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How Much RAM Is Needed For Streaming Games & Videos?

A lot of people question whether or not their hardware is capable of streaming their favorite games or streaming their favorite show on Netflix.
A common misconception that people have is that being able to run a number of different software at the same time depends on whether or not their CPU or GPU is up to scratch, when really what they want to focus on is RAM.
2 men head to head gaming and streaming
Normally, a streamer would invest more money into the CPU and the GPU to get the most in terms of performance, leaving the RAM as their next priority.
This is especially the case for beginners who are just getting started with their streaming gig, thinking that the minimum RAM requirements would be enough for their needs. But whether you like it or not, RAM plays a key role when it comes to whether or not you will be able to stream your favorite games.
When you are streaming a video game, your computer will take up a lot of resources and this includes your computer memory. This is because your computer will not only run the base game but also the streaming program of your choice at the same time.
So how much RAM do you need for streaming? 16GB is the most recommended amount today, especially when it comes to AAA titles which are far more demanding than older games. Although 8GB of RAM will work, 16GB is the sweet spot for streaming and will allow you to stream quality gameplay.
If you still feel quite lost,  don’t worry. In this article, we will cover the different factors that will affect your streaming quality.

What Determines the Amount of RAM Needed to Stream?

So first off, what determines the amount of RAM needed to stream? It will vary based on the game you would want to stream, plus the software encoders you are going to use. For example, GTA V has a recommended memory requirement of 8GB.
If you are just playing the game, 8GB should be enough for it to run smoothly. But when you want to stream, you may want to add more RAM as your encoder will also take up some of your resources.
a stick of Ripjaws DDR4 RAM
Also, keep in mind that these software encoders will require an additional application to stream your game. If you want to use Facebook Live, that’s a total of three applications needed to stream your game.
First is your base game, second is your encoder, and third is your streaming platform. In this scenario we will use Facebook Live as the streaming platform, which uses your browser to run.
Chrome is a memory-hog browser, so even if you aren’t using secondary software to stream, your computer’s memory will still take a hit and your gameplay experience may be compromised.
With that being said, let us now take a look at different set-ups of computers with different amounts of RAMs and find out whether it is enough for streaming or not.

Is 4GB of RAM Enough?

That’s a firm NO. While 4GB of RAM will work as the minimum requirement for some games, your computer would not be able to cope with the strain of streaming. Not only will you have poor streaming quality, but you will also sacrifice your hardware by putting a lot of stress on it.
Except maybe if you are planning to stream an older game with fewer requirements. So if you are limited to only 4GB of RAM at the moment, you don’t necessarily have to stop streaming altogether. You will just have to be selective of which games you choose to play.
a stick of Kingston 4GB DDR4 RAM
Gone are the days where 4GB is a sufficient amount of RAM, the days where you could play Call of Duty 4 very smoothly with only 2GB of RAM.
With the graphics and potential of games increasing drastically in the last few decades, 8GB RAM should be the minimum today if you’re someone who wants to use your computer for gaming purposes,  but if you want to play some intensive games, then you’re going to have to upgrade.

So is 8GB Enough for Streaming Games?

Short answer: Yes. While you are not able to provide the best streaming quality with only 8GB of RAM, it should be enough to stream some lower-level games quite comfortably.
You may just want to cater the quality of your games to match the capabilities of your setup, this will make it run a bit smoother.
However, you shouldn’t expect much when it comes to AAA titles as they are far more demanding and would require 16GB of RAM to stream smoothly.
a shot from GTA V
I tried streaming GTA V before using Facebook Live via OBS. I set it up on medium for 720p, and low for 1080p. The game ran pretty well with decent framerates. I listed the main specs below which should give you an idea should you want to stream games with similar requirements to GTA V.
  •     CPU: Core i5 4670 @ 3.4 – 3.8 GHz
  •     GPU: Asus GeForce GTX 1050 2GB Phoenix
  •     RAM: Kingston 2×4 GB DDR3  @ 1600 MHz
Using the same setup as above, I also tried streaming Battlefield 1. It is actually capable of running the game, but you must expect stuttering when streaming even at the lowest settings, which means that the quality of your stream may not be up to scratch with these specs.

 What About 12GB?

Since 8GB is enough for some titles, the same goes for 12GB, too, but with a minor advantage against 8GB. In this case, you should be able to run most titles at high settings, depending on how well-optimized the game is, and medium to high on AAA titles.
This setup should also be capable of streaming at 1080p. Again, this would all depend on how well the game is coded.

Useful Tip

Unlike GPU VRAM that comes with 3GB, 6GB, 11GB, etc., that is not the case for RAMs. Normally, RAM comes with a 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB kits.
So running a 12GB setup may sound odd. It means that you might have a single 4GB and 8GB sticks, or you have 3x4GB sticks, or worst case, unidentical RAM, which is not ideal.
Your computer would still run it, don’t worry. But in this case, you might run into some trouble like compatibility issues.
Plus there is a high chance that the dual-channel platform will not work. So it is ideal to have 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32GB of RAM, preferably double sticks or four sticks. Although a single stick would work, you are sacrificing some benefits you can get out of a dual-channel platform.

Is 16GB Enough for Streaming Games Comfortably?

Definitely. 16GB is the sweet spot for a gaming setup and even a streaming build. 16GB should be enough for most titles even at maxed-out 1080p.
If paired with a powerful CPU and GPU, this kind of setup is also capable of streaming at 4K resolution, meaning you will be able to provide some high-quality streams.

Is 32GB of RAM a Good Idea or is it Overkill?

32GB of RAM is more than enough for a streaming setup. In fact, it’s overkill. But if you have enough budget for a 32GB RAM setup, why not? If budget is an issue, you can always opt for a 16GB kit.
The reason for having a 32GB of RAM right now is either for self-satisfaction or futureproofing. This means that you won’t need to upgrade your RAM in the future if games start to require more than the standard 8GB of RAM. Although there are some cases that you might need 32GB of RAM.
There are a lot of video games today that support modding. Modding is basically modifications added mostly by fans and users to alter the base game. Its purpose is to add some additional features and functions that are not included in the base game in order to further the user’s enjoyment of the game.
a shot from Cities: Skylines
With lots of modders creating custom assets and uploading on the workshop, the game provides a whole new experience that is not found on the base game.
Because of this, most Cities: Skylines streamers install 32GB of RAM since these mods would take up a lot of resources, specifically computer memory and CPU.

How Much RAM Will I Need to Stream in 4k?

For most games, a gaming system with 12GB-16GB of RAM should be enough to stream in 4k, provided that you also have the right combination of hardware.
If frame rate is an issue for you, you can dial down your settings to achieve smoother gameplay or even clear your device’s memory a little.

20 Most Popular Games on Twitch RAM Streaming Requirements

So we have talked about the different setups with different amounts of RAM installed, now let’s take a look at the 20 Most streamed games on Twitch right now, together with the RAM requirements needs to be able to stream well.

TitleMinimum RAM requirementsRecommended RAM RequirementsAdjusted Recommended RAM Requirements for Streaming
League of Legends1GB (2GB for Windows Vista and Higher)2GB (4GB for Windows Vista and Higher)8GB
Fortnite4GB8GB16GB
Valorant4GB4GB8GB
Grand Theft Auto V4GB8GB16GB
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare8GB12GB16GB
Counter Strike: Global Offensive2GB8GB
Dota 24GB8GB
FIFA 208GB8GB16GB
Minecraft2GB4GB8GB
World of Warcraft4GB (8GB for integrated graphics such as Intel HD)4GB (8GB for integrated graphics such as Intel HD)8GB (16GB for integrated graphics such as Intel HD)
Disc Jam4GB4GB8GB
Apex Legends6GB8GB16GB
Hearthstone3GB4GB8GB
Sword With Sauce2GB4GB8GB
Teamfight Tactics2GB4GB8GB
Ragdoll Party Online4GB8GB
Escape From Tarkov6GB8GB16GB
Minecraft Dungeons8GB16GB
Havocado4GB8GB16GB
Dead by Daylight8GB8GB16GB
The games listed above together with the RAM requirements should give you an idea of how much RAM you would need, should you choose to broadcast your game via live streaming.

Single Channel RAM vs Dual Channel: Which is Best for Streaming?

When you install a single stick RAM into your motherboard, it will automatically run in a single channel mode. If you install two identical RAM, it will perform in a dual-channel mode.
Single-channel and dual-channel setup is a term that is sometimes overlooked especially by people who are new to the gaming scene.
Dual-channel setup increases the transfer rate of data by allowing your memory to use multiple channels compared to a single channel. It can be achieved by having 2 or 4 identical sticks of RAM. (E.g. 2x4GB, 2,8GB, 4x4GB) rather than a single stick of RAM, like 1x4GB or 1x8GB.
In short, if you are planning to install a 16GB of RAM into your computer, it is better to pick a 2x8GB or 4x4GB kit over a 1x16GB kit.
Although there is only a slight difference between the two in terms of gaming, running a dual-channel platform would benefit a user especially for memory heavy work tasks such as encoding, rendering, and streaming as well. If you have to choose between the two, always go for a dual channel.
There are some types of motherboards, especially older ones, that have different colors in each RAM slot. This is to guide users where to put each RAM stick if they want a dual-channel configuration.
a motherboard with colored RAM slots
So make sure to check your motherboard if you feel uneasy about the process of setting up a dual-channel, as it’s far easier than you may initially think.
For example, if your motherboard has four RAM slots and you only have two sticks of identical RAM, you may want to install them on the slots that have similar colors otherwise you won’t enjoy the benefit of having a dual-channel platform.
In some cases, there are some higher-end motherboards that have eight slots of RAM. These motherboards are able to run in quad-channel but it would be costly considering the price of a high-end motherboard and the price of each RAM stick, not to mention that not all CPUs can support a quad-channel setup.

Does the Frequency of the RAM Affect Streaming Quality?

The frequency of the RAM definitely affects streaming quality. Just like CPUs, RAM has its own clock speed which is expressed by MHz, short for megahertz.
So if a memory module shows a DDR4 3200MHz, this means that this particular memory module operates at a frequency of 3200.
Similar to your CPUs, memory modules also operate in cycles per second, which is measured by its frequency. So if a memory operates at a frequency of 2133, it means that it can perform 2.133 billion cycles per second. So the higher the frequency, the more efficient the streaming.
While it is true that the faster is always the better, it doesn’t mean that it is always the best option.
On one hand, if you are streaming older titles such as Dota 2, a 2133MHz RAM would be more than enough for your needs.
On the other hand, for CPU intensive games, your system would greatly benefit from memory with a higher frequency. So if you still have the extra money to spend on a high-frequency memory, go for it. As a streamer, you would want the best performance possible out of your PC.

How Much RAM is Needed to Stream Movies on Sites Like Netflix?

It doesn’t take much of your memory to stream movies on sites like Netflix. Even a computer system that has only 4GB of RAM can stream movies at 720p and 1080p with no problems.
Netflix playing on a computer
When streaming movies, you should be more concerned about your Internet speed.

How Much Will I Need To Stream on YouTube?

It depends on whether or not you’re the one streaming, or you’re just watching a video of someone playing through Livestream. If you are the streamer, you’ll definitely need at least 8GB of RAM depending on what game you’re planning to stream.
Also, streaming on YouTube does not require that much power compared to Twitch and Mixer. If you are just watching someone’s Livestream, you don’t need much, as even 4GB would be enough to stream 720p and 1080p videos.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is DDR3 or DDR4 RAM Best for Streaming Games?

DDR4 modules are generally the better choice for streaming games as it offers higher frequencies. You can find DDR4 today that usually starts at 2133 MHz while 2133 MHz is already the max frequency for DDR3 RAM.

Related Questions:

What is a Dedicated Streaming PC?

A dedicated streaming PC is just like your regular PC but is only dedicated for streaming purposes.
It does not have the raw power similar to a gaming PC, you don’t even need a separate graphics card for this one.
Its main purpose is to encode all the information needed, such as video and audio, and combine it into one file, ready for streaming.
It works by sending data from your main gaming PC to your streaming PC using a capture card with HDMI cable.

Is it Worth Me Getting a Dedicated Streaming PC or Can I Just use my Gaming PC?

Not really. Most gaming PCs today are fast enough to do all of the necessary jobs. With just a gaming PC, you can play and stream your game simultaneously, provided that your PC meets the hardware requirements.
In my opinion, building a dedicated PC is just not worth it. I would rather spend that extra cash by upgrading or purchasing much better hardware for my gaming PC. It’s just easier to only have to focus on one device and have everything operate in one place.
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