One of the biggest debates between PC gamers when choosing components is on how much RAM is actually needed for gaming.
Most gamers today recommend 16GB at minimum, partly because that will meet the requirements for most use-cases and partly because that amount is affordable enough to fit into most budgets.
But is 16GB of RAM necessary for all use-cases?
Also Read: 8GB vs 16GB of RAM: How Much Should You Get?
In this guide, we’ll explore how much RAM is needed for gaming depending on what games you are planning on playing and what your budget is.
How Much Ram for Gaming: Quick Answer
If your main goal is to play demanding titles like Starfield, 16GB of RAM would be the minimum needed for an acceptable in-game experience. However, if you’re playing non-demanding titles like League of Legends, you can get away with using 8GB of RAM.
Bottom Line: 8GB for budget gamers playing non-demanding games, 16GB for the majority of gamers, and 32GB for gamers with extreme budgets and needs.
What Games Are You Playing?
No two games are designed the same. Different games require more resources and, as a result, require better PC hardware to run adequately.
Therefore, to really determine how much RAM you need, you need to consider what games you primarily play.
If your goal is to max out games like Starfield or Assassin’s Creed, you’re going to need more RAM. (Both games recommend 16GB of RAM.)
However, some of the most popular titles today are not super demanding games. Minecraft, League of Legends, Overwatch 2, Fortnite, Rocket League, etc. all have minimum RAM requirements of 8GB or less.
Also Read: Is 8GB of RAM Enough for Gaming?
What’s Your Budget?
Obviously, the more you have to spend, the more RAM you can get.
If you’re upgrading the memory in a desktop or laptop, you can spend ~$20 and get an additional 8GB of RAM.
That’s fairly straightforward.
However, if you’re building a new gaming PC and you’re wondering how much of your budget you should allocate to your RAM, that extra $20 could mean the difference between a GPU upgrade or not.
And, a GPU upgrade is going to have a bigger impact on your in-game experience than bumping up from 8GB to 16GB will. Not to mention, it is much easier of a process and is more affordable to add more RAM down the road than it would be to add a new graphics card.
In that case, if you’re working with a very tight budget, opting for 8GB of RAM over 16GB of RAM might be the most sensible thing to do. This is especially true if you’re only planning on playing non-demanding games (as mentioned above.)
Ultimately, though, if you have even a moderate budget for a new PC, RAM is cheap enough to where you should be able to fit 16GB in with no problems.
Quick Note: Single Channel or Dual Channel?
Another thing you’ll want to consider if you’re building a new PC is whether you should opt for a single stick of memory, or two (or more) sticks of memory so you can run a dual channel configuration.
Running multiple sticks of memory will offer you a small performance boost in most games and applications. And, if you have a moderate budget and can fit in 16GB of RAM, you should opt for a 2x8GB (16GB total) kit of memory over a single 16GB stick of RAM.
Also Read: Single Channel vs Dual Channel Memory
However, if you have a tight budget and are restricted to 8GB of memory, should you get a 2x4GB kit of RAM or a single stick of 8GB?
In my opinion—and this may be contrary to what others would recommend—I would say opt for the single stick of 8GB.
In this scenario you lose out on the dual channel memory configuration, but you make upgrading to 16GB of RAM in the future cheaper and easier.
This is because if your budget is so tight that you can only fit 8GB of RAM into it, it almost always also means you’ll also have to opt for a budget micro-ATX motherboard.
And, since micro-ATX motherboards only have two DIMM slots (where your RAM goes), if you ever want to upgrade to 16GB of memory, the initial cost of the 2X4GB kit will be completely wasted.
Whereas if, instead, you opted for a single stick of 8GB of RAM, you can simply add a second stick later down the road. Then you’ll get the ideal amount of RAM in a dual channel configuration.