AMD wants more than 4GB VRAM as a minimum standard for graphics cards

Written by Chad Norton on Mon, Jun 15, 2020 5:30 PM
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Last month, AMD posted a blog which detailed the performance benefits of increased VRAM in their graphics cards, specifically the RX 5500 XT GPU. Whilst it was definitely a marketing asset - trying to convince consumers to purchase higher variants of the same card they already own - it did show some interesting results. Comparing between the 8GB and 4GB variants of the 5500 XT, AMD saw up to a 24% increase in performance across 5 different AAA titles.

This may be quite obvious to some, as more graphics memory means more space to store assets, and to play at higher resolutions or even to enable the latest graphical effects. However, the whole blog post suggests that AMD wants to step things up, as the age of 4GB VRAM might be over, and they may even offer higher VRAM capacities as the baseline standard in the future. Though that is just a guess and I could be wrong. Check out the results from AMD’s tests below:

As you can see in the chart above, the lowest performance increase was with Borderlands 3, and even then it got a 12% increase in performance just by increasing the graphics memory available. I would say that’s a pretty substantial jump when considering what the standard baseline VRAM sold should be.

At most you’re going to see around a 10% increase in price for the next variant increase of graphics memory, so making sure that the standard entry-level card has a substantial amount of VRAM is most desired. And as we all know, rarely ever can you sell a graphics card at exactly the same price you bought it for, so it’s not just a 10% increase in price to upgrade to a higher amount. So a better standard of graphics memory would be ideal to customers.

AMD also noted that insufficient levels of VRAM, even at 1080p screen resolution, can lead to error messages and warning limits (like we saw with DOOM Eternal), lower frame rates, and gameplay stutter or texture pop-in issues.

Of course, the minimum standard for VRAM increases, then that does mean if you’re trying to game on a budget - in those moments where you just want to save an extra $20 on all your components - you might just have to downgrade your GPU rather than being able to get a lower variant of VRAM for a slightly cheaper price.

So what do you think? Should AMD up their baseline standard for maximum VRAM? Or do the lower variants help those who are on a budget? And what do you think is the optimal amount of graphics memory required for modern gaming? Let us know!

How much VRAM do you have?

What is the optimal amount of VRAM?

Should AMD offer 4GB+ VRAM as a standard?

Our favourite comments:

Its about time AMD brings the same change they brought into the CPU industry to the GPU industry. AMD is leading by becoming the change itself that it wants to bring.

I do love Nvidia too but its getting really tiring watching the several different versions of each Nvidia card being drip-fed to us with minor differences immediately resulting in buyer's remorse for the majority of the customers. And I can't believe 3GB Nvidia cards are still a thing in 2020!

PhenomFaz

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01:53 Jun-17-2020

Ummm yall the ones making the cards just do it but each unit shouldn't be more then 10$ vs less vram (8gb vs 4gb) since that simplify yall production line, testing, coding.

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23:51 Jun-18-2020

sadly as of early 2020 GDDR6 is 11.5$ per GB for AMD themselves in bulk. So yeah, it can't happen until the price drops. Back when GDDR5 was 5.5$ per GB it was much better, but oh well. As of early 2020 GDDR5 is 6.5$ per GB.

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23:51 Jun-18-2020

Also the GPUs with double the VRAM were for crossfire and SLI, not to be bought just by themselves.

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22:31 Jun-16-2020

Yeah, 8GB of VRAM really is most optimal in 2020. Like 6GB is also fine, especially for 1080p, but 4GB is more and more just bare bones minimum for gaming even at 1080p. But I do think 8GB is about where standard should be. So yeah, hopefully AMD does go for more than 4GB of VRAM, it definitely will pressure nVidia into going higher.

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14:15 Jun-16-2020

really suspect the results as lack of VRAM would typically completely tank FPS and/or result in stuttering/uneven frametimes.. otherwise, the gains are usually negligible.. I guess it's possible this is no longer true for newer games

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08:55 Jun-16-2020

the more the merrier

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08:43 Jun-16-2020

11GB here now, had 6GB before and I'd say fast 6GB was already enough for gaming,
more VRAM is useful with higher resolution textures, actual monitor resolution, anti-aliasing, oversampling etc.., and depending on game engine, it can hold more data without flushing its contents, so I'd say more VRAM is always better IF the gpu itself can support if by fast-enough processing :)

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23:21 Jun-15-2020

I voted 6GB as the standard but 4 is fine too..

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22:00 Jun-15-2020

Its about time AMD brings the same change they brought into the CPU industry to the GPU industry. AMD is leading by becoming the change itself that it wants to bring.


I do love Nvidia too but its getting really tiring watching the several different versions of each Nvidia card being drip-fed to us with minor differences immediately resulting in buyer's remorse for the majority of the customers. And I can't believe 3GB Nvidia cards are still a thing in 2020!

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11:07 Jun-16-2020

Yeah totally agree i dont blame those companies from a business standpoint but from user who buys these stuff is so irritating. While amd offered 8cores/16threads for couple of years intel shoved us 6c/12t and later 8c/8t until last minute. Nvidia always does this bullcrap with vram they give us enough FOR NOW, for example gtx 1060 3gb, maybe 2080ti with 11gb and with current leaks they might give us 12gb for rtx 3080...

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15:32 Jun-16-2020

Yeah with current rumors we might just get 10GB Vram on the 3080...how generous!

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13:38 Jun-16-2020

AMD cards were always compromised by mediocre drivers, recently situation has improved a lot though,
I hope they'll get their shiz together finally now with the all-AMD next-gen consoles (both PS5 and XBOX are driven by AMD gfx)

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19:07 Jun-16-2020

Very true. AMD' s driver game has been lacking in the past but their efforts in the CPU space have given a sliver of hope for their GPUs.

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21:13 Jun-15-2020

I'm liking these new charts

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20:45 Jun-15-2020

I want a minimum of 8GB and a standard of 16GB in the next batch of cards... not that this will happen tho...

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20:58 Jun-15-2020

I think likely the minimum will be adjusted to 6GB with 8GB remaining the standard for a while....... the next Nvidia flagship cards will apparently have 11GB and 24GB though..... so those who enjoy mortgaging their homes to fund their next PC upgrade shouldn't have to worry about any VRAM issues for a while. xD

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21:07 Jun-15-2020

There are those that see a Titan GPU and say that's peanuts.

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21:11 Jun-15-2020

lol I definitely do not count myself among them....... and honestly I'm kinda glad..... to me, half the fun of PCs has always been tweaking and trying to squeeze more performance from tech that isn't bleeding edge balls to the wall....... The first full from the ground up build I ever did was about as budget-centric as you could get, and I loved pushing that thing to the edge.

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21:12 Jun-15-2020

lol I actually still have that old rig and use it for retro Win98/DOS gaming xD

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21:16 Jun-15-2020

I know the feeling. Made my old Athlon XP 2800+ play games it had no business playing but I managed anyhow.

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21:19 Jun-15-2020

lol the old Athlons were actually quite powerful for their time...... If I remember right it was like a Ryzen situation, except even moreso..... the Pentium 3s and Pentium 4s of the time couldn't even touch it..... they were amazing CPUs.

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22:26 Jun-15-2020

the athlon 2800+ was my first pc i ever built. prob still the best bang for buck i ever spent on a pc

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23:21 Jun-15-2020

I had a palomino 2000+ and then a Barton 2500+ that I adjusted the fsb from 333 to 400 to make the bios see 3200+.

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00:07 Jun-16-2020

my first "Athlon" was the Duron 800, great little CPU that was made to compete with Intels Celeron line....which were actually really popular for gamers back then because they were cheap, overclocked well and the lack of cache didn't really seem to hurt them too much in gaming........ the Durons had a little cache and instead of trading punches with the Celerons at the time, it was actually beating the Pentium 3s of the time in pretty much everything.

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00:13 Jun-16-2020

I remember those. I had a Celeron I clocked to the sky. I had a Tualatin P3 that was good but barely better than the Celeron. Then I got the Palomino and loved it. My Barton was good but hobbled by my FX5200 lol
My Intel's had SLI voodoo2 and then voodoo 5 5500.

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00:17 Jun-16-2020

Aahhhh
The PCI and the AGP days.
My Celeron with the 2 voodoo2s had 3 video cards in it. I'm so glad we have moved past those days.

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01:49 Jun-16-2020

lol yep I miss it...... but yeah, back then PCs were kindof a mess, I don't think anyone had a 100% stable gaming PC back then...... there would always be atleast 1 or two titles that would cause you nothing but issues lol

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03:45 Jun-16-2020

@TClawWolf You can say that again. After a few years, I couldn't find the original drivers for my MX 440 64MB GPU, and MS drivers made windows think the GPU only had 32MB


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19:48 Jun-15-2020

Well if they put more than 4GB of VRAM on something weaker than the RX 5500XT it would be an absolute waste. That reminds me of the gt 710 with 4GB of VRAM. XD
You can't just slap VRAM on GPUs and get more performance, they need to have the raw compute power and the memory bandwidth to actually get extra performance and benefit from the extra VRAM.

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20:09 Jun-15-2020

well see we end up in an interesting situation now where even the low end cards are capable of gaming at higher settings with good frame rates, so if the VRAM is being saturated, IMO it makes total sense to increase it as long as you can do that without raising the price too much. If this were something like a 750 TI, where you were stuck at medium anyway, I might be inclined to agree. I recall a few times even seeing my more mid range 4GB RX 480 getting saturated, and that just shouldn't happen

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20:15 Jun-15-2020

And to clarify, yes I know a 5500XT is a better card than my old RX 480, but I was seeing the memory get saturated even back as far as 2016, the same year I got it.......when EVERYONE was recommending to go for the 4GB version over the 8 because the 8 "made no sense", looks to me like the 8GB made ALOT of sense.

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00:19 Jun-16-2020

When i purchased my RX 480 in 2017 ( february ) i was also being told why are you taking the 8GB version, 4 is enough bla bla however my friend who has a 4gb card ( also RX 480 ) is struggling with some games

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01:54 Jun-16-2020

There were a few games mine struggled in, but I put that down mostly to my old I5...... but there were definitely games like Ghost Recon Wildlands, and the hidden ultra textures setting on DOOM 2016 that would fully saturate my VRAM and prevent me from playing on those modes, even just at 1080P...... a mid range card these days should never have to struggle at 1080P.

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05:59 Jun-16-2020

If you go and check benchmarks of the rx 480/580 4GB vs 8GB at 1080p, 1440p and 4k, you'll see that the performance difference is 5% and that's because the 8GB model has 8gbps memory and slightly higher clock speeds and the 4GB version has 7gbps memory and slightly lower clock speeds.
https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2016-amd-radeon-rx-480-4gb-vs-8gb-review\#:-:text=The%20GPU%20core%20is%20identical,on%20the%20top%2Dtier%20model.
https://www.gamersnexus.net/guides/2503-amd-rx-480-4gb-vs-8gb-benchmark-is-it-worth-it


ME Catalyst is the only game that truly benefits from it, but that's because it had a memory leak I think. And in general the RX 480/580 should have been a 6GB VRAM GPU, instead of 4GB and 8GB.

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05:59 Jun-16-2020

The double buffer VRAM GPUs(GPUs with 2x the normal amount of VRAM) were meant for crossfire/sli since in crossfire VRAM doesn't stack, while everything else does, including memory bandwidth.

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18:44 Jun-16-2020

I know what the benchmarks were telling everyone, and I know what I've seen with my own eyes, and I'm here to tell you, the benchmarks were not telling the complete story, not by a long shot, not even back in 2016.

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19:45 Jun-15-2020

Too late. I got my 4GB GPU year ago and I don't want to upgrade any time soon.

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20:11 Jun-15-2020

I think you have a few years before it's going to become a major problem....... at the moment, it's just a small problem..... on average in a larger sampling of games, you might lose around 5% performance...... just not a huge deal yet, but don't buy anymore 4GB cards! lol

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20:17 Jun-15-2020

With 1080p you'll be good for a while.

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21:11 Jun-15-2020

yeah, but not at ultra or max texture detail

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21:13 Jun-15-2020

I can't even tell the difference between ultra and very high, so yeah...

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17:36 Jun-15-2020

I can still remember the old marketing ploys from years passed, where you were incentivized to buy 4GB DDR3 GPU's. While this isn't exactly the same situation, it has a similar ring to it.

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12:38 Jun-16-2020

Wasn't it GDDR3 and not DDR3 ? Did they just try to put system ram on a gpu ?

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16:19 Jun-16-2020

Yes DDR3, not GDDR3. That was the case 8 years ago, and thankfully they aren't produced in bulk any more.
If you're looking for a relatively modern example check out Nvidia GeForce GT 730.
Link

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