You’ve probably been told that 8GB of RAM is not enough for gaming? But, is that true? In this post, we cover whether or not 8GB of RAM will work for gamers in 2023.
Thanks to the ongoing global chip shortage, many hopeful PC gamers have begun to shift their sights away from the best graphics cards and onto other components. While RAM (Random Access Memory) supply has been affected by the shortage, it hasn’t been affected to the same extent as graphics card supply, so RAM upgrades are looking ever more tantalising in 2023.
While 8GB RAM was more than enough for gaming across all titles in the not-so-distant past, many are now questioning whether this is enough to run today’s games.
Whether 8GB RAM is enough for gaming in 2023 depends on which games you’ll be playing, what settings you’ll be using, and what other tasks you’ll be using your gaming PC for.
What is RAM?
RAM is essentially your computer’s short-term memory. While a storage drive like an SSD stores a vast amount of data that persists between boot-ups, RAM is ‘volatile’, meaning it requires power to refresh its data to keep it stored, and any data stored in RAM is therefore lost when the PC shuts down.
Data that’s stored in RAM can be accessed very quickly. Because of this, RAM receives only the data from storage drives that different apps will need quick and frequent access to. RAM sends this data to the CPU and other components for processing as and when the data is needed.
If RAM storage fills up, your computer starts to use your HDD or SSD to store and access this short-term data instead, but these storage drives are much slower than RAM, so this causes a performance hit.
Is More RAM Better for Gaming?
RAM capacity doesn’t scale linearly with performance. For instance, upgrading from 32GB to 64GB RAM likely won’t improve gaming performance. Similarly, moving from 4GB to 8GB RAM likely won’t improve gaming performance in old games that require very little RAM.
Instead, RAM should be thought of as a minimum limit. If your games and apps are utilising all your memory, this will cause performance issues such as stuttering, freezing, and frame drops. In other words, you should ensure that you have enough RAM for whatever games and apps you’ll be running, but once you have enough for this then adding more RAM won’t increase performance much.
RAM Comparison in Games
To give you an idea of how much RAM different kinds of games use, I loaded a few games and recorded my PC’s RAM usage during gameplay. Here are the results:
|The Witcher 3||2.1GB|
All games were running on high settings at 1080p resolution, with the exception of CS:GO which was running at 960p.
As you can see, ‘easy to run’ games like Bastion and Don’t Starve use well under 1GB memory, and more graphically intensive titles like The Witcher 3 often don’t use much more than 2GB memory. However, newer games like Elden Ring frequently make use of over 5GB of your RAM’s data capacity, even at 1080p.
Is 8GB RAM Enough for Gaming?
The above chart comparison can be misleading if it isn’t understood in the correct context because your PC doesn’t just use its RAM for gaming. Any other apps and background processes that are running will use memory resources, and so will the operating system itself. For instance, you can see in the above picture that Brave Browser is utilising 2.6GB of my RAM’s capacity—this was with twelve active browser tabs open.
Windows 10 and Windows 11 use between roughly 1GB and 3GB RAM for their system operations while idle, so if you only have 8GB RAM that leaves 5-7GB for all other apps and games. Preferably, though, you should have enough ‘free’ RAM to allow Windows to use 3-4GB for its system operations, with extra given for Windows caching.
If you play modern triple-A games…
If you have just 8GB RAM and you want to play modern triple-A games, for a smooth experience you’ll likely have to close all other apps and reduce the number of background processes running while you game—and, even so, depending on the game, this still might not be enough.
You should always check a game’s minimum and recommended requirements to discover how much RAM you will likely need to play it comfortably. If in doubt when comparing 8GB vs 16GB RAM, it might be best to opt for the latter to be safe.
If you play less demanding games…
On the other hand, 8GB RAM should be enough to play less strenuous games—such as Don’t Starve and Bastion—without having to close too many apps and end too many background processes. You should still practice moderation, though, because 8GB RAM won’t be enough to handle heavy multitasking while gaming.
If you want room to breathe…
You should also consider whether gaming and everyday desktop usage is your only priority. While 8GB might be enough to play many (but not all) games in 2023, it certainly isn’t enough for heavy productivity tasks. If you think you might start undertaking resource-intensive projects like 3D rendering or video editing in the future, or if you want to be able to run many everyday applications at once while gaming, then you’re probably better opting for 16GB or even 32GB of RAM.