How Much Memory Should You Get? 4GB vs. 8GB vs. 16GB Performance Tested

By Steve
Aug 18, 2015
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  1. With the recent arrival of Skylake, many are looking into Intel's latest platform which requires not just a Core i7-6700K or Core i5-6600K processor but also a new Z170 motherboard and DDR4 memory. Although memory prices are competitive at the moment (read: cheap), you can still expect to pay between 20 to 40% more for DDR4 memory versus DDR3. Naturally, users are questioning if the upgrade to Skylake is worth the premium.

    Regardless of whether you opt for Intel's latest platform and DDR4, or go for last season's Haswell range with more affordable DDR3 memory, you'll likely ask yourself: "Should I get 8GB or 16GB of RAM?"

    Today's modern games and many productivity applications can consume upwards of 4GB, so there's little argument for not going with 8GB. However, the need for 16GB of memory is a hotly debated subject, so today we are going see if and where this much memory might be useful for desktop users.

    Read the complete article.

    cliffordcooley likes this.
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    Great read! Confirms some of my judgement calls.
    Julio Franco and madboyv1 like this.
  3. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,893   +645

    I agree mostly with this article however, I have come across some issues with just 8GB of RAM and your a bit of a power user (loads of tabs open, video editing software and a couple of other bits and bobs).

    I used to have 8GB of RAM and that was plenty really until I started playing Battlefield 4, if I had a fair amount open and played Battlefield 4 at the same time, I would get random micro stuttering (specially with 64 player maps). I monitored my PC's performance and found that basically all 8GB was in use and it was Paging quite a lot to my SSD, once I upgraded to 16GB of RAM, this has never occurred since.

    I'm guessing the way the Frostbite engine works must store quite a few assets into RAM and when it was Paging causing the engine to have to go to the SSD for it's files was causing a considerable delay.
    madboyv1 and SuperVeloce like this.
  4. Cryio

    Cryio TS Booster Posts: 191   +57

    If you have insane amounts of ram (say 32+), you can always make a partition small enough that resides in the RAM. It will be like the fastest SSD ever made, so there's that :D.
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    But why would you play games with a million background services running? Do you really need all of them running?
    I also have 16 GB of RAM which is way overkill for me but the only reason I have it is because I bought my Patriot Intel Extreme Masters memory on a great special which was only about 7 quid more than the 8 GB kit.
    That said I've never seen my memory usage go much above 5 GB in any game I play.
  6. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,893   +645

    Because Exporting some of the videos I have take hours, I prefer to have all my usual websites open as it makes it quicker to find and do things, TeamSpeak, Origin, Steam, uPlay and are always open and auto updating. iTunes for Music. I usually have a couple of RDP windows open for work and/or home server access. Watchguard System Manager to check my Firewall is all ok, vSphere client to check my server performance and what it's been up to. Then there's the usual background stuff, Asus Ai Suite, Corsair Link, Razer Synapse, Creative Sound Card settings and GeForce Experience.

    That's just my usual stuff, That wasn't really the point of my original post though, the point was that my frame rate was still high playing Battlefield 4 but I got quite bad micro-stutter at times and that was caused by not having enough RAM available, so anyone who likes to run and do lots of things at once might want to consider the 16GB anyway as modern games chew up RAM a lot more than they used.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
    mellamokb and SuperVeloce like this.
  7. hojnikb

    hojnikb TS Enthusiast Posts: 29

    Could you guys do a more indepth test of the gaming portion ?

    While avarage frames are okay, it would make more sense to atleast test minimum frames and/or frametimes aswell. I'm sure lack of ram would present itself more easily in such tests than pure avarage frames.

    Just sayin'.
  8. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,189   +1,219

    These were the most RAM hungry games we had installed, I tested over 20 games and most of them used less than 4GB’s. I also looked the minimum and frame time data, it was exactly the same as the averages.
    jauffins and Julio Franco like this.
  9. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,148   +488

    I used to be 8GB, but I had to go to 16GB since windows kept complaining that I was low on memory. I probably need to do some cleaning up of startup stuff and what not, but I am also a have multi-tasker.
  10. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,352   +1,945

    I was interested in why you have so many apps running all at the same time. I guess we all use our machines differently.
    Julio Franco and Burty117 like this.
  11. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,893   +645

    Yeah pretty much, I know an SSD makes it uber quick but you can't beat the speed of "already open" :)
    Skidmarksdeluxe and mellamokb like this.
  12. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Enthusiast Posts: 35   +14

    Please stop doing RAM tests on 32-bit games; the old Virtual Address Space limit of 2GB remains in effect, hence why every title is using the same amount of RAM. In short, the games are using all they can at any one time due to an architectural limit. Even if the titles are compiled with LAA set, they're still limited to just 4GB.

    If you want to test RAM's effect on games, you have to test 64-bit titles. It's as simple as that.

    Also FYI: 2^31 = 2147483648, or 2GB, not 2.2GB like the article is claiming.
    Ziffel likes this.
  13. deemon

    deemon TS Booster Posts: 199   +46

    Have had 8GB since 2008 and this was not enough since ~2010 till today... if you play blizzard games like WoW (with 100 addons) or HotS and have multiple monitors and keep browser open with 40+ tabs or occasionally use VM-s for running various test stuff. So when someone asked me today how much RAM is needed I would say 16GB is bare minimum... look for more if your budget allows. When I myself would build a PC today... (actually I am building one right now, just parts are in short supply in this region for ITX Z170 boards and Nano lets us wait for itself etc ... and 16GB modules are nowhere to be found in shops) I am going to put 32GB into it, because hopefully this PC will last for next 5+ years.
  14. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    I use 8GB of memory in my computers, they're admittedly older systems, but it works enough for me. However, one situation I can think of where additional memory would be helpful is if you are still using a pagefile (which I still do). As SSDs have practically become the norm, a pagefile is the last thing I'd want to have being constantly modified on my SSD if I can help it (though admittedly a lot faster in recalling large amounts of page than a traditionally HDD). I currently mitigate this by storing my pagefile on a secondary hard drive, but my next build will most likely be pure SSD so I'll be putting a minimum of 16GB of memory in my system in order to bypass the need for a pagefile. Of course this is in the practice of trying to make everything as fast as possible, not necessarily being efficient. =p

    Of course I'm probably babying my SSD and shouldn't worry about it but I am a silly person, plus memory is pretty cheap.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
    zolik likes this.
  15. dirtyferret

    dirtyferret TS Enthusiast Posts: 62   +37

    Awesome review! I have 8GB of RAM in my personal PC and have never had an issue playing games, running several browser tabs, and streaming music all the same time. My wife has 4GB in her PC and has no issues what so ever on her daily routines. At work I have 2GB in my computer and there isn't a day that I don't want to toss it out the window.
  16. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,441   +594

    My 6GB Tri-Channel 1600MHz is still ripping right along on my X58 dinosaur.
  17. adisoftcafe

    adisoftcafe TS Member Posts: 18   +8

    If there is a SSD inside your PC, you should disable page file, so you need 12 GB of RAM. Because today the RAM price is very low, 16 GB is the best pick. Dual channel is not important, but disabling the page file translates into a longer life for the SSD and a boost in performance.
    zolik likes this.
  18. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 159   +41

    I would contact your desktop support team at work (if you have one) and ask them to give you more RAM. At my work, we use 64-bit images so everyone has at least 4 GB of RAM.
  19. soulsassassin

    soulsassassin TS Booster Posts: 68   +14

    to be honest you have so many crap useless programs in the background that's why you need so much RAM an average or a power user doesn't need a 16gb kit when he can just organize his programs and shut the chrome off it takes like a few seconds to reload all the pages you left open what's really the point of leaving 60+ tabs open ???? ,
    hahahanoobs, Kibaruk and jobeard like this.
  20. Waxinator

    Waxinator TS Rookie

    The idea of extra memory was more relevant in the old times, when you had slow hard-drives for paging of used memory and swapping processes in and out of memory. With todays rapid memory-like SSD 's those transfers of memory is hardly noticeable any more.

    A more realistic test would completely turn off all usage of all pagefiles. I don't need the ability to save crash dumps so I have zero pagefile in my 16GB system. As a small bonus I get less writes to my SSD.
  21. fps4ever

    fps4ever TS Booster Posts: 78   +58

    8Gb is fine if you're not a power user who does serious gaming and has to have a ton of apps open to save a few milliseconds. 16GB is better if you want to shut off the page file.
  22. Capaill

    Capaill TS Addict Posts: 280   +86

    I have disabled the page file on my 8GB system with an SSD and haven't noticed any problems. However, when gaming I tend to have very little else open besides a browser.
    I would also suggest that anyone using a graphics card with low VRAM should consider getting more system RAM to compensate. I've seen older graphics cards regularly using a further 3GB from the system RAM.
  23. z3razerviper

    z3razerviper TS Rookie

    Guess my 64GB of ram in my x99 is a bit overkill.....
  24. dirtyferret

    dirtyferret TS Enthusiast Posts: 62   +37

    key words (small company), it's also DDR2 RAM. The owner keeps telling me he wants to purchase three more computers but keeps putting it off until "next week"
  25. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,084   +332

    My x58 build is currently sitting on 12GB of ram. And when I went up from 6 to 12GB in 2011 it was a good idea. I do alot of things on my machine from VM's to video editing etc.

    For my next build I think I will go with 16GB of ram like the x58 halfway through it life cycle probably go up to 32GB's.

    I no longer upgrade machines are frequently as I use to.

    My x58 build is from 2009 and still going strong will be 6 years this oct. My next upgrade which will most likely be Skylake E will have to last me just as long or longer.
    DaveBG likes this.

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