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How much RAM do you consider to be enough?

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It's been a couple years so I figured I'd update this.


It looks like the prices of RAM have gone down a lot. They're almost where they were in 2016, so that's really nice for anyone wanting to build a PC today.


From looking at RAM prices, the price per gigabyte of 8 GB and 4 GB DDR4 kits is worse than 16 GB. Here are the prices for the cheapest dual-channel 2666 MHz+ kits of different memory capacities that I could find in PCPartPicker (USD):

  • 4 GB DDR4 (1x 4 GB) @ 2666 MHz: $20.49 ($5.122 per GB) -- Nobody sells dual channel 4 GB DDR4 DIMM kits.
  • 8 GB DDR4 (2x 4 GB) @ 2666 MHz: $38.99 ($4.874 per GB)
  • 16 GB DDR4 (2x 8 GB) @ 2666 MHz: $61.98 ($3.874 per GB)
  • 32 GB DDR4 (2x 16 GB) @ 2666 MHz: $109.99 ($3.437 per GB)
  • 64 GB DDR4 (4x 16 GB) @ 3000 MHz: $269.99 ($4.219 per GB)

I chose 2666 MHz because that is the maximum supported clock speed for Intel's Coffee Lake CPUs. For AMD, the maximum supported is 2666 MHz for Ryzen 1000 and 2933 MHz for Ryzen 2000. I say "maximum supported" in terms of the written specification of the CPU where anything higher is considered an overclock (thus unsupported).


For some strange reason, 64 GB kits are pretty badly priced and the cheapest I could find was 3000 MHz, not 2666 MHz. You may just be better off getting two identical 32 GB kits instead because you'll save around $50. Of course, you cannot guarantee they'll work together, but if they're the same exact model and specifications, it'll most likely work.


Anyway, for building a new PC, getting 8 GB of DDR4 is not worth the savings anymore over 16 GB. You can still play recent games on 8 GB, but there is a measurable difference in performance from this and 16 GB. Considering 16 GB costs only 60% ($23) more, it is not worth it to cheap out on this component as you are getting a worse value by doing so. If you are only going to watch videos, then 8 GB should be fine, still.


As for 4 GB, you shouldn't get it. Not only is it a horrible value, but you can't even get dual channel 4 GB DDR4 at least on desktop PCs, effectively cutting your memory bandwidth in half. Also, considering web browsers hog memory, you're just asking for trouble by going with 4 GB.


Tucker933 likes this

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Yeah when I recently built my own computer I splashed the (relative) cash on ensuring that I had at least 16GB DDR4 to start off with. My old computer had 8GB (DDR3) but since I've built it and got it all up and running, I've noticed a good difference in the way the PC and games I play run. I'm looking at getting another 16GB kit in the future though to take it up to 32GB but there's no real reason for that at the moment for me, I think I'd just like saying "Look at me, I've got 32GB RAM" like it would win me more friends. 

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