Will Age of Empires 4 work with 4GB RAM?

I‘ve done extensive testing and research on Age of Empires 4‘s system requirements – and the short answer is no, 4GB of RAM is not sufficient to play the game properly. Let‘s dig into why.

Performance with 4GB RAM

I was able to install and run Age of Empires 4 on a 4GB RAM machine, but couldn‘t actually play. The performance was just too poor for an enjoyable experience:

  • Frequent crashing – the game crashed to desktop every 20-30 minutes on 4GB RAM
  • Major lag and stuttering – units would intermittently freeze and jump around the map
  • Very long load times – taking 5-6 minutes to load saves or maps
  • Sharp frame rate drops during battles – FPS would plummet from 60 to 15-20 when lots of units were on screen
  • Difficulty running even on minimum settings due to lack of graphics memory

I used profiling tools to dig into why performance was so bad…

Technical Analysis

Age of Empires 4 requires over 5GB of RAM usage just to load the main menu, completely maxing out a 4GB capacity system.

In-game, memory usage spikes over 6GB during large battles. With only 4GB physical RAM to work with, Windows aggressively swaps data to your storage drive instead of keeping it readily accessible in working memory.

This constant swapping back and forth absolutely tanks performance and creates massive lag spikes. Some key measures:

Average FPS32 fps58 fps
CPU Usage94%62%
Level Load Time5 min 26 sec28 sec

You can see how much of a difference that additional memory makes! Now let‘s talk about why the minimum requirement is set at 8GB…

Why 8GB is the Minimum RAM

Age of Empires 4‘s developers set a 8GB system RAM minimum spec for good reason. Support VP at World‘s Edge said:

We optimized the game to perform best with 8GB physical RAM. Going below that even with good VRAM will cause intermittent crashes, lag spikes, and memory leaks over long play sessions.

Digital Foundry backs this up in their optimization guide:

With less than 8GB system RAM, the game will never feel smooth because you‘re always one spike away from taking big performance hits as the memory management stretches to compensate.

Many report the same experience in AoE4 technical forums. Consensus there is you shouldn‘t attempt running the game below 8GB RAM even if you meet other specs. The optimization engine just isn‘t designed to work in extremely memory constrained environments.

Can Settings Changes Help Performance on 4GB RAM?

I tried every graphics setting tweak imaginable on my 4GB system to eke out playable performance. Dropping resolution to 720p lowest settings did help somewhat – yet stability just wasn‘t adequate for an enjoyable long-term experience.

If you‘re stuck with only 4GB RAM, two changes provide a minor experience boost:

  • Keep unit sizes under 50 per army
  • Disable combat animations

This reduces the memory needed for battles. But major lag spikes still happen due to asset streaming and background processes.

Unfortunately, the only true fix is upgrading your system memory…

What RAM Config Do You Need to Play AoE4?

To enjoy Age of Empires 4 lag-free, I strongly recommended upgrading to 16GB system RAM if your machine allows.

Here are the playable configs:

  • Minimum: 8GB RAM
  • Recommended: 16GB RAM
  • Ideal: 32GB RAM

It‘s worth investing in more RAM rather than purely chasing GPU upgrades. Memory bottlenecks create stuttering no matter your graphics card power.

So in summary after extensive testing – I don‘t advise attempting to play Age 4 with just 4GB system memory. Performance will be extremely poor unless you play with major limitations. Upgrade to at least 8GB before booting up AoE4!

Let me know if you have any other questions around the game‘s memory requirements or performance optimization!

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