How Much GPU RAM (VRAM) Do I Need for Gaming and Video Editing?

A graphics card’s RAM can hold massive amounts of graphics data, allowing games to run smoothly.

Most games will work best with about 8 GBs of GPU RAM. If your GPU is from the last four or five years, it can easily handle all types of games without any problems. However, there are other aspects to consider, such as the games you play and your personal requirements.

In this post, we’ll go over all you need to know about GPU RAMs, as well as how much you should spend on a GPU. Let’s get started.

What is VRAM or GPU RAM?

To figure out how much GPU RAM you need, you need to know what GPU RAM or VRAM is and how it works.

The graphics card, also called a graphics processing unit (GPU), is the hardware inside a computer that handles everything to do with graphics, like running games and different graphics programs. GPUs work by storing different graphics data in their memory and using them when needed.

They’re able to store this thanks to RAM or memory inside them. This memory is known as GPU RAM or Video RAM (VRAM).

What does GPU RAM do?

GPU RAM or VRAM is utilized to store various graphical data. Games, for example, need to store a lot of data to run properly. This might include shadows, game characters, maps, databases, and other game data.

Different kinds of software also need to store graphics data. Suppose you’re running a video rendering app. It will need to store templates and algorithmic data in your GPU RAM in this situation.

In general, anything that uses a computer’s graphics power will store the data it needs to process and fill up your GPU RAM or VRAM.

Understanding of RAM and GPU RAM

People often think that RAM and GPU RAM are the same things. But that’s just not true.

The RAM is a part of your computer where you can temporarily store all kinds of data. Most of the time, the data stored in RAM needs to be accessed often.

Since RAM is a quick and effective way to store temporary data, this is not a problem at all. Apps can quickly store data there for a short time and get to them quickly and easily.

GPU RAM, also called VRAM, works like RAM, but it only holds temporary graphics data. The way they work in every other way is the same.

While your computer’s RAM deals with all kinds of data, the VRAM only deals with graphics data when it’s needed. This means that most of the time, the VRAM is free and not being used. But when you run a game or software with a lot of graphics, the GPU RAM fills up quickly.

Relation between Monitor Resolution and GPU RAM

Most people don’t know that there is a link between monitor resolution and GPU RAM. In short, the higher the resolution of your monitor or screen, the more GPU RAM you’ll need.

This is because the more pixels your screen has, the higher its resolution. The GPU has to deal with all of these extra pixels, which takes up more memory.

This is pretty easy to grasp. If you have a 720p display, you won’t need as much VRAM as if you had a 1080p display. The same is true for 1440p, 4K, and even 8K screens.

But don’t worry, you don’t need a lot of VRAM to run a clear monitor with a fast refresh rate. To give you an idea, you’ll need about 50 MB of VRAM storage to run a 4K monitor properly.

So you don’t have to worry about the VRAM not being able to handle the resolution of your monitor.

How Much GPU RAM (VRAM) Do I Need for Gaming?

How much GPU RAM or VRAM you need will depend mostly on what you want to do. But in general, most games today need between 4-8 GBs of GPU RAM to run properly.

Having said that, if you’re a gamer, you’ll need a certain amount of GPU RAM. It will also depend on the games you play.

On the other hand, technical work like 3D modeling, video editing, animations, and other graphic design work will have different VRAM needs.

Let’s look at some charts to figure out how much VRAM you really need.

Workload  Recommended VRAM 
3D Modeling, Animation, and CPU / GPU RenderingModeling and Animation (Active Workloads)6 – 8GB GDDR68 – 10GB GDDR6/6X10+GB GDDR6/6X
CPU Rendering (Passive Workloads)6 – 8GB GDDR6/6X6 – 8 GB GDDR6/6X6 – 8GB GDDR6/6X
GPU Rendering (Passive Workloads)6 – 8GB GDDR6/6X8 – 16GB GDDR6/6X24+GB GDDR6/6X/HBM2
Video Editing, Motion Design, CompositingGeneral Video Editing4 – 6GB GDDR6/5X/56 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/56 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/5
Video Editing with heavy GPU support, e.g., Davinci Resolve6 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/58 – 16GB GDDR616 – 24 GB GDDR6/6X
Motion Design and Composting6 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/58 – 10GB GDDR610 – 24 GB GDDR6/6X
Graphic Design4 – 6GB GDDR6/5X/54 – 6GB GDDR6/5X/56 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/5
Gaming1080p4 – 6GB GDDR6/5X/54 – 6GB GDDR6/5X/54 – 6GB GDDR6
1440p6 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/56 – 8GB GDDR6/5X/56 – 8GB GDDR6
4K6 – 8GB GDDR68 – 10GB GDDR6/6X10+GB GDDR6/6X
Source: cgdirector

The table above gives a rough idea of the type and size of graphics cards needed for the most common kinds of graphics work. But let’s get a bit more specific.

VRAM Requirements for Specific Games

If you’re here, you probably want to know how much GPU RAM you need to play your favorite games. We’ve got you covered, so don’t worry.

Now, let’s look at some of the most popular games and see how much GPU RAM you might need to play them well.

1. AC Valhalla

FPS (avg)6575131
RAM consumed11 GB10.9 GB11.3 GB
Video Memory consumed7.5 GB6.9 GB6.4 GB

2. Overwatch

FPS (avg)151291398
RAM consumed10.1 GB9.9 GB9.9 GB
Video Memory consumed4.4 GB3.5 GB3.2 GB

3. Godfall

FPS (avg)102182272
RAM consumed11.1 GB10.9 GB10.9 GB
Video Memory consumed7.9 GB7.2 GB6.8 GB

4. Dirt 5

FPS (avg)608490
RAM consumed9.1 GB9.2 GB9.1 GB
Video Memory consumed9.3 GB8.6 GB8.4 GB

The guys at the Jansn Benchmarks YouTube channel deserve a big thank you for providing these benchmark results.

If you’ve looked at the charts, you should now have a good idea of how GPU RAMs vary depending on the game and the screen resolution.

But above all, screen resolutions have the biggest effect. The better the resolution and clarity of your screen, the more GPU RAM you will need.

Effects of Low GPU Memory

When it comes to using your graphics card, not having enough GPU RAM can be disastrous. If you don’t have enough graphics memory for your apps to work, they won’t be able to load the resources they need. In turn, they’ll work in a way that isn’t even close to right.

When it comes to gaming, having low GPU RAM is likely the worst thing that can happen. The last thing you want in a high-stakes game is for your game to crash or perform poorly.

Most of the time, the following things happen when GPU RAM is low:

Performance Drop

If you don’t have enough VRAM, the first thing you’ll notice is lag and performance problems. Since your games or software won’t be able to store the resources they need, they won’t be able to run at their best.

Instead, they might even crash because they don’t have the files they need. Even if you don’t notice crashes, you’ll definitely notice spikes in lag, performance problems, and a choppy experience overall.

Game Generation Problems

You’re sure to notice a new level of choppiness when you play games. Your frame rate will go down, sometimes to the point where the game is no longer playable. With that, you’ll get distorted images, characters and game objects that don’t load right, display tears, and other problems.

Overall, the texture will become boxy and unusable.

Longer Delays

We all want a faster gaming experience. Well, longer and delayed shuttering is the opposite of that.

If you don’t have enough GPU RAM, you’ll notice a lot of lag in your games. Your clicks won’t work right away, and the objects in your games won’t load fast enough on your screen.

If you’re playing a fast-paced first-person shooter (FPS) game, this is a huge pain. And other games won’t be fun at all if they move slowly and take a long time.

These are just a few of the problems you might run into if you don’t have enough VRAM storage. We really think you should get a GPU with enough storage so you never have to deal with these problems.

Tweak Game Settings to Use Less GPU RAM

Getting a GPU with enough VRAM is the most obvious way to avoid problems caused by low GPU RAM. However, the higher you go in terms of VRAM, the higher the pricing will be. This will not be affordable for everyone.

How can you handle this? You may, however, tweak the settings of your games to better optimize them for utilizing less GPU RAM. Let’s look at some of the ways you can do this.

Turn Off Anti-Aliasing

The first thing we’d like to suggest is this. Most people keep anti-aliasing on because they don’t know what it is. They don’t know that this takes up a lot of GPU RAM, but it does. If your GPU isn’t strong enough, it also gives you less overall performance.

With anti-aliasing, everything in a game looks smoother. This involves eliminating rough edges and delivering a more clear gameplay experience.

Anti-aliasing may appear to be tedious at first, but it consumes a significant amount of resources. And it’s not worth it in the long run. Rather, you’ll get a better FPS count if you turn it off.

The increase in FPS will make the game easier to play, so the trade-off is more than worth it. Because of this, every time you start a new game, make sure to turn off anti-aliasing.

Set All Graphics Settings to Low

For the best performance, you can set things like shadows, texture quality, colors, and so on to low. This will give you the most performance if you have a cheap build or are planning to get one.

You’ll get the most frame rates if you set these to their bare minimum. This will make the game easier to play and less likely to lag or have other problems.

Highest Battery Performance

This is a setting for laptops that we’d like to suggest. If you play games on your laptop, go to the battery settings and set it to the highest level of performance.

This will improve its performance so that it can run heavy games without any problems. It will also enable your laptop to handle the increased workload with all of its power.

Turn Off Vsync

Most gamers aren’t sure if they should turn on Vsync or not.  Well, if you have a budget PC build, we’d suggest turning it off.

But first, let’s understand what Vsync is. Vsync locks the frame rate of a game or application to your display’s native refresh rate.

So, if you have a 90 Hz monitor, Vsync will lock your game at 90 FPS at all times. It can’t go any higher, and it shouldn’t go any lower, either.

But this is where things start to go wrong. On lower-end systems, it’s not always possible to secure the maximum frame rate. The GPU simply isn’t powerful enough to provide that level of performance.

In this case, stuttering and image tears are highly noticeable. But if you turn off Vsync, your games won’t always have to reach a certain FPS, giving you more freedom. This will make the GPU work better by putting less stress on it.

For this reason, if you’re running a low or mid-end setup, we’d recommend keeping Vsync off and enjoying optimal frame rates!

Can I play games using Intel HD Integrated Graphics?

This is a question that bothers a lot of people who are new to gaming or who have older computers. Yes, you can certainly play games with simply Intel HD integrated graphics, which is in their favor!

It will, however, depend on the sorts of games you play and how graphically demanding they are. If you want to learn more about this question, you can read our post about it here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I increase my VRAM after I’ve already bought a graphics card?

Unfortunately, unlike your PC’s RAM, where you can simply add more memory sticks, GPUs cannot be expanded in this manner. Your GPU will only ever have the amount of memory that came with it.

Getting another low or mid-level GPU to increase your overall VRAM is typically less expensive. If money isn’t an issue, opt for a more powerful GPU with a lot of VRAM for greater performance.

Do eGPUs help to increase gaming performance?

Yes! External graphics cards (eGPUs) are graphics cards designed exclusively for laptops. They have a simple plug-and-play method that improves the performance of graphics. We can say for sure that laptops are worth it if you like to play games on them.

Does rendering use more GPU RAM?

Actually, no. They aren’t graphics-intensive programs that use up all your GPU’s resources. Also, it’s not true that having more VRAM will automatically make your rendering power better. You can get the bare minimum GPU RAM and be okay with your regular work just by following the chart we’ve provided.

If I don’t have enough GPU RAM, will some games not run at all?

Sadly, that’s true. Some games have a basic GPU RAM requirement. If that condition isn’t met, the game won’t even start.

You can easily find out how much GPU RAM a game needs at the very least by going to their website. It won’t be crazy high most of the time, so don’t worry too much about it.

Final Thoughts

By now, you should be able to answer the question, “How much GPU RAM do I need for gaming?” You should be aware of how factors such as screen resolution and game settings affect GPU RAM use.

Finally, we recommend keeping all settings on the lowest possible level and playing as many games as possible. Most games made today are very well optimized, and they are made with users like you in mind.

You might be surprised by how many games will run if you have an old or budget setup.

Recommended graphics card list:

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Chris Martin is a professional tech writer. He's been covering tech tutorials, hardware reviews, and more as a professional writer for over seven years now and it doesn't look like he'll be stopping anytime soon! In addition to writing about the latest gadgets on the market, he also covers topics such as how to set up your home network or troubleshoot any computer problems you may have.

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