If you have been a gaming enthusiast for a long time now, you probably know how the whole gaming industry has evolved, with games becoming more and more advanced in terms of features, technologies, and all other aspects. This automatically creates the need for hardware to advance at an equal pace.
When it comes to the necessary hardware for gaming, it was only about graphics cards and processors a few years ago, but, not anymore. Today, if you wish for your computer or laptop to be a decent gaming machine, if not advanced, enabling you to play the best and latest games, you should also look into the RAM size of the machine in addition to its GPU and processor capabilities.
Random Access Memory, or RAM, is basically a short-term storage component that stores all the information your computer requires to access for a temporary duration of time. When you open an application or program on your PC or laptop, your operating system will store that information in the RAM, which will be cleared out after you shut down the system. Simply put, without the right size RAM, you will not be able to use a lot of different programs on your computer at one time, because the whole system will slow down significantly.
The Role of RAM in Gaming
As mentioned, whenever you open a program, a game, in this case, your computer requires a reliable component to move several temporary files within a short period of time, and RAM is what enables the system to do it quickly. Also, RAM provides easy and fast access to those data, faster than the time it would otherwise take for your computer to retrieve the same data from the primary storage disk. Of course, the solid-state drive (SSD) or hard drive (HDD) will typically hold all your game-related data; but, it wouldn’t work really well if your system had to pull out the necessary information every single time you run a game. However, with the help of RAM, this gets much easier and your games will load much quicker.
When you use a computer with low RAM for gaming, you will face issues like poor performance and uneven frame rates, because your computer will not be able to store all the data it requires to run the game properly. In fact, in many cases, this can also prevent your games from running at all. And with games getting more and more advanced in all possible aspects, including their audio and graphics, the average game today is bigger than before, thus requiring more memory for smooth running. Therefore, if you do not have sufficient RAM space on your device, your hard drive will become the primary storage space for file transfers conducted by your system, and this, in turn, can lead to poor frame rates and much slower performance.
How Much RAM Do You Need for Gaming?
So, how much RAM do you really need for gaming? Will the usual 4 GB RAM you find on most budget-friendly laptops be enough to play your favorite games? Or will you need much more than that? Maybe even 32 GB?
First of all, you should understand that the RAM size requirements vary depending on the game title you wish to play and also the format of the game. When it comes to a game’s format, your options typically include virtual reality, action, and adventure, sports, simulators, etc. Therefore, whether you are upgrading your system’s RAM or buying a new gaming machine, check the game developer’s given the minimum and recommended RAM, graphics card, processor, and other hardware requirements beforehand.
In general, the different RAM size options available to you and their ability to support gaming are as follows:
4 GB RAM
4 GB is the minimum amount of RAM space you get with computers these days. Straightaway, having a PC or laptop with just 4 GB in RAM space will limit your gaming options significantly. But, if you are someone that is interested in playing some old game titles that are not heavy on your system, then yes, 4 GB should be sufficient for your gaming needs. Of course, you will be able to find games with specs asking for 4 GB as their minimum RAM requirement; however, it still wouldn’t be a feasible option, only because games keep evolving and so do their specification requirements. Therefore, it is always wise to go with the game manufacturer-recommended RAM space, which will typically be higher than 4 GB.
8 GB RAM
Known as the sweet spot for RAM size when it comes to gaming, a gaming rig with 8 GB RAM would be ideal for a wide range of game titles released in recent times. A lot of the latest games and even several upcoming releases require this size of RAM for smooth functioning. Yes, the overall gaming performance also relies on your graphics card and processor; but, as far as the RAM size is concerned, 8 GB is certainly a good number to start with.
16 GB RAM
If 8 GB RAM is the ideal amount of space for gaming in PCs and laptops, why would you need 16 GB? Though this might seem unnecessary or more like overkill, having 16 GB of RAM in your computer is one way to keep your machine ready for future introductions in games. As we discussed earlier, with the rapid advancements in technology, games are getting bigger in terms of file size, thus requiring improved graphics card and processor specifications, in addition to increased RAM size.
Therefore, if you are a hardcore gamer, always on the lookout for the latest entries in the gaming market, having your machine equipped with 16 GB of memory space will be extremely useful in the near future, even if not at present. In fact, there are some game titles, such as Quantum Break, that come with 16 GB as the recommended RAM size. Also, though this means future-proofing your computer or laptop, and may not have any immediate effect on your computer right now, there are no downfalls associated with having so much system memory, except for the fact that you will have to pay more money for the same.
32 GB RAM
Machines with 32 GB of RAM are becoming increasingly popular, especially among hardcore gamers and those building or looking to invest in a high-end gaming machine. Once again, investing in such high memory also means future-proofing your computer or laptop. However, this is the RAM size that experts consider to be overkill, even if the sole intention behind the same is gaming.
Though there are motherboards that have the capability to support even 128 GB of RAM, it is believed that anything more than 16 GB is basically useless, unless you belong to photo editing, video editing, graphic design, or any other similar profession that involves the use of heavily large files. For regular gamers, who will be using their machine for daily multitasking, watching movies, streaming music, etc. in addition to gaming, RAM sizes of more than 16 GB will just be a waste of money.
And not to forget, even if you choose to go with 32 GB or more as future-proofing, there is every chance that new formats of RAM will be introduced in the future, making the existing formats obsolete, and this will only make your investment a waste of money.
Also check out: Top Laptops for Gaming Under $2000
Taking all of the above into consideration, it is fair to say that going with 16 GB of RAM size is your best bet, because it will have your computer or laptop ready to cover your gaming needs even in the future. However, if you are skeptical, or cannot afford the additional cost right now, 8 GB RAM would be the next practical choice. 8 GB will be rightly sufficient to play the latest games and will continue to cater your gaming needs for the next couple of years as well.