Gamers are always hungry to get the most FPS they can out of their PC components without sacrificing the visual quality. FPS is by far the most common metric that most gamers are concerned about when it comes to improving gaming performance. Users start upgrading part by part such as their graphics card or motherboard, but there’s always the question of whether RAM affects FPS in video games. This leads to questions such as “Does adding more RAM increase or affect FPS or performance? But there are a lot more factors when it comes to increasing FPS or gaming performance by upgrading your RAM kit. It can depend on a variety of factors such as the game itself, RAM size, speed, latency, etc. So technically, yes. RAM does affect and impact your overall gaming performance or FPS. However, it can be dramatic or negligible depending on the game you’re playing or the rest of your PC components. Therefore, it is up to each user’s needs whether it is worth spending the extra bucks to boost their PC’s performance.
Understanding how RAM works
RAM is a core component of any computer which acts as temporary storage for your computer. It is typically utilized when data needs to be accessed instantly. RAM has a direct impact on the overall performance of the system. If your computer has low RAM, it can be extremely frustrating as the whole system starts to feel sluggish and multi-tasking becomes virtually impossible.
All applications use a certain quantity of RAM to run. It uses RAM to temporarily store its data and instructions. Unlike storage drives which are quite slow, RAM is lightning fast which enables the data and applications you are accessing to transfer data almost instantaneously.
For this reason, it is logical for most people that they think more RAM capacity means better performance. But that’s not always the case since other factors affect performance and FPS in games much more significantly. Below we will debunk some myths related to what most people think about RAM for increasing FPS and performance in games.
RAM-FPS Conundrum: Debunking Myths
Myth#1: RAM quantity is directly proportional to FPS
This prevailing fallacy that most people believe is that increasing the RAM capacity of a gaming system will automatically give you more FPS in games. However, it’s not that simple. There is more to RAM than its capacity when related to FPS and performance.
There’s no denying that RAM plays an important role in any system, its correlation to FPS is subjected to diminishing returns. Why? Because most modern games require a certain amount of RAM to operate. For example, a game recommends 8GB of RAM. Adding copious amounts of RAM, for example, 32GB of RAM may not necessarily provide a substantial increase in FPS. The game or application will only utilize the required amount of RAM to accommodate its data demands and the extra RAM would remain unused and will not contribute to more FPS in games. In this case, other aspects of the PC such as the CPU or graphics card or even the game’s optimization and efficiency would influence the FPS and the performance of the game to a much greater extent.
However, if you’ve always been running low on memory, then it may be a potential bottleneck to your game’s performance. For example, if a game recommends 16GB of RAM but you only have the minimum requirement of RAM which is 8GB then it may increase your FPS if you upgrade your RAM capacity. Nevertheless, it can also highly depend on the rest of your components such as your CPU and graphics card. Therefore, we will discuss additional factors such as the speed and timings of RAM.
Myth#2: Faster RAM speed means more FPS
This is another misconception within the gaming community where gamers believe that higher RAM speeds mean more FPS in games. Therefore, gamers are looking to buy the highest frequency modules to maximize their FPS.
RAM speed does indeed play a role in system performance, but its effect on FPS is a little more complicated. There’s no denying that faster RAM can help the CPU process data faster which may give you some FPS games. But again, other components such as the CPU and GPU can affect the performance to a much higher extent.
Another factor is RAM latency timing. RAM CAS latency which also stands for “Column Address Strobe” latency is another specification of RAM that measures the number of clock cycles required for the RAM to respond to various memory requests. Fewer the clock cycles, the faster the response rate. Many manufacturers advertise RAM with super high-frequency speeds but a lot of people tend to ignore the CAS latency timings which are usually denoted by “CL”. Optimally, you need a RAM kit that has high-frequency speeds along with low CAS latencies to have the fastest RAM performance. While RAM speed does impact tasks such as data processing, it’s only one aspect that indicates the system’s overall performance. Thus, other aspects such as CPU performance, GPU capabilities, storage speed, and other system configurations contribute to the system’s responsiveness and performance.
The key to getting good FPS in games is to strike a fine balance between all system components to get optimal gaming performance. This means that you should invest in a decent capacity of RAM with RAM speeds recommended for the CPU and GPU you possess. Otherwise, you will run into diminishing returns if you overspend on RAM when the rest of the components are unable to utilize the RAM’s maximum potential.
Myth#3 Game loading times are solely dependent on RAM
Loading times are highly influenced by multiple factors and RAM is not the only reason why your game loads slower. For example, it can largely be affected by the speed of your storage devices, optimization of the game, or the technique of how the data is streaming. While more RAM or faster RAM can contribute to smoother data access when playing the game, it may not impact the loading times. Other hardware components other than the storage device and RAM such as CPU or GPU can also be impactful on game loading times.
Myth#4 High-end game titles always require more RAM
This is another misconception or assumption that all modern games or triple-A titles require copious amounts of RAM. Some triple-A titles indeed have higher RAM requirements due to the complexity of the game, but other games can also be highly optimized to run smoothly without any lag even on systems with moderate amounts of RAM. If you’re not getting enough FPS in a game, it can be due to the game’s poor optimization, and inefficient coding which can prevent your RAM and other PC components to work at their full capability.
What RAM specs have the biggest impact on FPS?
RAM size or capacity is the most common specification that people look at when buying a RAM kit. It is indeed important when it comes to multitasking, but it is quite insignificant and has the lowest impact on FPS unless you’re extremely limited by RAM capacity such as 4GB RAM. These days, most gaming systems have generally 16GB of RAM or 32GB, chances are that you’re good to go for most gaming titles out there. Games are designed to be CPU and GPU-intensive, instead of being dependent on RAM.
RAM frequency or speed which is measured in megahertz (MHz) generally shows how fast RAM can access stored data. As a rule of thumb, the faster the rate RAM can access data, the quicker the CPU can access the RAM which technically should result in better performance. Needless to say, it may give a slight boost in games but isn’t quite significant. So if you’re planning to save some cash and stick to DDR4 RAM then it’s okay as well as you’re not missing out on tons of performance from choosing DDR5 RAM. Furthermore, if you have a Ryzen build, then it’s better to go for high-frequency RAM kits as Ryzen processors perform better at higher clock speeds.
RAM latency or timings measures how much delay there is between each operation and involves a lot of technicalities but in simple terms, the lower the CAS latency timings, the lesser the delay. Therefore, 3600MHz RAM with CL16 would perform better than 3600MHz RAM with CL20 timings. Therefore, to a certain extent, RAM does impact in-game performance and FPS.
Dual channel RAM
Running your memory in dual-channel mode can provide you with more performance as compared to running it in single-channel. By using dual channels, you can increase your memory’s bandwidth which can significantly increase your framerates and overall system performance and responsiveness. In tests, there was an average of 10% performance increase when using RAM in dual channel mode.
DDR4 vs DDR5
DDR5 RAM has higher base speeds, supports higher capacities, and is more energy efficient than DDR4 RAM but in terms of gaming performance, the performance increase just isn’t significant enough for upgrading especially because you would need to replace the motherboard and processor if you currently use DDR4 RAM. DDR4 still holds some advantages over the DDR5 such as being more stable and having higher CAS latency. Although DDR5 RAM has higher clock speeds, the higher CAS latency in DDR5. So for now, until DDR5 RAM kits can compete against DDR4 CAS latencies, it can still wait. In multiple tests on various workloads and gaming, there were little to no performance differences between using DDR4 or DDR5 RAM. Therefore, there are more substantial gains from upgrading the CPU or GPU than upgrading the RAM.
What is RAM’s role in different game scenarios
Single-player vs. Multiplayer
Single-player games usually focus on rendering the virtual environment and nonplayer characters which results in lower RAM resources utilized in comparison to multiplayer games. However, it doesn’t mean that every single-player game requires lesser RAM. Some heavily detailed single-player games such as “A Plague Tale: Requiem” or “Hogwarts Legacy”, etc. require large amounts of RAM to smoothly run due to the large number of assets, textures, animations, and details in the game.
Multiplayer games also involve more intricate and dynamic interactions which require higher resources of RAM. So games that are heavily packed with many players often require more resources and usually can run into issues such as FPS drops than in single-player games. In multiplayer games, large amounts of data are quickly exchanged such as player positions, actions, and interactions, especially in fast-based games. This presses the need for the system to manage and process these changes quickly so having ample RAM is required for providing smooth and stable FPS in the game. In fast-paced multiplayer games, a drop in FPS can result in a competitive disadvantage if FPS is being dropped due to insufficient RAM capacity.
Open World vs. Linear Adventures
Open-world games are generally more RAM intensive as the environments within the game are vast and are interconnected with dynamic elements such as changes in weather and interactions with NPCs. So before, you can even play, a substantial amount of RAM needs to be allocated to play the open-world game. A very popular open-world multiplayer game known as “Rust” has been notoriously popular for requiring a large capacity of RAM to have a smooth gaming experience without stutters and lags. Therefore, having ample RAM in open-world games provides an overall better gaming performance as the system will not struggle to fetch data in real-time without any interruptions. Insufficient RAM can cause freezing, stutters, and lag as the system will struggle to keep up with the data demands causing FPS drops.
Linear Adventure games on the other hand offer a more structured and controlled gaming experience as the game provides a guide or predetermined narrative path. This usually means that there is more control over data streaming and the system can preload the assets much better which makes it less RAM intensive compared to open-world game titles. This is because there is more controlled and efficient data management as the game can anticipate and preload the necessary assets based on the user’s progression in the game.
When to consider RAM upgrades
Multitasking and concurrent processes
If you’re a gamer that likes to have music on or your web browser open in the background and overall love multitasking while gaming then you definitely can benefit from getting more RAM for your system. It can provide a more seamless and smoother gaming experience as you wouldn’t be held back by FPS fluctuations, etc. due to your background processes eating up your RAM.
Another easy way to know if you have enough RAM capacity for your needs is to open up Task Manager to see what processes are running and whether you’re close to utilizing all of the RAM capacity or not. This way you can tell whether you need more RAM capacity or not.
It is also recommended to use RAM kits that are appropriate and balanced for your other PC components. If you have a heavy-duty CPU and GPU but you’re using a RAM kit with low clock speeds and high CAS latency, then it can bottleneck your CPU and GPU from achieving its full capability.
Having more RAM isn’t always necessarily a bad thing either, especially if it isn’t too costly to add more as it can make your system future-proof. These days, newer game titles are being more and more resource intensive due to advancements in operating systems and applications, where 8GB RAM for gaming is starting to hit memory constraints for many game titles. These days, having 16GB of RAM for any average gaming system is pretty common and many users have started moving on to using 32GB RAM for future proofing. It is commonly installed in configurations of 4x8GB or 2x16GB.
So there you have it – we have thoroughly discussed the relationship between RAM and FPS in games and it becomes clear that it is highly dependent on a variety of factors to make a significant impact on gaming performance. We’ve debunked many assumptions and myths about RAM’s role in games, navigated through various technical intricacies, and unearthed the real forces at play that truly affect FPS in games.
Although we wish that more RAM equates to higher FPS, in reality, it’s not the case as we dug deeper into the different aspects of RAM and other PC components that affect FPS in games. While RAM plays a crucial role in a computer, it’s not the only main player. It requires the team effort of other components such as the CPU and GPU when it comes to providing the framerates you want. Wrapping it up, RAM does play a part in FPS but can easily be subjected to diminishing returns which is why you should invest in a RAM kit that fits your gaming needs rather than overspending on it for marginal gains in FPS and performance.