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GPU Memory

The more complex a game is, and the higher the resolution it is being played at, the more memory a video card needs in order to keep track of all the data involved. More specifically, the memory is per GPU (graphics processing unit), not card. For example, the Radeon R9 295X is a single video card with two GPUs. While it is advertised as having 8GB of memory, that is more accurately put as 4GB of memory for each GPU; it is effectively the same thing as having two separate cards, each with a single GPU and that much video memory.
With Star Citizen being a very graphically complex game - ship models with polygon counts in the hundreds of thousands, and the potential for multiple ships on-screen at once - the amount of data needed to display it could be a big factor for performance. To find out, we have pitted a GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB card against a GeForce GTX Titan 6GB. The 780 Ti is technically a slightly faster card, so if it outperforms the Titan then 3GB of memory is sufficient… but if the Titan wins, then 3GB is not sufficient. Many cards have even less than 3GB of memory, of course, but lets start here and see how it goes.

At 1920x1080, it looks like the cards are neck and neck for average frame rates... but the 780 Ti never dips as low on the minimum FPS. That may be an anomoly - as I have mentioned previously, the minimum frame rates in this testing are not incredibly reliable - but it could also mean that the slightly faster GPU on that card keeps it from ever dropping quite as low. Since the 780 Ti is also cheaper than the Titan, though, this is definitely the card to get if you want great performance in Arena Commander and will be playing at this resolution.
As expected, scaling the resolution up to 4K reduces performance on both cards... but the GTX 780 Ti manages to take the lead in both average and mininum frame rates, despite only having half the amount of video memory. Looking at GPUz during the testing showed that virtually all of the 780 Ti's memory was being used, so I had expected it to take a performance hit from that... but it comes out ahead, showing that even at higher resolutions the 780 Ti may be the better choice for gaming. Of course neither individual GPU was able to maintain smooth gameplay: it looked amazing at 4K, but actually playing at these lower frame rates was definitely frustrating.

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Tags: star, citizen, benchmark, performance, hardware, specs, space, simulator, arena, commander