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These are the PC games pushing people to buy more RAM

The latest games are more demanding than ever — even top PCs struggle with the latest AAA releases. In that never-ending arms race for frames, gamers have responded by upgrading their PCs and not only the processors and graphics cards. Memory, both VRAM and system memory, needs upgrading for the latest games too.

Here are some of the most demanding games forcing gamers to upgrade their RAM.

Returnal

Screenshot from Sony's Returnal, showing a woman wearing a spacesuit.
Sony Entertainment

The poster child for this new era of high-memory gaming, Returnal was the first game to require 32GB to play at recommended settings. That was only on its pre-release Steam page, however, and at release, the specs dropped to just 16GB. Gamers with more than 16GB will still see some performance advantages, however, and if you want to play at 1440p or 4K, we’d still recommend 32GB.

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Use our performance guide to find out the best Returnal settings for the best performance.

Cyberpunk 2077

V rides a motorcycle while shooting at a mech in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty.
CD Projekt Red

CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 might have been released in 2020, but it’s still one of the most demanding games out there. Part of that is down to the continued major graphical updates and overhauls it has received, most notably the RT Overdrive mode. CDPR has updated the system requirements based on its latest versions of the game, and not only have the graphics demands taken a leap, but the memory requirements have too.

Now, if you want to play the game at Ultra settings without ray tracing, CDPR recommends 20GB of RAM. If you want to play Overdrive mode, you’ll need 24GB of RAM — alongside one of the fastest graphics cards.

Star Citizen

Star Citizen
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Star Citizen is the most demanding vaporware ever created. I’m being facetious, as you can definitely play the game right now in some form, but it’s perpetually in development. Still, if you want to give the game’s various alpha game modes a try, you’ll need a hefty PC to make it look good.

You’ll need 16GB of RAM to run Star Citizen at minimum specifications, but if you want to play at 1440p or even 4K, you’ll need much more than that. Those playing the game at its highest settings have reported it demanding over 30GB just for the game itself, suggesting those with 64GB of RAM will see some benefit when playing Star Citizen.

Microsoft Flight Simulator
An airplane flies over a city in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The latest Microsoft Flight Simulator was released in 2020 and it’s a demanding game in its own right — 16GB of RAM for even recommended system requirements. You don’t necessarily need more than that, although since Flight Simulator can get close to using 16GB alone, that doesn’t leave much room for much else, so 32GB will give you some benefit.

However, it’s Flight Simulator 2024 that is likely to really push RAM demands up. Expect 32GB to be the floor for that one if you want to play at any settings above the minimum.

ARK 2

ARK 2 trailer screenshot.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The original Ark: Survival Evolved was an incredibly demanding game — not least because of its optimization issues. However, ARK 2 is likely to be far more of a challenge to even the latest and greatest gaming PCs. We don’t have hard specifications for this game just yet, but fans of the original are already speculating and with it being built in Unreal Engine with probable ray tracing support at some point, it’s going to be a very demanding game.

Some gamers are already getting ready. Having 32GB of RAM seems like a good place to start.

ICARUS

Icarus gameplay screenshot.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

ICARUS is a beautiful open-world survival game developed by Dean Hall of DayZ fame. To run it at high settings you need a powerful PC, with at least 32GB of RAM. You’ll need 32GB of the stuff to hit the recommended specs, so there’s potentially scope for even more if you are looking to play the game at its highest settings.

Forspoken

Frey looking at old buildings.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Forspoken might not have had the best start — our review had some concerns — but it’s still a very pretty, and very demanding, game. You’ll need 16GB of RAM just to meet the minimum system requirements, and recommended jumps up to 24GB. You’ll want 32GB of RAM to tackle this game at 4K resolution.

Starfield

A space explorer stands in front of a mountain range in Starfield.
Bethesda

Set to be one of the biggest game releases of recent years when it debuts, Starfield is an ambitious game, even for Bethesda. Its minimum requirements demand 16GB and though that doesn’t change for recommended, it seems likely that the game will be able to leverage more due to its sheer scale. For higher detail settings and resolutions, consider 32GB a must.

Mods

This isn’t a specific game, but mods for even more casual games can make a game’s memory demands go up really fast. Minecraft with heaps of mods enabled can demand more than 16GB, but if you want to mod more demanding games like Kerbal Space Program 2, Bannerlord, and Red Dead Redemption 2, among others, you’re going to need more.

You’ll need to check the release notes for any mod to see how much RAM it needs and check your usage if you’re applying lots at once, but you may well need to upgrade to run a heavily modded game.

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Jon Martindale
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