Up For Debate - What's the best amount of graphics card VRAM?

Written by Chad Norton on Sat, Nov 14, 2020 5:00 PM

VRAM is the buzzword these days thanks to more and more games utilizing the power of some next-gen graphics cards. AMD has always paved the way for standard VRAM capacities, but Nvidia recently broke out their massive RTX 3090 with a whopping 24GB of VRAM available on the card.

But as games get bigger and more demanding, and that 10GB of VRAM on the RTX 3080 is slowly starting to seem a little small for what the GPU is supposed to be able to achieve, we wanted to ask you what your thoughts are on VRAM and what you think is the best amount of graphics card VRAM?

We’ve already heard the stories about how Nvidia was closely watching the industry and thought 10GB of VRAM would be more than enough for 4K Ultra gaming, but recent news has shown that the 10GB capacity might actually be a bit limited, which even got Nvidia to think about some 20GB and 16GB models for their RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 cards respectively.

At least if you want to go with AMD’s new Radeon RX 6000 series, you’ll be able to sleep comfortably knowing that 16GB is probably enough for 4K gaming these days.

But when will it not be enough, and will that be soon? Or much farther down the line? Will 16GB of VRAM be enough for the next few years before we need to upgrade our GPUs again? Or will we need to think about upgrading next year if/when that starts to become a little limited?

Of course, not all games require 10GB or even 16GB of VRAM, as most modern games will need at least 2GB to get running at the lowest graphics settings, and not everyone will be able to run every game at 4K Ultra these days. So what would the best amount of video memory be for decent performance and graphics settings?

What do you think? What's the best amount of graphics card VRAM? What's the minimum amount for a decent experience? And will we start to get limited by 10GB of video memory soon? Or will that last a long time? Let’s debate!

What is the minimum amount of GPU VRAM for a decent gaming experience?

What is the best amount of GPU VRAM for a decent gaming experience?

Will 10GB VRAM be enough for 4K Ultra settings before we need to upgrade again?

Is the amount of VRAM important to you before making a purchase?

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15:07 Nov-15-2020

8GB is enough for me at 1440p

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junior admin badge
23:52 Nov-15-2020

What FPS do you normally get at 1440p?

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17:04 Nov-16-2020

I'll admit I haven't played many really recent games, but I have been able to reach 60fps at around mid-high settings in most games


Also the highest amount of VRAM usage I recorded was around 5.5GB

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junior admin badge
00:49 Nov-17-2020

I'm surprised that you don't get 80+ FPS with your GPU, especially since you're playing on mid-high settings.
P.S.
Did the 5.5GB VRAM usage happen when you played a game in ultra, or were the settings on high?

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13:45 Nov-17-2020

Usually I have Vsync on as I only have a 60Hz monitor, and the settings where on high, the most recent triple A game I can think of was Shadow of the Tomb raider, recently I've been playing a lot of non-demanding games.

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01:32 Nov-18-2020

I haven't played AAA games in a long time, but unless something major has changed, since you're using Vsync your GPU won't be used to it's maximum potential so your max VRAM usage might be lower than what it could be without Vsync.

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10:27 Nov-15-2020

To be honest, when I bought my GTX 960, it was not only one of the cheapest GTX 960, it was also the 4GB version. The difference between the 2GB and 4GB was 2 euro for my EVGA variant (with the 4GB version actually being cheaper for some reason), but otherwise, the difference between 2GB and 4GB cards were -20 euro. 20 euro isn't a lot to spend for an additional upgrade.
I'm not sure how it is with cards of today, but I guess you're better off going with more vram, so that eventually the GPU itself will become the bottleneck and not its components.

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10:25 Nov-15-2020

I would 8GB is perfectly enough for 1080p gaming

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12:12 Nov-15-2020

8GB for 1080P? It's nice for sure but I have yet to reach 6GB on any game in 1080P

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12:39 Nov-17-2020

Try godfall :D

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10:15 Nov-20-2020

Also Assassin's Creed Valhalla

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08:52 Nov-15-2020

honestly i have 8gb now, im looking for a 1440p 144Hz+ monitor after crimbo and i like to upgrade every 5-6 years. im expecting in 5 years time to need 16GB to maintain that res and fps

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08:49 Nov-15-2020

I think that 8gbs is the minimum amount when trying to game on ultra 1080p. This way you have a big buffer for when games are not optimized. But when going above that you will need more than 10gbs. This is why im looking at the 6800XT or the 3080 ti.

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10:51 Nov-16-2020

Dude 8 Gigs are for Ultra 1440p. for 1080p you will need 3-5GB in 99% of the games.

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08:29 Nov-17-2020

Newer games use much more, both new ubisoft games use around 7500gbs and probably even more if i had more than 8gb

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10:20 Nov-20-2020

Not anymore untill last year maybe 4 gb or 6 gb was enough for 1080p gaming but there are games like AC Valhalla that use up to 6 gb vram on ultra at 1080p.

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18:48 Nov-23-2020

AC Valhalla is like how many games? I guess the number is one. And Ubisoft aging engine.. so no, not a factor.

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05:33 Nov-15-2020

I don't even need more than 6gb for 1080p gaming

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01:01 Nov-15-2020

Interesting to see how many people voted 8GB as minimum and here I am playing practically every game with high or ultra textures at 1080p.

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junior admin badge
23:53 Nov-15-2020

What FPS do you normally get?

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00:35 Nov-15-2020

Again with the VRAM thing...The least important thing in a GPU for playing. The architecture, the frequency, the bit bus, the bandwith,...Literally everything is more important than VRAM to play games. I can bet a 4GB VRAM and a bandwith of +1TB/s GPU with a good architecture, can run 4K games at ultra more than fine.

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05:37 Nov-15-2020

Try playing games that requires more vram than you have and see how frame rate drops by 10-15 fps while in some other cases it will stutter all day long.

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12:19 Nov-15-2020

First: How can you know the actual VRAM needed(not allocated). Second: The games "indicator" for the recommended VRAM usage is a joke. I have played RDR2 or RE3 remake with the indication in red saying +12GB needed. No where near reality. There´s ton of misinformation about the importance of VRAM capacity.

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13:59 Nov-15-2020

By benchmarking it. Because once usage exceeds VRAM on card FPS drops like rock. Basically first you of course need to benchmark in non VRAM restricted way, then you get expected percent difference between two cards. Then once that difference suddenly gets huge deviation you know you are VRAM limited. And there are examples of that. The easiest one being RTX3080 being 2x faster than RTX2080.

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14:03 Nov-15-2020

When nVidia made claim of that, they tested it at 4k Ultra Nightmare setting which uses about 9GB of VRAM, exceeding 2080 8GB of VRAM so for example it did 88FPS average versus 3080 189FPS, which is 118% increase. But once you drop testures to ultra, which makes no performance difference it is 111FPS vs 189FPS, 70% increase. And textures outside VRAM have no performance impact.

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14:05 Nov-15-2020

This is based on Hardware Unboxed review of RTX3080 in case you want to see full numbers. But VRAM does matter, since if usage exceeds it, card needs to swap things with system RAM which is much slower. And will drop performance outside normal scaling. While exceeding it a little is not end of the world, it will only get worse as games become more demanding.

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19:16 Nov-15-2020

@Seth22087 You can´t "benchmark VRAM actual usage. What Hardware Unboxed described is literally bandwidth limitation. If it can´t provide so much data as the game needs the framerate is not that high, and if it is way less, the VRAM will overflow and stutter will be an issue apart from lower framerate.

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12:25 Nov-15-2020

BTW the stutter is caused by insufficient bandwith, not because of the VRAM capacity. When the card is unable to provide in GB/s what the games require is when the stutter happens, not because it doesn´t have a ton of VRAM reserved or less. I know it sounds overused, but "trust me i´m an engineer".

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13:22 Nov-15-2020

How do I know this because I am using a card that is vram limited in many games. Second you are wrong about why it stutters.
Reason for stuttering is because game cannot load all the data that it needs into the VRAM. So instead of giving

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13:26 Nov-15-2020

an error, the extra data is kept in system RAM and streamed into the VRAM as required. Unfortunately this streaming process is a lot slower than accessing it directly from VRAM so the GPU often has to wait for the data to arrive in VRAM

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13:30 Nov-15-2020

before it can continue to process the graphics. This holdup shows up as stuttering and performance drops in games and often various texture bugs too. BTW I am a soft developer I literally write codes for living but that's irrelevent stuff.

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18:35 Nov-15-2020

The thing is the extra data is kept in the system RAM because you card doesn´t have enough bandwidth to provide the needed data so the VRAM overflows. If you card had a bandwidth of 500GB/s instead of the 224GB/s, the VRAM wouldn´t overflow as it would be continuously being refilled and the stutter would be gone.

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18:44 Nov-15-2020

Anyway, i´m tired of trying to give the real explanation for this since the Nvidia cards launched. We´ll see in 3-4 years if that capacity is indeed an issue or not. I already know the answer, but everyone can believe what they want.

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19:10 Nov-15-2020

Also, no hurt feelings or anything, i was just trying to give an explanation among all these "news" nonsense. Is good to discuss this kind of things always with respect. Everyone can buy according to what they think they will use and that´s it. Sorry if i sounded harsh at some point.

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19:49 Nov-15-2020

No need to be sorry I wasn't offended by anything. I am understanding your point of fast bandwidth but for that to work whole architecture needs to be changed but for current situation we need more vram to compensate for problem.

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20:00 Nov-15-2020

Yo u can have all the bandwidth in the world and if what is one screen needs more than 4gb, you will have issues. It's that simple. A home pc will not have a gpu and drives needed to swap information that fast. Therefore, the amount of ram needs to go up to make up for the lack of bandwidth. The stutter that does happen is from the vram capacity and bandwidth hitting it's limits.

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20:03 Nov-15-2020

There are people on here that need large amounts of vram for their work that all the bandwidth in the world wouldn't help them.
What that means is that it's all depending on how something is programed, not a hardware fault or lack of optimization. I program stuff to use large amounts of vram and system ram and it's still constantly swapping information out.

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21:17 Nov-15-2020

That´s completely true. In the end, is the use you´re going to give it. I was just stating for gaming purposes bandwidth>VRam capacity, always, as you need to stream large amounts of data to achieve higher framerates. For rendering or graphic design usually Vram>Bandwith as you require large amounts of data stored.

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00:02 Nov-15-2020

So far Im happy with my 12GBs of VRAM. Im playing all games on 4096x2160 resolution (usually ultra or high settings) and so far the biggest amount of VRAM Ive used was around 9 gigs playing Shadow of War

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23:06 Nov-14-2020

6-8gb for 1080p, 8-10gb for 1440p, 11-16gb for 4k

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02:49 Nov-15-2020

I agree!

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05:54 Nov-15-2020

yes

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junior admin badge
23:56 Nov-15-2020

Right on the money

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10:57 Nov-16-2020

allocated memory maybe but in reality more like 1080p - 3-5GB, 1440p 4.5-8GB, 4K - 8-10GB, 8K - 10-16GB :)

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21:32 Nov-14-2020

I would say minimum, which is around medium or low-medium 1080p, would be 4GB. That should still be good experience and budget friendly option. The best, based on mix of cost and performance would be 8GB, plenty for 1080p and shouldn't be much of an issue for 1440p. 4k doable with right compromises too, though I would want more for 4k. 10GB for 4k is ok,...

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21:34 Nov-14-2020

... it won't exactly pull ultra always, but you can make few compromises and make it work. Either dropping AA or even resolution scaling, because you would be hard pressed to notice difference between 4k at 80% resolution scaling and 100%. But for no compromise 4k, 16GB would actually be beneficial for long term. We even already have games announced that will need 12GB of VRAM.

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21:36 Nov-14-2020

Plus not to mention there already are cases where 10GB bumps at limit, like Battlefield V, if you ever wondered why Digital Foundry has shown it with raytracing off... maxing it out and RTX on expects 2080Tis 11GB of VRAM. :-D

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20:42 Nov-14-2020

To me the last question is not a black and white answer, which is why I voted no. I look at everything, the memory bandwith, the core clock speed, the memory type, price and how the benchmarks handle different games before I make a gpu purchase.

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20:38 Nov-14-2020

The more the merrier. I would say 12 gigs would be a very healthy spot for 4k gaming and some future proofing. I personally wouldn't buy a sub 10GB Vram card if my plan is to game in 4k.

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19:40 Nov-14-2020

We barely have gpus that can run 4k ultra settings. But yea I think more than 10gb of vram would be required

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19:34 Nov-14-2020

There's no such thing as "too much VRAM" (assuming its speed is good), but you will run into issues when you've not got enough. That's the reality.
As for the "perfect amount" - loaded question. Depends on the resolution, the settings, the game/workload itself.

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05:34 Nov-15-2020

It can be too much. Paying for extra VRAM that you don't even need

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19:15 Nov-14-2020

I'd say 6GB is the minimum acceptable amount, with the best obviously being 10+. There are no downsides to too much VRAM

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18:44 Nov-14-2020

8 GB soon will be the minimum. For now, a 6 GB GPU is fine.

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18:13 Nov-14-2020

Conclusion the more VRAM the better.

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18:09 Nov-14-2020

Had 64MB gpu from 2011 to 2014 so yea, I'm extremely happy with 4GB.

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17:44 Nov-14-2020

Certainly not 10 GB for a 4k videocard that is supposed to play next gen games.

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Can They Run... |

Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 10GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i3-8100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 3GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-4770K 4-Core 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti MSI Ventus 2X 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [5 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-10700F 8-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 970 Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-4770K 4-Core 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Xeon E3-1230 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-3470 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB 12GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Core i3-10100E 4-Core 3.20GHz GeForce GTX 750 Ti Asus OC 2GB Edition 16GB
Ryzen 5 3500X 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 5 3500X 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1440p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus Dual OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| High, 1080p
Core i5-10400 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]