Computer memory is also known as RAM/Random Access Memory is a vital part of building a computer. It also plays a critical role in how your computer performance, but we’re going to access how the computer’s memory/RAM influences streaming performance.
In this post, we’re going to discuss how the RAM influences the performance of the computer so we can get a general idea of what to expect, and we’re going to look into increasing the RAM capacity will improve the streaming performance.
Answer: Streaming with a software decoder is CPU-heavy, but this does not mean that the RAM has a big impact on the streaming performance. RAM usually has a big impact on applications that handle a lot of data, streaming on the other hand is purely mathematical and number crushing, which does not require a lot of RAM.
How Does RAM Work?
RAM is the computer memory of the PC and it is used to store data temporarily unlike the SSD or HDD you have in your computer. The RAM is called a volatile storage device due to its temporariness whereas SSDs and HDDs are referred to as non-volatile. The RAM has to work extremely fast, way faster than any non-volatile storage device, this is because it’s constantly storing and deleting data
The RAM on your computer works extremely close to the CPU, so any data stored inside the RAM can be accessed pretty much instantly by the CPU no matter where it’s stored. The more RAM you have, the less the CPU has to rely on permanent storage therefore the faster your PC will operate.
You can find RAM modules ranging from 8-128GB whereas permanent storage options can reach up to 4TB of capacity. The less RAM you have in your computer, the more your CPU will have to rely on permanent storage which isn’t good. Relying on permanent storage means it will access data at a much slower rate which consequentially results in a much slower PC.
Does RAM/Memory Affect Streaming Performance?
Generally, the more RAM you have will increase your system’s performance by allowing more headroom for applications and services such as streaming on your computer to work with. So, a computer with very little RAM can make your computer feel slow as the programs running will be confined to a very limited capacity of RAM.
The faster your RAM is, the faster the information stored in the memory will be transferred, this is a benefit if you have a really fast processor. Faster RAM can actually result in decent performance gains as it makes your computer much more efficient.
Unlike processors whose speeds are measured in GHz, the RAM is measured in MHz, but don’t let the differences fool you. A typical RAM module that measures at 3200MHz is technically 3.2GHz, and these speeds are usually overclockable through the systems BIOS, this will obviously result in more performance.
Today, most computers will be running a 64Bit version of their operating system, this is because it allows for more RAM. Older computers running 32bit will be limited to 4GB of RAM which is the bare minimum for a lot of operating systems.
Newer computers will have 6-8GB of RAM which is enough for operating systems to run along with some applications. Most gaming PCs run with 8GB of RAM perfectly fine, but they can run out of memory quickly the more applications you use.
8GB+ of RAM is the minimum if you want to game and do something on the side, perhaps streaming. Anything less will include lag within your gaming experience and also your stream. 8GB of RAM is slowly phasing out as 16GB of RAM becomes the new sweet spot, so if you’re looking for no issues, 16GB of RAM is recommended.
How Much RAM Is Enough For Streaming?
Your computer should have at least 8GB of RAM installed to stream, any less and you will run into stabilities issues with your stream and your operating system. 8GB is enough to run OBS and game at the same time but you can definitely benefit from having more RAM.
Because of the nature of software encoding, the RAM plays very little influence when it comes to the streaming performance once you surpass 16GB of RAM. X264 encoding is pure number crushing and doesn’t necessarily move large amounts of data around, therefore the RAM isn’t as important as you’d think.
We’d recommend you have 8-16GB of RAM purely because having more RAM can improve your stream in other ways. It can make your gaming experience better by producing fewer stutters and FPS fluctuations which in return can improve your stream quality.
How Can I Improve My Streaming Performance?
Improving your streaming performance usually goes two ways, improving the processor you currently have or using a dedicated streaming machine. If you don’t have the recommended 6-8 cores, then we’d recommend an upgrade. Or, building a dedicated streaming machine can take the streaming load off your main PC which will definitely improve your streaming performance.
For processors we recommend AMD or Ryzen, this is because they offer more cores on average compared to Intel. Ryzen processors are known for having great multicore performance along with decent single-core performance, just ensure you pair your Ryzen CPU with decent RAM modules.
For a dedicated streaming build, you don’t need to worry about purchasing a graphics card because we will be using this PC for software decoding which is entirely CPU-based. So this can help you save money and help you purchase a better CPU. Dedicated streaming PCs can get away with 6cores because their resources are entirely focused on streaming, but they require capture cards.
In conclusion, the RAM influences the streaming performance to a certain point, for example, the performance difference between 4GB and 16GB is greater compared to 16GB and 32GB. At a minimum, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM for optimal operating system functionality as well as enough capacity to stream and game at the same time.
16GB of RAM allows for flawless gaming performance as well as smooth streaming performance, this is why 16GB of RAM is the sweet spot for a lot of PCs. If you really want to improve your streaming performance, then you will need to invest in a better CPU or a dedicated streaming PC.