How Does RAM Improve Performance When Gaming?

Gaming pc with RAM in it

Having a good set of RAM is essential if you want to have a smooth gaming experience, but a common question that always gets asked when buying a set of RAM is what does it do for gaming?, how much do I need, and how fast should it be.

I have seen these questions time and time again, so I decided to do some research on how RAM affects gaming and this is what I found.

RAM can slightly improve performance when gaming. The faster and more RAM a computer has the better your pc will perform in a game. Additionally, it is possible to have too much RAM, which won’t ruin performance but won’t improve performance either.

Therefore RAM can and will benefit your pc when gaming, but their are a few things to keep in mind when buying RAM, so you don’t waste your money, and it’s important to understand these things to get the best performance benefit.

Can RAM Increase Your FPS?

We have already come to the decision that RAM can increase your FPS.

RAM can increase your FPS and will help your pc run faster, however, most of the time the performance increase isn’t noticeable to a normal person, and the benefits are only noticeable on paper.

That’s why a lot of the time it is recommended to buy less RAM that is slower in order to save your money, so you can spend that money on a higher quality graphics card or CPU.

How Much RAM do You Need for Gaming?

Every game and every program on your computer requires a certain amount of RAM and depending on how powerful a program is the more RAM it will need to use. With that said a program will only use as much RAM as it needs so if you have more RAM the program needs the excess memory will not be used.

8GB of RAM is considered the minimum amount in order to play games. As games become more powerful it is recommended to have 16GB of RAM to get the maximum performance out of most modern games. Anything more than 16GB is considered too much and will not benefit your game.

Pile of RAM showing that you can have a multiple RAM sticks

Most people who have over the recommended 16GB either use their pc for something other than gaming, or they decided to build an overkill pc. Even though having 32GB or even 64GB of RAM may sound cool, it will not benefit your computer’s performance when gaming.

However, it is also good to have extra RAM memory to spare to allow your computer to run extra programs in the background like Discord, or Spotify without hurting your game’s performance.

That’s why 16GB of DDR4 RAM is the sweet spot. Most modern-day games use anywhere from 8GB to 12GB of RAM in order to run at maximum efficiency, and having that extra 4-8GB will allow your computer OS, Google, and any background applications to run smoothly while you play the game.

How Fast Should Your RAM Speed be for Gaming?

Everyone knows that the faster a pc part is the more FPS and better performance you will get, but that’s different when it comes to buying RAM.

If you’re stuck between buying more RAM or faster RAM, in most cases buying more RAM will be the better choice because if a game needs to use more RAM than your computer has. Then, this will result in a huge performance drop.

Here’s an example. If you had 8GB of 4133MHz RAM, but your game needs at least 12GB of RAM, the speed won’t matter because you don’t have enough space in your RAM, and the temporary game data will be sent to your hard drive.

Ram sticks

This is something you don’t want to happen because a computer hard drive can’t store data as fast as your RAM does. Even a lower-end RAM stick can outperform a hard drive or SSD when it comes to speed.

On the other hand, if you had 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, and your game requires at least 12GB of RAM, your performance will increase and your game will run smoothly. Even though 2133MHz RAM is slower than 4133MHz, you will have more space which will make your performance more stable even if you aren’t getting the fastest speeds.

Another thing to consider is that RAM speeds really aren’t that different and aren’t that noticeable to your average gamer. So, if you’re on a tight budget it would be a better decision to buy 16GB of a slower speed of RAM and use the money saved to buy a better graphics card or CPU if you want the best performance benefit.

The reason for this is because a slightly faster graphics card will improve your computer’s performance way better than a slightly faster stick of RAM.

How Does Dual Channel Mode Work?

Having your RAM in dual channel mode can be very beneficial to your computers performance.

The reason for this is because when RAM is in dual channel mode it can move data twice as fast because it has two channels to transfer data. When RAM is in the single-channel mode it can only transfer data through one path which can slow your computer down and lower the FPS.

In some cases, dual channel mode can increase your performance by as much as 40%, which is stated and shown in this video.

However, in most cases, dual-channel mode will increase your computer’s performance by an average of 17%. This is due to your RAM splitting up the tasks with each other.

If this still doesn’t make too much sense, you can think of dual-channel mode as a highway. The more lanes on a highway the less traffic there is, so if you’re only using a single channel, that would be equivalent to having only one road. On the other hand, if you were using dual-channel mode, that would be like having two lanes on a highway, which will result in less traffic allow the cars or data to move faster.

In order to set up dual-channel mode on your pc, you should check your motherboard manual to see what dim slots work together in dual channel mode.

In most motherboards, dual-channel mode is activated when the RAM sticks are placed in alternate dim slots. Because of this many newer pc builders make the mistake of installing the RAM right next to each other, which will only allow your RAM to work in single-channel mode decreasing your performance.

Then again, most modern motherboards will give you a warning on the first startup if your RAM is not in dual channel mode.

How Much Should You Pay for RAM?

It can easy to let your guard down when you’re greeted with a bunch of awesome specs, styles, and RGB while shopping for RAM. But don’t be fooled, a lot of the stuff you’re paying for is just for the aesthetic, and if you’re one to like a cool-looking pc then by all means go for it, but it can also come at a hefty price.

The reason for high-end RAM being more expensive is not because of the performance benefit but is actually for the RGB and styles.

If you are just looking for the average prices of what you should spend on RAM, then here is a table with some research I did, showing what you should pay for what you get.

RAM TypeSpeed (MHz)Storage/CapacityPrice Range
DDR4213316GB$80 – $100
DDR421338GB$40 – $60
DDR4300016GB$80 – $100
DDR430008GB$40 – $60
DDR4320016GB$90 – $120
DDR432008GB$50 – $70
DDR4360016GB$90 – $130
DDR436008GB$60 – $80
DDR4386616GB$140 -$160
DDR438668GB$70 – $90
DDR4413316GB$150 – $170
DDR441338GB$70 – $100

As you can see, as the RAM speed goes up the price goes up as well. If you were to buy 8GB of DDR4 4133 RAM, that would be the equivalent of buying 16GB of DDR4 2133 RAM. If you are on a budget, buying the slower speed 16GB RAM will save you about $100, which you can use towards a better CPU or graphics card.

Conclusion

RAM can increase your performance and FPS when gaming on your computer, however, the performance benefit isn’t that noticeable, and instead, you should buy slower RAM and use that money to upgrade another part to your pc.

Things to keep in mind

  • Having extra RAM will not increase performance, it will only sit there and not be used.
  • Faster RAM will improve performance, but it is not that noticeable to most people.
  • Dual-channel mode can increase your performance and FPS by around 17% and you can do this by placing your dims in alternate dim slots.
  • You don’t need the best RAM, use that money to upgrade something else.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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