This guide shows you how much VRAM you’ll need if you’re buying a new graphics card.
Most PC gamers have the question “how much VRAM do I need?” when it comes to choosing a graphics card. There is not right answer to that question.
VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) requirements will vary depending on a number of factors. We’ll break down what these factors are in this guide as well as give you an estimate of how much VRAM you’ll actually need based on which games, resolution, and settings you’ll be playing in.
What is VRAM?
In the same way that RAM on your PC offers instant access to the important data your CPU needs to work, VRAM works the same way, as it gives the GPU quick access to the graphics information it needs to carry out other functions.
The VRAM is built into your graphics card, so it is much faster for your GPU to access the data your GPU holds, than if it were to access the same data from your computer’s memory or the SSD/HDD.
The amount of VRAM that your graphics card has is the amount of VRAM your GPU and system can use until you upgrade your graphics card. VRAM is built directly onto the graphics card, so you cannot add more to your graphics card.
Factors Impact/Utilize VRAM
Having more video memory means your GPU can access more graphics-related data, increasing frame rates to your monitor.
However, the amount of VRAM needed will depend on how you are using your computer. Here are some of the most common factors that have the biggest impact on the amount of RAM you need:
- The resolution of your monitor
- The Games You’re Playing
- The settings at which you play your games
Briefly review each factor:
How VRAM is impacted by monitor resolution
Simply put, the higher the monitor’s resolution, the more VRAM will be used to render a single frame.
The 1920×1080 (1080P) frame takes less room than a 2560×1440 (1440P) frame. Additionally, a 2560×1440 frame takes less space than a 3840×2160 (4K) frame.
So with a 4K monitor more VRAM is required to play a game than with a 1080P monitor.
How VRAM Is Affected By The Games You Play
A game’s VRAM utilization will be influenced by the graphics-intensiveness of the game as well as the higher resolution of its monitor.
So, for example, games like Middle Earth: Shadow of War, or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, do not utilize as much VRAM, as Team Fortress 2 or Minecraft. In contrast, the latter games offer much more advanced scenery and graphics details, while the former games aren’t known for graphics quality and details.
In fact, better graphics just means more data, which means each frame of a game with more graphic demands will have more data to process than will a frame of a game with less graphic demands.
Minecraft is a good example of a game that doesn’t utilize too much VRAM; even at higher resolutions. However, other titles have a lot more detail.
How your game’s settings will affect VRAM
As discussed above, a game’s graphics quality determines how much VRAM your GPU will consume to run that game.
You will also need to determine how much VRAM your GPU will use when rendering frames for your game, but that will be determined by the settings you run at.
In addition, the higher the settings you use, the more VRAM is utilized to render each frame.
On the other hand, you can turn down your graphics settings as well to use less VRAM. People with older systems often do this with newer games in order to run them smoothly.
How Much VRAM Do You Need? A General Overview Based On Use Case
In order to achieve a playable framerate in those games, we know that the game settings you use as well as your monitor’s resolution all influence how much VRAM you need.
Therefore, let’s look at a general breakdown of how much VRAM each resolution requires:
- At 720p, VRAM is 2GB.
- At 1080P: 2GB-6GB of RAM
- At 1440P: 4-8 GB of VRAM
- At 4K: 8GB VRAM or more
Again, this is a general overview. Different games require different settings.
For instance, if you play games like TF2, Dota 2, Minecraft, etc. at 1080P, you can run them without needing much more than 2GB of VRAM. At 1080P, demanding games will likely consume more than 4GB of your GPU’s VRAM. Examples include Middle Earth: Shadow of War, PUBG, Quantum Break, etc.
As the resolution of your monitor rises, therefore, the amount of VRAM you will need to be able to play your favorite games at high settings with acceptable frame rates will rise.
Conclusion: How Much Ram You Need Is Dependent on the Games and Resolution You Play.
This bullet-point list about VRAM gives you an idea of how much VRAM you should buy ( check how much VRAM you have ) if you’re in the market for a new graphics card. If you plan on playing more demanding games, try and stick with the higher VRAM mentioned above.
If you play lower-demanding games, you can choose a graphics card that has less VRAM. If you decide on a higher-demanding game, however, you may have to choose a graphics card with a higher amount of VRAM.
I recommend choosing a GPU with at least 4GB of memory at the time of writing this guide, so long as your budget allows it. Despite having just 2GB of VRAM, budget-friendly graphics cards with entry-level 1080P gaming are still viable for maximum settings in today’s (and tomorrow’s) top games. These options are only suitable for gamers who use them occasionally, or for those who play the less demanding games.
This information should help you choose the right amount of VRAM based on your own needs. Feel free to post any questions about choosing a graphics card below!