Looking for a Graphics card? Get to the shop off the streets. 1 GB, 2 GB or 4 GB? And you take home the highest your pocket permits! But, is that worth the money. Ever thought, do you really require that much of memory? This post in TechGipsy, aims to demystify the long lurking question. Read along.
Contrary to the popular myth, the higher is not necessarily the better, else at least, in case of a graphics card. Graphics memory are not the indicators of performance. Graphics memory is just like a RAM, a temporary memory to store frames, textures and resources required by the graphics processor to render video frames. Since, graphics rendering is a very intensive task, any delay in data arrival can seriously impact how fast your GPU can churn out video frames. But, as a matter of fact, your RAM and disks are notoriously slow, and so the VRAM was conceived. Its primary use is to act as a frame buffer and cache of often used graphic resources. Here comes, the question how much?
The higher the resolution, the more memory you shall require for every single frame. Recall that a standard display uses 4 bytes per pixel to render a picture frame. For HD screens, it takes about 8 megabytes per frame, a figure even meager in front of integrated video cards. But then why do we require so huge amount of memory? In case of games, every frame is created from a collection of objects, with textures, scene graphs, patterns and each of them at a distance called the Z-Index in technical terms. These objects are stored in a Z-Buffer. This is the key for three dimensional rendering in a game screen – a frame being composed of multiple objects arranged together as per their Z-index. And this Z-buffer is the one that gobbles up a huge chunk of memory. This works out well within a gigabyte for most demanding games of today, for a larger 2560×1600, it’s a bit more than a gigabyte or for a newer 4K, you shall require about two gigabytes.
Level of detail
High resolution textures take up more memory. But of course, you want the best looking details in a game. However, no matter how large game texture bundles are, they are always loaded dynamically. A room of few hundred additional VRAM space is usually enough. If it isn’t then the developer is just insane. Before making a purchase, it’s wiser to collect benchmarks and requirements of cards and the titles you aim to play.
Anti-aliasing and other video processing techniques
It’s not the frame size or the level of detail that eat up your memory and GPU cycles, these are these online video processing technologies that do. These technologies nevertheless aim to create near realistic display quality, are the most expensive part, resource wise. The new anti-aliasing – MXAA available with DirectX 11, takes about several times the memory without anti-aliasing. For a standard HD screen, games at high-res and max MXAA with require about 2 GB and for 4Ks you shall require nothing sort of a NVDIA GTX Titan! Post processing technologies like FXAA, do not consume additional memory.
Graphics memory is bot the indicator of performance
This is the line we’ve been stressing for long. Of course, memory does play a role in the video quality, it is important to note that a 2GB older NVDIA GT card is nothing compared to a newer 1GB GTX. Clock speeds affect a majority of GPU’s performance. The most accurate gauze of GPU performance shall be the frame rate, texture fill rate and the quality of video the GPU pumps out – all considered together.
Surveys by Steam and other hardware resource sites, shows that 1GB is the widely considered graphics memory size. A few also opt of 2GB and sizes above 2GB is really rare.
Exploding the myth
Don’t get carried away by the numbers, evil corps are always out there to exploit every misconceptions. Check for benchmarks and reviews and go for the buy. Be a smart customer. Happy Gaming!
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