The amount of RAM featured on a certain GPU is typically the first spec listed when naming the card – 4GB GeForce GTX 970, 2GB GeForce GTX 750Ti for example – but what does video RAM (or vRAM) actually do? Is a card with 4GB of vRAM twice as powerful as one with 2GB? Does vRAM have real world applications to gaming? Workstation renderings?
Basically, the more vRAM a card has, the more complex textures or 3D meshes it can load. The higher the resolution of the image you’re attempting to render, the more vRAM required. If the texture and images you’re attempting to run overload your GPU’s vRAM, the overflow goes to system RAM, significantly impacting performance in a negative way. Basically, the video will still render, but frame rates will take a plunge. For this reason, higher vRAM is ESSENTIAL to high-level 4K gaming.
So twice the vRAM means twice the performance, right? Not exactly. While more vRAM is better than less, you will not see a direct performance boost from the additional spec unless you are already maxing out the vRAM that’s available, usually from gaming at high resolutions with the visual options like anti-aliasing, FXAA, and texture quality turned up. If you game at moderate resolutions without the eye candy anyway, more vRAM will most likely not translate to better frame rates for you.
In a similar way that vRAM positively impacts gaming performance, so it also does with workstation applications. More vRAM means the GPU can hold and ultimately render more complex images and textures on the graphics chip, resulting in faster performance. Again though, if you’re not working with highly sophisticated 3D objects at extreme resolutions, you won’t max out your GPU’s vRAM and therefore won’t see the performance benefits.
So while vRAM is an important GPU spec, it’s one of many. Make sure when you choose a new video card that you’re taking all relevant specs into consideration in relation to your specific needs. As always, if you need assistance or advice, our sales and tech support teams are here to help.