memory or RAM, the operating system will fall back on the hard disk as a memory cache. It’s what’s known as “disk swapping”. A typical example might be multi-tasking, switching from one application window to another. If you’ve run out of RAM, the OS will park the minimised application in part or whole on the hard disk. Switch back and there’s a huge lag as the operating system retrieves that application and sticks the other one onto the hard drive. Hence the ‘swapping’.

What about games?

In theory, once a game is up and running, you’re golden. The loading might be delayed by limited memory but once space has been freed up by dumping application states onto the hard drive, you’re good to go, yeah? And the vast majority of games will fit inside 8GB comfortably, right?

Firstly, I don’t much like that approach even if all of the above is accurate. I’m a computing slob and prefer to keep my system ‘up’ and never close things unless I’m completely done with them. A quick snapshot of my Task Manager right now reveals a 10GB overall footprint. Mostly because I have, measured courtesy of a damp finger thrust ceilingwards, roughly 120 browser tabs open in about 10 windows. And Photoshop with a load of preposterously high res PR images for an article that was due last week. And a bunch of other stuff. This is normal, isn’t it?

All completely normal, nothing to see here…

Now, I currently have 12GB of RAM (creaking old LGA1366 rig on account of breaking my LGA2011, I’m afraid). Thus if I fire a game up without first closing a load of windows, something has to give. A quick look at Witcher III in Task Manager reveals an additional 2.5GB footprint and The Wild Hunt isn’t a particularly demanding game, memory wise.

But even if the game does fit inside the available memory, you want some spare capacity to allow for everything from background processes to the adjustments in footprint that the game itself might make. Anytime you breach the memory barrier and start disk swapping, things are going to get very choppy indeed. With games that stream worlds and new levels on the fly as opposed to traditional level loading, that could be very painful.

Windows memory management

Things get more complicated when you factor in how Windows manages memory. There’s physical memory space, virtual memory space, memory usage, cached memory, pools and paged pools. I really don’t want to get too distracted by the nuances here but the short version that simplifies things to the point where accuracy is lost but my word count doesn’t get completely out of control goes something like this.

There’s an amount of physical memory an app or game needs to run. That’s the amount you’ll see allocated specifically to the application in Task Manager. But Windows has the option of caching further application data given sufficient memory space. That forms part of the generic ‘cached’ memory amount, again as shown in Task Manager.

Put simply, the more Windows can cache in RAM, the less frequent the disk access and the faster your PC will feel, generally speaking. Exactly how relevant this is to precisely which games isn’t something I know in detail.

Can you afford not to?

The point I’m making here, I should emphasise, does not depend on running exotic mods with games like Skyrim and generating an 8GB footprint with that alone. It doesn’t even depend on the fact that recent titles like Star Wars Battlefront have hefty minimum official requirements for 8GB of memory.

Likewise, we could argue the toss with my contrived multitasking examples. Some will say they don’t get near my 10GB, day to day, and anyway, just close some of those bloody Chrome tabs. Which is all fine. But here’s the kicker. At one of the more obvious reference points, namely www.crucial.com, the difference between a dirt cheap 8GB DDR3 kit and a dirt cheap 16GB kit is about $40 / £35. The gap is about the same for fancier kits, it’s just the baseline is a bit higher. So I put it to you. Can you afford not to run 16GB of RAM?

Is Star Wars Battlefront’s minimum 8GB official requirement the shape of things to come?

Of course, memory is also the kind of component you can reuse. The slight snag with that is the ongoing transition from DDR3 memory to DDR4 for Intel’s new Skylake CPUs and indeed AMD’s upcoming Zen chips. But worse case scenario, that’s an extra 40 bucks twice. Thus, to me this is a no-brainer. The jump up to 32GB, incidentally, is financially more onerous, especially in dual-stick form, and the rewards even less clear cut.

Why speed doesn’t matter

But hang on, I haven’t mentioned memory speed or detailed specification. Frequencies, CAS latencies, that kind of thing. That’s because it mostly doesn’t matter. The two C’s of compatibility and capacity are king. That’s been true in recent years even for overclocking. In the old days, overclocking a CPU via the system bus could depend at least to an extent on your memory having a little headroom, too. These days, with multiplier and dividers, it’s either a total non issue (an unlocked CPU) or probably a non issue (the latest Intel Skylake CPUs tweaked via the baseclock).

I grant there’s a degree of nuance I’m glossing over with the latest Skylake chips, something I may look at in future if there’s sufficient interest. But broadly, memory speed as opposed to capacity is usually a minor issue with modern CPUs and platforms.

Ultimately, then, my argument hinges on the pricing aspect. Keep your applications in trim and 8GB will be plenty for most games, most of the time. Thus, if 16GB cost hundreds more than 8GB, I’d be much more circumspect. But it doesn’t. So I’m not.

Put yet another way, surely $40 / £35 is a price worth paying to be able to just run as much crap as you want, when you want, to jump in and out of games on a whim?

I’ll answer that for you. It is. Well worth it. So bag 16GB of compatible memory. And get gaming.

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161 Comments

  1. vorador says:

    Currently you can get by with 8 Gb easily for games, so double that for futureproofing. 32 Gb is way too mucho for home use.

    Speed doesn’t matter much anymore with modern memory controllers. Modern test between slowest and fastest kits show around a 5% of difference at most. Better to invest the extra cash on the GPU or a faster CPU. By the way the newer Skylake processors uses DDR4 that is currently quite pricey, so prepare some extra funds.

    Oh, and for the love of God make sure your OS is 64 bit. Otherwise you’re just wasting your money.

    • Sakkura says:

      Modern games can benefit from faster memory with performance improvements of 50% or more. Even more so with Skylake CPUs, where the new memory controller helps extract more performance from faster memory speeds.

      • fish99 says:

        If you’re talking about within the same ram type, i.e. DDR3, you’re not going to see 50% framerate improvement in games. And if you’re talking about different generation of ram, i.e. DDR2 vs DDR3, it’s not a fair comparison because the CPU and mobo chipset won’t be the same.

        • Sakkura says:

          That’s exactly what you see in Fallout 4, and other games are also seeing significant performance differences with Skylake CPUs (less so with older CPUs).

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Got any benchmarks to support this claim? Because honestly everything I read when building a new PC recently was that the speed of RAM is an insignificant upgrade and not worth it.
            Not to mention that to use faster RAM beyond a certain point you actually have to fiddle about with your base clock which is a pain in the ass and means you are also fiddling with your CPU speeds.

          • PenguinJim says:

            It’s true. I was very surprised to see the big differences in some of last year’s benchmarks, but memory speed can have a huge impact in some games. For example: link to youtube.com (Digital Foundry).

            Which is why I came to read this article! I was hoping to see more memory speed benchmarks. Sadly, this article is just a rehash of “conventional wisdom” which is sadly out of date based on recent benchies. Bad Jeremy Laird! Bad!

          • PenguinJim says:

            Oh, here are the Fallout 4 benchies: link to techspot.com

            Eye-opening.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            That is absurdly interesting.

            The bummer is that i was finding it progressively easier and easier to just let my 2600k die of old age, and after this it definitely is getting harder.

            I really need to wait for Skylake-E and DDR4 to be fully mature, then i’ll absolutely go all out with the cheapest 8 core offering and the fastest ram possible.

            Hopefully by that time the architecture and the process node will be developed enough that it won’t be hard to get 4.5 ghz on 8 cores without going over 1.250 volts even with an average sample.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Right, I’ll get right on that high-end RAM as soon as I get my hands on a TITAN.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            That’s literally one benchmark that keeps getting linked, where they admit that they had problems getting the RAM to work properly, compared to the countless others that show ram speed giving tiny framerate increases though. It’s also entirely based on DDR3 so those who are buying a new PC now and are looking at DDR4, well this is of zero interest to them.

          • PenguinJim says:

            “That’s literally one benchmark that keeps getting linked…”

            Are you talking about that link to the Fallout 4 benchmarks that I added RIGHT UNDER THE OTHER LINK TO BENCHMARKS ACROSS FIVE OTHER AAA GAMES?

            It’s two links to six different games being benchmarked. Far Cry 4, AC: Unity, Witcher 3, Ryse, Crysis 3, and the one game you bothered to look at and have decided is not a real benchmark despite apparently not running any tests yourself, Fallout 4.

            The Digital Foundry link also runs extra tests in a variety of configurations to show that it is memory speed having an impact, focusing on DDR4 but with additional tests on DDR3. What issue do you have with their testing methodology?

          • AceTheSpaceCase says:

            Unfortunately all of the benchmarks you linked are flawed as they don’t have a large enough sample size and/or are using core i3’s in the test bench, and in the case of the fallout 4 benchmark admitted that there was an issue with the bios making the ram revert back to 1333 with unspecified timings. Take a look at Anandtech’s Memory bench done with all the same brand memory and proper testing methodology.

            link to anandtech.com

    • klink-mit-panzerslip says:

      “Speed doesn’t matter much anymore with modern memory controllers. Modern test between slowest and fastest kits show around a 5% of difference at most.”

      True if you compare same generation of memory module.
      But it quite different between generations. And it looks like they’ll continue to often change memory modules types/controllers.

    • Boozebeard says:

      Why are you just saying stuff that’s in the article?

    • cairbre says:

      Thank you for this article

    • raiders says:

      “32 Gb is way too mucho for home use.”

      I beg your pardon. I use my home system as a complete entertainment center. You name it and its plugged into it. 32GB is a godsend. One word for ya: LAGLESS!

      I’m laughing at Jeremy because he thinks 12GB usage is something out of the norm. When he reaches 21.5GB usage, he can come talk to me. We’re running Kodi movies, random continuous VLC videos, ultra hd games, and watching (or listening depending on how you look at it) streaming news&sports websites on a regular basis; not to mention the ROKU plugin.

      16GB is okay if you’re not a multi-tasker, but I say this. Get a solid 32GB set, mid-high range CPU, high-end GFX card, fast hhd/ssd, and a vetted psu. Run’em at stock, don’t overclock a darn thing, and see if the performance doesn’t go beyond what you’ve read here.

      Alt+Tab feels like turning on & off your kitchen faucet.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        Do you really go through life with the assumption that all of the things you do are common or “notmal?”

        I think Jeremy’s less wrong with his generalizations than you are with yours.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        …And all that is “normal” home PC usage, is it?

      • Nereus says:

        You’re doing something wrong then, because I can’t imagine why all that would require that much RAM unless you’re talking about 5-6 1080p+ movies simultaneously and even then your VRAM should be handling some of that.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        I hate to shit on your biscuits, but you’re doing sum ting wong if you’re struggling with less than 20gb. My aging 2008 Mac Pro with 12GB of DDR2 coped easily with all of these processes, with 5 lads living together all connected to my machine and streaming movies, transferring files etc, all the while I was perfectly able to play games on it with no issues (yes, I ran Windows on Boot Camp). To be quite honest the only reason I even stopped using it was because it was getting expensive and complicated to have to flash every GPU I bought in order to get the Mac OS to read it. Also I wasn’t using Kodi, because it’s shite.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Interesting personal experience related to RAM usage here. I recently had a memory leak issue where after a long enough period of use my 16gb machine would be showing 99-100% memory usage and would slow down to an unusable crawl. It was all due to my network drivers, which had issues with the latest Windows update, after updating the drivers, my memory usage even whilst running a dozen plus browser tabs, 2-3 videos streaming and running a couple of games gets to around 10 gig usage at the most. It was an issue I’ve never encountered before so people should definitely make sure this sort of thing isn’t happening to them before deciding “I need more RAM”, it might not be the case, it might just be bad drivers filling up your memory with redundant crap.

      • thelastpointer says:

        In a unique and fascinating comment, raider shares his marvelous advice that invalidates all hardware articles of the dark past:

        “buy the best shit.”

        Thank you for sharing what are undoubtedly the most useful words of wisdom for this immature age, all the while running multiple Kodi movies, random videos and “ultra hd” games at the same time.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        You either have an extremely fast kitchen faucet or a really slow computer.

      • AceTheSpaceCase says:

        If you need more than 16GB to do that there is almost definitely something eating up system resources.

        And before you start getting all indignant, I do more or less the same crap as you but throw in photo editing and video editing and the only time I break past 40% usage is when I am video editing.

        • bananana says:

          Yes, there is something using up my resources. It’s me. I routinely have 50+ browser tabs open (had to switch from Firefox to Waterfox because Windows FF is still 32-bit; WF typically occupies 5-6 GB after loading all my tabs; seems Chrome is much faster and has a lower overhead), while watching videos and playing games. There’s also the size of my media library, which IMO isn’t even that large (a bit over 100k tracks, a few thousand video files) which in the years past has made some media players basically unusable thanks to their, shall we say, suboptimal library code. 32 GB is too much but 16 wasn’t enough.

    • Grimmtooth says:

      Actually, @vorador, 32-bit systems won’t be able to access over 3GB of RAM, at least on Win, so yes, for the love of all that is good and wholesome, make sure you’re using a 64-bit OS if you want to use anything over 3GB of RAM.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Ehhhhh, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Non-server versions of Windows might be stuck at 3GB, but it depends on things like the amount of VRAM you have. Server versions of windows have been able to use more than 4GB for a while, but each process only gets 4GB.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Also worth noting is the artificial maximum memory limit between Windows editions. Even if you’re using the 64-bit version:
        —–
        Windows Vista and 7 Home Basic – 8GB Max. <—- Note!
        Windows Vista and 7 Home Premium – 16GB Max. <—- Note!
        —–
        Windows Vista Ultimate – 128GB.
        Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate – 192GB.
        Windows 8 – 128GB
        Windows 10 Home – 128GB.
        Windows 10 Pro – 2TB.
        —–
        Don't be cheap with the OS if you refuse to upgrade beyond Windows 7.

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      I wish I had 32 GB of RAM, but then again I’m routinely working with huge (25k x 25k) images right now.

  2. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I went with 16 GB (Corsair Vengeance) as RAM is cheap. You can always load background applications. I suspect 8 GB is enough for most games. Plus the usual ~2 GB of dedicated GPU RAM that store the graphic stuff.
    Non 64-bit-only games seem to manage with 4 GB minus operating system anyway.

    The RAM came as a kit for dual-channel but I’m not quite sure it actually makes a measurable difference.

    As you say speed and latency stuff doesn’t matter much, money is better spent on a ssd asap.

    • Tacroy says:

      32 bit games literally cannot conceive of more than 4 GB of RAM, unless they start pulling silly PAE tricks.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        You can also set up the extra space as a RAM drive, and then put your swapfile on it. I think that still counts as “silly tricks,” though.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          I was told the other day about doing that in linux, with the wrinkle that you compress the RAM drive.
          So, due to the compression you can end up fitting more data in memory, with a relatively small cost in higher CPU usage. It’s an interesting idea but I think you’d have to test it with a specific workload.

  3. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I imagine that today’s ridiculously fast SSD’s also reduce the impact of swapping to virtual memory.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Reduces it but doesn’t make it unnoticeable, at least on AHCI, maybe with NVME standard whioch gets rid of the sata bottleneck.

      • Sakkura says:

        NVMe doesn’t get rid of the SATA bottleneck.

        NVMe is an upgrade over AHCI. PCIe is an upgrade over SATA. To get rid of the SATA bottleneck you need PCIe, either via a regular PCIe slot or via eg. M.2 (which also offers SATA, by the way).

        • gunny1993 says:

          Can you even get NVME on Sata? I know it’s on some sata express but I though NVME meant you had to have PCIe or M.2

          Anyway you’re right, NVME+Pcie might reduce the impact of swapping to virtual memory.

          • Sakkura says:

            No, you’re right, NVMe does require PCIe (the name appropriately hints at that). It’s just that it’s not NVMe that gets rid of the SATA bottleneck, it’s PCIe. NVMe instead gets rid of the AHCI bottleneck, which can still apply to PCIe SSDs.

            For example, the Samsung SM951 is a PCIe SSD that plugs into an M.2 slot. It comes in two versions, one that supports NVMe and one that only supports AHCI.

            (the more commonly available Samsung 950 Pro is essentially just a polished NVMe-capable SM951)

          • gunny1993 says:

            Ahhh, kewl I just bundled the two separate things into one in my mind for some reason.

    • Malarious says:

      Not at all. SSDs are an order of magnitude faster than HDDs, but RAM is still significantly faster than paging out to an SSD. See this: link to gist.github.com

    • JonWood says:

      Even on an SSD your looking at 150us compared to read a block, compared 10ns from RAM.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      SSDs are still an order of magnitude slower than DRAM, even modern PCI-e, NVME based SSDs.

      You’ll have to wait for 3D-Xpoint to even approach the speed of DRAM in a storage medium and even then; DRAM is still the fastest.

  4. Tacroy says:

    One thing to keep in mind when putting the RAM in is that many motherboards have “banks” of RAM, which the system can access independently of each other.

    This means that if data is spread evenly across banks A and B, you can read that data twice as fast as if it was all on bank A.

    Generally your motherboard’s manual will tell you how many banks it has, and which slots map to which banks.

    In my case, for instance, I have 12 GB of RAM across three banks, with a 4 GB stick in each bank.

    Tl;dr: RTFM and make sure your RAM is spread evenly across banks.

  5. Person of Interest says:

    I’ve upgraded from 8GB to 16GB so I can be lazy with my browser tabs. It’s a constant source of little rewards: as if I have a giant $40 / £35 bag of candy by my desk, and I eat a piece every time I start a game without first closing some of my background tasks.

  6. C0llic says:

    I think 16 gb is a good idea for the cost to performance benefit. Its an even easier choice if you also use your PC for anything other than gaming. Applications like photoshop will really benefit from the ram.

    • JonWood says:

      Once you get out of using a computer for nothing but games just throw as much memory in the thing as you can afford, and your motherboard will support. I do software development for a living and my idle memory usage during the work day sits at around 8GB.

      • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

        You ought to try making music on your PC. Open a few synths, add some samples, and blimey. Don’t even talk to me about reverb.

  7. Zenicetus says:

    There is at least one “game” (if you consider flight sims) where 32 gigs of RAM are a good idea, and that’s X-Plane if you’re using certain scenery settings and 3rd party scenery.

    There is a set of free HD terrain mesh for most parts of the world by alpilotx that you’ll want 16 gigs for. There are also UHD terrain sets for smaller areas in ultra high detail like the Alps and some USA mountain and canyon areas, and these hit RAM even harder, especially if you’re also using X-Plane’s extended DSF feature for visibility in the distance. You can get into territory here where you’ll probably want 32 gigs to avoid stutters while flying.

    I’m happy with 16 gigs, but if things keep moving in that direction in X-Plane I might upgrade to 32. Note that these are optional features, and 16 gigs is fine otherwise.

  8. Sakkura says:

    I’m sorry, but this article is really not good.

    Most people will do JUST FINE with 8GB of RAM. You could argue for people buying a new system to just get 16GB, as memory requirements do increase gradually over time. But there’s no reason to urge people with 8GB to upgrade. Not for gaming, anyway.

    And you’re flat wrong about memory speeds not mattering. Fallout 4, for example, benefits very noticeably from faster memory.

    link to techspot.com

    • gunny1993 says:

      That looks like an outlier, the people even writing the article are surprised. Also possibly an issue with Intel and that game

      “from memory I don’t recall it having anything like that kind of impact on gaming performance. Interestingly the same variation in memory speeds had little impact on the AMD FX-8350’s performance, as the processor was just 13% faster with the quicker memory.”

      • DanMan says:

        It depends on the game. Most devs probably try to use the system RAM for as little performance-crucial things as possible.

        The most important part is that faster RAM can help increasing the minimum framerate, in general.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Which is the only framerate that matters anyway, so yeah!

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Author of the linked article was perplexed though and blames it on the coding so it’s rather unusual from his experience. Also 1333Mhz and 2400Mhz is a rather large margin.

    • pepperfez says:

      That article also mentions that this is the first game where they’ve encountered that sort of difference, so it’s not really disproving that speed usually doesn’t matter.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      You didn’t read the post properly. Di you spot the bit where I said, “8GB will be plenty for most games, most of the time”, for instance?

      Have a closer look at that and the rest of it. Then consider how many games get a tangible boost from higher frequencies. Then come back if you still have significant as opposed to hair-splitting issues with the thrust of the post and I’ll be happy to discuss them!

      • Sakkura says:

        You did say people should consider upgrading if they have less than 16GB. Literally in the TLDR for people who might not read all the small print.

    • fish99 says:

      I dunno, I can think of a few games where I’ve read about people having stuttering issues that were fixed by upgrading from 8GB to either 12 or 16, for instance Arkham City, ARK Survival Evolved, Dying Light, Dead Rising 3, Just Cause 3, DA:I etc.

      • ooshp says:

        A “suitably” modded Kerbal uses over 10gb. You have to make sacrifices on content or graphics mods to run on 8.

    • Person of Interest says:

      “Flat wrong” must be shorthand for “Almost entirely correct, although I must point out that a second-rate tech site once tested a with buggy BIOS and found that, on this one application, running the memory 40% below the minimum spec (they tested at 1333Mz, and it’s impossible to even purchase DDR4 memory rated less than 2166MHz), memory speed was a factor.”

      • Person of Interest says:

        Oops, I misread: they were testing a 4770k, not 6770k. Still, DDR3 memory costs the same whether it’s 1333MHz or 1600MHz, and they were comparing “bugged BIOS resetting to minimum speed” against the memory’s XMP profile, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the BIOS issue was also retarding memory timings to a fail-safe speed as well, or doing something else to hurt performance more than you’d normally see when using slower memory.

        • Sakkura says:

          Bugged BIOS? What the heck are you talking about? It’s a setting. A setting that works fine.

          • Person of Interest says:

            I’m referring to the first sentence in the article you linked:

            When benchmarking the Intel Haswell processors, the memory speed in the BIOS kept reverting back to 1333MHz (was an issue with the BIOS which has now been fixed)

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        It was DDR3 they were using tbh. So normal rated DDR3 vs high end DDR3.

  9. kimded says:

    Interesting read. Last upgrade I went for 32Gb, and probably will again when I next have enough for an upgrade (looking at the new Intels), but my rig has dual duty of being for gaming and graphics work so that extra oomph is useful.

  10. Duke Flipside says:

    My PC has 32GB of RAM; one time I even managed to reach 60% usage.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Some applications have memory leaks which eat everything. Windows Update (Win7/XP) comes to mind.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Yep, my network drivers developed a memory leak after a Windows 10 update. It just filled my memory to the point of stuttering so badly it was unusable. Updating the drivers solved the issue.

  11. Jokerme says:

    If you are only gaming, 16GB is enough. Unless you do video editing and rendering of big files more than 32GB is not necessary in any case. Unless, of course, you are using next gen applications like Chrome. If so, then invest in 128GB of RAM. I’m sure you’ll need it in a year or so.

    • zarthrag says:

      I laughed so hard at this!

      Chrome really has turned into google’s “OS in a browser”. Even now, it’s taking up 650MB of 16GB, across FIFTEEN background processes and two foreground ones. No other process comes close, not even my CAD applications.

      • Premium User Badge

        yhancik says:

        Each tab, extension and other bits (like Flash or GPU stuff) have their own process just to avoid that an issue with one of those crashes everything. I don’t know how much it adds in terms of memory usage (my smallest opened tab right now uses 1.5MB, while the biggest – Facebook – takes over 200MB!), but there’s a good reason behind it ;)

        • zarthrag says:

          Yup. But in the end, I don’t mind. I don’t close applications. I run 16GB and can game and stream video to other pcs in the house, without closing my 10+ tabs or heavier applications. It’s everything I’ve wanted from an OS 10 years ago but could never get.

          • trashbat says:

            As hinted at in other comments, it doesn’t really matter how much memory it hogs – only what happens when something else comes asking for resource.

            When you’ve nothing going on but browsing in Chrome, it might as well sprawl itself over the entire RAM, because that’s the most performant way for it to behave. What matters is that as soon as you switch to a game it throws its hands up and surrenders it all again ASAP, shrieking ‘shred everything!’ (and without a load of paging)

  12. klink-mit-panzerslip says:

    How much the author of the article knows about RAM and computers in general?

    About percentage of memory usage:

    First, the notion of full memory is not usable. In theory, you want your RAM to be always full. It means it is properly used: that cache is properly used.
    It is not because your memory is 100% used that it’ll swap. That will happen only it is 100% of active memory.

    So all these tests about percentage of memory usage amount to nothing.

    The only real valid test is the swap usage. If you swap (use hard disk, obviously must slower than RAM, for memory), it’s wrong, you dont have enough for what you do. Add more RAM.

    About memory speed:

    The author says memory speed does not matter. How so? When a program needs to put data in memory, the amount the memory can read/write at once clearly determines how well, fast and smoothly it’ll go. Clearly, if you use gigantics textures on a 3d app, obviously, the faster it gets in memory and the faster it goes on display.
    Bandwidth is clearly a true matter.

    Relationship between the memory size and bandwidth:

    The author recommends to care about the size and not to care about the bandwidth. Funny.
    Would he suggest filling a 4 Tb disk with (A)ATA-1?
    What’s the point of a big massive memory if it takes days to read from it and write to it?

    I repeat myself, unless you swap, capacity is a non-issue. Bandwidth can easily be one, whatever your capacity.

    • DanMan says:

      The tricky part is keeping an eye on both the frequency and the latencies. The benefits of higher frequency can easily be nullified, if the latencies are raised just as much.

    • Person of Interest says:

      Everything in your comment is completely wrong.

      1. In a desktop OS, all the memory unclaimed by running programs is used as cache. If you are looking at a memory consumption graph that is not at 100%, it’s because the graph is not including cache in the figure, because what use is a graph that reports 100% all the time? (Or you recently rebooted, or just closed a memory-hungry application, or had recently written some large files to disk.)

      2. Swap usage check is not sufficient. Applications can change their memory consumption pattern depending on how much free memory the OS reports.

      3. Your memory speed assertion is completely made up and contradicted by most benchmarks. Most applications don’t spend the majority of their time idly waiting for memory.

      4. The ATA disk analogy is the flimsiest strawman of the lot. Do you even believe what you are saying?

      • klink-mit-panzerslip says:

        “Everything in your comment is completely wrong.”

        Great.

        “1. In a desktop OS, all the memory unclaimed by running programs is used as cache. If you are looking at a memory consumption graph that is not at 100%, it’s because the graph is not including cache in the figure, because what use is a graph that reports 100% all the time? (Or you recently rebooted, or just closed a memory-hungry application, or had recently written some large files to disk.)”

        If the tool you are using is not making difference between active, cached, buffered and free, then you are using shit tool.
        What are you saying, that 100% usage is meaningless? Yes it is.
        If you are using a proper tool, it’ll tell you what actually is active.
        And if you use a useful tool, it’ll tell you what is the swap i/o.

        “2. Swap usage check is not sufficient. Applications can change their memory consumption pattern depending on how much free memory the OS reports.”

        And that’s good. If the apps adapt and avoid any swapping, then you have no real reason to consider more RAM. If they cannot do without, it would swap.

        “3. Your memory speed assertion is completely made up and contradicted by most benchmarks. Most applications don’t spend the majority of their time idly waiting for memory.”

        What benchmark do you need to understand that capacity relates to the bandwith? How the fact that apps dont wait idle for memory proves anything?

        “4. The ATA disk analogy is the flimsiest strawman of the lot. Do you even believe what you are saying?”

        Is that supposed to be another argument. Why do you even number your sentences if it’s not part of an actual development?

    • sweenish says:

      This should be revisited after taking a few more classes.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      “The author says memory speed does not matter. How so?”
      Because, aside from a *very* small number of anomalies, memory speed makes no discernable difference in real-world applications. Given that faster memory can be considerably more expensive, it simply isn’t worth it most of the time.

      • klink-mit-panzerslip says:

        I’m sure you’ll easily notice how memory speed “makes discernable difference in real-world applications” if you compare some pre-DDR RAM to DDR5.

        But maybe you were comparing only exactly same generation modules with same generation controllers? But then, yeah, sure, who cares.

        Nonetheless, it’s worth having a box that can handle the latest type of controllers and modules, whatever the exact frequency.

        • namelessclone says:

          There is no such thing as DDR5, there is only GDDR5 which is basically a derivative of DDR3.
          And of course, any comparison is valid only within the same generation. Nobody (including the author of the article) suggested otherwise.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          “But maybe you were comparing only exactly same generation modules with same generation controllers”
          Of course I was – because that’s the comparison important to somebody buying ram.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      “The author says memory speed does not matter. How so? When a program needs to put data in memory, the amount the memory can read/write at once clearly determines how well, fast and smoothly it’ll go.”

      No, because there are other factors that determine how fast those operations can be performed. Your RAM is only a bottleneck in VERY specific applications. Benchmarks have shown this time and time again, especially in relation to games, faster RAM gives tiny performance upgrades, maybe 1fps or something. The issue isn’t “is faster RAM faster?”, the issue is “is faster RAM worth the extra money?”, for 99% of people it is not, use that money instead on other components which will increase performance by far more.

      • PenguinJim says:

        “The issue isn’t “is faster RAM faster?”, the issue is “is faster RAM worth the extra money?”, for 99% of people it is not, use that money instead on other components which will increase performance by far more.”

        link to pcpartpicker.com

        DDR3-1600 $60
        DDR3-1866 $65
        DDR3-2100 $72
        DDR3-2400 $72

        A $12 difference. It’s 2% of the cost of a $600 PC, and makes a serious difference in some games, like Ryse and Fallout 4.

        What $12 component are you talking about that would make a bigger difference in a PC?

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Still need some more evidence other than one article that even had the writers of that article baffled that it makes a big difference anywhere tbh. For that price though admittedly I wouldn’t see any harm on buying the faster stuff. For DDR4 the difference between 2400 and 3200 is a bit of a wider gap price wise (although I don’t get that website at all, look at the 3200MHz Corsair Vengeance memory, 2 seemingly identical sticks of it, 1 is $110, one is $155, so that’s maybe not the best indication of overall price tbh, seems like some oddly discounted stuff going on there).

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Also it’s easy to say, well it’s only 30 bucks, but anyone who’s done a build knows you end up saying that about 8 times when deciding what parts to buy, it adds up to a significant amount and being careful with your budget probably means at the end of it you can go up another notch on your graphics card. Worthless faster RAM is certainly one area to look at saving money in (yes I’m calling it worthless because I still haven’t seen any convincing evidence that it makes one bit of difference).

          • Person of Interest says:

            As PenguinJim mentions upthread, Eurogamer Digital Foundry saw a noticeable drop in performance (see their “Core i3 6100” review) when they underclocked their DDR4 2666MHz memory to 2133MHz, and the same for the i3-4130 when underclocking their DDR3 2133MHz memory to 1600MHz. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Digital Foundry’s conclusions contradict most other sites’ (see AnandTech’s “Memory Scaling on Haswell” article for example) but Digital Foundry seems pretty fastidious so I can accept the results.

            However, when they report that Ryse FPS drops 60% when memory speed is lowered by only 25%, you know something’s not right, because the math doesn’t add up. It’s gotta be either a problem in their methodology or test platform, or a software/firmware bug. It would be great if Crytek could get in touch with DF and figure out what’s gone wrong.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            It could still makes sense if that 25% helped surpassing some bottleneck, in that case you’d be looking at +60% unhinged performance vs bottlenecked one.

            It would make even more sense if clocking further didn’t add that much, only single digits, as the most serious bottleneck is already surpassed.

          • PenguinJim says:

            “Also it’s easy to say, well it’s only 30 bucks”

            12 bucks. I just told you it was 12 bucks and provided the link and prices. Why did it suddenly increase by 150%?

            “Still need some more evidence other than one article that even had the writers of that article baffled that it makes a big difference anywhere tbh.”

            I linked you to two different reputable sources that happened to come up in the results of a simple Google search and benched across six AAA games with the smallest memory-speed-related frame-rate improvement being 7%. Plenty of other results come up. If you are genuinely interested, I recommend taking a looksee using your favorite internet search engine, as it’s quite surprising, and making my old DDR3-1333 feel awfully inadequate (not that I’ll bother upgrading personally). But I notice now that you mention you overlooked faster memory in your “recent build”, so perhaps you are more interested in justifying your purchase rather than discussing the genuine gaming benefits (and actual prices) of faster memory?

          • klink-mit-panzerslip says:

            “Still need some more evidence other than one article that even had the writers of that article baffled that it makes a big difference anywhere tbh”

            I dont think anyone should take seriously an article making graphs about percentage of usage of RAM. I think I already pointed out how wrong it is since normal usage should be 100%.
            So whatever the writers of this article are baffled about.
            For Fo4, on my boxes, I can clearly tell a massive difference of fluidity on the one with DDR4 than on the more or less comparable setup with DDR3.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            @Penguin
            I was talking about DDR4, which is where people looking at buying a new PC will likely be looking. If you’d read my comment properly you’d have seen this. The difference between 2400Mhz and 3200Mhz RAM was £30 (about $50), when I built my PC a couple of months ago.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Again, to both of you, my recent purchase was DDR4, those articles all mention DDR3, there are countless other articles with benchmarks showing 1-5% FPS increases with faster RAM so what makes those 2 “reputable” articles more important than the dozens showing RAM speed makes very little difference?

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            And yes, I DID google this plenty when building my new PC whilst deciding whether to buy 2400MHz or spending an extra £30 on 3200MHz, the results were pretty much unanimous, that extra RAM speed gives tiny performance upgrades.

  13. DanMan says:

    TL;DR first! Yay! No more scrolling! Save the mouse wheels!

    *cough*
    *grabs coat and leaves*

  14. amateurviking says:

    Went from 4gb to 12gb last year (didn’t want to throw out the old 2x2gb sticks), definitely a noticeable improvement. At some point I’ll switch the 2×2 for a 2×4 but certainly don’t feel any pressure to at the moment. The alternative is a ddr4 build but that means a lot of simultaneous updates and that’s going to get pricey.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      Ah, you’re my memory-upgrade-twin!

      It feels.. slightly more comfortable, but the difference was barely noticeable compared to installing my OS on a SSD the year before ;)

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I did the same a few years ago and noticed a huge difference on Battlefield 3, the difference being me joining the round 1 minute into it or being there at the start. Very noticeable tbh. Depends on the applications you use and the games you play though.

  15. Hobbes says:

    32GB RAM. I find that sufficient. Then again, I’m a great believer in the phrase “There’s no kill like overkill”.

  16. OmNomNom says:

    If you have spare memory (i.e you have more than 12GB) a good use for it is a memory based disk cache.
    Samsung Magician (or other SSD related memory caches) are great but you generally need to own an SSD as well.
    Primocache (google it) works with or without SSDs and can really speed up your disk performance. It can also use SSD and memory in combination to speed up an existing HDD.

    • JonWood says:

      Your operating system already uses spare RAM for caching, and is probably much smarter about it than some third party software with a fraction of the information your OS has on actual file access patterns.

      • OmNomNom says:

        Yes, I realise Superfetch etc exist but having a reserved dedicated memory cache does definitely speed up the drive noticeably (in synthetic benchmarks and otherwise).
        Feel free to try it yourself.

  17. DevilishEggs says:

    Did someone say detotated wam? I’ve been wondering how much I should have for a server.

  18. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    Went from 8 to 16GB recently and did notice good improvement on loading times, both for games and other stuff (e.g. building dev projects in Visual Studio).

  19. machineageproductions says:

    I haven’t read the article, but I have ideas about what it says. Based on those ideas, I have very strong opinions about how what it says is wrong. I can, however, dump a page or so of jargon that kind of makes me look like I know what I’m talking about to someone that doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

    Faced with glaringly easy quotes from the article which clearly demonstrate that I didn’t read it, I’m made very angry and defensive, and will double down on my assertions instead of realising that the thing I’m critiquing is largely rather milquetoast.

    But this is all worth demonstrating that RPS is objectively wrong and should feel bad for making pretty benign but educated and experienced observations.

    • Earl-Grey says:

      I did in fact not read your comment.
      But I have a very strong conviction that everyone else on the Internet is wrong and in need of my guidance.

      Based on that I will say that you have no idea what you are talking about because you did not consider the barely relevant fringe example I am about to reference.

      Also I am sure your jargon is laughably amateurish compared to mine.

      And I am convinced that your idea of normal usage is pathetic.

      To sum thing up, you probably have poopy pants.

  20. DrMcCoy says:

    I only have 4GB (2x2GB) of RAM, and I really feel it. It’s pretty bad. :/

    Unfortunately, I’m not really flush with money right now. If anybody still has spare DDR2 (yes, DDR2) sticks they’d like to gift me…

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I do. But only 1gb sticks. :(

      I was going to make a mini Starbound server or something in linux… never got around to it. Suddenly started using linux again. So may get a chance to try it.

    • fabronaut says:

      you’re in a rough spot there. nowadays, DDR2 sticks tend to be worth quite a bit of money, given that they aren’t as widely available.

      in a lot of cases, it seems that people get replacement sticks from dumpster diving / salvage. larger capacities (even around 2 GB / stick and up) are MUCH harder to find, since they used to cost a mint!

      best to pinch pennies for your next upgrade :3 or cross your fingers on a donation! good luck

  21. sandineyes says:

    My two-cents (although my information may be outdated):

    Something that I was surprised to learn and seems to not be very well known is that, at least when it comes to DDR3, is adding more memory to a current setup carries some risks.

    If you want a certain capacity of memory, buy a single kit of that amount. The tech forums of the world are crowded enough as it is with people finding out that if you combine two kits of memory, even if they are the same product, they may not work at their rated speeds/timings together.

    This seems to be because very small differences in the performance of the memory sticks can screw things up. Kits of memory are tested together to ensure that they will hit their target speeds/timings, so the safest way to buy memory is to buy a single kit of the number of modules you want.

    Other tips: when trying to get the best value in terms of price and performance, going up a step in speed is better than going down a step in CAS latency.
    Also, many people forget to enable Intel eXtreme Memory Profiles (XMP) in their BIOS. The speeds and timings marketed on memory kits are often beyond JEDEC standards, and require overclocking to achieve. XMP makes this a very simple process, although I believe you will need to manually overclock the memory to match the specs if you are using an AMD chipset.

    • sandineyes says:

      Also, with the rise of HBM upon us, it seems that graphics cards with large amounts of…well, high-bandwidth memory may soon be commonplace. This would suggest in situations where graphics memory is predominantly used, as in video games, the amount of necessary system RAM will be less.

      Then again, just as work expands to fill the amount of hours you need before you can go home, and my waist expands to fill each new pair of pants (if only that worked in reverse), I’m betting that video game designers will quickly make use of any increase in the average amount of available high-speed memory.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Well we are already seeing some games demanding 6+ gb of VRam for ultra settings, most current graphics cards don’t have that much so I’d personally say it’s the opposite, the hardware is increasing in capacity to meet the demand. That’s before we factor in the onset of true 4k textures which will hammer that even further.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          So I’m sure developers are going to have to find creative ways to offload as much as possible into the system memory.

  22. malkav11 says:

    I genuinely thought 16 GB was already standard in new PCs and was confused when people got up in arms over it being suggested that Arkham Knight might do well with 12. Myself I think I’m going to bump up to 32GB of DDR4 once my tax return comes in, to go with the new motherboard and Skylake i5 I will be picking up. (It’s been several years since I last upgraded my motherboard and CPU, so I’m splurging a little now on the perhaps erroneous assumption that that will last me through this console generation at the very least.)

    • Don Reba says:

      To be honest, I have trouble believing anyone could have a decent experience using their computer with less than 64GB RAM doing anything more than running a screensaver.

      • Cederic says:

        Screensavers take more sodding RAM and CPU than almost any other application I run.

  23. Premium User Badge

    InfamousPotato says:

    Great article! Very informative. I do, however, have a particularly stupid question about RAM for all you more technical RPSers out there. Right now, I have 8 GB of RAM. If I upgrade to 16 GB, will that make my PC run hotter? Y’see, I built my first pc about a week ago, and since it was my first time building a PC and I don’t plan on overclocking, I decided to use the stock cooler (also, the idea of applying thermal paste terrifies me, so that was a factor). If I add more RAM, do I have to worry about my PC overheating unless I also upgrade its cooling system?

    • Person of Interest says:

      When I upgraded from 8GB to 16GB, my PC’s idle power consumption increased by a couple of watts. Memory doesn’t produce much heat: if it did, you would always see it sold with large heatsinks and fans. But most memory modules come with a just passive heatspreader, and even that is largely cosmetic.

      So no, you don’t have to worry about your PC overheating due to a RAM upgrade.

      Congratulations on completing your first PC build!

  24. Raoul Duke says:

    Guys, please fix your login system, it’s incredibly tiresome having to login every single time I visit (i.e., daily).

    Now, about this article.

    First, it overlooks that Windows intelligently manages memory. You can’t just look at task manager, see that RAM is “70% full” and treat that like you are “30% away” from hitting the swap file. Windows does all kinds of stuff in the background which can use RAM, but won’t necessarily do so depending on available resources.

    Second, what is the deal with all you people and keeping 900 browser tabs open? I find it staggering that any serious PC gamer plays games with anything open in the background. Maybe I’ve been around too long, but even in Windows 10 I make sure to prevent all those little bastard taskbar programs from automatically starting and close anything remotely heavy (i.e., browsers with 900 tabs open) before gaming. Apart from RAM issues, all those web pages with all their crappy javascript and flash plugins and so on will use at least some of your CPU cycles.

    Third, consoles. Thanks to consoles holding us back by several generations, there are virtually no cross-platform games requiring more than a couple of gigs of RAM, and very few PC-centric games requiring more than 4 or so.

    tl;dr anyone with a properly configured system and 8 gigs of RAM would be pouring money down the drain upgrading unless they want to play something very specific that needs craploads of RAM (DCS is one of the only games I’m aware of that actually needs that kind of space to run well).

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Oh, and about RAM speed. There’s RAM speed and then there’s RAM speed. Really slow, crappy RAM can cost you a couple of FPS in some games. Up at the pointy end, there are diminishing returns. You also need a motherboard/bus/CPU capable of actually taking advantage of fast RAM.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Yeah agreed. Don’t get the cheap nasty stuff, just buy the standard spec RAM, a decent well know brand like Corsair or Kingston etc, and you will get your best price/performance point, 1600Mhz for DDR3, 2400 MHz for DDR4 seems to be that point currently.
        Splashing out on Corsair Dominator or G.Skill Ripjaws, mega expensive RAM might seem like a good idea because “I want the best stuff”, but real world it will make very little difference to anything but your wallet.

        • fabronaut says:

          the only time I’ve seen reviews indicate that RAM speed is actually important when speccing a new PC build is with AMD APU platforms.

          I think it has something to do with the higher clockspeed on the RAM being very useful when using the on-die graphics chip (integrated APU graphics). Pretty sure that applies if also using those more exotic “hybrid” AMD solutions which somehow pool the memory of the APU and AMD branded graphics card?

          If using a standard CPU + graphics card setup, I assume it doesn’t really matter either way. Which is the conclusion of the article :3

    • malkav11 says:

      Sure, you could close everything that runs in the background, over and over, and never multitask. And if your system is aging and you can’t afford to upgrade it, that’ll stretch your performance a bit more, maybe make sure you can run some newer stuff than you would otherwise. But it’s much more convenient to just leave that stuff running unless there’s a specific conflict, and for most games these days it makes zero difference as long as you have a bit of extra RAM floating around. Given how cheap RAM is (even DDR4 is <$100 for a 16GB kit), it's an easily purchased convenience, too.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Who, apart from possibly people writing for a site like this, needs to ‘multitask’ while playing a computer game?

        Then again, I don’t get people who have so many tabs open in their browser, either. The internet isn’t going to disappear. You don’t have to keep it all open at once or risk losing it. All you need is some short term memory (in your brain) and the ability to type.

        You can always set Firefox (and I assume Chrome) to just open the same tabs you had open next time you open it, anyway.

        • malkav11 says:

          You can, yes. You overestimate the degree to which this feature will successfully replicate what you had open and to what point on the page, particularly when you have a lot of tabs open. And multitasking isn’t about need, it’s about convenience. Though it is rather nice to be able to go back to music and/or podcast apps during some games, particularly repetitive ones like ARPGs. And those things are definite memory hogs.

          Again, memory is extremely cheap and the price difference between having room to leave stuff running in the background and having to close it all whenever one games is one of the smallest financial outlays in computing.

        • thelastpointer says:

          I frequently mute games’ music and play a youtube playlist in the background. Alt+tabbing to check a walktrhough or wiki is helpful too.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          Seriously? When I’m gaming, I tab out to respond to chat beeps, I tab out to read about more something interesting a character said, I take a snack break and tab out to find something to read while I eat my sammich, in crafting/survival games I tab out to consult or update my spreadsheet of useful data. Sometimes I tab out because the Transformers theme song popped into my head and I can’t remember the name of the guy who voice-acted Optimus Prime.

          Obviously I don’t want to close the game, re-open various programs, do stuff, close all the programs and re-open the game every time I do any of those things. So I multitask. That’s kind of the point of having a PC instead of a console.

          (It’s Peter Cullen, BTW)

          • Raoul Duke says:

            Well, it obviously works for you, but that sounds like a perfectly ghastly way to game to me – sort of like watching a movie while constantly looking up trivia and checking text messages on your phone. I’d rather game when I’m gaming, and read other stuff when I’m doing that.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            And Frank Welker was Megatron! Boom, knew that from memory……..yeah it’s a bit sad that I knew that but whatever.
            Exactly though, I’m constantly tabbing out when I play games, several tabs open, Youtube running on my second screen etc. Sometimes I feel like a short break from the game, it’s much quicker to just pause it and tab out for a bit than close the game and go through all the splash screens and menu each time.

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      Not only does the article not overlook this, Raoul. It discusses it.

      Please read the article!

      • Raoul Duke says:

        I did read it. No need to get snippy. It doesn’t really cover what I’m referring to, namely Windows pre-loading files into memory that you haven’t specifically sought to open (including from applications and system services that you are not actually running) which it does adaptively depending on how much memory you have free.

        You refer in passing to caching, but my point (which you do not make that I can see) is that this feature has the effect that Windows will tend to fill up however much empty RAM is available. So you might end up with an identical user experience in a machine with 8 gigs and a machine with 16 gigs, even though the latter will show itself as having less than 50% of its memory free.

        This then flows on to the issue of things being unloaded from RAM. Windows will unload this background material (which it doesn’t need to put on a swap disk) before it swaps the data needed by your game.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Incidentally, based on your example of your browser pushing you over 10 gigs, switching to Firefox would get you the equivalent of a free RAM upgrade…

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Have you tried clearing your browser cache? That fixed my login problems. Otherwise, if you use addons that block ads and scripts, there might be some page you need to let through.

      • Premium User Badge

        Serrit says:

        Also make sure you’re accessing RPS via the https url. Logging in now always redirects to the site over https, and thus your session cookie will save against the https url. If you then come back the next day via the http url, you won’t have your session cookie there and thus will appear logged out (until you switch back over to the https url).

  25. Grimmtooth says:

    In this day, 16GB is the bare minimum for all but the lightest of usage, especially if you’re a gamer. I’m running an i5 system w/16G memory and SSD (m.2 gumstick drive) boot drive, and it’s AWESOME. The 16G makes a HUGE difference in this configuration.

    One benefit not mentioned is that once you get to 16G, you can just turn off virtual memory on your Win box. You don’t need it, and it’s useless overhead on the system that is better spent elsewhere. Feeling uneasy? Go 32G and sleep easy at night. It’s pretty cheap, considering.

    So count this as one huge bloc of votes for the 16G or bust camp.

  26. Urthman says:

    I’m disappointed that “How Much Memory Do You Need For Games?” isn’t an article about trying to remember what I was up to in Skyrim when I come back to it after a nine-month break.

    • Catchcart says:

      Well, how many brain bytes does ‘fetch quest’ take up? :-) But I hear ya. I wish I had all the games that are currently ‘on pause’ hibernating somewhere in the back of my brain, with the ability to recall story, context and mechanics at the push of a button.

    • Neurotic says:

      The No. 1 reason for 99% of unfinished games in my collection!

  27. Neurotic says:

    Speaking as someone who upgraded from 8 to 16 Gb recently, I can confirm that there is a clearly visible improvement in the smoothness of my games and general desktop activity with the extra RAM (W7 x64). Demanding games like EQ Landmark and Minecraft with 80,000 mods running (thanks, my kids!), heavy simultaneous Chrome-Office-iTunes use — everything runs slicker than hammered owl snot now. (Thanks, reasonably-priced Kingston DDR3!).

  28. Tinotoin says:

    I have had 6GB since I built my rig a while back – however, not wanting to mix RAM, and my RAM being discontinued, I’m confused as to what to buy to complement what I’ve already got.

    link to corsair.com

    Or should I just buy a new set of sticks entirely?

    • Jp1138 says:

      My PC being an old i920, I had 3x2GB for a total of 6GB, I don´t know if that is your case. I needed more memory and bought a 3x4GB kit, to fill all my 6 slots. It turns out that new memory didn´t like the old one, so I had to sell my old 6GB and keep my new 12GB. So I would recomend you to buy a kit with an amount of memory you feel confortable with and try to combine with your old one. In case it works, good for you. If it doesn´t, at least sell it or use it on an older pc if possible.

      • Tinotoin says:

        Spooky, mine is an i7 920 too!

        Yeah I think I’ll buy a 3x4GB kit and see if my old RAM wants to play nice – if not then I’ll maybe keep it as spare or flog it.

        Cheers for confirming what I’d quasi-thought :)

        Out of interest, what RAM did you have, and what did you replace it with?

        • Jp1138 says:

          This was my old memory:

          6 GB RAM DDR3 (3x2GB) Mushkin Radioactive 1600mhz 7-8-7-20 1,65v.

          This my new one:

          12GB 3x4GB Ripjaws DDR3 1600 PC3-12800

  29. Premium User Badge

    Herring says:

    My own experience; 8 is acceptable and 16 is a good idea if you’re playing games ‘as is’.

    However, if you do stuff ‘around’ core gaming then 32 can be helpful (which is how I went).

    Some stuff that it’s useful for;

    Modded games
    Niche games : Some more detailed games can have their back-end simulations ratcheted up to silly levels.
    Content creation : Going to mod games, create models, whatever? More ram is good.
    Virtualisation: Need a dedicated server running at a LAN or to run some older games in XP or something? It eats ram.

    And that’s just for pure gaming.

  30. Solidstate89 says:

    I went whole-hog when I built my new computer back when Haswell came out and just got 32GB of RAM. Have I ever used that much before? Nope, never reached 100%. But I do know that I can have about a half dozen high-memory usage applications going at the same time and still not hit the page file even once.

    It’s that kind of overkill that gives a real peace of mind.

  31. Niente says:

    I bought a new PC last year which has 16GB and it’s noticeably more pleasant to use on a daily basis than my previous 8GB machine. I have loads of tabs open all the time and new games run beautifully although the i7 4790K and GTX 980 probably help with that.

  32. thelastpointer says:

    I’d easily give two John Walker articles for one Jeremy Laird article.

  33. racccoon says:

    Twas a Good read.
    One misunderstood point I must say is many people tend to forget, your original C: hard drive, this must have adequate free space. Example: if you have a 500gig hard drive and you do not have 120 gig of free space this will cause your computer to run like a *****
    so always maintain a safe free space, I like to keep at least 150 gig free of my 500gig hd. This is a true problem many people tend to forget & often wonder why they have shitbox running comp. lol

  34. namelessclone says:

    One thing the article didn’t cover is whether having memory in dual/triple/quad-channel configuration provides noticeable benefits in gaming.

    For me it’s an academic question, as I run 16Gb in quad-channel on a motherboard that actually supports it, but still would be interesting to know.

    • Premium User Badge

      alms says:

      Basically? no.

      Anyone who claims marginal increases in memory bandwidth are worth having even though the increases in cost are not just as marginal is full of shit.

      IOW capacity trumps speed as long as you can buy twice as much memory for less than twice as much moeny.

  35. headless97 says:

    Actually, you don’t get to decide what is “worth it” for me. Different people have different budgets and different needs. $40 may not be much for you but it is for me. Some people, including PCGamer, think that $350 for a GPU is a “budget card.” In my book, that’s high end. Some people can throw $60 at a game sight unseen and be okay. I question whether $7 is really worth it when there are hundreds of other games in my library I could play until the price gets lower.

    Yes, getting a PC is expensive, but be smart about it and you can cut your costs significantly. Having 16GB of RAM is nice, but you can upgrade to that later, if you need it. I’ve been going with 8 for a long time and it’s served me well. Frankly the two biggest upgrades I’ve made to my computer are an SSD and a second monitor. They make all the difference in the world for speed and productivity, respectively. Having 16GB will make a difference, yes, but not enough to stand at a podium and say that you need 16GB for gaming or general computing.

    And having hundreds of tabs open is not normal in my experience. I’ve never seen anyone do that.

    • Cederic says:

      “And having hundreds of tabs open is not normal in my experience. I’ve never seen anyone do that.”

      I have. Nobody competent though – they’ve all been disorganised, inefficient and typically complain about how crap their computer is.

      An SSD is definitely a priority over upgrading from 8 to 16GB of RAM. A second monitor only seems to make sense for non-gaming use – if you can’t afford 16GB of RAM then you’re going to be struggling to run a game across both monitors.

      But you’re right, the additional 8GB of RAM needs to be prioritised and considered along with all other computing needs. Not everybody can afford to drop $4k on a computer every fourteen months.

    • Premium User Badge

      alms says:

      Anyone who claims a $350 card is “budget” is full of shit and not worth reading or following.

      That is regardless of how many Chrome fucking tabs you are used to keep open (in my case, too many, and 8 gigs, yeah)

  36. PenguinJim says:

    “If you’d read my comment properly you’d have seen this. The difference between 2400Mhz and 3200Mhz RAM was £30 (about $50), when I built my PC a couple of months ago.”

    Actually, as the benchmarks to which I’d linked you emphasised the difference between DDR4-2133 and 2666 to show the big performance gains, it did cross my mind that you were talking about DDR4. But then I saw that the price between 16GB of DDR4-2133 and 16GB of DDR4-2666 was $10 – even less than the DDR3 gap. ( link to pcpartpicker.com – still $10 difference today)

    So I very nicely gave you the benefit of the doubt, and tried to reduce your mistake by assuming you were talking about DDR3, thereby only exaggerating by 150% rather than 200%.

    Where did you get the idea we were talking about DDR4-3200? Which links or benchmarks were referenced where DDR4-3200 showed itself to be necessary? I can’t seem to see it, for some reason.

    For me, personally, I’d say the DDR4-2800 for an extra $10 over the DDR4-2666 would probably be worth the extra, considering the benchmarks we’ve been seeing over the past year, but I could see why one would stick with DDR4-2666.

    “…there are countless other articles with benchmarks showing 1-5% FPS increases with faster RAM so what makes those 2 “reputable” articles more important than the dozens showing RAM speed makes very little difference?”

    That’s interesting. Are those benchmarks for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, The Witcher 3, Ryse, Crysis 3, Battlefield 4 or Fallout 4, perchance? Got the links?

    Or is it all games from 2014 or older for which we’ve already established that memory speed does not have a big impact?

  37. loki1944 says:

    Got 3xDDR3 1600Mhz desktops and 1xDDR4 2400Mhz desktop. When equipped with the same gpu the performance difference is not noticeable if there is one. I do like more than 16GB of RAM for my main rig for use as a RAMDISK though. Shaves a few seconds off loading vs SSD.

  38. Tomn says:

    My current gaming rig has 2G of RAM. Also I purchased it back in 2007 or thereabouts.

    That’s normal, right?

    (I am not in any way joking)