Trying to determine whether four sticks of 8GB RAM or two sticks of 16GB RAM makes more sense? We’ve got you covered!
Generally, 4x8GB RAM will offer slightly more performance out of the gate, but can limit your potential performance down the road. For the more ambitious PC user demands peak performance, 2X16GB RAM model is a better choice, as it has the ability to upgrade from the initial pool of memory.
When purchasing any new computer, you’re always required to do a certain amount of research to get the best possible outcome. This is particularly true when it comes to purchasing or upgrading one of the most important pieces of the PC puzzle.
RAM is that thing and it is often unnoticed and rarely interacted with, even though an insufficient amount of it will drastically lower performance. This is especially true for PC gamers, as RAM can determine whether you can run certain settings or whether or not you can run certain games altogether.
We’ll go into detail to help you determine whether it’s better to get more sticks of RAM or fewer sticks with more individual space.
What is RAM?
RAM is the abbreviation of computer random access memory and it is one of the most important parts of a computer and it can determine your system’s performance. RAM gives applications a location to store and access data on a short-term basis. It houses the information your computer is using at the moment so it can be quickly accessed.
If your system is running a lot of programs at once, you’re going to need a lot of RAM to handle it properly. If you are running a system with a low amount of RAM, then you will start to see your system act sluggishly when put under the stress of running too many programs at one time.
The good thing about RAM is, depending on the type of RAM stick you have installed, you can add additional memory on it so you system can run faster.
Whether you’re browsing the internet or running the most modern of games, this pool of memory allows you to switch your tasks on the fly without any delay. As this memory pool dwindles, so will your performance.
The Pros & Cons of 4×8 RAM
The numbers in your RAM stick represent the number of slots you have for the first number and then the amount of memory you have with the second number. 4 slots means that is usually the maximum number of slots available on a RAM stick, so here, we have 4 slots with 8 GB of RAM each on them. This totals 32 GB of RAM total.
This gives you a good amount RAM for your computer to work with and the bonus here is that 4 slots generally perform faster than RAM sticks with 2 slots on them. This is especially true in video games as having more slots in use means you can reach a few extra frames per second.
The issue with 4X8 RAM is that once you buy this type of RAM stick, you can no longer add to the capacity of it memory wise. You are stuck with this amount of RAM until you decide to buy an entirely new RAM unit which can cost you quite a bit depending on what quality you are looking for.
The Pros & Cons of 2×16 RAM
With 2X16 RAM, you are going to have two slots filled with 16 GB each. You might be thinking “Isn’t that adding up the same amount of GB that the 4X16 RAM had?”, and you’d be right. The difference here comes in the form of the slots being used. With 2 slots, you are looking at slightly less performance than the same total RAM spread across 4 stocks.
This might sound like a no-brainer when choosing between the two, except for one big factor: a 4X8 RAM stick is permanently that amount of memory, while a 2X16 RAM stick is not permanent. Because you only have 2 slots used up, that means room for expansion is there and if you find yourself seeing your system start to run slower than normal and think the RAM needs to be upgraded, you are fully able to do that for a lesser price and lesser hassle than if you were going to replace the entire memory unit
Because of this, you can add additional 8GB slots onto your system and then have a 4×64 RAM unit which, while likely unnecessary if you’re just using the computer for casual purposes, it can make a world of difference if you are a hardcore gamer that plays the top-of-the-line games at the highest settings.
P.S. – If you’re wondering whether you really need 32GB of RAM, check out our guide to 16GB vs 32GB RAM.
How to Know If You Need More RAM
When figuring out if you have to perform an upgrade on your system, you need to know if it is an actual necessity or if there are other underlying issues that should be addressed before going out and spending money.
First off, if you see that your computer is running slowly, having constant glitches in games along with poor frame rate and seeing the system struggle when running multiple applications at one time, then it might be time to upgrade your RAM.
Another telltale sign of the need of more RAM is seeing the spinning hourglass sign when in programs. This signifies that your system is struggling to handle all of the processes you’re asking it to handle. Seeing this in a one-off event isn’t the biggest issue, but once you start seeing this happen constantly, it may be because your RAM is just insufficient.
If you find yourself typing and then waiting a second or two for it to happen on screen, this is a red flag for RAM as well.
If you’ve seen constant updates about low memory, that memory is your RAM and your computer is telling you I can’t handle this anymore, and if you continue to ignore this, then your system will continue to suffer.
This isn’t just the case for gamers, as even seemingly standard programs like spreadsheets, internet, and other seemingly simple processes will start to completely fail if the RAM isn’t available to support it.
How do I find out how much RAM I have?
With all this RAM talk, I’m sure you’re wondering just how on earth we find out how much RAM is actually in your system? Do you have to open up the PC to see? Well, yes, you technically can do that, but the more practical move is to go to “System Information”. From there, click properties. From there, you can see “Installed Physical Memory” listed. This is the amount of RAM you have installed.
Which RAM stick is right for me?
That depends fully on what you are using your PC for. While most PC users will be totally fine with 32GB of RAM from a good manufacturer, at a certain point, you might want to try and turn your PC into a gaming giant on par or beyond the capabilities of your modern consoles.
If that is the case, then you might see your PC start to struggle when you are running games with amazing graphics and you might find you can only run them on medium to low settings or at worst, none at all.
If that’s the case, then you will want to switch to a 2X16 RAM stick as, although it only starts out with 32GB, you can easily upgrade this into the memory bank that your gaming needs deserve. From here, any game on any setting should be doable as long as your GPU can support it.
While your gaming experience isn’t totally dependent on your RAM, it is usually one of the most important parts of the PC gaming experience. Other things that impact a PC’s gaming experience are a GPU and CPU. So it’s worth to keep in mind that no matter what RAM you have, you can’t get the perfect gaming experience unless you have the other two to back it up.
It’s also worth noting that, if you are venturing into the world of overclocking, that this can impact your RAM as well and the more RAM you have, the more your system will be able to handle being Overclocked.