You love gaming.
You don’t want anything to slow you down when you play.
Therefore, you need to have enough RAM in your gaming laptop.
How much RAM is enough? Some people err on the side of caution. In other words, they think that more is always better.
However, you might not need as much RAM as you think. Of course, you certainly don’t want to skimp on RAM. On the other hand, it is not necessary to go overboard, either.
This guide reviews the minimum requirements. It also summarizes the best options for all gamers.
What is RAM?
Let’s start with the basics.
What is RAM and why do you need a certain amount?
RAM is an acronym for the phrase “random access memory." This is a type of memory that helps speed up activities on your computer.
Basically, this is a type of temporary storage. Your computer takes everything that it needs to know right now and puts it into RAM. Then the computer can access that information quickly.
This is different from regular hard drive storage. That is where information is stored long-term. You can compare these to short and long-term memory in your brain.
For example, your own phone number is probably in your brain’s long-term memory. It is there to stay. You can call it up at any time.
However, let’s say that you want to remember a new phone number just long enough to make a call. You put it in your brain’s short-term memory. After you make the call, you don’t need it anymore, so the brain can clear it out of storage.
RAM is the short-term memory. Your computer puts things there that it might need soon so that It can quickly call them up as needed.
Therefore, RAM is what you need on your laptop to be able to do things in the moment. In gaming, you definitely need enough RAM to keep the game running quickly.
How Is RAM Measured?
RAM is measured in gigabytes.
Each incrementation of RAM is double the amount of gigabytes previous to it. For example, you can get 2 gigabytes, 4 gigabytes and 8 gigabytes of RAM.
The amount of RAM necessary has changed as technology has changed. Very cheap laptops may have as little as 2 gigabytes of RAM. While that might have worked okay in the past, it isn’t sufficient for most of the activities people do on their laptops today.
Some of this is due to the demand of newer programs. Some is due to the fact that we multitask on our computers. If you want to stream music, use a chat system, and look at a YouTube tutorial, then you need more RAM than if you were just typing up a text document.
The average person buying a regular non-gaming laptop will most likely purchase one with 8 gigabytes of RAM.
People who want to save money may opt for 4 gigabytes. That gives you a good general idea of the amount of RAM in a regular laptop.
More RAM costs more money. That is why some people will opt for fewer gigabytes if they don’t need more.
How Much RAM Should a Gaming Laptop Have?
A gaming laptop requires you to have good short-term memory for your games.
So how much RAM should a good gaming laptop have?
Minimum RAM for a Gaming Laptop
When purchasing a gaming laptop, you want to look for at least 8 gigabytes of RAM. Yes, laptops are more affordable if they only have 4 gigabytes of RAM. However, your games just will not run as smoothly as you want.
The exception to this is if you only play low-end games, such as Minecraft. A game like that can generally run fine on 4 gigabytes of RAM. However, if that were the case, you probably would not be too worried about RAM.
Choose 8 gigabytes as the absolute minimum for your gaming laptop.
Average RAM for a Gaming Laptop
You should be able to happily play most games on a laptop with 8 gigabytes of RAM. However, you should remember that this is the minimum. It is worth it to invest in a little bit more RAM for a gaming laptop.
Therefore, the average gaming laptop should have 16 gigabytes of RAM. Here are a few of the reasons why:
Some of the most demanding games today and emerging 4K gaming technology need more than 8 gigabytes.
As even newer games emerge, they will require a larger 16 gigabyte capacity.
16 gigabytes will allow you to do other things such as stream music while playing.
Game developers will typically provide information on how much RAM a game requires. Look at this on your favorite games to get a good sense of how much you need.
Is More RAM Better for a Gaming Laptop?
Why would you stop at 16 gigabytes when you can install so much more RAM in your computer? Gaming motherboards are definitely able to handle more RAM.
It isn’t uncommon to see computers with 32 gigabytes of RAM. Current laptops typically top out at 32 gigabytes. It is possible to install 64 or even 128 gigabytes in desktop computers.
Computers running that much RAM are not generally for gaming. Instead, they are useful for people who do professional-level video editing.
In other words, you aren’t likely to see any improvement in your games with RAM over 16 gigabytes.
Of course, having more RAM isn’t going to hurt you. However, it is going to cost more money. You won’t see a difference in gameplay, so that money is just wasted.
Troubleshoot Problems with 16GB of RAM
What if you do have 16 gigabytes of RAM, but your games aren’t running smoothly? Chances are that more RAM won’t help. The problem is likely to be somewhere else in the system.
For example, frame rate issues and slow game speed might be a problem with the video card. Therefore, you would upgrade the video card to resolve the issue. More RAM would not help.
Your processor’s capabilities (the CPU) also affects gameplay. If you are looking to buy a new gaming laptop, you want to make sure to look at all of these details.
Remember, do not choose a laptop based on RAM alone!
Adding RAM to a Gaming Laptop
Depending on the type of laptop you have, you might be able to upgrade the RAM yourself. If possible, you should install two separate memory modules that are 8 gigabytes each.
Yes, in some systems, you could install a 16 gigabyte memory module. However, adding two separate ones gives you more flexibility for the future. You can replace just one down the line as needed.
Unfortunately, you cannot add RAM to all laptops. Many devices are designed to make it difficult, or even impossible, to reach the memory modules inside. Do your research when buying a new gaming laptop to find out if these upgrades are possible.
Choosing RAM Brand
There are different brands to choose from when purchasing RAM. Not every 16 gigabyte RAM module is the same as the next.
It is worth doing your research to find the right brand.
DDR3 vs. DDR4 RAM
One key thing to look at is whether the brand is DDR3 or DDR4. These are different standards of memory chips. The DDR4 RAM is newer.
When comparing the two options, we see:
Technology is always changing. Neither option is clearly better than the other. However, at this time, most gamers continue to opt for DDR3 RAM.
Other Features to Look For
Here are some of the other things to look for when reading reviews to select the best RAM. These are all good signs:
Points to Remember
RAM is the short-term memory bank of your laptop.
You need enough RAM on your gaming computer for all games to run smoothly. However, it isn’t necessarily a situation where more is better.
In general, a good gaming laptop should have 16 gigabytes of RAM. You don’t need more than that, because more won’t improve your gameplay. If you want to save money, you can probably get away with only 8 gigabytes, but no less.
There are different brands of RAM in every size. Look for brands that have low latency and low voltage, and are specifically designed for gamers.
Choosing the right RAM is just one decision for your gaming laptop.
Be sure to also consider your CPU, graphics card and other details in the purchase.