Why so much RAM?

63 Human Warlock
5330
I've heard people say that in gaming it's very important to have fast RAM (which although I don't fully understand how it works, makes sense) and to have lots of RAM.

A lot of sources on the internet have been saying that gaming is better on 16GB vs 8GB... I've never seen my memory usage above about 3GB. What would be the use of 16GB? How would that effect the performance of games when they aren't utilizing even a quarter of that?
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90 Night Elf Druid
15665
Bragging rites and at this point RAM is cheap enough it's not that big of issue to way over RAM a system if you're building a high end gaming rig.
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90 Human Mage
14885
It's my opinion that those sources are nuts. 16GB may be good for down the road, but unless you're using RAM-intensive programs (not games) you won't notice a difference between 16 and 8. The price for 16 may also not be much more than 8, so you're getting twice the amount for a little bit more money. I honestly don't know since I haven't looked at RAM prices in a year or so. I have triple-channel RAM and I went from 6GB to 12GB and didn't notice a difference, and the 12GB is 1600MHz compared to the 6GB being 1333.
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85 Orc Warrior
7800
Generally, for gaming 8GB 1600mhz RAM, is enough.
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63 Human Warlock
5330
I figured.. they were saying it made gaming faster but.. I'm not doing anything RAM intensive. I'll probably be using Dxtory but that doesn't really use much, mostly just the harddrive.

I'm gonna be getting 8GB 1866MHz memory
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90 Troll Hunter
1860
In less you use your PC for other things besides gaming, as in very ram intensive such as lots of advanced video/picture editing software, 6-12 is what I would suggest, because in that range. anything more than 10 you get a a better investment in that you won't need to replace so quickly later on down the road, but it's not quite as much of a cost difference as 16 and up.
Edited by Lion on 2/13/2013 7:16 PM PST
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55 Blood Elf Mage
0
The AMD Apu processors will benefit from faster ram due to them using the ram as video memory.

But in terms of the amount of ram unless you are doing something ram intensive there really is no need to have over 8GB of ram.
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90 Blood Elf Priest
14095
8GB is plenty. You could get away with 4GB and still play most games on maxed settings. More RAM just gives you more freedom to do other things while you're gaming. While I'm waiting for a queue or a raid to form, I can minimize my game and play Minecraft just fine, for example.. I probably couldn't do that if I didn't have 8Gb of RAM. At least not the the level I'd want. I tried it on my old PC which only had 2GB. Minecraft at 10FPS isn't cool.
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90 Draenei Paladin
11205
To understand the performance effects of more RAM you need to understand what purpose it serves. I'm going to go into some basic terminology here so feel free to read or skip it at your leisure but for those who don't know, it's good starter info.

RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is used by systems for quick retrieval of information. It's rapid speed and ease of dumping unused information (simply cut power to it) makes it an ideal buffer. In comparison to conventional hard drives modern RAM is several dozen times faster to access and process the information and still has a faster speed than even Solid State Drives though the margin is not as large.

Because of these benefits, it's beneficial for programs to utilize as much of the RAM as it possibly can so they fill the RAM up with as much information as possible to be able to access it on the spot for a smoother game experience. Most loading periods with programs is this process.

So as much RAM as possible is the ideal, right? Well no. Programs have upper limits on them for various reasons such as leaving enough to cover Operating System needs, multitasking capabilities which has become more important with multi-core CPUs now the norm, or simply no more information to dump in (something running on a CD for example could be completely run from RAM on a modern system). More RAM will however reduce the frequency the processor needs to access the Hard Drive however so more inside will improve performance although that is starting to hit the glass ceiling and is more for multi-tasking as opposed to raw speed as of late.

There is another issue to consider before you go out and plug in more RAM and that is your Operating System. 32-bit Operating systems (XP32, Win732, etc) have an upper RAM limit of 4 GB that it can utilize. This factors in all ram including your video card. Any amount above the 4 GB that is in the system will simply not be used with priority given to sources other than system RAM. So if you have a video card with 1GB of video ram, your system will never utilize more than 3 GB of system ram. 64-bit Operating systems have a much higher upper limit (upwards to 512 GB on home systems depending on OS) so they can utilize much more at one time.

It does sound like you're running a 32 bit OS which until it gets phased out completely will serve well with what you have in it. Worst case scenario your multi-tasking capability will take a hit but that's to bee expected. You will eventually have to upgrade to a 64 bit OS to utilize more RAM at one time however.
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90 Pandaren Monk
0
My windows 7 home premium x64 has a max of 16gb that it will recognize and i believe ultimate can go up to 32. I bought 16gb of 1600 mhz because it was cheap then found this nice little program that will let me create a "hard drive" from my ram that im not using and load programs onto it temporarily or just certain parts of a game etc.

Works wonders if you want to run something stupid fast, but i don't do anything where it has any real benefits.. just kinda cool :P
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90 Draenei Paladin
11205
02/15/2013 11:42 AMPosted by Hyung
My windows 7 home premium x64 has a max of 16gb that it will recognize and i believe ultimate can go up to 32.


Premium's right. Ultimate however can recognize up to 192GB.
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