A very common question first-time (and not only) PC builders ask themselves is how much RAM they need.
And most of the time, if they plan to build a gaming PC, the dilemma is to either go for 16GB or 32GB of RAM.
So, which one is better, and what’s the difference between the two?
Usually, going for 32GB will be overkill because most users don’t need that much RAM. However, if you are a power user and know you will be running memory-intensive applications, then 32GB might be a good choice.
If you are not sure whether you should get 16GB or 32GB of RAM, then keep reading because, in this article, we are going to talk about what RAM is, what the differences are between 16GB and 32GB RAM kits, and which one you should get depending on your needs.
What is RAM?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, the temporary storage location for data your computer uses.
The amount of data that a computer can store in its RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB), and the more RAM you have, the more information your computer can store in it at any given time, which will, in turn, speed up your system.
So essentially, the difference between 16GB and 32GB of RAM is the amount of data your computer can store in its memory at any given time. 32GB RAM will allow your computer to store twice the data than the 16GB RAM, making it way faster.
But the amount of data your computer can store is not the only thing that determines how fast your system’s memory will be.
The frequency of the RAM also affects how fast your computer can access the data. The frequency is measured in megahertz (MHz), and the higher the MHz, the faster the RAM.
Finally, the generation of RAM also matters. DDR5 is the latest and fastest RAM generation, while DDR4 is the previous but the most common generation.
I know that the frequency and generation of RAM are out of the scope of this article, but I just wanted to mention them so that you know that other factors also affect the speed of your computer’s memory, not just the amount of RAM.
Now that we know what RAM is and how it works, let’s talk about whether you need 16GB or 32GB of RAM.
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16GB vs 32GB RAM: How much do you need?
The answer to this question is not that simple because it depends on what you plan to use your computer for.
So in this section, I will break down different uses and help you decide how much RAM is right for you.
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For everyday use, such as browsing the web, using social media, watching videos, and working with documents, even the 16GB of RAM will be more than enough.
When doing simple stuff like this, your computer doesn’t need to store much data in its RAM because it doesn’t have to do complex tasks.
The most intensive task in everyday use is probably browsing the web with many browser tabs open, and even then, 16GB will be more than enough.
So unless you plan to do some crazy multitasking or you know you will run many memory-intensive applications simultaneously, I recommend using 16GB of RAM or even less for everyday use.
I think this section is what interests most of you. And while most gamers think that 32GB of RAM is a must for gaming, that’s not entirely true.
For most modern games, 8GB of RAM will be more than enough because games don’t store that much data in memory.
Even AAAA games with high-resolution textures will run just fine with 8GB of memory capacity.
Games are GPU-intensive, not RAM-intensive, which means the graphics card is more important for gaming than the amount of RAM.
But with that being said, certain games might need 32GB of RAM. This is the case with simulation games, such as Cities Skylines, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and Farming Simulator 19.
These games have to store a lot of data in RAM because they simulate an entire city or world. While it might not be such an obvious thing, simulation games can be very demanding, and if you plan to play them, I recommend buying 32GB of RAM.
Another scenario where 32GB of RAM will be necessary is if you plan to stream while gaming.
When you stream a game, the game must store the video data in the memory before it can compress and send it to the streaming service. So, if you are planning to do some serious gaming and streaming, I recommend getting 32GB of RAM.
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Video Editing – 3D Modeling
If you plan to do video editing, and use software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, or Davinci Resolve, 16GB of RAM is the bare minimum.
These programs are very RAM intensive, and if you are planning to do some serious video editing, I recommend getting 32GB of RAM or even more.
This is because when you are editing videos, the software has to load the entire video into the memory to be able to edit it.
Also, the rendering process is very RAM intensive, and if you don’t have enough RAM, the rendering process will be very slow, and you might have to wait even for days to render a single video.
So if you are planning to do video editing, I recommend getting at least 32GB of RAM, and if you can afford it, even more.
Machine Learning – AI
If you plan to use your computer for machine learning or AI, I recommend getting 32GB of RAM or even more.
This is because when you are training a machine learning model, the software has to load a lot of data into the memory, and if you don’t have enough RAM, the training process will be very slow.
The truth is that most of the time, these machine learning models are run on the cloud and not on a personal computer. But if you plan to run small machine learning models on your personal computer, I recommend getting at least 32GB of RAM.
Working From Home
If you are working from home and using your computer for work, I recommend getting 16GB of RAM.
This is because you will use your computer for office applications such as Microsoft Office or Google Docs and light multitasking, and for these types of tasks, 16GB of RAM will be enough.
But if you are working with large files or doing other RAM-intensive tasks, you might consider getting 32GB of RAM.
If you are a programmer or software developer, 16GB of RAM will be enough most of the time.
While code editors are demanding on computer’s resources, they don’t use too much RAM.
The only case you would need more than 16GB of RAM is if you are working on a huge project or doing some serious multitasking. But for most programmers, 16GB of RAM will be enough.
16 vs. 32GB RAM FAQ
Is There A Big Difference Between 16GB And 32GB RAM?
If you are using your computer for intensive tasks such as video editing or machine learning, you will notice a big difference between 16GB and 32GB of RAM.
But you will not notice such a big difference if you use your computer for light tasks such as browsing the web or working on office applications.
Is 32 GB Of RAM Overkill?
Yes, most of the time, 32 GB of RAM is overkill. But if you are using your computer professionally for tasks such as video editing or machine learning, 32 GB of RAM is not overkill.
Does 32 GB RAM Increase FPS?
Yes, adding more RAM can potentially increase your FPS. But it depends on the type of game you are playing and on your system specs.
Will 32GB RAM Improve Streaming?
As I told you, playing games and streaming simultaneously are very RAM-intensive tasks.
So, yes, 32GB of RAM can potentially improve your streaming quality.
The choice between 16GB and 32GB of RAM depends on your needs.
If you use your computer for light tasks such as browsing the web or working on office applications, 16GB of RAM will be more than enough.
But if you use your computer for intensive memory usage tasks such as video editing or machine learning, I recommend getting at least 32GB of RAM.
I hope this article was helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.
Nick Ryley, is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love to play games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building