Does RAM Affect FPS & What Does It Do For Gaming?

Quick Summary

Unless you’re on a tight budget it’s worth having at least 8GB of RAM. Although many modern AAA game titles recommend 16GB of memory, often these system requirements aren’t very accurate.

Many of these games may get on just fine on 8GB of RAM with a minor performance drop. This may not be the case for more demanding, present and upcoming, games.

Running lower amounts of memory may, in this scenario, hinder your ability to perform other tasks while playing the game, such as streaming.

We, therefore, recommend 16GB as a “sweet spot” for gamers and streamers because more RAM will help FPS.

On the other side, investing in 32GB of RAM is probably only worth it if you’re planning to work with video editing, large photosets, and multitasking.

What Does RAM Do For Gaming Performance?

Random Access Memory, or RAM, is one of the most important components of your system. It is a form of computer memory, much like the one commonly found in any hard drives, that can be read and written at any time at extremely fast speeds.

RAM acts as short-term memory, storing everything that’s currently running on your device, including the OS services, web pages, and most importantly, the games you love playing.

G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4 Ram stick

It prevents the CPU from having to dig through your system’s slower storages (HDD and/or SSD) every time a new process is required to run.

With increasing amounts of people willing to make the switch from consoles to gaming PCs, you may find it hard to navigate the many options and choices you’ll be faced with when choosing the appropriate components for your new gaming rig.

Much like choosing the right CPU and GPU, the amount and speed of the system memory will impact the overall gaming performance of your computer.

A lot has changed in the gaming industry in the last five years, with modern AAA titles setting the bar high when it comes to minimum and recommended requirements. The industry is moving at a fast pace and you may find it exhausting to keep up with.

It’s now become common for budget gaming machines to come with at least 8GB of RAM, while mid to high-end machines often have 16GB or even 32GB.

It made us wonder though. Does RAM increase FPS and how much do you really need in modern times?

So How Does RAM Affect FPS and Gaming Performance?

The amount of RAM in your system will determine the number of applications you can simultaneously run. Games require a certain amount of memory.

Boy PC gaming wearing headphones

However, this is also used to run the operating system itself and other applications such as web browser pages, antivirus, streaming software, and programs that may be running in the background.

Having a limited amount of memory will affect your gaming performance. You may experience a drop in framerates or occasional stuttering in other scenarios.

Is RAM Important When Playing Games?

Having the right amount of RAM in your system will definitely benefit your overall user and gaming experience.

It is sometimes worth prioritizing a more powerful CPU and/or graphics card based on your software and gaming requirements over an unnecessary memory upgrade.

We would like to stress out that this stands only if your system meets the minimum requirements for the games you’d like to play.

If More RAM is Better, Why is That? What Difference Does it Make?

As previously discussed, the total amount of RAM in your system is shared between the operating system, games, applications, and programs running in the background.

4 stick of G.Skill TridentZ DDR4 RAM

The data needed to run these processes is temporarily stored in your system’s memory and made accessible to the CPU, which is able to communicate with this hardware at a much faster speed than any other storage drive.

The total amount of RAM needed will vary from game to game, software to software, and scenario to scenario. We will dig deeper into this and take all factors into consideration later in the article.

Will More RAM Affect FPS Testing Methodology

To find out, we tested a variety of gaming workloads and benchmarked gaming performance against the amount of RAM installed in the system.

Two games, in particular, were chosen for this benchmark, including League of Legends and GTA V, with the first one being less “memory-hungry” and the last game being the more demanding when it comes to memory requirements.

The average, maximum, and 1% lower FPS (frames per second) were registered for each game, where the amount of RAM tested was respectively 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB.

All benchmarks were performed at 1080P resolution with all games running at max graphics settings. In-game FPS were registered using FPS monitor software. The system’s specs are as follows:

  • Motherboard: Asus Rog Strix Z490-G Gaming
  • CPU: Intel i5-10600K
  • CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X53 240mm
  • Memory: DDR4 3600Mhz CL18
  • GPU: XFX Radeon RX5700XT THICC III
  • PSU: Seasonic GX 650 80+ Gold

League of Legends

League of legends gameplay

League of Legends is currently one of the biggest Esports titles. The game was developed and aimed at a large audience, with the minimum and recommended system requirements being met by almost any modern PC and/or laptop on the market.

With this in mind, the performance generated from the 16GB and 32GB RAM configurations was within a 2% range with regards to max and average in-game FPS.

League of legends – FPS Test. 8GB RAM - 1% Low = 71 FPS | MAX = 178 FPS | Average = 133 FPS. 16GB RAM – 1% Low = 112 FPS | MAX = 202 FPS | Average = 165 FPS. 32GB RAM – 1% Low = 111 FPS | MAX = 203 FPS | Average = 162 FPS.

A drop in the FPS generated by the 8GB configuration was observed where the system general performance dropped by nearly 20% with regards to max and average FPS measured.

Overall all configurations proved able to perform well despite the amount of total RAM installed and the results were in line with the developer’s aim at keeping the game playable by the “most”.

GTA V

GTA V is the next game we took a look at is one of the most-streamed games of the moment. This is a CPU, RAM, and GPU intensive game. Hungrier for system memory when compared to Esports titles such as League of Legends and others.

GTA V gameplay

Once again, the difference in performance between the 16GB and 32GB configurations was minimal, with a maximum of 4% drop in performance being observed when scaling down system memory.

We believe this result is not significant as the variation observed may be the outcome of a number of factors such as software and user error.

GTA V – FPS Test. 8GB RAM - 1% Low = 90 FPS | MAX = 159 FPS | Average = 118 FPS. 16GB RAM – 1% Low = 103 FPS | MAX = 219 FPS | Average = 148 FPS. 32GB RAM – 1% Low = 108 FPS | MAX = 228 FPS | Average = 151 FPS.

On the other end, things change significantly when switching to the 8GB configuration. In this case, a 30% drop in maximum FPS was observed, followed by a 22% drop in average FPS generated.

This is quite a loss of performance, especially when considering that less powerful machines will be affected at a much more significant extent.

In a Nutshell

For anyone wondering does RAM affect FPS, you can see clearly from our tests that it does. The FPS for both games does increase greatly when comparing 16GB and 8GB of RAM.

Many modern games will run just fine with 8GB of RAM with a certain extent of performance loss, proportional to the overall game requirements. Although this may not be the case for more demanding games.

Running lower amounts of memory might hinder you from performing other tasks whilst gaming, things like streaming springs to mind.

Therefore I would recommend 16GB of RAM for gamers and streamers. I would have to say that purchasing 32GB of memory is probably overkill. It would only be worth it for someone that works with video editing, big photosets, or multitasking.

How Does RAM Speed Affect Gaming Performance? Does it help FPS?

When it comes to choosing the right memory for your system, speed is as important as size. With a variety of DDR4 sticks currently available on the market, the question is at what extent does speed impact performance?

Male teenager playing Fortnite on a PC wearing a headset

Typically the standard JEDEC (Solid State Technology Association) speeds for this RAM generation range from 2133 up to 2600 MHz for both red (AMD) and blue team (Intel) – based CPUs.

With speeds as high as 4866 MHz available on the market and is supported from both sides if activating XMP profiles (Extreme Memory Profile) or manually overclocking, available at higher costs.

Generally speaking, AMD-based systems are known to benefit more from a higher transfer speed rate when compared to their counterpart (Intel).

A 3200 MHz clock frequency is broadly recommended as a sweet spot for most gamers when choosing the appropriate memory for their systems, with lower clock speeds generating a loss in performance of approximately 10-15%.

RAM Speed VS Size: Which is More Important in Gaming?

The general advice when purchasing your RAM is to give priority to size over speed when on a tight budget.

To put it simply, no system would be able to benefit from super-fast data transfer rates if the amount of RAM available is not sufficient to store the required application data and files.

That being said, the current RAM market value has significantly dropped in the last years, making it easier to purchase faster memory slots at affordable costs without feeling the need to compromise speed over size.

Is 8GB Enough for Gaming?

Although many modern AAA game titles are starting to recommend 16GB of memory for a smooth gaming experience, often these system requirements aren’t very accurate.

Many of these games may get on just fine on 8GB of RAM with a minor performance drop. This may not be the case for more demanding, present and upcoming, games.

On the other side, one important consideration to be made is that RAM is only one of the many important components in your system and that the overall gaming experience will also be impacted by other units such as the CPU and GPU.

Having a balanced system and taking the appropriate time to research and correctly select your building bits and pieces may give you a system that can comfortably run modern titles on a budget without compromising too much on the performance.

Briefly, if you’re on a hunt for a new gaming PC and are short on cash, consider buying a single 8GB stick. This configuration is easily upgradable to 16GB by adding an additional 8GB slot.

Is 16GB Enough for Gaming?

If 8GB of RAM is considered enough for a decent gaming experience, there should be no question whether a total of 16GB of memory would be able to comfortably run any modern game titles without compromising performance.

The consideration to be made in this scenario is based on the ability to perform other tasks while playing the game, such as streaming. We, therefore, recommend 16GB as a “sweet spot” for gamers and streamers.

Is 32GB Overkill in 2020?

As for the present and near future, we believe that investing in 32GB of RAM is probably only worth it if you’re planning to work with video editing, large photosets, and multitasking.

There are no current or upcoming game titles that would benefit and improve from such a large amount of memory. You can sleep tight for quite some time.

Will Games Require 64GB RAM Anytime Soon?

It has taken the gaming industry almost a decade to jump from a minimum of 4GB to 8GB of RAM as the lowest memory requirement for being able to run most modern games.

With that in mind, we could make the assumption that the development of a title that would require such a large memory size is nowhere near and would, at this time, represent a waste of money.

If I Have a Small Amount of RAM, Will it Affect FPS?

As previously discussed, there’s no such thing as a “small” amount of RAM. We have proved that different game titles require different amounts of memory and therefore, your choice will depend on factors such as the games you play and the processes you run.

Esports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:Go and many others will get on just fine with 8GB without a noticeable drop in gaming performance.

On the other side, more complex games such as GTA V, Assassins Creed, Far Cry, and upcoming open-world titles will benefit from a larger amount of memory.

The performance drop with regards to framerates will, in this case, be substantial and may, at moments, heavily impact your gaming experience.

Bottom line, always do your research and, if on a tight budget, choose the appropriate memory size for your requirements.

Does it Matter if I Use DDR3 or DDR4 RAM? Which is Best?

The electronics industry has proved to move at a fast pace and to be hard to keep up with. We were all excited when almost 11 years ago, the first DDR3 slots made their debut on the market, promising unmatched gaming performances. 5 years later, DDR4 memory “revolutionized” the gaming experience once again.

Walking into the last quarter of 2020, tech experts around the globe are already talking about the upcoming memory generation and the impact it will have on the industry.

Let’s go over a few considerations to be made when choosing DDR4 over DDR3 memory.

  • DDR4 has a higher frequency. Frequency dictates transfer rate speed. The higher the frequency, the faster the data transfer. The maximum frequency for DDR3 RAM available on the market, stands right on the lower limit of the DDR4 generation at 2133 MHz clock, with faster slots (3000-3200 MHz) easy to come by and affordable. Older RAM generations don’t stand a chance.
  • The latest CPUs and motherboards only support DDR4. If you are building or buying a PC in 2020, keep in mind that all the latest generations of CPUs and motherboards support DDR4 memory. Unless you’re purchasing a second-hand board and/or processor, old, “laying around” DDR3 sticks won’t help you. In any case, always refer to the manufacturers’ user’s manual.
  • DDR3 is obsolete. You may have noticed how hard it is to come across a brand new DDR3 stick in the current market. What may seem more surprising is that their price is not that much cheaper than DDR4. Wonder why? When older computer components become obsolete, they are no longer manufactured and become niche.

Does the Number of Sticks of RAM Matter?

In previous instances, we have talked about the benefits of a dual-channel configuration and how this is achievable. To take advantage of a dual-channel platform, when buying memory, make sure you get it in identical pairs.

Having two memory modules instead of a single module with twice the capacity will double the maximum bandwidth of the memory as both modules will be accessed at the same time.

All modern motherboards support dual-channel configurations. Always make sure to read the user’s manual of your motherboard and install the sticks in the right slots.

4 sticks of TridentZ NEO DDR4 memory

If your motherboard only has two memory slots available, you can’t mess it up. On the other side, most motherboards with 4 slots available, will recommend populating the modules by using slots A2 and B2 first.

With regards to gaming, having access to a dual-channel configuration will only have a slight impact on performance compared to single-channel memory.

Content creators such as video producers, photo editors, and streamers are the ones that would benefit the most from dual-channel memory.

Aside from dual-channel, quad-channel configurations are also easy to come by. If your motherboard has 4 slots available and if your CPU-motherboard duo support quad-channel, you can simply populate all empty slots in order to achieve it.

Spoiler alert, there are no visible advantages from running a quad-channel over a dual-channel configuration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is GPU VRAM, and is it more important than system RAM for gaming?

VRAM and system (D)RAM (dynamic RAM) are two different things. VRAM is the amount of memory installed in the GPU that is used to store image data that the computer will display, while DRAM is the system memory that is utilized by your entire system for each application and/or process.

Although different, they’re both very important when it comes to gaming performance.

Can I use different types of RAM in my PC?

As already discussed, it is highly recommended that you buy and install your system memory in identical pairs. This principle goes for memory speeds as it goes for latency scores.

Having different RAM modules will significantly slow down your computer. We also recommend using the same RAM model to avoid any issues.

I hope that you have found this article about RAM and its affects when gaming useful. I think that you may find our article about how much RAM is needed for streaming useful.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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