When people unfamiliar with computing think about RAM, they often think gamers need good quality RAM. Most folks see RAM in terms of how many different things a computer can do at once without losing performance power. This thinking is flawed, however, especially in terms of what RAM can do for gaming. The idea that faster RAM speeds will lead to more responsive graphics isn’t quite rooted in truth. That being said, RAM does affect gaming, and understanding how to work with RAM can provide a better gaming experience than if you just load up a computer with high speed RAM and expect miracles.
In computers that advertise high speed RAM performance, there are some issues gamers could see. One of them is unreliable performance due to overclocking. The high-speed RAM is designed to overclock, and when you game it is essentially the equivalent of putting a V8 engine in a Toyota Corolla. The operation of the car is essentially unsafe and hard to control. In the case of gaming, the reliability of the high-speed RAM and the overclocking will cause the computer not to be reliable when you need it most. Going with a RAM that’s a bit more moderate in speed will provide great consistency in performance as it will avoid overclocking.
RAM’s Relationship to the Processor
There are several other parts of the computer’s function affected by RAM. For example, the processor can only perform a certain amount of functions within a certain period of time. If the processor is overclocked due to having too many tasks, there will never be enough RAM to make it work effectively. Having a processor speed in sync with RAM gives your computer a smooth, reliable performance.
Think of RAM the way you would bandwidth. Having high speed RAM with lots of memory means you will have a large highway and lots of places to park cars. However, if your computer is used primarily for gaming, then the highway will be somewhat clear, and you won’t need many parking spaces. When looking for a computer for gaming, make sure the processor has the ability to handle all the different tasks the RAM would carry out – the processor is the traffic cop while the RAM keeps things moving.
Many gamers report that RAM does have an effect depending on the type of processor that’s in the unit. Intel processors are built to handle the different requirements for gaming. However, it is highly recommended by knowledgeable gamers that if your computer uses an AMD processor to get additional RAM. This will help the processor do all the tasks necessary to making the game run smooth. While there are a variety of reasons for this dichotomy, the bottom line is Intel processors are better at the different functions gaming requires, while AMD are better processors for basic computing.
How Frame rates are Affected
The reality is a high RAM of 3200 as opposed to 2400 makes a small difference, but it isn’t noticeable. The reality is your frame rates will improve as your RAM speed increases. The reason is the loading speed of the new frames along with the discarding of the older frames is faster. Go back to the highway analogy. The higher RAM speed allows more cars on the highway, in this case, more frames, contributing to a higher frame rate. This is where your monitor comes in though. If you have a monitor that can only do so much in a certain period of time, then you could have the fastest RAM in the world, but the monitor limits the RAM’s ability to flip frames.
Where RAM does make a difference is the processing of graphics. Every computer has a separate graphics card, and this is where the images are generated. For gamers, having a powerful graphics is embedded into any gaming computer design. Within a graphics card, there are considerations for RAM. Having higher RAM speeds here is very helpful because it helps the graphics card move through its different operations with greater efficiency. If you have the ability to spend more on a good graphics card and add RAM to it, this is where you would want to invest – along with getting a monitor that can handle the output of the graphics card.
Other Hardware Matters
In all the talk about RAM one of the great unsaid points has been repeatedly echoed – you need to have the right components to make the RAM work well for you. Having the right processor, motherboard, and graphics card are very important to the architecture of your gaming computer. It is equally important to have a monitor that has a high frame rate as well. RAM is the basic underpinning of these components, but it will only allow these components to work as well as their potential will allow. You can’t expect to have a great gaming experience with high-speed RAM yet not invest in a monitor, processor, and graphics card. The key is making sure that your entire computer is ready for the heavy duty work that gaming requires.
There are a couple of different conclusions to glean from these points. The first is how RAM may not really affect what you’re doing in gaming all that much. The second is that RAM is critical to making everything run with efficiency.
These points may seem in diametric opposition, but the reality is the relationship between them requires a bit of nuance to understand. RAM is the transit system of information in a computer. However, the other parts like the graphics card, processor, and monitor affect how that information is generated and received. The reality is RAM can only do so much if there are limitations to the other hardware. The inverse, of course, is if you have hardware that does much but little in the way of RAM, performance will suffer.
The good news is the suffering in performance is very slight and will not be noticed by people who aren’t experts in detecting this type of latency. So, if you are looking to increase your RAM, take a look at the other components. It may be that you have more than enough RAM all ready to do the job.