How Does RAM Settings Affect Gaming Experience?

How Does RAM Settings Affect Gaming Experience?

I’m sure many have been pondering – how does RAM affect gaming experience? Do they affect your framerates?

I decided to shed some light to this question by conducting some tests with varying memory setting, to give us an idea on RAM and how it influences computer gaming.

Test Setup

Here’s the test setup used.

Processor Intel Core™2 Duo E7200
Graphic Card ASUS ENGTX280 TOP 1GB
RAM 2x 2GB OCZ DDR2 PC2-8500 Reaper HPC Edition
Motherboard Albatron PXP35
Cooler Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer Heatsink
Monitor 20″ Dell Ultra-sharp Wide-screen LCD
Operating System Windows Vista Home Basic 32bit
Driver Version GeForce 177.41

The E7200 is at stock speed. This means the GTX280 is a little under-utilized, thus we have plenty of room for the RAM to influence the framerate. This is also to facilitate the RAM setting of 533 and 800.

UPDATE : The article was recently updated, from 4 to 8 RAM settings.

8 RAM settings were used

RAM Setting FSB:RAM ratio Speed Timing
Normal (4GB) 1:1 DDR2 533 (266Mhz) 5-5-5-15
Speed (4GB) 1:1.5 DDR2 800 (400Mhz) 5-5-5-15
Timing (4GB) 1:1 DDR2 533 (266Mhz) 4-4-4-12
Speed + Timing (4GB) 1:1.5 DDR2 800 (400Mhz) 4-4-4-12
Halved (2GB) 1:1 DDR2 533 (266Mhz) 5-5-5-15
Halved Speed (2GB) 1:1.5 DDR2 800 (400Mhz) 5-5-5-15
Halved Timing (2GB) 1:1 DDR2 533 (266Mhz) 4-4-4-12
Halved Speed + Timing (2GB) 1:1.5 DDR2 800 (400Mhz) 4-4-4-12

Test Results

F.E.A.R.

Graphic Detail : Maximum, 1680 x 1050 resolution, 4x AA used.

RAM Setting Average
Normal (533) 120
Speed (800) 100
Timing (4-4-4-12) 117
Speed + Timing 132
Halved (2GB) 114
Halved (2GB) Speed 121
Halved (2GB) Timing 117
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing 126

Thoughts : I have no idea why the game end up losing framerates with faster RAM speed and faster timing.

World In Conflict

Graphic Detail : Maximum, 1680 x 1050 resolution, 4x AA used.

RAM Setting Average
Normal (533) 29
Speed (800) 32
Timing (4-4-4-12) 30
Speed + Timing 33
Halved (2GB) 24
Halved (2GB) Speed 31
Halved (2GB) Timing 27
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing 33

Thoughts : More RAM does help. Looks like generally the game is RAM dependent. 4GB looks good but would you upgrade your RAM for 5 frame boost?

Company Of Heroes : Opposing Fronts

Graphic Detail : Maximum, 1680 x 1050 resolution, 4x AA used.

RAM Setting Average
Normal (533) 55.0
Speed (800) 55.9
Timing (4-4-4-12) 55.2
Speed + Timing 56.6
Halved (2GB) 54.1
Halved (2GB) Speed 55.5
Halved (2GB) Timing 54.8
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing 56.2

Thoughts : The difference is negligible.

Lost Planet : Extreme Condition

Graphic Detail : Maximum, 1680 x 946 resolution, 4x AA used.

RAM Setting Average (Snow) Average (Cave)
Normal (533) 82.5 45.4
Speed (800) 84.2 50.5
Timing (4-4-4-12) 83.1 46.8
Speed + Timing 84.5 51.5
Halved (2GB) 79.5 43.1
Halved (2GB) Speed 83.4 49.1
Halved (2GB) Timing 80.0 43.7
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing 84.1 50.5

Thoughts : It’s interesting to see framerate boost with the increase of RAM speed and timing. Neverthless, still better off upgrading your graphic card or processor if you ever need to have better gaming experience.

Crysis

Demo Version – Graphic Detail : Maximum, 1680 x 1050 resolution, 4x AA used.

RAM Setting Average
Normal (533) 21.24
Speed (800) 21.31
Timing (4-4-4-12) 21.26
Speed + Timing 21.31
Halved (2GB) 21.16
Halved (2GB) Speed 21.31
Halved (2GB) Timing 19.56
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing 21.31

Thoughts : RAM setting changes nothing to the framerates, even dropping it to 2GB barely hurt it. Probably it’ll be a little slower when it comes to loading and that’s about it.

Conclusion

RAM settings do affect gaming performance BUT it certainly isn’t something you attempt upgrade to improve your gaming experience. As you can see from all the tests above, RAM speed gives more boost than RAM timing.

That doesn’t mean you should use 1GB RAM for gaming purpose either, I suggest at least 2GB RAM for all your gaming needs. Some argue that 4GB would be pointless since 32bit versions of Windows XP and Vista only acknowledges a little over 3GB RAM due to the 32bit limitation but hey, additional RAM is still helpful. :)

Bear in mind that more RAM means that the system has more RAM area to meddle with data before having to access the hard disk, thus reducing the frequency of hard disk access, thus reducing the hard disk access bottleneck. This means your hard disk has lesser reads and writes to do, thus possibly prolonging its life too.

If you’re shopping for a new PC you’re probably going to come across systems that are designated “64-bit.” These are computers running 64-bit editions of Windows Vista, typically with 4GB of memory or more. Compared to 32-bit systems, which top out at around 3GB of memory, 64-bit PCs offer added responsiveness for people who are running a lot of applications at the same time and switching between them frequently.

Source

For more understanding, please visit The 4GB Windows Memory Limit: What does it really mean?

Author:goldfries

Nyan Emperor of the Kingdom. Powered by Coke, enjoys the serenity of the night and requires very little maintenance.

10 Responses to “How Does RAM Settings Affect Gaming Experience?”

  1. fatty
    September 23, 2008 at 11:14 am #

    Whoah thanks goldfries, nice timing cuz i’m just thinking to upgrade my ram to tighter timings but after i read this it clears it all. Better still if i save the money to go crossfire. XD

  2. DecaPix
    September 23, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Hey goldie,

    i think it will better if you compare 800mhz at tighter timing against the looser timing since everyone will be using ddr800 now

  3. September 23, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    The idea behind this article is to confine to only 1 change over the stock 4GB 533 5-5-5-15 setting. So it’s either speed, timing or size.

    To have 4GB 800 4-4-4-12, would be 2 changes. :D Nevertheless I like your suggestion, so check back in a few days. :D I’ll be adding more than just 4GB 800 4-4-4-12.

    At 1:1 ratio with the usual 1066 FSB processor, it would still run at DDR2 533 speed. However you reminded me that even on my board, the default setting seem to run the RAM at 800Mhz even though the processor is at 1066 FSB, which is at 1:1.5 ratio.

    Thanks! So yeah, check back in a day or 2. :D

  4. December 1, 2008 at 11:17 pm #

    Now, i am ready to go for crossfire xD

  5. Ivan
    June 30, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    Btw, normally people will love CL4 or CL5? Lets said both are 533MHz, not 400MHz

  6. June 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    given a choice, surely people choose CL4.

  7. July 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    thks for this info. i get to know your site from lowyat forums. i used to play dragonica with only 512mb ram. my pc hangs a lot and keep pops out ‘low memory’.

  8. July 3, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    well, this article isn’t about low memory but yes, if you go with bare minimal then you’re likely to face that.

  9. naturally like your website however you have to test the spelling on
    several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and
    I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth then again I will
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