To achieve high frame rates and smooth gameplay, you'll need a good gaming computer.
A component frequently overlooked is RAM, and more specifically, the question, does RAM affect FPS?
If you're not familiar with RAM or the different variations, don't worry, we've got you covered. Let's find out how much it impacts your gameplay!
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What Is RAM?
RAM, also known as “random access memory," is the short-term memory of your computer.
RAM reserves and stores the most important data on your computer so you can easily open applications, browse files, or jump into a videogame.
In other words, RAM holds the data that you are currently and consistently using, so it is available immediately.
With the right amount of RAM and well-functioning corresponding components, your computer should be fast and responsive without delay.
With that said, it should be noted that RAM alone will not transform an aging computer. RAM corresponds directly with the CPU (Processor).
Therefore a slow CPU paired with a good amount of RAM will not see as much improvement.
To get the most out of your computer, the CPU, Motherboard, and GPU (graphics card) would need to be upgraded, and only then would a RAM upgrade yield definite results.
What Is FPS?
FPS is a popular acronym used in the computer and gaming industry. It shouldn't be confused with "First-person shooters," as it relates to something more technical.
FPS means "frames per second." Frame rate, measured in "FPS," describes how smooth your gaming experience is.
If your game is capped at 60 FPS, it means you are seeing 60 frames per second. The more frames your PC can generate, the more fluid and smooth your gameplay will be.
Does RAM Affect FPS? (Overview & How They Impact One Another)
In short, RAM does affect FPS, but the results depend on the amount of RAM, whether the RAM is dual channeled, and the speed of the RAM.
How much RAM do I need?
If you ask any serious PC gamer how much RAM you need, the most common answer will be 16GB.
Most videogames today require a minimum of 8GB, but this value is changing today as we see ‘AAA titles’ such as Elden Ring recommend 12GB of RAM for the very least.
You could get away with 8GB for the next year or two, but 16GB is the sweet spot.
So, will adding more RAM see an improvement? As stated above, it all depends on the game’s specification demands.
If you're playing an older game that requires 4GB of RAM and upgrade from 8GB to 16GB, there will be little-to-no FPS increase as you already have enough RAM.
However, if a game like Elden Ring required 12GB of RAM, and you went from 8GB to 16GB, you would see a good FPS boost.
Therefore, meeting the recommended RAM size for streaming and playing video games ensures maximum performance.
Should you, therefore, add as much RAM as possible? If money isn't an issue, 32GB is an option to 'future-proof' your gaming PC.
You may see a small increase in frame rate over 16GB, but 32GB is regarded as overkill for most games today.
However, if you're running a videogame, PhotoShop, and opening various tabs all at once, then 32GB will ensure your computer won’t slow down when multi-tasking.
Related: How Long Does RAM Last For?
Can dual channeling RAM affect FPS?
When you buy 16GB of RAM, you're usually presented with two options - 1 x 16GB stick or 2 x 8GB sticks.
If you decide to go with 16GB in total, you should always opt for using two sticks of RAM together (dual channeling).
The reason behind this is dual channeling will probably give you the highest FPS increase in terms of raw RAM performance.
Dual channeling is always better because the memory controller on the CPU can read both sticks of RAM in parallel.
This essentially means doubling the bandwidth, which gives your system more speed and reduced latency.
Additionally, if one stick of RAM were to fail or break, you can remove it and still boot your system.
In games such as Battlefield 5, HITMAN 2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we can see upwards of a 20 FPS increase when switching from 'single channel' to 'dual channel' RAM.
You probably think most motherboards have 4 RAM slots, so how do you correctly dual channel? In most cases, you should insert your RAM into A2 and B2, or slot 2 and slot 4.
Does RAM speed affect FPS?
Depending on your CPU type, RAM speed can affect FPS. Intel CPUs don't necessarily require fast RAM speeds as most budget 'non-overlocking' motherboards are locked at a 2666MHz frequency.
When comparing gaming benchmarks of 2666MHz and 3600MHz RAM on an Intel 12th Gen CPU, games such as Warzone saw a 15 FPS boost at most.
There is a performance increase; however, it's quite minimal when weighed against the extra cost of high-speed RAM and a customizable motherboard.
Better results from a price-to-performance perspective are shown with AMD Ryzen CPUs.
Ryzen works best with high-speed RAM because it has a higher memory frequency limit (making it more sensitive to RAM speed).
You should start with 3200MHz RAM and work your way up depending on your motherboard's RAM capabilities.
Remember to always enable the RAM XMP profile on an AMD motherboard, so you get the advertised RAM speed.
Otherwise, the RAM is set to 2133MHz at default which can have a major setback to performance.
In terms of gaming performance, the FPS increase due to RAM speed is nearly double that of Intel.
2400MHz RAM, when compared to 3600Mhz, saw FPS increase by over 30 frames in Fortnite!
Common RAM & FPS Questions Answered
What else can I do to improve FPS?
The GPU and CPU affect FPS and are the main driving force behind high FPS.
If you cannot upgrade your components, you can also look into lowering your graphics settings in-game and further optimizing your computer's operating system.
A lowered resolution might not be as pretty, but your FPS should increase.
What is the ideal FPS?
Depending on the game you're playing, this can range from 60 FPS to 240 FPS. Single-player games should perform perfectly fine at 60 FPS with VSync enabled.
Multiplayer games require minimal input delay with a high frame rate to ensure smoothness, so anything upwards of 100 FPS should keep you competitive.
Will I get more FPS with 16GB of RAM when compared to 8GB?
Yes, if the game you're playing recommends more than 8GB of RAM. As soon as the game's requirements are met in terms of RAM, you will likely see minimal-to-no FPS increase.
Therefore, playing with 32GB or 16GB of RAM on a 4GB game will lead to the same experience.
RAM definitely has a role to play in regards to FPS. Ensuring you have 16GB of RAM at a frequency to match your CPU and motherboard will guarantee the best performance.
With that said, the GPU and CPU will play the largest role as to whether you have 60 or 200 FPS. ‘Better RAM’ is just the cherry on top of an already high-end gaming PC!
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.