VRAM is an acronym for Video Random Access Memory, which provides quick, temporary storage for the graphics processor on your graphics card.
VRAM does matter, especially at a higher resolution. When you are approaching your VRAM limit, you will encounter stuttering and possibly some weird graphics issue like missing or corrupt textures, depending on the game you play.
Before the GPU can process a single frame or scene, the VRAM stores the textures, models, geometries, and lighting maps that the graphics processor will utilize to render that frame.
When we talk about rendering, we genuinely mean the processing (maths) of graphical calculations that are visible when combined. So the GPU is simply conducting a bunch of calculations using the data stored in the VRAM.
Users who want to run multimedia applications and games should buy a system with a dedicated graphics card with 512 or 1024 MB video RAM. But, an on-board GPU without dedicated memory will suffice pure Office use.
How Important Dedicated Video RAM Is?
Your video RAM holds information that the GPU needs, including game textures and lighting effects. This allows the GPU to quickly access your monitor’s info and output video.
Using video RAM for this task is much faster than using your system RAM because video RAM is right next to the GPU in the graphics card. VRAM is built for this high-intensity purpose, and it’s thus “dedicated.”
Do I Need a Dedicated VRAM?
If you’re a professional that does graphics-related work (graphics design, animation, video editing, etc.), or, if you’re just someone who does those things for fun, you’ll likely want to ensure that you get a dedicated graphics card, as well, because those types of tasks and programs can be challenging to carry out on integrated graphics.
Suppose you’re a serious gamer and want to play your favourite games on the highest settings possible with as high of a framerate as possible.
In that case, you’ll likely want to either purchase a pre-built gaming desktop that has a dedicated graphics card inside of it or build a new computer and includes a dedicated graphics card in your part list.
The rendering performance does scale with the available VRAM to a specific point where the 3D scene’s entire Data can easily fit into the VRAM and does not need to be offloaded into the system memory.
After this, the additional VRAM will have little impact on performance, and the additional performance you will get comes solely from the increased processing cores on the GPU and some potential Software-level optimizations that make use of free VRAM like Caches and Ray-Trees.
Does VRAM Matter If You Have a Lot of RAM?
The most pertinent difference between VRAM and RAM is how they are utilized as random-access memory. A VRAM is only used for graphics and image outputs, whereas a RAM may temporarily store all other forms of data.
It depends on the application and the user. Some applications use the CPU and system RAM heavily. Other applications (like games or video editing) can put high demands on VRAM.
Having a great motherboard, CPU, and ample RAM isn’t enough to run the latest PC games on max video levels (not using the integrated video chip most motherboards have).
Running high-end games with the setting cranked to max requires a dedicated graphics card with sufficient specs, including VRAM. There’s a whole other discussion to be had about performance differences and user experiences.
Does a drop from 90 frames per second to 60 frames per second matter? A difference most people wouldn’t really notice might be a deal-breaker for a competitive gamer.
RAM is much faster than RAM and closer to the GPU, being on the graphics card itself.
The increased latency plus slower speeds from just RAM alone would degrade video performance, so that is why VRAM matters regardless of how much RAM is installed or how fast the CPU is.
How Much Dedicated Video RAM Do You Need?
4GB of VRAM available via your graphics or video card is enough for gaming or graphics designing at 1080p. Rendering quality and performance will depend squarely on your available RAM and the processor.
You will need at least 4 GB VRAM with your graphics to enjoy satisfactory gaming performance at under 1080p. A budget 2 GB GPU may not guarantee smooth performance at low-to-moderate settings for games released on or after 2016.
If you stretch your budget to a 6 GB DDR4 GPU, you can stay future-proof for at least the next two years. This will also help you make the best GPU guarantee, generally offered for up to 3 years.
When you are out of VRAM completely (which is a real possibility for Indies games that don’t optimize for higher resolution), the game will crash, and you won’t be able to play it all together.
Most games run fine at 4GB–5GB of VRAM at 1440p and 6GB-7GB at 4k when they are well optimized. Still, some games easily eat up well over 8GB at 4k (even my 3080 can’t run every game.
I have at 4k without running into memory issues) and even at 1440p, memory usage is approaching 8GB in some, making you susceptible to VRAM limitation issues.
Not to mention that some of the bleeding edge rendering techniques in the game (such as AI upscaling) also make heavy usage of memory.
But as a rule, so long as you buy a card that matches your target resolution, you shouldn’t be running into any of these issues until the next product cycle.
What Should My Dedicated Video RAM Be?
If modern games should run smoothly, you’ll require a discrete graphics card with dedicated memory. While 128 or 256 MB VRAM no longer suffice graphically demanding titles, mid-range graphics cards should feature a minimum of 512 MB and high-end graphics cards at least 1024 MB VRAM.
However, two or three GB VRAM are not required (yet) and only bring a slight advantage. Meanwhile, the type of memory and the memory interface is just as important as the capacity.
A 128-bit interface is a minimum requirement today, while a 256-bit interface is recommended if only DDR3 VRAM is used.
Furthermore, you should always consider that a big VRAM capacity alone does not make a decent graphics card. Architecture, shader count, and clock rates are important aspects too.
- Read More: Does Integrated Graphics Have VRAM?