Are you looking for a new graphics chip? Are you unsure how much VRAM is needed? This guide will help you determine how much VRAM is needed for gaming.
A lot of PC gamers ask this question when selecting a graphics card. The truth is that there is no right answer.
There are many factors that will affect the amount of VRAM (Video Random Access Memory). We’ll explain these factors and give an estimate of the amount you will need. This is based on your settings, resolution and games.
What is VRAM?
VRAM is similar to how RAM gives your CPU quick access the critical data it needs for processing, and it also allows your GPU quick accessibility to the data that it needs to perform graphics-related tasks.
VRAM is embedded on your GPU so it takes your GPU much less time to access data than if you were to access it from your computer’s memory, SSD/HDD, or your computer’s RAM.
You can’t add more VRAM to your system or your graphics card, unlike RAM. VRAM is directly built into the graphics card. The amount of VRAM on your graphics card is what your GPU and system will need to use until your graphics card is upgraded.
What factors impact/utilize VRAM?
Your GPU will be able to access more graphics-related data quickly if you have more VRAM. This will allow it to send frames at a faster rate to your monitor.
Depending on the way you use your computer, VRAM may be required for different purposes. These are the main factors that will determine how much VRAM your system will require.
- Your Monitor’s Resolution
- The Games You Are Currently Playing
- Your Settings for Playing Your Games at
Let’s quickly go over these three points:
How to Monitor Resolution Impact’s VRAM
The simplest way to explain it is that the more resolution a monitor has the more VRAM required to process one frame.
A single 1920×1080 (1080P), frame will take up less space that a single 2560×1440 (1440P), frame. A single 2560×1440 frame will take up less space than a single 33840×2160 (4K) frame.
Thus, more VRAM is required to play on a 4K screen than on a 1080P.
VRAM will be affected by the games you play
Similar to how a monitor’s resolution affects the VRAM that it uses, the more VRAM a game will use will determine the graphics-intensive and detailed nature of the game.
For example, Minecraft and Team Fortress 2 won’t use as much VRAM than games such as Middle Earth: Shadow of War or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. While the former games don’t have the best graphics quality or details, the latter offer more detailed scenery and graphics.
Since better graphics simply means more data, it means that one frame of a game with more graphics will require more data than a frame from a game that requires less.
While Minecraft doesn’t have much detail, and won’t use very much VRAM, other games, such as Shadow of War, will use a lot of VRAM, even at higher resolutions.
How your game’s settings will impact VRAM
We know from the above that VRAM is a function of graphics quality.
Your game’s settings will determine how much VRAM your GPU will use to render frames.
Higher settings will result in more data being required for each frame to render. This will lead to more VRAM being used.
It is also possible to reverse this. The graphics settings can be adjusted to reduce the VRAM used by your game. This is what many gamers with aging systems do to newer games to maintain a playable framerate.
What VRAM Do You Really Need? A General Overview by Use Case
We now know that the resolution of your monitor, the game you are playing and the settings at which you are playing them all have an impact on how much VRAM your computer will require to run those games.
Let’s now take a look at the VRAM required for different resolutions.
- @720P 2GB VRAM
- @1080P 2GB-6GB VRAM
- @1440P 4-8GB VRAM
- @4K 8GB+ VRAM
This is just a brief overview. It will also be affected by the games and settings that you use.
At 1080P you can play less-demanding games such as TF2, League of Legends and Dota 2, Minecraft. You can use less than 2GB VRAM. More demanding games, such as Middle Earth: Shadow of War and PUBG, Quantum Break or Quantum Break, can be run without consuming more than 2GB of VRAM. Maximum settings for a 1080P screen will use more than 4GB of your GPU’s VRAM.
As your monitor’s resolution increases, so will your VRAM requirements to run your favorite games at higher settings and maintain acceptable frame rates.
Bottom line: VRAM is a function of the resolution you play them at and the games they are played.
The bullet-point table above will help you decide how much VRAM your graphics card should have. You should stick with the VRAM range that is higher if you are playing more challenging games.
You can choose a graphics card that has less VRAM if you are playing less demanding games. If you decide to purchase a more challenging game, your graphics card may limit the VRAM capacity.
My opinion is that a GPU should have at most 4GB VRAM. This guide was written as a guide. For entry-level 1080P gaming, the current budget-friendly graphics cards that have 2GB of VRAM are still available. They will not be able to play the most demanding games today (or tomorrow) at maximum settings. They should not be considered as permanent solutions or options for gamers who are only playing less challenging titles.
The information you have read should help to determine the best amount of VRAM to meet your needs. Let us know if you have any questions about choosing a graphics card.