RAM and HDD are both essential hardware for gaming. But what’s the difference between these two, and how do they affect your gaming experience?
This article will help to explain the answer to these questions.
What’s the Difference Between RAM and HDD?
RAM is a high speed memory store used to store short-term data for manipulation by your computer’s processor. HDD is static storage used to store data long-term. RAM must be much faster than HDD storage in order to keep pace with the demands of the processor.
The purpose of RAM is to serve as a speedy form of memory that the CPU can manipulate. When you open a game or program, your operating system copies the application files from the HDD into RAM.
That’s why it takes a bit of time to load games and heavier apps like Photoshop and Premiere.
From there, your CPU reads and writes data from/to RAM. When the processor requires data not held in RAM, it issues a command to retrieve that data from the HDD and load it into RAM.
As you can see, if you have more RAM, you can store more temporary information at once. Therefore, fewer trips to the HDD will be necessary.
This is why increasing your RAM allows you to run more applications or browser tabs simultaneously. Greater RAM capacity means more programs can be loaded into RAM at once.
Not only do these types of storage serve different purposes, but they also have different form factors.
RAM comes in “sticks” that slot into designated slots on your motherboard, while HDD comes in units that connect to the motherboard via a SATA cable or some similar cable.
Most modern motherboards support a minimum of 4 sticks of RAM, and the RAM slotted into your motherboard functions as a single unity.
By contrast, each drive you plug into your motherboard functions as its own drive, and operated independently of the other HDDs connected to your PC.
Many modern gaming PCs have between 8-32GB of RAM. However, some low-end PCs have 4GB of RAM.
Meanwhile, many modern gaming PCs have between 500GB-2TB HDD storage at their disposal. You can use this large storage unit to keep all your favorite pictures, videos, and games.
Which Is Better: RAM or HDD?
Upgrading your PC’s RAM is a better choice if you want better performance, while greater HDD capacity is needed for additional long-term storage. Neither can work independently of the other, so you need both.
In nearly every case, you’ll see a greater boost in performance by adding more/faster RAM to your PC. Since your CPU can only compute as quickly as your RAM allows, upgrading to speedier RAM will likely allow your PC to run faster.
In addition, adding more RAM to your PC will allow you to multitask and run several demanding programs at once. This is necessary if you plan on streaming while gaming or using your PC for video/image editing.
The only benefit to upgrading your HDD is that you’ll be able to store more movies, games, and images on your PC. If your PC is low on storage space, then consider upgrading to a larger HDD.
Upgrading to a faster HDD will also improve loading times in video games and allow you to transfer files to your HDD more quickly.
If either of these benefits is important to you, then consider upgrading your HDD. Otherwise, upgrading your RAM is the better investment.
Now that you know the strengths of these two hardware components let’s talk about which is more important for gaming.
Which Is More Important for Gaming: RAM or HDD?
RAM is more important for gaming because of its ability to increase overall PC speed. When gaming, the CPU uses your RAM to store frame-by-frame calculations. If your RAM capacity isn’t sufficient, this information has to be stored on the HDD, which is much slower to read and write.
Your CPU is like a composer, coordinating the various components of your PC to fulfill the requirements of games and applications running on your machine.
RAM allows your CPU to operate efficiently and manipulate data very quickly. If you don’t have enough RAM, your CPU will be impacted, and your games may stutter, lag, or even crash.
The current recommendation for RAM in a gaming PC is at least 16GB. If you want to future-proof your system for the next few years, you can go with 32GB.
4GB of RAM is enough to play some modern game titles such as Valorant. However, you can’t play these on Windows 10 if you only have 4GB of RAM because the OS takes up around 3GB itself.
8GB of RAM lets you play titles like Apex Legends and Warzone 2. But it might leave you with choppy gameplay on more intensive games like Lara Croft: Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
More often than not, gamers with 8GB RAM gaming PCs have to play on lower graphic settings or overclock their RAM to be able to play extremely graphic-intensive games.
In contrast, your HDD doesn’t really impact your gaming experience. A slow HDD will cause levels and games to load up more slowly, but once the game is loaded, performance isn’t impacted by HDD speed.
The size of your HDD will also determine how many games you can store on your PC at once. If you’re someone who likes to have many large games installed on your PC, then a large HDD is a necessity.
For gamers, 1TB is a good HDD size that can store lots of games and VODs, and you’re unlikely to require more than this.
RAM or Hard Disk Faster?
Retrieving data from RAM is significantly faster and more efficient than a hard disk, allowing your PC to access crucial data for computer operations.
RAM is solely made up of electronic parts. Physically, it mainly consists of a network of integrated circuits.
Because of this completely-electronic design, even one of the oldest RAM types—the DDR SDRAM— can easily reach data transfer speeds of 2.1 GB per second.
DDR4 SDRAM, the most common type of RAM in modern gaming PCs, reaches data speeds of at least 17GB per second.
RAM speed or “clock speed” is generally measured in Megahertz (MHz). This measures how fast the RAM can access its memory. The faster the clock speed, the better your RAM’s performance.
In contrast, hard disks have a much slower data transfer rate. They mostly have mechanical parts, including the platter, spindle monitor, and voice coil monitor.
Because of these mechanical parts, internal and external data transfer is often limited to 100-200Mbps. Compared to the RAM, this is extremely slow.
Hard drive speed is often measured in RPM, the number of times a hard drive’s platter makes a complete revolution in a minute.
The faster the RPM, the more data your PC will be able to transfer in one minute. So, if you want faster performance from your hard drive, go for hard drives with at least 5400RPM.
Is SSD Faster Than HDD?
SSD is faster than HDD at transferring information. Unlike HDD, SSD has no physical moving parts. Therefore, they provide faster data transfers through electrical circuitry.
The same amount of data can be transferred through an SSD in a much shorter time. This translates into shorter wait times when trying to retrieve information and starting up programs/games.
SSDs also are faster at transferring files, like VODs and video files, between drives.
While many HDDs use the SATA interface, newer NVME SSDs use the PCIe interface, which has many more data transfer channels.
SATA is a slower, older legacy technology, whereas PCIe is the choice for many SSD manufacturers. Because of this, modern PC manufacturers prefer to use SSDs when developing their gaming PCs.
The best RAM is the DDR5, released in 2020. It currently offers double bandwidth and speed coupled with lower power consumption.
This RAM type includes the decision feedback Equalization, a new technological innovation that improves I/O speed, improving gaming speed significantly.
If you want to swap your DDR4 for this latest RAM, I suggest you go with the CORSAIR Vengeance DDR5. It allows your PC to process much more information faster and provides more stable and reliable overclocking.
However, remember that DDR generations aren’t cross-compatible. For example, you cannot install DDR5 RAM on a DDR4 motherboard.
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your motherboard is compatible with your RAM before making the upgrade.
The best HDD right now is the Seagate BarraCuda. This HDD has an RPM rate of 7200 and uses a SATA 6 Gbps interface. Its capacity ranges from 2-3TB and comes at a very affordable price.
An RPM rate of 720RPM means it can handle high-density data at relatively fast speeds. And by looking at its price tag, it’s easy to understand why it’s considered the best among a long list of equally impressive HDDs.
Interested In Gaming? Check Out My Recommendations!
|Best GPU||RTX 30390 (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Processor||i9-12,900K Processor (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best RAM||Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 16GB (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming Monitor||Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor – AW2518H (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Cooling||NZXT Kraken X73 RGB 360mm (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Power Supply||Corsair RMX Series, RM750x, 750 Watt (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Motherboard||GIGABYTE Z690 AORUS PRO Gaming Motherboard (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best PC Case||Cooler Master Cosmos C700P (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming Keyboard||Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Gaming Keyboard (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming Mouse||Razer DeathAdder V2 Gaming Mouse (click to view on Amazon)|
|Best Gaming PC||CUK MPG Velox by MSI Gaming Desktop (click to view on Amazon)|
Lastly, check out my Youtube channel here if you are into streaming or gaming. And if you want to check out my streams then stop by my Twitch channel here.
Eric streams 3 days a week on Twitch and uploads weekly to Youtube under the moniker, StreamersPlaybook. He loves gaming, PCs, and anything else related to tech. He’s the founder of the website StreamersPlaybook and loves helping people answer their streaming, gaming, and PC questions.