“How much RAM do I need for gaming?”: this is the question I was asked by a friend looking to upgrade his laptop recently, already feeling left out at being unable to join in on all-night CS:GO sessions on his previous PC. Without the right amount of memory, the most powerful computer systems can be rendered ineffectual.
RAM, or Random Access Memory, is one of the most crucial factors in determining the speed and efficiency of your system. It’s always recommended to have an idea of how much RAM is required for your specific interests and “occupational hazards”, such as memory-intensive gaming or video editing, because while you can always overclock your RAM to make up for the lag it’s putting on your hardware, you’d still be limited by your actual choice.
Understanding the differences between DDR3 and DDR4 is a vivid example of this: DDR3 specifications start from 400 MHz, whereas DDR4 starts at 1600 MHz. Choosing the right model and RAM “size” to harness the power of your motherboard and CPU is central to a smooth experience.
Let’s learn by the way of specific examples to gauge the right amount of RAM that works for you.
How Much RAM Do I Need for Gaming?
Gaming requires the rig to be firing on all cylinders, so to speak. You need a pristine GPU, sufficient processing power, and a lot of RAM.
However, a lot of popular games are optimized to run on whatever system the gamer wants.
Anything less than 4GB might barely be able to keep up with multitasking or editing pictures on Photoshop (more on that later). And yet, games such as Cuphead, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends all require a minimum of 2GB to play and go up to a maximum recommended amount of 4GB. The ever-relevant Minecraft can even run on something with 500MB worth of RAM (albeit pretty frustratingly and stutteringly), as can a title such as Portal 2.
You can also invest in an 8GB RAM to be able to play the latest titles such as Destiny 2, Dark Souls 3, GTA V, Metal Gear Solid V, or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but the current AAA titles, on the other hand, pack quite a strong punch in terms of visual and fluid motion and gameplay, and so they require a little more support from the backend.
As such, a 16GB RAM is worth it if you’re looking at something like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Street Fighter V, Far Cry 5, or Mass Effect: Andromeda. You don’t need to go above this limit even for these high-end games, but a total of 32GB RAM would be your best friend if you want to stream it all on Twitch.
How Much RAM do I Need for Windows 10?
Windows 10 is the current benchmark for up-to-date and speedy processing of all sorts of multitasking and everyday usage, no matter how intensive.
As such, Windows 10 is recommended to be run on anything including and exceeding 8GB. This also depends on whether your OS is 32-bit or 64-bit – since 32-bit utilizes less RAM than what is available (say 3.2GB whereas your RAM is 4GB). Exceeding 8GB is not cost-effective, as the change isn’t noticeable, but the personal needs of a user may vary.
This brings us to another question: how much RAM do I need for video editing? It’s a valid concern, since video editing is notoriously slow on Windows laptops and computers, with most users preferring Macs. However, Windows backed by at least 8GB of RAM can edit videos up to 720p with a bit of patience, but we really recommend 16GB for hassle-free editing in HD (including 1080p).
Of course, for 4K or 6K resolution, a dedicated system with a 32GB RAM is absolutely necessary to equip both the CPU and memory with the real-time fast routes they need to and from the data required.
How Much RAM Do I Need for Photoshop?
As with games, Photoshop is optimized for optimum resource utilization in most systems. If you’re a professional photographer, graphics designer, or work at a printing firm, however, you might need to work in batches, opening up 10 to 50 photos at one time.
The ultimate RAM required in photo editing is 16GB. You can multitask along with editing up to 50 photos in Photoshop without feeling the strain on your system, and in case you do, simply focusing on one or two fewer tasks will get you back to a smooth flow of things.
The least that we would recommend for Photoshop and photo editing is 4GB. A 4GB RAM can reprioritize tasks depending on the needs at hand and can allow for a few photos to be edited while a video plays in the background along with a bunch of tutorial tabs, email apps, and even a system care software. The trick to this is standup memory changes, allowing for additional free space wherever it can be found, which is what modern technology is adept at.
To sum it up, a rundown of can be achieved with specific sizes of RAM for most computers:
- 4GB and below: not recommended for anything other than basic Internet browsing and e-mailing or document work in the office. Traditionally reserved for smaller “budget” models of tablets and notebooks, particularly if closer to 2GB. Slow, sluggish, and susceptible to freezing up randomly.
- 8GB: ideal for most users – from students to professionals – and serviceable for most games.
- 16GB: suitable for fast-paced professional work and all gaming purposes.
- 32GB and above: only for enthusiasts using their system to push boundaries in programming and other endeavors such as video editing. Usually reserved for custom workstations built for a particular purpose, there isn’t much observable difference between this and the 16GB option.
Knowing how much RAM your system requires saves you both from disappointment (in case you fall short) and wasting money (in case you get upsold to buy more RAM than you would have needed). If you need more RAM, the problem cannot be fixed by doing anything else; however, if you have enough RAM, you can focus on the CPU and GPU next.