Here’s which games really require 32 GB RAM:
Currently, there aren’t a ton of games that regularly need 32GB of RAM to play.
A few new games like Star Citizen reach that level of demand.
In most cases, you only need 32GB of RAM to play a game with very high graphical settings and/or to manage lots of multiplayer or simulated assets at one time.
So if you want to learn all about games that really require 32 GB RAM and why that is the case, then you’re in the right place.
How Much RAM Do Games Typically Need?
If we really want to explore this idea with any depth, then a good starting point is talking about RAM and games in general.
Before even that, let me lay down a few ground rules.
I am specifically talking about PC games today.
Console games have RAM requirements too, but they’re designed around the hardware available for whatever console is in question.
It’s just a less interesting discussion.
Also, I’m talking about the games that require so much RAM.
You can multitask any modern computer hard enough that having 32GB of RAM would be nice.
If you’re going to use software to upconvert a movie file from 1080p to 4k while you game and upload to YouTube, you’re pushing your computer’s hardware to the extreme.
That situation could pretty easily use up 32GB of RAM, but the gaming is just a small part.
With that in mind, gaming on a PC pretty much requires a minimum of 8GB of RAM.
Windows says you can run it with 4GB, but that hasn’t felt reasonable for a while now.
I recommend 8GB of RAM to run Windows.
So, if you’re going to game on a PC, then you need enough RAM to run your operating system.
What this means is that if your game is very easy for the computer to run, then 8GB is fine.
But, if your game uses a few GB of RAM all by itself, then that plus Windows is going to require additional resources.
Technically, you can upgrade RAM in pretty small increments, but if you go try to buy RAM upgrades, you’ll find that most of your options scale at 8GB at a time.
So, if you need to upgrade from 8GB, you’re realistically looking at running 16GB on the computer.
Putting all of this together, except for the easiest games to run, you’re going to find that a lot of games prefer 16GB of RAM.
That’s not because of the game exclusively, but so that you have enough memory to run Windows smoothly alongside the game.
Which Games Need 32GB of RAM? (6 Titles)
That covered a lot of ground, but we’re really wondering about games that need 32GB of RAM today.
Considering what I said before, what we’re actually looking at is games that would use 24GB of RAM on their own.
We leave another 8GB for Windows, and that’s the limit.
If you want to multitask while you game, then additional titles would make sense to mention, and I’ll briefly discuss streaming at the end.
But for now, I’m going to cover titles that really do use 32GB of RAM.
More importantly, I’m going to explain how and why they use so much memory.
That can help you understand the types of gameplay and conditions that can push memory usage this high.
#1 Ark: Survival Evolved
I’m starting with Ark: Survival Evolved because it highlights something very important.
You can play this game with a lot less than 32GB of RAM.
But, if you want to enjoy the game to its fullest (and maybe even play with friends), then you might find yourself running your own game server.
That’s where the RAM demand kicks in.
To play Ark: Survival Evolved and run a server on the same computer at the same time, you’re going to need a minimum of 16GB of RAM.
If you want multiple people to play with you, 32GB will feel a lot better.
This is true for any game scenario where running your own server makes sense.
A lot of survival games fit into this category.
7 Days to Die is a great example where running your own server can be pretty demanding on your hardware, but it gives you a lot more freedom in how you play.
Probably the ultimate example is Minecraft.
If you run the server yourself, and you want plenty of people to be able to play, then you need a lot of RAM.
#2 Star Citizen
Star Citizen is a new, gorgeous game that focuses on a deeply immersive experience.
Those are all buzzwords that can clue you into a game’s massive memory demands.
The system requirements for Star Citizen start at 16GB of RAM.
The game won’t even run with less memory installed.
The recommended settings say “16GB+.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need 32GB to run the game, but it’s been in Alpha for a while now.
Early-access players have posted that they saw the game, by itself, was using 26GB of RAM at peak.
That means that even 32GB isn’t enough to run the game optimally under the most intense conditions.
It’s pretty crazy, but Star Citizen won’t be the last game with such RAM needs.
This is going to be the trend for high-budget titles that try to push the envelope of graphical quality, immersion, and expansive gameplay.
#3 Galactic Civilizations 3
This is another game that doesn’t need 32GB of RAM at all times just to run.
That’s not it at all.
But, GC3 has a number of different maps you can play.
If you insist on playing the largest map, then RAM demands quickly skyrocket.
I’ll explain this a little more when I talk about open-world games, but here’s the basic point.
When you play in a larger virtual environment, the computer has to do more work to display, track, and simulate everything.
So, larger environments need more RAM.
Playing the largest GC3 map, you just might need 32GB of RAM to keep the game running relatively smoothly.
#4 Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator gives us a chance to explore a different aspect of memory consumption when it comes to games (which will apply to the next entry to even greater effect).
Flight simulators are known for trying to get a realistic experience, and Microsoft Flight Simulator certainly lives up to this idea.
In order to make a realistic flight simulator, the game has to crunch a lot of numbers.
In this case, it’s the physics engine that uses the most RAM.
Think about it this way.
If your game is trying to simulate realistic gravity, then the gravity equation has to be applied to every different item in the game.
That’s a lot of independent calculations.
What if the game is trying to get thrust correct alongside drag forces, friction, weather patterns, and any number of other factors?
The complexity blows up, and the computer has to work furiously to run all of the calculations in real time without any hiccups.
It takes a lot of RAM to do this, and realistic flight simulators often need 16GB to 32GB in order to run.
Digital Combat Simulator has been around for a long time.
It was originally launched in 2008, but it has received substantial upgrades over the years.
As a realistic combat simulator, it faces all of the challenges I just mentioned in regard to Microsoft Flight Simulator.
But, DCS allows you to create some pretty intense scenarios.
You can do large-scale multiplayer operations with DCS, and players even try to recreate famous battles.
Every unit in the game is treated as an individual asset.
That means the game’s engine is performing physics calculations on each of those assets.
If you put hundreds of assets into a single simulation, then you’re putting a huge mathematical strain on the computers that are running everything.
It’s going to easily take 20GB of RAM or more for the most intense operations.
Of course, you can also fly a single plane on a simple map, and the RAM load is a lot lower.
The point is that this type of scaling uses many gigabytes of RAM when you push the limits.
#6 Open World Games
I’m going to spend a minute talking about open-world games in general.
This applies to DCS along with many survival games and games across other genres.
Here’s the thing about games.
When you have a game with specific levels, rooms, or stages, then the game can pause and load items whenever you change levels or stages.
That allows the game to operate well while consuming a lot less memory.
Open-world games don’t have this advantage.
They have to render everything you can see, and as you move, they have to constantly load new items and render more visuals.
If the game is going to run smoothly, then you need a lot of RAM to enable the computer to do all of this work without pausing.
If you add assets to that open world, then even more calculations take place, and more RAM is needed.
Now, a lot of games can still do this with 16GB or less, but the trend is increasing RAM needs.
Over time, you can expect open-world games to use more and more RAM, and you’ll see a lot more that are in the 32GB range.
What About Streaming?
All of that was just about playing games.
What if you do anything beyond playing?
Well, every task you have your computer does subtracts from your RAM budget.
Every function needs at least a little memory, so multitasking will expand your RAM consumption.
Easy stuff like listening to music or leaving browser tabs open isn’t so bad.
Add in a couple of extra gigabytes, and you’re good to go.
The one task that tends to use the most RAM is video editing.
Now, you might think that you can just put off video editing for times when you aren’t playing games.
That’s often true, but there is one type of video editing that a lot of people like to do while gaming: streaming.
Streaming in low quality can easily add 4GB to your RAM budget.
Streaming in high definition can add 8GB to 16GB.
So, if you’re playing a 16GB game and want to stream it in high definition, then you’ll need 32GB of RAM (or a separate streaming computer).