4GB RAM is plenty for PC gaming, apparently


PC gamers are notorious for their drive to get the fastest, the most and the best inside their gaming rigs. It’s simply about how much money you want to spend. Traditionally, one of the best ways to get a performance boost was to cram in more memory. but do you really get much gain from increasing your 4GB to 8GB or even 16GB? TechSpot decided to find out. They ran various tests, from real world programs like Adobe Premiere to compressing large files and simulated applications performance, to see how an otherwise high end PC would fair with different amounts of memory.

Test System Specs

  • Skylake Desktop PC
  • Intel Core i7-6700K (4.0GHz – 4.2GHz)
  • Asrock Z170 Gaming K6+
  • Dual-Channel: 16GB DDR4-2666 RAM
  • Dual-Channel: 8GB DDR4-2666 RAM
  • Single-Channel: 4GB DDR4-2666 RAM
  • GeForce GTX 980
  • Crucial MX200 1TB
  • SilverStone Essential Gold 750w
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Of course, they also tested out around 20 different games to see the effect on performance (namely the all important frame rate), with some surprising results! Namely, there was little difference in game performance between 4GB and 8GB, and that you’d be wasting your money on getting 16GB. Ultimately, installing 8GB hits the sweet spot with regards to performance, and should in fact future proof your PC for a while to come.

In gaming scenarios it appears 4GB will help you extract most out of your system for the most part (actual gameplay frame rates versus say, loading levels) though 8GB remains ideal. Those of you focused solely on gaming who don’t have the extra cash to splurge on 16GB of memory, fear not, you aren’t missing out on any hidden performance.

My take

It’s interesting that with gaming there’s very little performance hit between the different RAM configurations. Even when the amount of memory used is well over the 4 GB and there’s an open instance of Chrome running, there’s pretty much less than 10FPS in it. Someone in the comments suggested there was some legacy from the 32bit era meaning no more than 3.5GB is really effective.

This could also be due to the fact that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have 8GB of built-in memory (DDR3 for the Xbone and bleeding fast GDDR5 for the PS4), and the vast majority of graphics-heavy games are targeted at the consoles. It stands to reason that with most of the work going into those versions that the titles might not make the most of the extra PC horsepower.

In the end, this is good news for PC gamers in the market for an upgrade: they don’t have to worry about finding the extra cash to maximise their RAM… Along with the fact that there’s no charge for gaming services, and the access to seasonal sales, means that in the long run, PC gaming is at least as good value as consoles are!

Your take

Have you got a gaming PC with 4GB of RAM? Do you feel you need more?

Read all about the PC memory tests over on TechSpot.


About Dan Morse

From the Atari 2600 right through to bleeding fast PCs, Dan's played on them all. One thing that's never changed is an unwavering passion for video games. Twitter: @happydan | Steam: happydan | GOG: happydan