Up For Debate - How Much RAM Is Needed For A New Gaming PC Build In 2016

Written by Jon Sutton on Mon, May 2, 2016 4:00 PM

Over the last year or so I’ve been looking at the newly released system requirements for AAA PC games with an increasing amount of concern. Where once I was sitting pretty with 8GB DDR3 memory, I’m now finding myself more and more behind the curve. Games like Batman: Arkham Knight, Quantum Break and Call of Duty: Black Ops III are all making increasingly light work of 16GB, prompting me to wonder just how much, and what, RAM is necessary for a new PC gaming build.

Your first port of call is deciding between DDR3 and DDR4. The prices of these two have basically aligned now, so you’re not really going to save much at all by opting for the older DDR3 standard. You will need a DDR4-compliant motherboard, but if you’re building a new PC then that’s pretty much guaranteed.

With that settled it becomes a question of ‘how much is enough?’. Right now the most demanding games eat up 16GB at recommended. However, there still is no game which won’t run fine on an 8GB system. Look forward and we’ll see an increasing number of games using 16GB, so the sensible option seems to be to double your expenditure and up to 16GB.

But why stop there? There’s a school of thought that you may as well get as much as you can. Compared to the majority of PC components, RAM is extremely cheap and by far the easiest internal component to install. 32GB of DDR4 memory can yours for as little as $150. Compared to your graphics card that’s probably chump change, and you’re getting access to hardware which is double the capacity required for the most demanding PC games ever.

This can be taken to its extreme of course, and should you have a compliant motherboard you can even go nuts and get 128GB. That’s to the tune of $800 and up, and shouldn’t be the concern of PC gamers. At least yet, anyway. The problem with RAM, or I guess the benefit, is that it’s not really a case of the more you have the faster your game will run, but rather you have enough or you don’t. If you don’t you’ll find out about it quick enough. There is a very minor benefit in opting for faster RAM clock speeds, but not really enough to notice.

Anyway enough rambling, my question to you is, if you were building a new gaming PC, how much RAM should be in there? Is 16GB enough? Are you happy squeezing by on 8GB initially? Let us know!

How many much RAM does a gaming PC need?

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14:56 May-04-2016

128GB is barely enough for serious 7-zip archiving :P

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14:20 May-04-2016

16GB is the ideal.

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09:36 May-04-2016

I think that 8gb is pretty good to play at high-max settings,with a good gpu of course.But if you want to play 4k with max settings and aa on then go for 16gb.

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18:03 May-04-2016

Last night playing Guild Wars 2, I saw the game alone eat 7GB of RAM during intensive boss fights(on Max settings/1080p). With a game that is 4 years old, I find that enough to warrant 16GB as a standard nowadays. Of course, GW2 barley utilizes my GTX 970s memory(not even hitting 1GB usage) and total GPU usage is 55%

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20:51 May-03-2016

Until recently I would have voted 8GB but after doing the mirrors edge catalyst beta I'll go with 16GB. It's not really needed right now but I think it makes your build more future proof atm.

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20:23 May-03-2016

I'd say 12GB, esp for a Windows build. 8GB is usually sufficient, but there are moments when 8GB simply isn't enough, thus the need for 12. Plus, it's a little more future proof.

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17:25 May-03-2016

I voted 16 but i only have 4.

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18:11 May-03-2016

doesn't matter how much RAM one has. :)

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01:00 May-04-2016

One needs 128TB...

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13:52 May-04-2016

Thanks for the happy thoughts, psychoman :) but really right now 8GB is a must coz i couldnt play COD Advanced Warfare or Dying Light. If you want to make sure ur is rig future proof A.K.A the next 1 1/2 yrs buy 16 GB. Also, if you have a powerful GPU then you can most probably get away with 8GB or even 4. Thats my 2 cents on this topic

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16:17 May-04-2016

the more powerful GPU you have the more performance you get, the more ram you need(it does NOT scale 1:1) and I can't get away with 8GB, CoD BO3 often times runs out of Memory, especially if I increase the settings, so I cap my FPS and play.

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17:57 May-04-2016

Its that bad already!! Damn, i dont think that at this rate i can even play games releasing this year. But theres a solution playing Dark Souls 3, thats eating up a lot of my free time, and i still suck, although im kinda getting better, its my first Souls game, u see

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06:18 May-06-2016

Lol, remembering i am now still stick to the "Prepare to Die Edition" that still make you die continuously

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12:28 May-06-2016

I just recently re-played Dark souls 1 prepare to die with 2 characters(a warrior balanced build and a cleric on faith and i died 13 times with the warrior and 7-8 times with the cleric) and now I'm about to play dark souls 2 again. They feed my hunger, until I get my hands on darks souls 3 :D

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15:47 May-03-2016

ive got 16gb, never go above 8, unless im rendering vidoes then i use all 16gb haha

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18:41 May-03-2016

One of the reasons I don't own any computers/laptops that I use for work with less than 32GB RAM :)

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19:55 May-03-2016

i dont quite understand what you said, lol, are u saying that you work on computers with no less then 32gb of RAM?

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00:30 May-04-2016

I think he meant work=job. If he uses it for work, it has to have at least 32gb

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14:07 May-03-2016

I'm fine with 8 for now.

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11:20 May-03-2016

It's not just about RAM, if your gpu is not powerful enough like mine, then load on your RAM will be low, because of low quality texture loading from HDD (I think). While playing COD BO3 the maximum ram usage i got was around 5-6GB.
I think 16 GB is good for people with at least gtx 970.
Please tell me if i'm wrong.

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14:44 May-03-2016

Was wondering about this too. But my thought was the opposite. If you dont have enough vram, the game will try and use ur ram instead. So you actually need more ram if you have a 2gb card. Ofc, if u just lower textures then it doesnt matter.

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07:53 May-03-2016

In 2011-2012 8 gb became standard,now from time to time we see few demanding more then 8,like Dying light originally had before release.So to prevent future demanding games or poor pc ports to run bad,every new mid-high end pc should get at least 12gb ram.Ram it's not that expensive anyway.

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07:05 May-03-2016

somewhere between 8 and 12

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07:01 May-03-2016

16gb will be the standard from now on, but 8gb is more than sufficient till now

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06:42 May-03-2016

i have used both 8gb and 16gb on the same system and haven't felt held back by 8gb, think moving forward tho and with the low prices these days (my ram cost half what it did a year ago) 16gb should be the standard for higher end machines.

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05:54 May-03-2016

16GB will be the new standard for sure with newer games and even some professional software.

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05:32 May-03-2016

I would buy 16GB just to be sure it will hold for a few years.

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18:00 May-03-2016

Probably will only for a year

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18:45 May-03-2016

8 GB held for like 5 years, i think jump from 16GB will also take that long. And 5 years is alot.

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05:16 May-03-2016

i have 10 but 16 would be more future proof.

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04:23 May-03-2016

16 has been the greatest for me

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04:11 May-03-2016

When I first joined GD, 4 to 6 GB RAM was considered enough to run the most demanding games at the time...

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04:34 May-03-2016

talk about time flying, 16 is king now

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01:29 May-03-2016

well considered im still on ddr3 ram and here in australia another 2 x 8 gig sticks are $120 and i already have 16 gig ram i might invest at the end of the year early next year when i upgrade to two 490x's thats if the 490x's are cheap or not though would two 490x's bottle neck my cpu ? if so i might just upgrade my whole pc then this will get delayed till late next year as money doesnt grow on trees for me :P

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01:26 May-03-2016

In Switzerland you can't buy a gaming rig with less than 16GB RAM..
I don't know how it is elsewhere in the world though.
I presume it's the same.

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz Intel HD Graphics 630 Mobile 32GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-4770K 4-Core 3.5GHz GeForce RTX 2080 EVGA XC Gaming 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Zotac Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400H 6-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Mobile 8GB
| 30FPS, 720p
Core i7-5500U 2-Core 2.4GHz GeForce 940M 2GB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1070 Gigabyte G1 Gaming 8GB Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10750H 6-Core 2.60GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-6400 2.7GHz GeForce GTX 1050 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i5-9600K 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
FX-6300 GeForce GTX 760 24GB
| 30FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400H 6-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Mobile 8GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400H 6-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Mobile 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400H 6-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Mobile 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400H 6-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Mobile 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 720p
Athlon II X4 640 Radeon RX 470 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Core i7-4710MQ 4-Core 2.5GHz GeForce GTX 960M 2GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Pentium G2030 3.0GHz Radeon HD 4650 1GB 4GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-6402P 2.8GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti MSI Gaming X 4GB 16GB
Ryzen 7 3800X 8-Core 3.9GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Gigabyte Gaming OC 6GB 32GB
Core i3-10105 4-Core 3.7GHz UHD Graphics 630 4GB