There are a lot of factors that drive the performance of your system while gaming. The best gaming experiences come from good GPUs paired with comparable CPUs and are supported by a solid RAM setup.
Obviously, with more RAM you’ll have better performance overall, but not every gamer has the budget for 64GB of RAM. Those gamers are left asking the question: how much RAM is really necessary for gaming? Can you game with only 4GB, or do you need at least 8GB, maybe 12GB of RAM?
12GB is enough RAM for running most games, and even enough to run another application or two in the background. It comes down to the game you’re playing; heavy-duty games with dense graphics generally require more RAM than esports titles and indie games. 12GB RAM is enough for both, but some heavier games might have trouble running smoothly on 12GB.
In the end, 12GB of RAM will be enough for most games, with the differences primarily being the type of game and the type of RAM you have. In this article, I’ll discuss those differences in detail to help you understand how much RAM you’ll need.
Let’s get into it.
Each game comes with its own system requirements, which generally demand a minimum of 4GB of RAM. Some games, however, are larger and require more information to be stored at a given time than smaller games. These games can have a minimum RAM requirement of 8GB, or even 16GB for really dense games.
In this section, I’ll break it down into two categories: light gaming RAM needs versus heavy gaming RAM needs. Think about what kind of games you like playing most and compare that against the information below to help you get the best amount of RAM for your rig.
How Much RAM for Light Gaming?
Light gaming generally refers to indie games and esports titles, since these games don’t require a whole lot of computational power to run. Games like Overwatch or Undertale have a minimum RAM requirement of 4GB/3GB respectively.
Something to keep in mind is that while you might have 4GB of RAM installed, your system uses 1-2GB of that just to run your OS. So, you’ll want to have 8GB of RAM for maximum performance.
You can get by with 4GB of RAM, but you’ll run into issues like lagging or screen tearing, which ruins the gaming experience. Also keep in mind that your GPU has its own RAM, called VRAM, which is separate from your system RAM. Often, this can help give you the RAM boost you need to play graphics-heavy games.
How Much RAM for Heavy Gaming?
Heavy gaming refers to games like GTA V and The Witcher 3, which have larger minimum RAM requirements due to the vast environments your computer needs to generate and maintain. With the additional information needing to be processed every moment, you need the RAM capacity to store it all if you hope to avoid lag.
For instance, the minimum RAM requirements for GTA V and The Witcher 3 are 8GB/6GB respectively; as you can see, this is about double what light games require. You’ll still need RAM to run your OS and any other applications you have in the background, so it’s recommended to have around 8GB-16GB for heavy gaming.
Having a surplus of RAM is certainly the most apparent way to increase your system’s performance, but some gamers don’t have the budget for that. In this case, it helps to know the different kinds of RAM that will help you squeeze the most power out of the least amount of RAM.
Single-sided and double-sided RAM refers to the design of the RAM stick. As you can probably guess, single-sided RAM has the memory chips on only one side of the stick. Conversely, double-sided RAM has the chips on both sides.
Ultimately, there isn’t a performance difference between the two on their own. However, with double-sided RAM sticks, you can get more storage on each one and, with single-rank and dual-channel interfaces, you can increase the speed and bandwidth of the memory.
Single-rank and dual-rank RAM refer to the layout of the memory chips on the sticks. With single-rank, the chips are arranged in only one row per usable side, which results in a faster cycle since it only needs to go around once to get the information.
Dual-rank RAM is generally a bit slower since the chips are arranged in two rows, which means the cycle takes twice as long to complete. However, with a dual-channel configuration and a dual-rank interface, you can double the bandwidth of your RAM.
Also, with dual-rank RAM you can have more storage on each side, since there are two rows of memory chips. These are generally a little more expensive, but can help you maximize storage if you only have two RAM slots.
Channel configuration is where the real performance differences come into play. Single-channel RAM is only able to access one 64-bit memory bus at a time, resulting in a lower bandwidth than dual-channel.
Dual-channel RAM takes advantage of two 64-bit memory busses at the same time, which allows you to access twice as much information and, with a dual-rank interface, twice as fast. For gaming purposes, you can get by with 8GB RAM if they are both dual-rank and dual-channel.
It’s important to note, though, that some games might need more than just the 8GB of RAM, regardless of how fast it’s able to process. This usually happens for games that have complex, rich environments that require more RAM storage to store all that information at one time.
This results in the RAM being overburdened with information and, despite the speed at which it can access and store memory, it won’t have enough space to hold all the information at the same time.
In the end, 12GB of RAM will get you through most games, perhaps excluding the most demanding titles on the market. You have to keep in mind how much RAM your system uses on its own, without actively running any applications. To be able to run the game you want, your system needs to have enough RAM for both your OS, background applications, and the game at any given time.
Is 4GB RAM Enough for Gaming?
Theoretically, 4GB of RAM could be enough for very small, undemanding games. Windows 10 requires 1-2GB RAM to operate, so that would leave you with only 2-3GB for gaming, assuming you don’t have anything running in the background that needs sufficient RAM. It’s best to play safe and get 8GB of RAM, even if you only play small games.
Is 12GB RAM Enough for Warzone?
Warzone requires at least 8GB of RAM and recommends you have at least 12GB to run on max settings. You can squeeze by with 8GB of RAM if your system is well-equipped with a solid CPU and GPU. However, you may still run into lag issues, so 12GB would be the better option, and 16GB would be the best amount of RAM to have.
How Much RAM Do I Need for GTA V?
GTA V is a little less demanding than Warzone and requires at least 4GB of RAM, but recommends at least 8GB. Since your OS will need 1-2GB to operate, you should have at least 8GB of RAM installed to run the game smoothly. You’ll also want at least 2GB VRAM in your GPU, with the density of this game environment.
How Much RAM Do I Need to Play FPS Games?
While the requirements for every game can vary, most first-person shooters will play just fine on 8GB of RAM. However, having at least 12GB or, even better, 16GB of RAM will give you the advantage of high fps and less lag, which can improve your performance as well as your system’s. More RAM is better, but beyond 16GB the improvements are harder to distinguish.