Most blogs on building your gaming rig place plenty of emphasis on finding the right components to ensure the best experience. What does RAM do for gaming, and is more always better? Learn how to make the right choice to ensure you get the most value for your money.

What Is Random Access Memory (RAM)?

RAM refers to the volatile memory your computer requires for proper and normal operation. In addition, the volatility comes from its storage of short-term data that is lost when the PC lacks power. In contrast, your hard drive can keep data indefinitely or until the user decides to delete it.

If you want to run any program on your computer, your PC will load temporary data onto the RAM. Once here, your computer can quickly access the data when executing tasks related to the program. In addition, your computer can access data from your RAM sticks much faster (read as literal orders of magnitude quicker) than your hard drive. Consequently, your PC can run games and programs more responsively.

Furthermore, even the most powerful Solid State Drive (SSD) still significantly lags behind RAM speed. Therefore, to understand the role of system RAM in playing games, we need to clarify two crucial terminologies related to the technology. After all, these aspects will determine whether you can gain performance advantages for your gaming computer.

1. RAM Speed

The RAM clock speed measures the duration between when the component gets a request from the computer processor and when it either reads or writes data. Since your PC's processor is pretty fast, your operations will run efficiently with faster RAM if it can access data at a comparable speed to its requests. After all, different components can communicate information between themselves at a quick rate.

We measure RAM's clock speed in Megahertz (MHz), which is in millions of clock cycles of operations each second. Still, the bus speed of the motherboard and processor speed will determine the maximum RAM clock speed you can get. Thus, your choice in the other components will affect your gaming PC build.

2. RAM Capacity

Ram capacity is the maximum space available on the stick, and it is measured in GBs. Of course, more storage means you can copy plenty of game data which is crucial if you are playing modern titles or online games. So, how much RAM do I need for gaming?

About 8GB of RAM is the minimum for a casual PC gaming setup. More RAM is necessary if you are interested in running other programs in the background like streaming, recording, and editing videos. On the other hand, gaming PCs with 16GB of RAM are pretty future-proof and reliable when playing modern games while juggling media-related tasks.

How Does RAM Affect Gaming?

As stated above, extra RAM in terms of speed and capacity means better performance for most gamers and video editors. But what does RAM do for gaming? Should it be a priority buy when building gaming PCs at any budget?

Have you ever downloaded a particular game only for it to tell you it won't run on your computer because of little RAM? On the other hand, you may experience sluggish frame rates or lags in response times if you have low RAM. Your gaming PC lacks sufficient RAM to store and quickly retrieve the necessary game data for smooth gameplay in these two situations.

Nevertheless, you can focus on improving your Video RAM (vRAM) to enhance your gaming experience by sending graphics to a 4K display. If you want to play certain games at the highest resolutions, ensure you have a powerful CPU and graphics card with sufficient dedicated memory.

How Much RAM Do I Need for Gaming and How Do I Buy the Right One?

Buying RAM involves balancing speed and capacity. In addition, gaming today requires high-rated clock cycles and the trend in processor support, where newer chips can cater to DDR4 and above RAM specs, showcases the necessity for speed. Nevertheless, it helps to confer with benchmarks for the specific titles you want to play to ensure you can experience improved performance.

Moreover, boosting RAM speed and capacity will help PC games run smoothly to a certain limit. Therefore, a better GPU will yield the most noticeable frame rate and general performance results. Still, you can invest in extra RAM, play your favorite titles, have your computer boot faster and even have intensive programs run simultaneously in the background. The following considerations are essential to figuring out the amount of RAM you need for gaming and how you can ensure you buy the right one.

a). Is it Compatible with Your Gaming PC Motherboard?

The compatibilities of the motherboard and system RAM play a significant role in the choices you make when building a gaming rig. Thus, before you delve into how much RAM you'll need, check the specs your motherboard supports. This step can help save you time when picking the right one.

1. RAM Capacity

Some motherboards, especially older or budget models, can only support 32GB of memory. Nevertheless, more capacity means running multiple programs simultaneously without causing a system lag. Plus, less memory is disadvantageous for recent games.

2. RAM Speed

Typically, most motherboards feature backward compatibility for the kinds of RAM speeds they support. Consequently, you can install faster memory on a budget or an older motherboard. Afterward, you do not have to purchase more RAM sticks for future upgrades.

3. Module Types

If you are in the market for RAM, you have noticed the Double Data Rate or DDR designations on the available memory sticks. These technologies represent different clock cycles where a higher number, for instance, DDR4, are newer and faster. You can physically check your motherboard and check the notch placement of the RAM slots to figure out the compatibility.

Unfortunately, different DDR designations cannot run simultaneously on the same computer. Thus, people upgrading their RAM should figure out which one is already installed before purchasing. After all, the pin count, timings and voltage for DDR4 and DDR3 sticks differ.

Furthermore, since DDR3 types are pretty old, they can be challenging to find. Although they offer sensible cost savings and the compatible motherboard are pretty affordable. Alternatively, DDR4 offers the best performance enhancements if you are interested in playing modern titles. Plus, since it is a fairly recent technology, you can potentially future-proof your rig with the right investment.

4. Form Factor and Clearance

Desktop and laptop RAM differ in name and size. The larger ones are called dual in-line memory modules or DIMMs, while small outline dual in-line memory modules (SO-DIMMs) have the form factor necessary to fit in laptops. Ensure you check your motherboard and whether it is an all-in-one model designed for one or the other.

Furthermore, you need to ensure enough space between each RAM stick, especially if they come with their heat sinks. Additionally, the extra accessories can render some slots unusable if they cover them. Therefore, the height of the RAM modules is not restrictive.

b). How to Install

If upgrading your gaming rig, check how many slots are currently available on your motherboard for new RAM. After all, you can purchase these components in sets that typically include two or four sticks. If you are trying to boost your laptop, ensure your current stick is not permanently soldered onto the motherboard, as some models do not allow for upgrades.

When building your PC from scratch, try to leave RAM slots open for future upgrades. In addition, the dual-channel memory feature can boost your bandwidth. However, the installation is simple since this is automatically available on motherboards with two DIMM slots.

Alternatively, check the color-coded slots if you have four or more to figure out the right way to install them symmetrically to access the dual-channel memory feature. Again, the user guide can help you out, or you can follow along with a decent tutorial. You should also avoid mixing different RAM technologies on your rig, as the different specifications mean they may not work together.

e). Memory Timings

RAM will typically have a delay between receiving a request and executing it. Admittedly, this factor is one of the most confusing considerations to make when buying RAM. However, if you intend to overclock your system, you may need to do your homework on memory timings.

f). How Will You Keep it Cool?

Effective PC cooling ensures better gaming performance | marcoverch

Image Source: Flickr.com

As mentioned above, the form factor determines the space between components installed on the motherboard. Once you figure out how much RAM you will need for gaming, ensure that the heat sinks have space to breathe. Since these components don't typically run hot unless overclocked, adequate airflow will be sufficient.

How to Boost Your Gaming Performance

a). Overclocking the RAM

This overclocking in RAM terminology refers to modifying certain parameters like the voltage and timings. This process helps improve the component's operating speed beyond its out-of-the-box capabilities. However, Overclocking can cause potential risks to your RAM's longevity, stability, performance, and security. Thus, you need to know what you are doing since you will void any warranties for the RAM you bought.

b). Focus on GPU and vRAM

An advanced GPU will offer you a higher performance upgrade when compared to investing in more RAM. Also, If you want to play PC games on UHD, QHD or 4K displays, you need to look for a GPU with plenty of vRAM. A maximum of 8GB of vRAM will give you optimum results for such uses since most games require 6-8GB of memory. Still, you can get away with using 4GB, but do not expect to play the latest titles coming out in the next couple of years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the effect of RAM on Game Performance

1. What will more RAM do for gaming?

Since the component stores data temporarily, higher capacity RAM with quicker read/write times will offer improved game performance. For instance, most gamers may notice an increase in frame rate, and the game will play more smoothly and reduce loading durations. However, if the specific game you want to play requires 8GB of RAM, upgrading to 16GB will not have noticeable effects on the gaming experience. However, you can improve your computer's ability to run other programs while playing games.

2. Do you need 16GB of RAM for gaming?

If you want to be an active participant in the modern gaming community, 16GB of RAM can let you play modern titles. In addition, you can stream, record and do some video editing without sacrificing the game's enjoyability. Plus, you will not be stuck on loading screens for too long, and your gaming PC wil be future-proof.

3. How does RAM affect gaming?

Understanding RAM specs like capacity and speed illustrate the necessity of more RAM for gaming, but only to a certain limit. For starters, more temporary storage capacity means your processor can access more data which lets you enjoy higher frame rates and a smoother experience in some instances. On the other hand, faster RAM speeds mean your processor can access data quicker, resulting in a noticeable increase in frame rates. Still, vRAM and the quality of your graphics card have a more significant effect on the gaming experiences.

4. Is 32GB RAM good for gaming?

Admittedly, you do not need that much RAM for gaming unless you plan to multitask on your system. It would be best to avoid RAM overkill as higher capacity, and speedy ones are pretty expensive. Besides, focussing on the GPU and the available vRAM is more rewarding.

                                                                                                                  Featured Image Source: overclockpc.org

About the Author Jack

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