How much video memory do you need for gaming?

When choosing a video card, the user is faced with this tricky question, because different manufacturers offer different amounts of video memory. In this article, you will find out how much video memory will be optimal for your purposes.

Bigger is better?

Many people mistakenly think that a larger amount of video memory always gives an increase in performance and the system performance depends on it.

We are compelled to upset you, but it is not so. The performance of the chip itself plays an important role in performance. So an old top-end video card with a small amount of video memory can be significantly faster in games than a newer budget-level card with a large amount of video memory. For example, the GT 9800 with 512 MB of video memory was faster than the GTS 240 with its 1024 MB.

Undoubtedly, the memory subsystem in a video card is important. But the benefits from its volume will only be in the case when this volume was previously not enough. That is, you will not notice any advantages in operations that do not require a large amount of video memory.

What characteristics does video memory have?

Video memory has more characteristics than volume alone. Besides volume, the key parameter is its throughput. It is calculated from such indicators as the memory capacity and its frequency.

To estimate the memory bandwidth, you need to divide the bus width by 8 (it is indicated in bits, we need it in bytes) and multiply the resulting value by the memory frequency, expressed in GHz. This will give you the memory bandwidth expressed in GB / s. This characteristic is of particular importance in top-end video cards, since here the performance of the chip itself is high.

What does DDR3, GDDR3 and GDDR5 mean? This is a type of memory. There are few differences between them, in fact, only the frequency. Among these three types, the fastest is GDDR5. More recently, HBM memory (AMD R9 Fury) and GDDR5X (GTX 1080) have also appeared, among which the first will be faster.

What does video memory do?

Video memory is a kind of special RAM for a video card. It contains data for subsequent operational processing.

The involved volume in games is influenced by:

  • resolution
  • smoothing
  • texture quality
  • other graphics settings

If you do not meet your volume, then nothing terrible will happen, your computer will not explode, and the video card will not burn out. Just a part of the data will be unloaded from the video memory into the operational memory.

This promises:

  • increased consumption of RAM
  • reduced performance due to lower throughput and more operations to extract and manipulate data

In some games, the difference can be a couple of frames per second, and in others up to 30%.

So which should I choose?

In order to determine the amount of video memory required, you must first decide on your needs and budget.

It should be noted that the graphics built into the processor use shared RAM.

Help table for choosing the amount of video memory Your needs Examples of video cards Required amount of video memory

Multimedia and simple / old games GT 730, R7 250 1 GB
Initial game decisions GTX 750 Ti, R7 360 2 GB
Average game solutions GTX 960, R9 380 4 GB
High-end gaming solutions * GTX 980, R9 390X from 6 GB
Professional solutions * NVIDIA Quadro M6000

AMD FirePro W9100

Up to 24 GB

* means that such solutions usually have a fixed amount of video memory, while professional video cards do not have versions from other manufacturers at all. It should also be noted that this table does not apply to new chips. Fiji by AMD (R9 Fury, R9 Nano), since they use the first generation HBM memory, the volume of which cannot exceed 4 GB, but it has very high bandwidth.

If you want to learn more about NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePro, you can follow the corresponding links.


We hope that our article was useful to you and helped you understand the video memory device. If you have any questions, then you are welcome in the comments!

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