How much GPU memory do I need?

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Just as your PC has memory (called RAM), a dedicated GPU will have its own memory called VRAM (Video RAM). And just like RAM, a lack of VRAM can cause performance issues. The amount you will have will depend on what GPU you have, and how much you will need will depend on the applications you use.

So the final, vague answer to how much GPU memory you actually need is this: it depends.

What is the difference between system RAM and VRAM?

System RAM and VRAM are very similar: they are relatively small and very fast. But they are not exactly the same because system RAM is for CPUs and VRAM is for GPUs, and these two different CPUs have very different needs. System RAM has very low latency (which is good) but has relatively low memory bandwidth. Meanwhile, VRAM has extremely high memory bandwidth with much longer latency. It just comes down to the fact that processors require less latency than high bandwidth, and vice versa for GPUs.

Another key difference between system RAM and VRAM is the ability to upgrade. Upgrading system RAM is easy – just plug in a new stick or replace an existing one. But VRAM is not updated by users (outside of extreme hardware modifications using a soldering iron). This means that whatever GPU you buy, you will be stuck with how much memory it has.

This is not some kind of design oversight or case where GPU manufacturers want you to buy a brand new GPU every time. The real reason is that GPUs can only be combined with a certain amount of RAM, depending on the width of the memory bus. Processors can carry pretty crazy RAM configurations, but GPUs can’t.

Gaming

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If you’re a gamer, the good news is: gaming GPUs are usually designed pretty cleverly. No matter what VRAM is on your GPU – that’s probably all you need. There may be some cases where more memory would be useful, but the developers of AMD, Nvidia and games are quite good at using hardware and software techniques to save memory. Also, it is much more likely that the GPU itself will reach the end of its rope before you need more VRAM.

However, there are some exceptions. Some games aren’t optimized very well, which means you have to play with graphics settings to get decent performance, and if you’ve ever changed games like Skyrim, you’ve probably seen graphics mods that say you need a graphics processor with lots of VRAM. These cases may require a higher-end GPU because they don’t usually host a lot of VRAM on lower GPUs. However there is RTX 3060which has an insane 12GB of video memory, like the RTX 3080 Ti, and its $ 329 MSRP puts it in the middle class.

Only the latest AAA games that work with anything up to ultra with 4K resolution require anything close to that amount of VRAM, and even then you’ll need a super high-end card, so make sure your GPU is up to date and just as high . as you need and can afford, this is more important than worrying about VRAM.

Performance

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Professional work done with professional software such as AutoCAD or Adobe Premiere Pro is likely to require more VRAM than most games. But just like gaming GPUs, GPUs for workstations often come with a lot of VRAM, which makes sense, and throughout, you’ll see that these types of GPUs tend to have more VRAM than their gaming counterparts. at least at a high level. AMD’s top PRO W6800 is equipped with 32 GB of memory, while the Nvidia RTX A6000 has 48 GB, which is definitely superfluous for most users.

According to A Nvidia Professional Solution Guide, modern graphics processors equipped with 8 GB to 12 GB VRAM are required to meet the minimum requirements. However, you can probably get away with less VRAM. Adobe Premiere Pro minimum VRAM requirements – 2 GB, and recommended from 4 GB to 6 GB. Autodesk AutoCAD The “base” specification requires 1 GB of video memory but recommends 4GB.

It’s ideal to have more memory than you need, and this is especially important for GPUs because you can’t upgrade VRAM. Based on the recommendations of companies such as Nvidia and Adobe, you will need at least 4 GB for easy operation, and find a current or older generation GPU with 4 GB should not be too difficult. If your task is to edit videos in Premiere Pro or create models in Autodesk Maya, you’ll definitely want to spend more to get a graphics processor with at least 8GB of video memory, even if it’s not the current generation.

Should I worry about very high memory usage?

Most people have probably looked at Task Manager or other monitoring software and seen that almost all of their VRAM is used while gaming or working. Concerns about this are understandable, but if your performance won’t be lower than expected and your GPU memory usage is consistently 100%, don’t worry. Your GPU is smart and uses this memory for good reason.

The point of using memory is that the name is misleading. Task Manager does not show you all the data currently in use, it shows you all the memory occupied by the data. It may seem like the same thing, but it’s not. GPUs can move data into and out of memory if needed, or store data in memory in case it is needed later.

However, if you do run out of VRAM, your computer will shut down. If you’re playing a game, you can expect significant frame drops per second, or if you’re trying to edit a video, you’ll notice that the timeline sweep suddenly becomes less responsive.

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How much GPU memory do I need?

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