Random Access Memory is essential for running programs on computers. RAM is essentially the short-term functional memory of a computing device. While Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives access memory sequentially, RAM accesses storage randomly. This makes it far faster. However, RAM is vital – it needs the power to store and recall information. When a device is turned off, all memory stored on a RAM module is reset. As a result, RAM requirements have changed over the years. As programs have become more complex and demanding, more and more RAM has been needed to run them. Here is a quick summary of how much RAM has been considered standard over the years for running games, production programs, and design apps.
1995 – 1997: 64 MB
1995 was a big year for software development – seeing the release of the animation program Blender in 1.0 format and the often forgotten but very influential Microsoft Bob. Computers were available with 256 MB of RAM but would still be considered to be relatively fast if they had 64 MB.
1998 – 2003: 128 MB
PC gaming went through a transformative stage between 1998 and 2003. As the game became more technically ambitious, they needed far more Random-Access Memory to run smoothly. As a result, games like Baldur’s Gate 2 (released in 2000) were masterpieces that required lots of storage.
2004 – 2006: 1 GB
2004 – 2006 saw big changes in the world of computer hardware. Lenovo acquired IBM’s personal computing division in 2005, giving them a strong foothold in western markets. Gaming computers were regularly produced with over 1GB of RAM to cope with complex applications, but it was not long before this requirement was doubled.
2007 – 2009: 2 GB
The popularity of complex 3D rendered games, photoshop, and music production software meant that 2GB of RAM became standard between 2007 and 2009.
2010 – 2012: 3–4GB
Games like Mass Effect 2 – released in 2010 – were extremely taxing in terms of computing power. Ram more than 3 GB was essential for playing the blockbuster releases of the time.
2013 – 2014: 8GB
Programs like Ableton Live, the premier music production software during the 2010s, required 8GB of Random-Access Memory to run correctly by 2014. Similar RAM was required by almost every other music production software, design app, and game. Luckily, advances in hardware technology meant that prices for capable computers remained relatively stable and easy to afford.
2015 -> today: 16 GB +
The complexity of software in almost every field is increasing exponentially. This is primarily because of expanding capabilities and has to do with the progressively more networked nature of modern software. Playing the newest blockbuster gaming releases depends on around 16 GB of Random Access Memory and a great deal of Hard Drive space. The latest edition of a blender, for instance, requires 16 GB of RAM at the very minimum. Complex projects require even more memory to be completed smoothly, but luckily the price of RAM is not too steep, and it is easy to upgrade.