The graphic memory, also known as VRAM, for its acronym in English, has returned to be fully topical thanks to recent statements by AMD, in which it stated that graphics cards with 4 GB of graphic memory are no longer relevant to play, an affirmation that, frankly, not entirely true.
It is true that more and more games require more graphics memory to work in its maximum graphics configurations, but this does not mean that we cannot enjoy a good experience with a graphics card equipped with 4 GB of memory. Each game is a world, but even in the worst possible scenario, this amount of memory allows us to play without problems in resolutions. 1080p and very high qualities In most cases.
DOOM Eternal is, without a doubt, one of the best exponents of the importance that graphic memory has acquired. When we enter the settings configuration menu we can see that the difference between using textures in medium quality and in maximum quality represents an increase in the consumption of more than 3 GB of graphic memory. Overwhelming, but it is normal, since the graphics engine it uses, the id Tech 7It has a strong dependence on the load of textures to shine in all its splendor.
The same is true, although less markedly, with other titles based on the graphics engine id Tech 6, such as DOOM 2016 and the last two installments of the Wolfenstein franchise. Its dependence on graphic memory is so marked that it can not only limit the graphic configuration options if we do not reach a certain level, but it can also significantly affect performance.
Does this mean that we need a graphics card with 8 GB of graphics memory to play in optimal conditions? Well no, although it is true that we are in a clear transition stage with Xbox Series X and PS5 around the corner, and if we are going to change the graphics card or mount a new PC it is a good idea to look models with at least 6 GB of graphics memory, since otherwise we will be limiting its useful life.
This simple summary has allowed us to put a little context to the situation we are currently experiencing, but we want to help you understand what exactly is graphics memory, why it is important and how much you really need to play safely and smoothly when the transition to the new generation of consoles occurs. Do you want to discover it? Well keep reading.
What is graphic memory and how does it work?
We can define graphic memory as a type of specialized high-speed memory that is integrated in the form of chips on the PCB of the graphics card, and which has its own data bus. In terms of gross frequency this type of memory it is much faster than conventional RAM, since it reaches values close to 16 GHz, while that round 5 GHz in the best case. However, both work in a similar way, since the basic concept of the two is the same.
That specialization makes a very important difference in terms of performance. As we have seen in the previous paragraph, the difference at the frequency level is enormous, since the graphic memory it reaches to triple the frequency of the memory RAMBut this is not all, it also has its own data bus and this is, in most cases, larger than the one used by RAM. The working frequency and the bus determine the available bandwidth, a value that indicates the GB / s that a certain configuration can reach.
For example, a PC with a dual channel 16GB DDR4 RAM configuration will have a 128 bit bus and an average frequency of 3.2 GHz, since modules with higher frequencies are very expensive and do not fit in the mid-range. In contrast, a mid-range graphics card such as the RTX 2070 Super or the RX 5700 XT uses GDDR6 graphics memory at 14 GHz and they have a bus 256 bits.
More discreet models, such as the GTX 1650 Super, use memories GDDR6 at 12 GHz and have a 128 bit bus, while the most powerful models, such as the RTX 2080 Super, have memory GDDR6 at 15.5 GHz and a 256-bit bus. There are also models that use other types of graphic memory, such as HBM, which reduces the working frequency to values between 1 GHz and 2.5 GHz but compensate for this with a huge bus that can reach, in some cases, 8,192 bits. These configurations are, however, very expensive and rare.
Again an example to understand it. The RTX 2070 Super, which adds 8 GB of 14 GHz GDDR6 on a 256-bit bus, has a bandwidth of 448 GB / s, and the Radeon VII, which has 16 GB of 2 GHz HBM2 memory and a 4,096-bit bus, has a bandwidth of 1,024 GB / s. Bandwidth determines memory performance, but the amount available is just as important, because if we do not reach the minimum that each game needs, we will have problems. We will elaborate on this topic later.
Graphics memory is integrated (welded) on the graphics card so we cannot expand it. Therefore it is important to make sure that the model we are going to buy has the quantity necessary to cover our needs. for a reasonable period of time.
To understand the work that graphic memory does, it is convenient to put it in contrast to RAM memory, since this allows us to give you a clearer and easier to assimilate vision. RAM aims store instructions, applications and system processes completed by the processor, but that you may need again at some point. If the RAM is very slow, the processor may suffer small periods of inactivity while waiting for it to complete the necessary operations, and if we have an insufficient quantity, the wait will be longer, since it will not be able to store all the necessary data and instructions, and they should RAM loading and unloading cycles occur relatively frequently.
Well, the same thing happens with graphic memory, only that it is used by the GPU. This kind of memory stores different elements that are associated with graphic works specific and essential for the GPU, like textures and different effects. If it is very slow, the GPU will also face delays, and if we do not have enough, we will have performance problems that can manifest themselves in very different ways, although the most common are late popping, frame desynchronization and performance losses.
Graphics memory is not only used when we run a game, it is also an important resource used by the operating system for things as basic as maintaining screen resolution and color depth, and also for running different applications and programs, including images and videos. Perhaps some of our readers remember that time when 1 MB of graphic memory only allowed us to reach 1,024 x 768 pixels with 256 colors.
How much graphics memory do I need to play?
It is an excellent question, and we will help you to have it clear. First of all keep in mind that speed is also very important. Luckily, the big names in the industry, Intel and AMD, have almost completely abandoned graphics memory chips based on outdated and very slow standards (GDDR3 and GDDR4), but the data bus can be a problem.
Today the minimum to enjoy an acceptable experience is in the binomial 7 GHz GDDR5 and a 128-bit bus, although the ideal is to opt for memory solutions 8 GHz GDDR5 and a 256-bit bus. For example, the GTX 1050 Ti meets the first level, while the GTX 1070 and RX 590 meet the second level without problem.
DOOM Eternal to the max in 1440p
DOOM Eternal to the max in 1080p
DOOM Eternal in 1080p with medium-high quality
Well, with this clear we are ready to discuss how much graphics memory we really need to play. Since each game has specific requirements we have no choice but to leave you a series of average recommendations, that is, based on an average balance of the requirements of current games. However, we will include important nuances at each level to complete the information and to help you get it right.
Resolution 900p and lower: We will have more than enough with 2 GB of graphic memory of the GDDR5 type.
1080p resolution: with 3 GB of GDDR5 memory we can play in high or very high qualities without problem, although in some cases we will have to adjust the quality of the textures to medium levels. The ideal is to have at least 4 GB of graphic memory, although to play some titles in maximum quality we will need 6 GB of GDDR5 memory.
1440p resolution: from 4 GB of GDDR5 memory we can play with high qualities without problems almost any current game, but the ideal is to have 6 GB. If we want to ensure a good long-term experience, having 8 GB is essential.
Resolution 2160p: It is advisable to have 8 GB of graphic memory, although this amount is no longer an absolute guarantee that we can move everything to the maximum in the medium and long term.
Let’s see some examples to better understand what we have exposed above. If you are going to play at 1,600 x 900 pixels a GTX 1050 with 2 GB of graphic memory would be enough in most cases, on the other hand, if you are going to play in 1080p from a 3 GB GTX 1060 or a GTX 970 you could Enjoy a good experience, but models with more graphics memory and more power, such as the 6GB GTX 1060 or the 8GB RX 580 will have a much longer life cycle.
In 1440p resolutions a RTX 2060 with 6 GB or a Radeon RX 5600 XT with 6 GB They will allow us to enjoy a good experience, but if we want, again, to ensure a good life cycle, we must look for models with 8 GB, such as the RTX 2060 Super or RX 5700. Finally, if we are going to play 4K RTX 2070 Super and RX 5700 XT with 8 GB of graphic memory fall within the recommended minimum.
If your graphics card does not have enough graphics memory and you are having trouble enjoying your favorite games but you cannot upgrade to a higher model, don’t worry, in this article you will find all the information you need to reduce the consumption of graphic memory in games.
Please note that some games, such as Resident Evil 2 Remake and Resident Evil 3 Remake, exaggerate the consumption of graphic memory and show excessive and unreal values. When configured with maximum quality, it is easy to overcome the 10 GB of graphic memory. If this happens we will receive an alert message and we will see a red indicator, but we have nothing to worry about. If our graphics card has a minimum power we can play without problems.
Do you have any doubts? Well, calm down, you can leave them in the comments and we will be happy to help you.