Software, games, and even websites are getting better regarding design and graphics. User interfaces, videos, and graphics are becoming more sophisticated each year.
Modern applications demand more graphics memory and processing power compared to the applications of the past.
What is Graphics Memory?
A graphics memory, or graphics card memory, is a type of dynamic memory that holds the video or image data. It is commonly integrated into the graphics card which deals with all graphics related processes of the computer. A common type of graphics memory is the video random access memory or vRAM.
vRAM is a type of high-speed array of dynamic random access memory (DRAM). It stores image and video data for the computer to display.
Imagine it as a RAM dedicated to your computer’s graphics.
It serves as a buffer between the CPU and graphics card. vRAM, along with the graphics card, allows the computer to handle graphics intensive programs such as 4K videos or video games.
In the past, the CPU alone handled any graphics requirements. However, as games, applications, and videos got better; demand for graphics processing increased.
The CPU alone cannot handle such demand. Some systems have integrated graphics processing unit (GPU). It means the graphics chip comes with the system. It does not have any dedicated vRAM. The GPU shares the RAM from your CPU.
Computers with integrated graphics processing unit should be able to handle regular graphics processing. Watching videos, 2D gaming, and similar activities should have no problems.
Issues arise when you try to run graphics intensive applications such as 3D gaming and 4K videos. At this point, you will need a GPU with its vRAM.
How much vRAM do you have?
You should see the vRAM on your computer’s specifications. You should check this information even before purchasing your computer or laptop. Typically, the onboard or dedicated graphics processing unit indicates the vRAM. For example, 4GB GeForce GTX 970. The 4GB means the available vRAM in your system.
However, in case you do not know if you have vRAM on your PC, follow these steps.
Press the Windows Key. Type Display, then press Enter.
Under System, on the left side of the screen, click the Display tab.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Under Multiple displays, click the Display adapter properties.
The display adapter properties window will appear. The window title should identify your integrated and dedicated GPU if there are any. Under the Adapter tab, check vRAM as Dedicated Video Memory. Shared System Memory recognizes the RAM available to the integrated graphics card.
Advantages of having a Dedicated Graphics Card (GPU)
All modern computer systems and laptops have graphics card built into the motherboard. This integration allows you to watch videos up to 1080p without any issues. The computer can handle higher resolutions, but problems such as lower frame rates, or freezing videos may occur. You can also play most 2D video games. Some advanced users can overlock their CPU’s to allow the computer to handle slightly more graphics intensive games. However, only consider this if you know what you are doing.
A better option, of course, is to install a dedicated graphics processing unit. Having a dedicated GPU frees up your RAM and CPU, which results in better and faster experience.
You will often hear gamers discuss types of GPU. Installing a dedicated GPU improves the gaming experience. Additionally, most 3D games are graphics intensive. That means they require much vRAM than what the system can provide without the dedicated GPU.
Moreover, AAA games require high-end requirements, especially regarding graphics. Games in the AAA classification usually offers more graphical details. Because of this, severe gamers often invest in good GPUs.
Additionally, computers which are a few years old may be able to play modern games by installing a dedicated graphics card. It is typically much cheaper to add a new graphics card to an old computer than to buy an entirely new machine.
Better Image and Video Performance
Watching videos on 1080p resolutions or below will not have any problems playing on any computer. However, playing full HD and 4k videos will require higher vRAM to play smoothly.
Forcing such resolutions to computers without dedicated graphics card may cause drops in frame rates. Just, having a dedicated graphics card will allow you to watch videos on higher resolutions.
Moreover, users who are editing images and videos often require dedicated GPUs. Rendering a finished product after video editing is process intensive. A computer with both CPU and dedicated GPU just have more power and memory for such activity.
Also, users may also have smoother experience using image editing programs such as Photoshop. Similarly, 3D modeling software also works best when the system has dedicated graphics card.
How much vRAM do you need for Full HD and 4K?
The most common reasons to get a dedicated graphics card is the ability to play videos and games at Full HD and 4K. One thing to note is how much pixels a game is rendering when running on Full HD and 4k. However, crunching the numbers can be confusing. Thankfully, you do not need to do that on your own.
Graphically intensive games typically consume around 2GB of vRAM or less at 1080p. However, AAA games such as GTA V require around 3.7GB on the same resolution. There is only a slight difference when gaming in 1440p. GTA V uses around 3.9GB of vRAM and Shadow of Mordor at 3.5GB. Playing at 4K is where vRAM is in demand. GTA V clocks in at 4.3GB on high settings at 4K. Shadow of Mordor uses 3.9GB. Battlefield 4 only uses 3GB of vRAM.
To put it in simple words, having 4GB of vRAM is enough to play most graphics intensive games. A bit of tweaking in the settings can produce a smooth 4K experience when playing AAA games like GTA V.
However, dedicated graphics cards with 4G of vRAM are still pricey for casual users. Mid-range graphics card, like GeForce GTX 1060, costs around $500 and only come with around 3GB of vRAM.
Figuring out which GPU to Buy
Ideally, it is best to have the most powerful system with a dedicated GPU. However, it will be waste if you are not using the processing power of your GPU and CPU. There’s no simple answer on which graphics cards and how much vRAM to get. It still depends on what games you play and other graphics-intensive activities you perform.
A more straightforward way is to check the minimum and recommended requirements of the games that you want to play. Can you RUN It is an excellent tool to check if your system can run specific games. On its own, you can check the minimum and recommended requirements.
You can also download the malware-free software and install it on your system. Click the blue Can You Run It button.
It examines your computer’s hardware and compares it with the games that you want to play.
This app can help you decide which GPU to consider.
Checking how much vRAM you will help you determine what activities your computer can handle. It can also help you decide whether to install a dedicated graphics card. However, with the prices of GPUs, it is smart to balance usage and the type of GPU to install. It is also essential to invest in good gaming monitors.
Allan Jay is a web developer who loves to read and watch tech reviews, especially cutting-edge technologies. He likes exploring and taking photos of the places he visited.