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Old 06-27-2010, 10:23 PM   #1
blanketyblank
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Default How much RAM do current games use?

Seeing as how many people have 8 gigs or more of RAM now, I'm beginning to wonder if my measly 4 gigs is still enough for moderate/enthusiast gaming (single 5770 GPU currently). Are there any games that require or make use of more than 4 gigs, and would the difference be noticable?
I see a lot of debate about pagefile size and usage with many posts saying it should be as small as possible if you have a lot of RAM. Since my new SSD is coming next week, I'm not sure how much is a lot/enough, so I'm not sure what I should set that at.
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Old 06-27-2010, 11:09 PM   #2
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4GBs if good for any app except maybe video encoding, etc. I've got 1 pc with 8GBs and 1 with 4GBs and don't notice much difference in gaming, surfering, etc. I've got 8GBs in the 1 pc because I intend on doing video editing in the near future.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:01 AM   #3
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I've noticed my win7 64 bit PC with 8GB takes a tad over 4GB when playing borderlands. I keep my system fairly lean but do run other apps in the background, though not many. My best friend has a very similar build to me but runs 4GB and runs rather like me, lean but some apps she wants in the background, and it takes her box almost 30 seconds to alt+tab or come back where mine does so nearly instantly.

I've come to rely on the alt+tab test (for games that dont freak and crash when you do it) to see if there is "enough" ram for the current config (software and hardware).


quite simply you should not have a pagefile on an SSD because of all the writes that will happen to it. This is firmly IMO.

I also permanently disabled all swap/page in all OSes ever since I got this 8GB and it has gone wonderfully.

Last edited by jaqie; 06-28-2010 at 01:09 AM. Reason: added pagefile info
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Old 06-28-2010, 02:41 AM   #4
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Swap file on an SSD is fine, you'll be replacing the drive long (years) before you wear it out.

OP, to answer your question: Four is fine, more is better.
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Old 06-28-2010, 02:48 AM   #5
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It's not about wearing out, it's about the performance degradation that happens when all the "little flash bitlets" have been written to and will need erased and reflashed slowing things down. Yes, there is the trim command with win 7, but IIRC there is still some performance degradation with using it versus having unused blocks to write to, and there are folks using other OSes even with flash drives that do not support trim.
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Old 06-28-2010, 04:03 AM   #6
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I had 8GB then pulled 4 to put into my server, performance did not change. I noticed no differnce at all. In either gaming or desktop use, in windows and liunux. I think 4GB is fine.
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Old 06-28-2010, 06:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaqie View Post
Yes, there is the trim command with win 7, but IIRC there is still some performance degradation with using it versus having unused blocks to write to
If you'd like to tell us what different kinds of "free blocks" you know of, that'd be interesting

Also the only modern OS that does not support TRIM is OS X..

b2t: Noticed no difference between 4 and 8gb when gaming, but nice if you're running several VMs and stuff like that.
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Old 06-28-2010, 06:51 AM   #8
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I only got 8 because 4 gb kits were $20 AR a piece. I don't need 8 now but figured I'd stock up at such prices rather than pay exorbitant amounts when I DID need it.
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:47 AM   #9
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Games and virtually all applications are limited to 2 Gigabytes memory; which is the ordinary limit for all 32-bit applications. Though you can compile a program to use more (up to 3GB) of memory, this is very rare and generally all windows applications are limited to 2GB memory. Including Games.

More RAM is useful as filecache, so more RAM would speed up your harddrive access. If you got an SSD you don't need that, really. If you don't, then having a lot of RAM can accelerate subsequential accesses considerably.
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blanketyblank View Post
Seeing as how many people have 8 gigs or more of RAM now, I'm beginning to wonder if my measly 4 gigs is still enough for moderate/enthusiast gaming (single 5770 GPU currently). Are there any games that require or make use of more than 4 gigs, and would the difference be noticable?
I see a lot of debate about pagefile size and usage with many posts saying it should be as small as possible if you have a lot of RAM. Since my new SSD is coming next week, I'm not sure how much is a lot/enough, so I'm not sure what I should set that at.
Unless the game is compiled for 64-bit, it is limited to usually 2Gb (3Gb with some options set when compiled). either way, the game would be limited to a 32-bit address space.

To use >4gig Ram in a single program, you need two things:

1. 64-bit OS to even see/use more then 4gig RAM for the whole PC
2. 64-bit app to be able to use >4gig RAM for that specific app

Now I believe that pretty much all games and "regular" commercial applications are all 32-bit only (I believe Photoshop and some other apps are 64-bit, so they obviously could use >4Gig), so the apps themselves are limited to 2/3gig.

So for running one app at a time, >4gig doesn't help much, unless you have a 64-bit app.

But, with a 64-bit OS, and 8Gig of RAM, you can have 2 or 3 32-bit apps open at the same time, without having to swap to disk, so if you do multitask and have several apps open at a time, a 64-bit OS with 8gig would be helpfull. (like running several VM's at once).

As to the swap file, don't turn it off or set it to 0. Some programs don't like it. Either just let windows set it up by default, or set it to some reasonable amount (maybe 4Gig-ish?). It's perfectly safe to leave the swap file on the SSD, but you can always move it to a 2nd HD, or even just have swap files on both drives. Just because it's their, doesn't mean it will get used and slow you down.

edit: beaten by sub.mesa
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TemjinGold View Post
I only got 8 because 4 gb kits were $20 AR a piece. I don't need 8 now but figured I'd stock up at such prices rather than pay exorbitant amounts when I DID need it.


You must have bought the stuff a year ago before prices shot up.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zap View Post


You must have bought the stuff a year ago before prices shot up.
When I got my i920/X-58 upgrade, I maxed out my RAM at 12gig, just because RAM was so cheap. Figured I should max it out just in case I ever needed it, and figured that prices would go up. For the extra $50-60, it wasn't worth worrying about it.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Unless the game is compiled for 64-bit, it is limited to usually 2Gb (3Gb with some options set when compiled). either way, the game would be limited to a 32-bit address space.
It is really 4GB with that bit enabled in your 64bit OS.

Quote:
... this is very rare and generally all windows applications are limited to 2GB memory. Including Games.
I don't think the bit is that rare today.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:36 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by hanspeter View Post
It is really 4GB with that bit enabled in your 64bit OS.
I am asking here, but I thought each app gets a 4gb memory allocation table (not sure if that is the correct term), but Windows still keeps 1gig reserved for system use, thus limiting the app to 3Gig max.


Quote:
I don't think the bit is that rare today.
For games I think it's pretty rare (are there any?), but for commercial apps, you might be right. Lightroom, Photoshop are 64-bit, I'm sure some scientific apps and the like are too, but I really don't keep up with that.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voo View Post
If you'd like to tell us what different kinds of "free blocks" you know of, that'd be interesting
Also the only modern OS that does not support TRIM is OS X..
http://www.anandtech.com/show/2738

Look at how many people still use XP, as well:
http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/
when I just looked to get this link, xp 32 bit is 33.8% of all steam users. Modern or not, XP 32 bit is still a rather major factor here. My information may be out of date, but last I knew XP did not have and ms said it would never have native trim support.

Quote:
b2t: Noticed no difference between 4 and 8gb when gaming, but nice if you're running several VMs and stuff like that.
Have you alt+tabbed while gaming in a rather aggressive memory-using game? (borderlands is the best example of this I've seen to date) Sure, some people never do, but some do a lot - especially those with only one computer that also chat on IM programs, so it is a rather major consideration when you consider everyone and not just yourself.
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Old 06-28-2010, 01:02 PM   #16
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http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778%28VS.85%29.aspx

The short version is that Windows applications are limited to 2GiB of memory. While some exceptions apply, those aren't actually used in widespread software. Only 64-bit applications on 64-bit Windows would be able to use more than 2GiB of memory in reality.

But your RAM is not just for usage for applications; most of your RAM should go to filecaching, which especially on HDDs can help considerably. It does depend on your workload, for example if you turn your PC on and off multiple times a day this would have a lesser effect than if you would leave your PC on 24/7. Filecache is very important if you do not have a SSD as system disk.

Most games don't really need to address more than 2GiB, but they do access large files like WoW which is now ~20GB in size. If you got enough RAM, that data will remain cached once it has been read the first time, and any subsequent accesses to this data would henceforth be served by the RAM and not the disk.

So don't think that due to the 2GiB limit your RAM is useless. 64-bit OS with 8GB running 32-bit apps limited to 2GB is no waste at all; and in fact due to filecaching the application actually uses a lot more memory; but indirectly since it's actually 64-bit Windows that uses that memory; not the 32-bit app.
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Old 06-28-2010, 01:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarfieldtheCat View Post
I am asking here, but I thought each app gets a 4gb memory allocation table (not sure if that is the correct term), but Windows still keeps 1gig reserved for system use, thus limiting the app to 3Gig max.
In 64bit Windows there is no kernel present in 32bit apps' address space, so they get fully 4GB with the bit on.
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Old 06-28-2010, 01:18 PM   #18
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Yes, but please explain that the special compiler flag /LARGEADDRESSAWARE is required, or the 32-bit will only be able to use 2GiB on 64-bit Windows. This applies to virtually all Windows software, since very few software actually uses this flag, supposedly early versions of Photoshop do:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/...01/423817.aspx

Still means: Games on 64-bit Windows are limited to 2GiB, and virtually all other programs as well, just some exceptions and those generally do not apply to Games.
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Old 06-28-2010, 01:50 PM   #19
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Well:
Quote:
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...with the bit on.
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:08 PM   #20
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He may overread that, or not understand it properly. Explaining it in some more detail just seemed appropriate. And as virtually no software he wants to use has this flag enabled when being compiled, that pretty much means 2GiB for 32-bit applications; even when on 64-bit OS. The exceptions to this rule are minor, but 32-bit Photoshop versions are one of them.
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:47 PM   #21
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HL2 engine games (source) have a 64 bit and 32 bit mode, borderlands consumes much more than 2GB when running, and there are others I won't bother to list.

To me that would be included in his "moderate to heavy gaming" in his original post.
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Old 06-28-2010, 03:48 PM   #22
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Sure, just elaborate it. I just made a note about it was 4GB and not 3GB as said a couple of times before me :-)
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:47 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TemjinGold View Post
I only got 8 because 4 gb kits were $20 AR a piece. I don't need 8 now but figured I'd stock up at such prices rather than pay exorbitant amounts when I DID need it.

$20 AR 4GB kits? That was a good deal.

I am hoping prices come down again.
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Old 06-29-2010, 07:25 AM   #24
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Quote:
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In 64bit Windows there is no kernel present in 32bit apps' address space, so they get fully 4GB with the bit on.
Cool, didn't know that. But it makes sense.
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:10 AM   #25
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4 GB RAM is still enough for modern gaming. An example is Battlefield BC2. I just checked the box and it says 2 GB RAM. I have 8 GB RAM in my computer but I also use it for video editing.
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