How Important is RAM for Gaming

As a hardcore gamer, there’s no doubt that you want the best gaming computer to make the gaming experience as realistic as possible. But sometimes it can get confusing as to what you need to make your game run smoothly. In fact, it’s common for gamers to overdo their systems when they don’t have to. If you run a powerful GPU alongside a week CPU, for instance, you’re likely creating a bottleneck that’s not allowing your hardware to perform at full capacity.

If you’re planning on building your own workstation PC, RAM speed can get a little confusing. Does it make sense to spend a lot of money? Or should you be conservative? And exactly how important is RAM for a high-end gaming experience? Let’s break it down.

What is the Purpose of RAM for Gaming?

RAM is the area that stores needed variables and content, so while there are lots of applications for RAM in areas like multi-tasking, it’s also relevant to gaming as well. Once you launch a game on your gaming PC, the RAM is an active participant because the game is loaded into it. RAM is used instead of the hard drive directly because it’s faster and intended to store temporary items. Bigger and faster RAM is preferred because it improves the gaming experience and leads to faster loading times. Not only are you able to store more temporary information, but also the information can be read and written faster.

Note: Check out our post on vRAM too and remember, when gaming, your PC will use vRAM before system RAM!

What Factors Should You Look At?

Here are the features to look for with your next workstation or gaming PC.

  • Capacity: Look for total RAM capacity of 16GB or larger, which is sufficient for larger games. While it certainly pays to go higher in this case, make sure your pre built gaming PC can support it, especially if you’re running older hardware. If you built your own gaming computer, look at the motherboard manufacturer’s website for this information. Otherwise, check the manufacturer’s website of your existing system.
  • Frequency: Frequency deals with how much data can be transferred to the stick at one time. RAM runs on various frequencies, but like the capacity, you can only go as high as your system supports. The higher the frequency, the better the performance BUT that doesn’t mean the fastest RAM possible is going to be the best. If you run RAM faster than the chipset allows – 3600MHz on Z490 for example – that overclocked RAM can actually cause system instability, negating any performance advantages.
  • Latency: It’s best to look for RAM that has low latencies around 16 CAS. You’ll notice that latencies are described in four numbers, and these numbers tell you the latency of memory clocks for each task. All motherboards support all latencies, so you don’t have to worry about going overboard on your gaming computer.

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