RAM Make your PC Faster, AMD took the CPU core wars to the next level. NVIDIA turned RTX on and Apple dropped the new Mac Pro. But has RAM usage changed? Do you, Wanda, really need1 1/2 terabytes of RAM or will just dab do yah? To find out, we tested a variety of workloads.
Everything from opening browser RAMs in Chrome, browser tabs, to high-resolution gaming, to 4K video editing.
To complex Flow Simulation on a single four-gig stick of RAM, the smallest available for DDR4, all the way up to a monstrous 256 gig kit and everything in between.
And how much do you need? Well, as always the answer is, it depends. And as always, here’s a segue to our sponsor. XSplit, XSplit makes powerful streaming PC apps for streamers, vloggers, and more.
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Just like last time, we’re gonna track page file usage with a performance monitor and open up tasks until we notice activity in the page file.
That threshold where the system starts to swap data out of RAM and onto the boot drive is important. Not because you would instantly see your system slow down to a crawl, but because that’s where you could see a dip in system responsiveness. when switching between apps or even an increase in load times for programs that have been paged to your SSD or hard drive.
For our CPU, we went with the24-core AMD Threadripper 3960X because it allowed us to test every one of our RAM configurations on the same ASUS ZenithII Extreme motherboard, eliminating that as a variable.
We also went with that because we wanted a system that was reasonably representative of what will become available to general consumers over the next few years. We could have plunked a 64-core processor onto that same motherboard, but that ain’t going mainstream.
While the way things are going, 24-core actually might, thanks to AMD. We went with an RTX 2080SUPER graphics card, a Corsair MP600 1 terabyte boot drive, and a variety of CorsairVengeance Memory. That was chosen simply because Corsair has an incredibly broad memory lineup that covers any config we could want and they sent it over to us.
At four gigabytes, everything about as you would expect. We’re sitting at around 50% usage after logging into Windows before we’ve even done anything. Simply opening Chrome and watching a 4k YouTube video immediately pings the pagefile crossing our threshold.
The good news is that you can open six to seven tabs of various text and image-based sites before you see page file use and we got to about 125 tabs before Chrome decided it had had enough and completely pooped itself. Eight gigs were much better.
We comfortably handle three 4K videos from YouTube and 27 tabs at the same time before we saw any page file usage. 630 tabs later, we saw the system become unresponsive and laggy anytime we tried to load or reload a page.
Maybe on Linux, four gigs would be okay, but eight gigs look like the lowest we’d recommend for a good Windows 10 experience.
With 16 and 32 gigs, we stuck with the three 4K YouTube videos, you can only watch so many videos at the same time, and made it to 430 and 730other tabs respectively before tapping that page file. Now Chrome wasn’t very happy when we hit our max tabs in either case, but as long as we didn’t touch anything else, the computer was actually still usable.
It’s safe to say that anything beyond this is pretty much colossal overkill. Onto the games. Shadow of the Tomb Raider calls for eight gigs of RAM for its minimum spec and 16for its recommended spec.
Rainbow Six Siege wants six gigs of RAM minimum and only eight gigs recommended. And finally, we’ve got CS: GO that needs just two gigs of RAM, just two. You can basically run on overclocked potato at this point. All of our games were ran at1440p in the highest settings with no motion blur, obviously.
Starting at four gigs of RAM, CS:
GO as advertised ran just fine at 278 frames per second with no noticeable issues. But while both Tomb Raider and Siege seemed to run well at 90 and 154 FPS respectively, what’s interesting here is that these great looking numbers did not translate to a great gameplay experience due to occasional frame rate dips. Both games reached about60% page file usage, so I think we know what to blame.
Tomb Raider jumped to 103 FPS when we switched to eight gigs of RAM and smoothed out considerably with almost no stutters or hitching to be seen. And Rainbow Six also improved to 155 FPS, so okay, not really.
But just like Tomb Raider, all the stuttering was gone. CS: GO added a whopping six frames. But sarcasm aside, it was a solid experience with no issues as we’d expect. So eight gigs then is still plenty for gaming? Well, here’s the thing. On a sanitized benchmarkingWindows install, nothing else is gonna be running in the background.
That’s not representative of the real world. And when Tomb Raider and Siege were running, they were using seven to 7 1/2 gigs of RAM and the page file hit20% usage on occasion. So having Chrome, Discord, and or a music app open in the background would likely affect performance to some degree.
Fortunately, moving up to 16 gigs gives us plenty of room to work with. Just like there’s plenty of room in your closet for our merch, lttstore.com. Average frame rates either stayed steady or improved and we had plenty of headroom to record our gameplay or stream in the background. Past this point though, there was no real performance gain or loss.
Adobe Premiere cut four and eight gigs down pretty quick with the four-gig setup crashing on a regular basis anytime we tried to render just a one-minute test clip. And as for our eight-gig config, it did manage to render the clip but it took a hot minute, as the kids say.
At 16 gigs, Premiere was usable with our render taking just three minutes and 23 seconds but scrubbing and playback were like watching an old movie picture real. Remember guys, this is on a Threadripper and at both 1/4 and 1/8 scale.
So we’d say this is okay as long as you’re willing to wait around to create proxies before you edit. So those are lower-resolution versions of your clips or if you stick with 1080p. 32 gig and beyond is gonna help bring your render times even lower and work with much larger and more complicated project files.
A lot of the usage here though is gonna come down to your individual workflow needs. Our editors, Mark and A.Prime have slightly different machines.
With Mark’s having 64 gigs of RAM and Prime’s having 128. Both of them have Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, Chrome, Word, and Excel open while editing a video, and depending on the video, Mark will see 85 to 95%usage while he edits and A.Prime will see 60 to 70% sometimes spiking to 90%utilization or 115 gigs.
would forgive you for thinking that 256 gigs is overkill for anything. But while nothing that average folks are likely to do will ever touch it, engineers and scientists will often have huge amounts of data.
To deal with to the point where such a system load-out might not even be a luxury, but rather a necessity.
Check out our RAM Punisher Flow Simulation benchmark.
The more memory you have, the more variables you can account for, improving the airflow calculations around this Cybertruck model. This thing can easily suck up 256 gigs of RAM and actually prefers to have more.
Shout out to Flow Joe, by the way, for this benchmark. Another example is a professional composer and mixer like Neil Parfitt, who regularly has projects reach upwards of 215 gigs thanks to all of the tracks and instrument sets that he needs to be loaded.
Having them in the memory means instant access.
Now one thing our test was not able to account for today was the increase in memory bandwidth as we scaled from single channel to dual and quad-channel configurations. That’s why we focused on pagefile usage as our threshold rather than on the performance differences.
But stay subscribed because that is something that we would like to explore going forward. So then in the end, conclusion.
You’re probably fine with just a solid eight to 16 gigs of RAM for your everyday use and gaming. If you do photo and video editing, bump that up to 32 or 64 or 128 if you do it professionally.
And beyond that, well, its probably just bragging rights unless you know for a fact that you’re doing something that benefits from it.
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