How much RAM is too much RAM?
RAM has always been an interesting component to gamers. Back in the Amiga days, 1MB was a massive upgrade. On the N64 adding an extra 4mb RAM allowed you to play Donkey Kong 64 and Perfect Dark in High-res glory, the golden amount of RAM to have in gaming PCs has steadily increased from 2, to 4, to now 8GB RAM. With each new generation we’re starting to see faster speeds of RAM and more built into the GPU, with 3 and 4GB cards appearing on the market and likely to be more common now the next generation consoles can use similar amounts. But what do you really need to get the most out of your gaming, does more RAM and faster speed make a difference? Kingston have supplied us with 16GB of HyperX Performance RAM, and we’re going to be comparing the 3DMark scores and times performing common tasks with that installed compared to our base set-up that we’ve been using to review games for a while now.
The RAM we’re testing today is the HyperX Beast (T3) – 16GB Kit* (2x8GB) – DDR3 2133MHz CL11 Intel XMP DIMM
For reference, here are the base system’s specs (All we will be changing is the RAM set up, no other options or hardware will be altered).
Processor: Intel Core i5-2310
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V LX
PSU: Corsair 80+ 500W
GPU: AMD Radeon 7870 HD (2GB)
RAM: 8GB (2 x 4,096 MB Corsair DDR3 @ 667 MHz)
HDD: 120 GB Samsung SSD 840 Series
3DMark Score 4804.0Graphics Score 5592.0Physics Score 5500.0Combined Score 2140.0Graphics Test 1 27.4Graphics Test 2 21.8Physics Test 17.5
Combined Test 9.96
3DMark Score 4884.0Graphics Score 5597.0Physics Score 6254.0Combined Score 2139.0Graphics Test 1 27.5Graphics Test 2 21.8Physics Test 19.9Combined Test 9.95
The first result is interesting. Overall there’s a slight increase in the score, but nothing that’s likely to make a noticeable difference in gameplay. For reference, high end gaming machines can reach over 9000 in this test (we’re talking SLI Titans or 7990s) but there is a definite increase. While working out our BIOS settings to make sure the RAM was performing at 2133 we ran this test a few times and once it crept over 4900, but it was usually around 4880. In the detailed breakdown you can see slight increases in some scores (the minor decreases are due to the variance in running these tests, it’s not significant enough to be down to the hardware change), but there is one larger increase with the first physics score. The physics test is done entirely on the CPU and it is possible our lowly i5-2310 would get less out of the RAM than a faster processor. Overall the results are nothing to write home about, but there is a clear increase.
Saints Row IV
We’ve picked Saints Row IV because it combines a lot of particle effects, physics, a large open map and fast movement. We’ve got everything turned up to ultra and are running it at 1080p.
With Kingston HyperX Beast RAM:
This is an unexpected result. With the new RAM installed we saw a 10fps increase while doing exactly the same activity (shooting aliens with a minigun) over our base setup. Due to the way games tend to use a minimum of RAM, we’re tempted to believe the speed of the RAM is doing more than the amount we have, but there’s a much more significant difference than we could have hoped for. While 50fps was the average, there were occasional spikes up to 70fps when traversing the game world, and the lows only ever went down into the 40s, never below. With our base system there were frequent dips into the 30s. This is the first piece of evidence that the Kingston Beast RAM could actually be making a noticeable difference in game playing, and is definitely worth taking note of.
Our final test is to encode 1 minute 20 seconds of Saints Row IV footage in Windows Movie Maker. We’re using the same piece of footage encoded in exactly the same way to see if there is any difference in what can be a memory-intensive and time consuming task.
1 minute 6 seconds
This is a 10.6% increase in speed while doing a short piece of video encoding. Seven seconds might not sound like much but with longer videos that 10% could easily become minutes or even hours saved. Video editing is one of the areas where the amount of RAM really can make a difference and if you’re heavily invested into this kind of work you should be looking at increasing your RAM wherever possible.
Overall the results have startled us. We thought there’d be a slight difference, as was shown by the 3D Mark test, but in real applications there’s a much more noticeable boost with the Kingston RAM. For gaming unless you’re multitasking 8GB should probably suffice, but the speed of the RAM has much more of an effect than expected. You need to make sure your CPU and motherboard can support higher-speed RAM, but if they do there’s very little price difference for what can be a considerable increase in performance. Whenever you’re building a new PC, you need weigh up the price of components compared to the effect they have and RAM is currently an extremely efficient way to get a few more FPS for your money. We would definitely recommend the Kingston HyperX Beast RAM for anyone building a gaming PC. For those who want to multitask or do a lot of video editing, 16GB isn’t too expensive but could save you a lot of time and some frustration. It’s incredibly anecdotal but our system appears to be running smoother, with program switching and even internet browsing seeming to be a little snappier. This could be a complete placebo effect but we’ve all noticed it. If you do splash out that little bit extra make sure you enable XMP on your BIOS if you’re running an intel CPU or research the timing settings for an AMD CPU to make sure you’re actually get the most out of the memory.
Put simply, we can wholeheartedly recommend this memory to anyone building a system for performance.