A common question we get is, “how much VRAM do I need?”. Well, it depends on what you need it for! Basically, you need around 4GB for 1080p PC gaming. However, you’ll need more for higher resolutions, video production, etc.
Although it is one of the more known graphics card specifications, it is not the only important one. You also have to consider clock speeds, CUDA cores/Stream processor numbers and alike. So, let’s discuss VRAM and how much you need.
What Is VRAM?
First of all, we have to note that VRAM is not different from regular RAM, at least when it comes to functionality. RAM is short for Random Access Memory.
Related: How to choose RAM
VRAM is built directly into your graphics card and generally uses faster types of RAM. Memory types mostly used are GDDR5, GDDR5X, HBM2, and (soon) GDDR6.
GDDR Vs DDR
The G in GDDR stands for graphics. Basically, these memory types are custom-tailored for graphics cards.
GDDR has a much wider bandwidth, thanks to a wider memory bus. It can also send and receive data on the same clock cycle, unlike regular DDR. Furthermore, GDDR uses less power and heat, which allows for higher performance and easy cooling. All of this matters when it comes to processing graphics data and giving the user a beautiful experience.
Check out our air vs liquid cooling guide.
So, VRAM is used for storing relevant graphics data and making it more accessible to your GPU (graphics processing unit), just like RAM is used for making data more accessible for your CPU.
Each graphics setting takes up a certain amount of VRAM, but the most demanding ones are:
- Texture Quality
- Rendering Resolution
- LOD Distance
- Anti-Aliasing (such as FXAA, MSAA, TXAA)
Currently, rendering resolution is the most important thing to consider. While textures and LOD distance used to be a big deal, you don’t have to worry about them when picking a graphics card today.
Similarly, anti-aliasing uses large amounts of VRAM, but it is slowly becoming less relevant, mainly due to increasingly higher resolutions of gaming monitors.
How Much VRAM Do I Need?
If we consider rendering resolution as the biggest factor, you should generally go by this:
- 720p – 2GB
- 1080p – 4GB
- 1440p – 6-8GB
- 2160p – 8-12GB
Of course, we are assuming you want to play the latest games with higher settings. Furthermore, you can probably manage 4K with even 4GB of VRAM, if you tweak the settings a bit. Also, keep in mind that what is enough today, might not be enough tomorrow. Hence, you should plan for the future.
The digital world is not just ones and zeroes. Certainly, there are many factors to consider when choosing a graphics card. In most cases, it depends on what you want to do on your PC. We use different types of graphics cards for gaming, video editing, 3D modeling, etc.
If you just want to play the latest games, then a 4GB VRAM graphics card will do just fine. However, we do recommend going a bit higher with 6GB, mainly as an investment for the future.
Modern GPUs can handle most games, but technologies advance fast. What is “good” today, might be very “bad” tomorrow.