Today, 4GB of VRAM is more than enough for 1080p gaming. However, if planning on gaming in QHD and UHD resolutions any time soon, going with 8GB is the safer bet.
VRAM, or video RAM, is one of the more standout specifications of a graphics card. But just like clock speeds, CUDA core/Stream processor counts, and other common spec sheet entries, you just can’t help but ask yourself: “what does it actually do and how much of it do I need?”
In this article, we’ll try and give simple, brief answer to that question, so read on!
What is VRAM?
First of all, we’d like to point out that no – video RAM doesn’t differ fundamentally from the “regular” RAM that your PC uses, at least not functionality-wise. It is built directly into your graphics card, and it uses faster types of RAM such as GDDR5, GDDR5X, HBM2, and (soon) GDDR6.
The function is pretty much identical: it stores relevant data (in this case, graphics data) so that the graphics processor (GPU) can access it more quickly when it needs to. So, which graphics settings are the most VRAM-hungry ones?
Graphics Settings VRAM Usage
While nearly every setting will take up a certain amount of RAM, but the most demanding ones are:
- Rendering resolution
- Texture quality
- LOD distance
- Certain types of anti-aliasing such as TXAA or MSAA
Today, the rendering resolution is the most important thing to consider. Textures and LOD distances used to be a rather big deal, but they aren’t something that you need to worry about when getting a graphics card today.
The same could be said for anti-aliasing, as it is slowly becoming less relevant due to the increasingly higher resolutions of gaming monitors.
How Much VRAM Do I Need?
As stated above, the resolution is the main factor to consider. This is what you should generally go by:
- 720p – 2GB
- 1080p – 2-4GB
- 1440p – 6-8GB
- 2160p – 8-12GB
Of course, this is assuming that you want to run the latest games with relatively high settings. In truth, you can manage even 4K with just 4GB of VRAM, but keep in mind: what’s “just enough” today will definitely not be enough tomorrow, so plan for the future.
Once again, remember that the above is just a generalization. Any GPU with 4GB of VRAM should be able to handle modern games at any resolution, albeit with some settings tweaking, of course. Needless to say, there is no way to be sure how a certain graphics card will perform with certain games without checking out some reliable benchmarks.
But, all in all, we do recommend prioritizing graphics cards with greater VRAM capacity i.e. 6GB and up, mainly because of future-proofing.
Ready to get a new GPU? Then check out our selection of the best graphics cards of 2018!