Buying Guide Part 6: Memory
How much computer memory is enough for a gaming PC? For the average new pc game, 8GB is enough.
But, there are a few new and very demanding games such as Battlefield 1 that recommends 16GB. You’ll need at least 8GB to run the game but basically it’ll run better if you have 16GB.
Based on this, I would say the absolute minimum memory you install is 8GB with 16GB being the ideal setup if within your budget.
For myself, I would go with 16GB. I never like to go with the minimum requirements because not only do you want a good performing system, you want to future proof your system for a while.
Dual Channel Kit or Single Stick Memory?
Let’s say that you have decided to go with 16GB. Do you get all 16GB in a single stick or do you go with a dual channel kit, which is two sticks of 8GB?
You will always want to go with the highest channel kit the motherboard can support. With the ASUS Prime Z370-P motherboard that we chose in a previous article, this motherboard supports dual channel DDR4 memory.
Triple channel and Quad channel memory kits are supported more on the higher end platforms. Actually, triple channel has already been phased out and replaced with quad channel on these newer high end setups. So for motherboards that support quad channel setups and going with 16GB, you’ll want to get a kit with four sticks of 4GB each.
The reason to go with either dual channel, or quad channel on high-end setups, is that you take advantage of better performance. The actual performance increase varies depending on the task being done and so the performance increase can be negligible or up to 30%.
Keep in mind you’re not doubling your cost when you get a dual channel memory kit. The price difference between a single 16GB memory stick and 2x 8GB kit is usually small. And if you can gain a bit more performance going with a dual channel kit, why not. Right?
Should I buy the Dual Channel Kit or can I buy the memory sticks separately?
I have seen some people build their system with a single stick of memory and then later on purchase another stick and add it in. Many times there are no issues. But quite too often, there are issues and those computers start crashing and blue screening.
While, theoretically, if the “specs” of the memory are the same such as the frequency and latencies or even if the model numbers are the same, it should be ok, right? Not necessarily. With electronics, there are always variances in the components.
Standard electronic parts have a variance of 5% with better components down to 1%. The lower the better, of course. So, if the memory sticks are too far apart based on their variances, you’ll have issues.
With multi-channel kits, the manufacturer will “match” the sticks based on their production line testing so you won’t have any problems with the memory sticks working with each other.
But all is not lost. If you happen to buy them separately or added on another later on, you can just do some tweaking in the Bios to make them work with each other if you are having issues. It just takes a bit of tech savvy.
Recommended Computer Memory Kit
Going with my favorite brand of Corsair again, the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3000MHz C15 Desktop Memory Kit is what I recommend.
The Vengeance series from Corsair have had a long history of being some of the best memory for gaming PCs out there. I think I still have a set of old DDR3 Vengeance memory laying around. Going even further back, I still have a set of old Corsair DDR2 Dominator series memory. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.
There are other great brands such as G.Skill, Kingston and Crucial. I’ve used Corsair in all my gaming builds and Kingston in both Gaming and Workstation/Server builds.