One question many PC gamers ask themselves when choosing a graphics card is “how much VRAM do I need?” The reality is that there is no single correct answer to how much VRAM one might need.
The amount of VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) you will need will depend on several different factors. And in this guide we are going to analyze what those factors are, in addition to explaining what VRAM is and offering an estimate of how much you will need depending on the games, the resolution and the settings in which you play.
What is VRAM?
Just like the RAM in your PC gives your processor quick access to the important data it needs to carry out processes, VRAM works essentially the same way, giving the GPU or graphics chip quick access to data. data you need to carry out chart-related processes.
Being built into your graphics card, it is much faster for the GPU to access the data held by the VRAM, rather than having to access the same data from the system memory or the SSD / HDD of your computer.
However, unlike RAM, you cannot install more VRAM on your system or on your graphics card. Again, the VRAM is built directly into the graphics card. So, the amount of VRAM that your graphics card has is the amount of VRAM that your GPU and your system will have to use until you update your graphics card.
What factors impact or use VRAM?
The more VRAM you have, the more important graphics-related data the GPU can access, which, as a result, will help send frames at a higher rate to the monitor.
But, depending on how you use your computer, the system may require more or less VRAM. Here are the most common factors that have the biggest impact on the amount of VRAM you’ll need:
- The resolution of your monitor
- The games you play
- The settings you play with
Let’s take a quick look at these three factors:
How Monitor Resolution Influences VRAM
In the simplest terms, the higher the resolution of a monitor, the more VRAM will be used to process a single frame.
As you can see, 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution is significantly higher than 1080p (1920 x 1080). This image has been created to illustrate the number of pixels in each common monitor resolution, but it also serves to show how demanding it is for a frame to render at higher resolutions.
A single frame at 1920 x 1080 (1080p) will take up less space than a single frame at 2560 x 1440 (1440p). And a single frame at 2560 x 1440 will take up less space than a single frame at 3840 x 2160 (4K).
Therefore, playing on a 4K monitor will require more VRAM than is needed on a 1080p monitor.
How the games you play influence VRAM
As with the resolution of a monitor, the higher it is, the more VRAM it will use, the more detailed and graphically intensive a game is, the more RAM it will use.
So, for example, games like Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft don’t need to use as much VRAM as games like Middle Earth: Shadow of War or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. The former are not known for their graphic quality and details, while the latter offer much more advanced graphic details and scenery.
Minecraft, not being a very detailed game, doesn’t use as much VRAM as a more demanding game like Middle Earth: Shadow of War.
And in reality, better graphics simply means more data, so a single frame in a more graphically demanding game will have more data to process than a single frame in a less demanding game.
So games like Minecraft that don’t have huge amounts of detail won’t use as much VRAM – even at high resolutions – than other games, like Shadow of War, which will use a lot more RAM.
How your game settings influence VRAM
So far we’ve seen that the overall graphics quality of a game will determine how much VRAM your GPU will use when running that game.
However, the settings you configure your games to will also dictate how much VRAM your GPU uses when rendering frames in that game.
The higher the settings you set your games to, the more data each frame will need to render, and therefore the more VRAM will be used.
And vice versa. You can reduce the amount of VRAM a game uses by reducing its graphics settings. This is what many players with older equipment have to do in newer games in order to play them at decent frame rates.
How Much VRAM Do You Need: An Overview By Usage
We already know that the resolution of your monitor, the games you play and their settings will have an impact on the VRAM you will need to achieve a playable frame rate in those titles.
So let’s do a general summary with the amount of VRAM that you will need in different screen resolutions:
- @ 720P: 2GB of VRAM
- @ 1080P: 2GB-6GB of VRAM
- @ 1440P: 4-8GB RAM
- @ 4K: + 8GB of VRAM
Again, this is just a general rule of thumb. The games you play and their settings will also come into play.
For example, at 1080P, you can run less demanding games like TF2, League of Legends, Dota 2, Minecraft, and more without using more than 2GB of VRAM. If you play more demanding titles (such as Middle Earth: Shadow of War, PUBG, Quantum Break, etc.) with the maximum settings on a 1080p monitor, on the contrary, you will need more than 4 GB of VRAM on your GPU.
And as you increase the resolution of your monitor, so will the amount of VRAM you need to play your favorite games at higher settings with acceptable frame rates.
Conclusion: The appropriate amount of VRAM will depend on the games you play and the resolution
If you are buying a new graphics card, the list above will give you a general idea of how much VRAM the VRAM of your choice should have. If you play more demanding titles, you should keep the maximum amount of VRAM that appears in the range of the list above.
If you play less demanding titles, you can choose a graphics with less VRAM. However, if you ever decide to play a more demanding game, you may have to play it at lower settings due to the low VRAM capacity of your graphics.
In my opinion, at the time of writing this guide, it’s probably a good idea to choose a GPU with at least 4GB of VRAM as long as your budget allows. The cheap 2GB graphics cards available today are still a viable option for low-demand 1080p gaming. However, they will have a hard time playing today’s (and tomorrow’s) star titles at maximum settings. So they should only be seen as temporary solutions or as options for players who only play less demanding titles.
However, in the end this information should help you find the right amount of VRAM for your needs. If you need help choosing a graphics card, leave us your questions below!