What is VRAM & Why Is It Important?
While RAM types and Cache are common throughout computer hardware, there are more known types of RAM over others. Terms like WRAM, SGRAM, and MDRAM often identify the type of RAM in both new and old systems. This article goes over the most common type and what to look out for in a GPU; VRAM.
VRAM is memory in the GPU responsible for storing data for the GPU before sending it to be converted into an analog or digital signal. VRAM is often referred to by its size and module type like GDDR (Graphics Double Data Rate) and the version number instead of other RAM terms for general marketability.
VRAM size is often the most marketed as manufacturers can control them depending on the hardware variant, like progressively more expensive graphics cards with expanding VRAM and core count.
What Tasks Need VRAM?
VRAM is multifaceted in its ability to compute and handle varying workloads. Most encoding or decoding workloads use the VRAM in the GPU. Encoding works for displays and rendering games, while decoding can work for Crypto Mining or decompressing large display files.
More common gaming workloads often split the task needed for the best performance and quality evenly among the CPU, GPU, and RAM not forming a bottleneck. However, some workloads specialized in specific hardware equipment prioritize one over another.
Why is VRAM Important in Gaming?
VRAM is for the many processes that take different visual resources to facilitate while gaming. Often, games have a bar outlining the VRAM use on certain graphic settings. This bar represents the capabilities of a particular graphics card and usually warns the user that VRAM usage is too much at specific settings.
Games also often depict there the GPU availability in MegaBytes instead of GigaBytes which is easily transferable to see how much VRAM memory you have with 1GB=1000MB
As you can see above, the graphics card for Red Dead Redemption 2 has 5GB of total VRAM for the game to use, which is standard for most triple-A games released these past few years.
VRAM Levels & Types of VRAM
While VRAM is a general term used to describe memory capabilities, subcategories often categorize VRAM in its specific uses and roles in other system interactions.
MDRAM (Multibank-DRAM)- MDRAM is a conventional cache system able to interact with the I/O or display a significant resolution of up to 2k worth of Pixels in each 4MB memory module
SGRAM (Synchronous Graphics RAM)- Popularized in the 1990s and early 2000s, SGDRAM is known for its asynchronous behavior and ability to not rely on the CPU clock speed that often plagued older PCs in the 70s and 80s.The independence of this process has given rise to a more remarkable communication ability between the CPU, DRAM, and GPU for textures and rendering.
These two methods are the types of VRAM interactions within the system. These types of RAM contribute to the standard that is Graphics Double Data Rate (version number) or GDDR (XX). In the current generation of the RTX 3000 series, NVIDIA uses GDDR6X, which offers improved data bandwidth of 19-21Gbits/sec for a card like the RTX 3090.
How to Check VRAM
VRAM is easy to check using a third-party program like CPU-Z, which has basic manufacturer information for the CPU and GPU, including the manufacturer name, bus type, and the amount of GB in VRAM available in the GPU.
VRAM vs. DRAM
While DRAM is more commonly referred to as just “ RAM,” distinguishing between the two in this explanation is essential.
DRAM is the “RAM sticks” that offer most system memory for the CPU. Their function efficiently stores any critical information that the system might need to calculate/simulate software or if a game needs to load an asset into the peripheral.
VRAM facilitates the GPUs workload by budgeting for textures, resolution size, and other dependent features granting the GPU access to any essential effects relating to quality.
These two types of RAM components reach others as it takes the CPU time to process physics and movement with the DRAM. At the same time, VRAM projects the final result over microseconds of interaction hundreds of thousands of times a second.
How Much VRAM Do You Need?
While the demand for games gets higher and higher, there is often a screw of requirements depending on the game's intensity. We will go through most of the requirements from games last decade and newer games released this upcoming year.
1-2GB of VRAM
While not the most stable option today, low-end games often support graphics cards of 2GB minimum. Older games before 2011-2010 often support 1GB of VRAM. However, 2GB is preferable for most titles in the early 2010s.
3-6GB of VRAM
These amounts of VRAM are often seen halfway through the last decade with the release of the NVIDIA GTX 900 series or the AMD RX 470 with its 4GB of VRAM to 2015 with the release of the GTX 1000 series offering more VRAM for lower-end cards like the GTX 1060 with 4GB of VRAM. This amount of VRAM can often meet most game requirements through 2020.
8+GB of VRAM
There is almost nothing you can run in the current gaming sphere with this amount of VRAM. With its introduction in 2016, the GTX 1080 was revolutionary to people looking for game markers able to add a majority of VRAM limited features to their games at a whopping 8GB of VRAM. The Ti version that came the same year boasts 11GB of VRAM.
How To Increase VRAM
There are two ways to change The VRAM in your system. We will cover the most straightforward first and then head to the more complex methods.
Getting a new GPU
As new GPUs come out, their video memory is more abundant in lower tiers of GPUs meant for people looking for an upgrade in the consumer market. This helps the progression in more up-to-date features like the 1600 series from NVIDIA that help bridge the gap of people looking to upgrade from the 600 to 900 series to a more modern feature card.
Adjusting VRAM in the BIOS
The BIOS can allow VRAM allocation to be changed, increasing the capable VRAM a GPU has access to. Seeing how much performance you can gain depends on the motherboard PCIe bus and other features.
- Navigate to your BIOS screen by hitting “F2” or “Del” to access the main screen
- Navigate to the advanced view if you haven't already
- See if there is an option for “DVMT pre-allocated VRAM.”
- Adjust based on the drop-down menu.
- Close the BIOS and save changes.
While most GPUs remain useful at smaller VRAM sizes like 1-2GB, a new generation of technology has enabled GPUs to reach 24GB of VRAM and a possible 30-32GB version in the future RTX 4000 series. Overall, the need for a wide range of workhorse GPUs will never fall out of favor with the lower-end consumer market.
While VRAM size may not be everything, the development of GPU programs like NVIDIA experience is the most significant addition to lower-end cards. The RTX voice, GPU filters, and other post-processing options become locked to ensure generations of cards.
At Apex, we offer custom gaming PCs with a base 1650 having the significant functions of Geforce Experience and the ability to compare between a 1060/1070 meeting the reckoned minimums for the most triple-A titles in today's release market. Whatever your VRAM needs, we hope to fulfill them at Apex!
Written By William Wilson
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