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.

ProcessorIntel Coreâ„¢2 Duo E7200
Graphic CardASUS ENGTX280 TOP 1GB
RAM2x 2GB OCZ DDR2 PC2-8500 Reaper HPC Edition
MotherboardAlbatron PXP35
CoolerSunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer Heatsink
Monitor20″ Dell Ultra-sharp Wide-screen LCD
Operating SystemWindows Vista Home Basic 32bit
Driver VersionGeForce 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 SettingFSB:RAM ratioSpeedTiming
Normal (4GB)1:1DDR2 533 (266Mhz)5-5-5-15
Speed (4GB)1:1.5DDR2 800 (400Mhz)5-5-5-15
Timing (4GB)1:1DDR2 533 (266Mhz)4-4-4-12
Speed + Timing (4GB)1:1.5DDR2 800 (400Mhz)4-4-4-12
Halved (2GB)1:1DDR2 533 (266Mhz)5-5-5-15
Halved Speed (2GB)1:1.5DDR2 800 (400Mhz)5-5-5-15
Halved Timing (2GB)1:1DDR2 533 (266Mhz)4-4-4-12
Halved Speed + Timing (2GB)1:1.5DDR2 800 (400Mhz)4-4-4-12

Test Results

F.E.A.R.

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

RAM SettingAverage
Normal (533)120
Speed (800)100
Timing (4-4-4-12)117
Speed + Timing132
Halved (2GB)114
Halved (2GB) Speed121
Halved (2GB) Timing117
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing126

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 SettingAverage
Normal (533)29
Speed (800)32
Timing (4-4-4-12)30
Speed + Timing33
Halved (2GB)24
Halved (2GB) Speed31
Halved (2GB) Timing27
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing33

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 SettingAverage
Normal (533)55.0
Speed (800)55.9
Timing (4-4-4-12)55.2
Speed + Timing56.6
Halved (2GB)54.1
Halved (2GB) Speed55.5
Halved (2GB) Timing54.8
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing56.2

Thoughts : The difference is negligible.

Lost Planet : Extreme Condition

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

RAM SettingAverage (Snow)Average (Cave)
Normal (533)82.545.4
Speed (800)84.250.5
Timing (4-4-4-12)83.146.8
Speed + Timing84.551.5
Halved (2GB)79.543.1
Halved (2GB) Speed83.449.1
Halved (2GB) Timing80.043.7
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing84.150.5

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 SettingAverage
Normal (533)21.24
Speed (800)21.31
Timing (4-4-4-12)21.26
Speed + Timing21.31
Halved (2GB)21.16
Halved (2GB) Speed21.31
Halved (2GB) Timing19.56
Halved (2GB) Speed + Timing21.31

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?

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10 Comments

  1. 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. 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. Author

    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. 😀 Nevertheless I like your suggestion, so check back in a few days. 😀 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. 😀

  4. Now, i am ready to go for crossfire xD

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

  6. 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’.

  7. Author

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


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