Is More Memory Better?

July 8, 2008 // 7:48 a.m.

Tags: #2gb #4gb #8gb #dhx

Game Performance

A simple, clear cut test we can all relate to: does more memory give us more frames per second? We all know that a faster PC will always generate better performance to varying degrees but how much does more memory give the games more breathing room?

We used FRAPS to record the frame rate of some manual play tests of real single player or skirmish gameplay, then took the average performance in varying memory footprint situations.

Crysis

1280x1024 0xAA, 0xAF, All High Detail

  • 2GB (2x1GB)
  • 4GB (2x2GB)
  • 8GB (4x2GB)
    • 4.0
    • 27.7
    • 10.3
    • 27.9
    • 15.7
    • 30.0
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Frames Per Second (higher is better)
  • Minimum
  • Average

While the overall average performance doesn't increase, except only slightly for 8GB of memory, the gaming experience on 4GB or 8GB of memory is far, far smoother as you can see from the linear increase in minimum frame per second. In fact, if all were equal we'd have to recommend gaming on Crysis with 8GB of memory as it's 50 percent smoother over just 4GB. Having said that, we know from previous experience that faster memory also benefits Crysis too - so if you're really into maximising the experience from this game, you actually might want to consider a serious investment of 4GB (or more) of DDR3.

Call of Duty 4

1600x1200 4xAA, 4xAF, DX9, Very High Detail

  • 2GB (2x1GB)
  • 4GB (2x2GB)
  • 8GB (4x2GB)
    • 32.7
    • 63.9
    • 29.7
    • 63.2
    • 29.3
    • 65.3
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Frames Per Second (higher is better)
  • Minimum
  • Average

Just like with game load times, the Call of Duty 4 experience is pretty much completely linear across the breadth of memory footprints. There's some slight variety of frame rate but nothing noticeable when you're actually playing it, and in a blind test you'd never tell the difference. Even at the highest settings, the framerate and gameplay was smooth.

World in Conflict

1600x1200 4xAA, 4xAF, DX10, Very High Detail

  • 2GB (2x1GB)
  • 4GB (2x2GB)
  • 8GB (4x2GB)
    • 11.5
    • 29.2
    • 18.5
    • 29.2
    • 18.7
    • 29.4
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Frames Per Second (higher is better)
  • Minimum
  • Average

World in Conflict is again like Crysis, where there's no average frame rate performance increase across 2GB to 8GB of memory use - but this isn't the whole story. The minimum frame rate increases dramatically and playing the game goes from "chugging at times" to "really quite smooth with some slight slowdowns" as we jump from 2GB to 4GB of memory. Unlike Crysis though, this trend doesn't increase as we move to 8GB of memory,which features an almost identical performance to 4GB.

Company of Heros: Opposing Fronts

1600x1200 2xAA, DX10, High Detail

  • 2GB (2x1GB)
  • 4GB (2x2GB)
  • 8GB (4x2GB)
    • 18.7
    • 27.1
    • 23.7
    • 31.1
    • 17.3
    • 29.2
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Frames Per Second (higher is better)
  • Minimum
  • Average

Company of Heroes also sees a large increase and smoother frame rate when we move from 2GB to 4GB of memory, although this isn't replicated when we changed to 8GB of memory. In fact, we saw a decrease in frame rates on average. This decrease, especially in the minimum frame rate, was easily reproducible and consistent with 8GB of memory and we can only attribute it to the lower performance of four DIMMs over just two. In conclusion, if you're playing Company of Heroes then invest in some 4GB memory, preferably some performance DIMMs.

Supreme Commander

1600x1200 4xAA, High Detail

  • 2GB (2x1GB)
  • 4GB (2x2GB)
  • 8GB (4x2GB)
    • 42.0
    • 68.1
    • 37.0
    • 65.2
    • 40.5
    • 66.8
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Frames Per Second (higher is better)
  • Minimum
  • Average

Supreme Commander, another RTS gave us some unexpected performance - 4GB of memory was a little slower here on average, but not exactly by a noticeable amount when you consider the all round frame rates. However, the game variety in Sup Com is massive because you can have an obscenely large number of units on screen, and it's well documented that those with smaller memory footprints have simply run out of space when the system had to handle thousands and thousands of units.
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