When building a PC, the RAM can be quite confusing, this is because it has numerous performance metrics to watch out for. The RAM speed is just one of the performance metrics as it describes how many times the RAM will cycle per second. If your RAM speed is 3000MHz, then your RAM modules will cycle 3000 million times a second.
Many gamers will swear that faster RAM is better for performance, and some will say it doesn’t matter that much, that can all add to the confusion when it comes to picking up RAM. In this post, we’re going to go over the most important metrics for gaming, and whether RAM speed is one of them. Also, we’re going to look at whether it is possible to increase the RAM speed for extra performance.
Answer: Faster RAM modules will definitely increase the frame rate, so yes RAM speed technically does matter. But the amount of FPS it increases by isn’t as much as you’d think, the difference of FPS between 3000MHz and 3200MHz can be as little as 1. Focus more on RAM capacity, then RAM speeds then CAS latency for the best gaming performance.
3000 vs 3200 RAM
Putting two identical RAM modules together but having one clocked at 3200MHz and having one clocked at 3000MHz will show the 3200MHz module outperforming it. This is because the extra 200MHz will produce an extra 200million clock cycles per second which is essentially higher memory bandwidth. But this does not mean you should pick a 3200MHz module over the 3000MHz module but rather go for the cheaper option.
The reason you should go for the cheaper option is that RAM speed doesn’t produce a huge difference when it comes to gaming. Also, if the cheaper option happens to be the 3000MHz module, but has decent overclockability, then you can push it to 3200MHz pretty easily. If you can push the 3000MHz module to 3200MHz, that will be great as you will have higher frame rates and more stable 1% lows.
It’s best to always go for the cheaper option as having higher RAM speed won’t always exhibit higher frame rates, so if you’re on a budget, it’s smarter to go for the cheaper option. But don’t go for super slow RAM as the RAM speed is essentially the memory bandwidth, and less memory bandwidth can result in bottlenecks. It can cause your CPU to underperform causing system instabilities, for gaming, we recommend at least 3000MHz.
How Much RAM Do I Need For Gaming?
For gaming, we recommend at least 16GB of RAM as this is considered the sweet spot nowadays, it may not be as future-proof as 32GB, but it’s a great start. Having 32GB of RAM can be seen as unnecessary as many games do not use this much RAM. Just because RAM capacity is more important than clock speed, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to pick up as much RAM as possible as you will start to hit diminishing returns.
Certain games will benefit from having more than 16GB of RAM, for example, DCS World 2.7 which recommends 32GB of RAM for heavy missions at 4K. But, for the average gamer, 16GB is all you need, and if you’re not playing a lot of games that utilize open-world engines you should be perfectly fine. 16GB is enough for games such as CSGO, Battlefield, Assassins Creed but if the game is a more open world you may struggle.
Just ensure that you do not spend too much money on RAM as this can be a really bad idea. If you buy a 64GB module which is plain overkill, that money could’ve been spent on a better CPU or GPU for a guaranteed higher frame rate. But if you’re looking to be future-proof and not have your RAM modules become redundant in the future, 32GB of RAM is a great start.
RAM Speed Vs Size
Having more RAM capacity is the more important metric over RAM speed, this is because having enough RAM for gaming means the game will perform optimally without stuttering and FPS drops. Certain games will require more RAM than others, but in general, we recommend that you have at least 16GB of RAM as most games will not use more than 16GB of RAM.
In terms of RAM speed, it can have a slight influence when it comes to gaming performance, for example, if you overclock your RAM you may notice slighter higher frame rates, and better 1% lows. If you have the option to overclock your RAM, we highly recommend you do it as it’s pretty easy and you can only benefit from it. Once you’ve optimized your RAM speed, then you can move on to optimizing the CAS latency.
When talking about RAM speed, we cannot leave CAS latency out of it as the CAS(Column Address Strobe) latency refers to how many clock cycles it takes for the RAM to access the data in one of their columns. The CAS latency will usually look something like this (CL16-18-18-38), and the lower the better. Usually, for optimizing performance for gaming, you will want to focus on optimizing the CAS latency after you optimize the clock speed.
How To Increase RAM Speed?
If you build a gaming PC, it’s worth pushing the RAM to its max potential as you can experience amazing performance gains. Certain memory modules will have more overclockability than others, and to overclock you will have to either do it manually or with XMP profiles. To do this, you will need to enter your BIOS depending on your motherboard, the RAM overclocking will be a different process.
Depending on the RAM modules you buy, your target speed can be achieved pretty easily if it can be enabled via XMP. For example, if you buy 3600MHz RAM, then you can easily set it to that speed via XMP, otherwise, you will have to manually set your timings and clock speed. Overclocking RAM shouldn’t damage or reduce its lifespan, but you will have to be careful if you have to modify the voltages as this can affect the lifespan.
If you have to manually increase the voltages and clock speed, we recommend not going past 1.4v as it can get quite dangerous. Also, overclocking the RAM can be quite unnecessary if the games you’re playing are not RAM intensive. Overclocking your RAM and potentially reducing its lifespan for an extra 2FPS just isn’t worth it. If you can achieve a stable overclock without modifying the clock speed, then that’s a great idea.
The verdict is RAM speed technically does matter for gaming because the RAM speed does have some sort of influence on the performance. But this level of influence isn’t as great as you’d think, and it’s better to just focus on the RAM capacity instead of the RAM speed. If you can purchase a cheap RAM module, and overclock it to your desired clock speed without changing the voltages, then that’s a great idea as you save money.