Puget Systems print logo
Read this article at https://www.pugetsystems.com/guides/154
Article Thumbnail

Video Card Performance: 2GB vs 4GB Memory

Written on July 26, 2012 by William George


As of this writing the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 is the fastest single GPU gaming video card available. It bests the Radeon HD 7970 in most tests, and while the GTX 690 is faster it is only because it is two GPUs on a single card. In its reference design, NVIDIA equipped the GTX 680 with 2GB of video memory (VRAM) and it performs extremely well with that. However, several of the brands that make video cards with the GTX 680 chip are now offering 4GB versions! This doubling of the VRAM comes at an added price, and certainly appeals to those who think bigger numbers must be better... but is that really the case? Does doubling the memory on a video card of this caliber actually improve game performance, and if so under what circumstances?

Test Methodology

In order to answer these questions, we ran a series of gaming benchmarks on a fairly high-end system. The core specs were as follows:
As you can see listed above, two Zotac GeForce GTX 680 video cards were tested: one with 2GB of video RAM and another with 4GB. We wanted to test both a fairly typical resolution as well as something much more demanding, so all of the tests were run on a single 27” 1920x1080 monitor first - and then a second time on a set of three such monitors, in NVIDIA’s Surround View mode for a combined 5760x1080 resolution.
The tests we ran were as follows:
  • DiRT Showdown - The benchmark tool built into the game was run, with all settings at absolute maximum (including AA / AF).
  • Skyrim - With settings at Ultra and the high-res texture pack installed, Fraps was used to record the frame rates during the first 180 seconds of the intro. This is one of the few exactly repeatable sections of the game, and also fairly demanding due to the high amount of detail in the forest scenery.
  • Battlefield 3 - With settings at maximum, I recorded the frame rate via Fraps during the first 100 seconds of the intro to mission 4 of the single-player campaign. Use of this section was inspired by the testing methodology for benchmarking this game at Tom’s Hardware.
  • Unigine Heaven - This one isn’t technically a game, but is built as a benchmark that tests in a similar way to games - visually moving around in a highly detailed 3D environment. Settings were at maximum again, including the “extreme” setting for tessellation.

Test Results

With the descriptions out of the way, here are the results:

Video RAM Gaming Benchmark - Skyrim
Skyrim turns out to not be very demanding on the video RAM, even with the high-res texture pack loaded. In full NVIDIA Surround mode across three screens the minimum frame rate dips only to the 30fps level - which is still very playable - but no significant difference existed between the 2GB and 4GB cards. Some small aberrations on minimum frame rates actually put the 2GB card ahead of the 4GB model, but the variance is so small that it is within the margin of error.
Video RAM Gaming Benchmark - Battlefield 3
The test I ran in Battlefield 3 was less intensive than Skyrim on a single screen, but demanded more from the video cards when spanned across three monitors. In fact, if you want to run a three-screen setup with this game and maintain maximum settings, a dual GPU configuration would be a good idea. Still, though, no performance difference existed between the 2GB and 4GB cards.
Video RAM Gaming Benchmark - DiRT Showdown
DiRT Showdown, the latest in a well-respected series of racing games, turned out to be the most punishing game test we ran. There was no difference between the 2GB and 4GB cards, but even on a single screen the frame rates in the benchmark were below what most gamers would consider smoothly playable. In all fairness, though, this game did have higher options we were able to set for things like AA than any of the other games. Still, beware of maxing out the settings on this with any single video card... or consider a dual GPU setup if you don't want to compromise at all on quality.
Video RAM Gaming Benchmark - Unigine Heaven
This is the only test where a difference between the 2 and 4GB cards showed up, and even here it was only at the higher resolution setting. When spanning three 1080P monitors in Surround mode, the 4GB card posted average frame rates about 10% higher and minimum frame rates nearly triple those of the 2GB card. It looks like in a test this detailed and with more than six million pixels being displayed that 2GB of video memory isn’t quite enough.


So, what can we glean from all of that? For one thing, with any single monitor the 2GB video card is plenty - even on the most demanding games and benchmarks out today. When you scale up to three high-res screens the games we tested were all still fine on 2GB, though maxing out some games’ settings at that resolution really needs more than a single GPU to keep smooth frame rates. With the right combination of high resolution and high detail, though, there is the potential for 2GB to be insufficient. For future games, or perhaps current games that were not tested in this article, you might be better off with a 4GB card if - and only if - you plan to run across a multi-screen configuration.

Three monitors in NVIDIA Surround

Tags: Technology, Video Cards, Gaming, Performance, Benchmark

What if you have two 2gb cards would that be better than one 4gb card?

Posted on 2012-08-24 04:55:36

Yes, but not because of the RAM. Two video cards of the same model can be put in SLI mode (for NVIDIA cards - or Crossfire for AMD) and then they work together to improve performance. It is never quite a full doubling of performance, but can be close.

However, when doing that they do *not* act like they have 4GB of memory. Each video card has to keep similar sets of data in its memory, so it is still effectively 2GB of usable video memory. Thus you are doubling the graphics processing hardware but not the video RAM.

Posted on 2012-08-24 20:33:15
andreas fuglsang

Can a 4GB and 2GB work together?

Posted on 2013-09-15 16:48:18

I believe they could, but I don't think it would help. If you have them running together, like in NVIDIA's SLI mode, I believe they will both perform at the same level as the slower card / the one with less RAM. I've never tried that, though, so I could be mistaken... and because of the limit above, I'm not sure what good it would do to try.

Posted on 2013-09-16 03:17:11

I have a question. I am deciding whether I should buy a GTX 780M with 4 GB VRAM or a Radeon HD 8970M with a 2 GB VRAM. Considering the price are they very different from each other or pretty much performs the same? Like how much fps difference.

Posted on 2014-01-12 13:59:04

Those are pretty close in performance, but the GTX 780M has a slight edge. Combine that with the fact that it also has more VRAM, and I would say it is definitely the better option (if they are the same price).

By the way, Notebookcheck.net is a good site for comparing laptop video cards. Here are the links for two cards you mentioned:



Posted on 2014-01-13 05:00:57

Well I guess get the Radeon HD 8970

Posted on 2014-02-22 20:16:07

Hi William should i buy a new r7 370 or a used 660

Posted on 2015-12-27 16:38:02

The 660 is pretty old now, so probably not that. I am hesitant to recommend a Radeon card because of drivers and reliability though. If it must be one of those, the R7 370 is newer and slightly faster... but if you can swing a GTX 960 that would be even better. Or, for that matter, a factory overclocked GTX 950 comes close to the 960's performance.

Posted on 2015-12-27 17:14:13

hello william, i am buying a new gpu with i5 4460, can you please tell whether i can play next 2-3 years on 720p using gtx 2gb or 4gb?

Posted on 2016-03-11 05:11:59

Given that you are playing at relatively low resolution (720p) I would not go off the 2 vs 4GB memory size - I would go off the video card / chip itself. A faster card with only 2GB of memory will outperform (at that resolution, at least) a slower card with 4GB. You didn't mention which specific models you were looking at, though, so without that info I can't provide a specific recommendation.

Posted on 2016-03-11 16:24:54
Jeremy M D Jaeger

What about a 960M 2GB vs 950M 4GB for 4K? In that case, would you go for the slightly slower card with more memory?

Posted on 2020-06-12 09:12:14

Hmm, this article is rather dated (8 years old) and 4K wasn't a mainstream thing at the time. I would be very hesitant to go with only 2GB of memory for such a high-res screen. On the other hand, I noticed that both of the GPUs you mentioned are M variants - which usually means 'mobile', the versions of GPUs designed for use in laptops. Is the screen of the laptop itself 4K, or are you looking to connect whatever computer this is to a 4K external monitor? And what sort of applications will you be running on the system?

Posted on 2020-06-12 17:33:56
Jeremy M D Jaeger

Yes, I noticed that but this was one of the few articles I found that specifically compared the two in such a way (along with your comments); I'm grateful for your response as you definitely seem like one of the best people to ask about this! The screen of the laptop itself is 4K, and I would be running things like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, etc, as well as some other photo/video editing and 3D rendering with perhaps some gaming but not too much.

Posted on 2020-06-12 19:18:48

Hmm, given that I do think I would go with the option that has more GPU memory - but I would also caution that playing games at 4K will likely not work well on that video card. You should be able to scale the resolution back when playing games, though, which ought to help. This is, of course, assuming that there are no other differences in specs between the two; if the CPU, RAM, drive, etc are different then that might override the choice of video card.

Posted on 2020-06-12 19:40:09
Jeremy M D Jaeger

Ok, that's what I thought. The CPU would be i7-6700HQ, with 2 TB SATA SSD along with a 512 M.2 SSD, and 24 GB of RAM (1 x 16 GB card & 1 x 8 GB).

Posted on 2020-06-12 19:45:05

Wow, that is quite nice on the drives and RAM side of things! It will definitely be limited by the CPU and/or GPU, depending on the application, but I do think the added VRAM will be the safer option. I hope that system works out well for you :)

Posted on 2020-06-12 20:03:09
Jeremy M D Jaeger

Thank you very much indeed! I really appreciate your advice on this :)

Posted on 2020-06-12 20:38:51
Daniel Smith

Get a GeForce GTX 960 2GB. That'll cover ya.

Posted on 2016-05-13 13:35:36

Is it usefull to have more vram for future games?

Posted on 2012-10-03 17:00:02

It is a little hard to answer that, since it depends on knowing what future games will need - but it is safe to assume that as graphics complexity advances more VRAM will be utilized.  The harder question, and more applicable here, is how much?  Personally, I don't think that the 2GB shipping on most modern high-end cards will be a limiting factor as long as they are useful in terms of performance.  By the time 3-5 years have passed most gamers will want to get an upgrade anyways, and I don't expect VRAM needs to go too high in that short space of time.

Posted on 2012-10-03 17:32:01

Yes and No. The answer will be determined by what you want and how fast you change your specs. If you switch video cards annually then I would say get the GPUs base ram. If you change specs every 3-4 years, then get the most out of every penny you have.

Posted on 2015-07-14 11:54:22

So; I have a question, In your opinion, would it be best to buy one 2 GB VRAM EVGA GeForce GTX 690 Hydro Copper Signature for a single monitor, and for multiple, lets just say 3, Two 4GB VRAM EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified Hydro Copper GPU's? 

Posted on 2012-10-06 01:27:28

Honestly, a GTX 690 is probably overkill for a single monitor.  I would go with a GTX 680 2GB, or even a 670 or lower (I own a 660 Ti, personally, and it does great at 1920x1200).  The one exception might be if you are going to use a 2560x1600 monitor, in which case I could see going for the 690.

If you are going up to three monitors, that is the one time where 4GB versions of the cards can *sometimes* help performance, though not in all games... but if you are dropping that kind of cash then aiming for as much future-proofing as possible, via higher video RAM, is probably worthwhile.

Posted on 2012-10-07 04:17:31

Dear Mr. George:
Thank you very much for taking the time to respond; I truly appreciate it. I have another question: from a gaming perspective, I can appreciate the concept of multiple angled monitors to create a panoramic field of view; however, in terms of VRAM, what determines the exact consumption and requirements, to elaborate-let's say that I bought a single 103" monitor (Don't have the money, and it would be a pointless waste) and I used a 690. Would the 2 GB still cover it? Is it # monitors, ppi, monitor size, or some combination of these, or something else entirely? Is there some sort of formula for calculating VRAM given a set of certain parameters? Thank you once more for your time, considerations, and advice,Sincerely,Chandler

For my monitor, I plan on modifying a retina display, 2880x1800 pixel resolution, this is why I lean towards higher performance/capacity graphics.

Posted on 2012-10-08 08:23:06

Pixel count and game complexity.  The computer doesn't care (or even know) what the physical screen size is, but it does have to calculate what color each pixel should be - and the more of them, the more work the video card has to do.  It also means keeping track of more data in the video card's RAM, though I don't know exactly how much space is taken up purely with that info.

The other part of the equation is the game's complexity.  The more detailed the textures it uses, and the more of them involved in displaying a given area in-game, the more the card has to keep track of.  Some games, like Skyrim, feature optional high-res texture packs which can be used if you want even better looking visuals and have enough graphics memory / performance to handle the added load.
With a non-standard resolution like you described you may have other troubles besides just video RAM: I don't know if many games will handle displaying at that size.  It is a 16:10 aspect ratio, so that at least helps.  In terms of total pixel count, 2880x1800 is a little lower than the triple 1080P monitor setup we tested on... so I think the results of the comparisons here should still be applicable to you.Good luck with your project!

Posted on 2012-10-08 15:59:49

 BF3 Multiplayer will use more than 2gb on a GTX 680 on triple 1080p, on ultra with 4xMSAA or higher.

Posted on 2012-11-10 19:28:52

We didn't find any difference with that setting in single-player, but it is certainly possible that multiplayer is more demanding. Did you find this in your own experience, or on a review somewhere? Any links you have with related info would be most appreciated!

Posted on 2012-11-11 05:38:31

Mr.George is that this GTX *** VGA used on dekstop PC different with GT*** VGA usually used on laptop. IF it's different how could i know my GT*** VGA I used on laptop could run the game if the video card requirement written in GTX series?
And As for Radeon card is that also different Radeon VGA that's used on the dekstop PC with the ones used on the laptop?

Posted on 2012-11-20 16:16:31

Yes, desktop and laptop video cards are different - even if the model numbers are nearly identical.  This is because laptops have to run off battery power, and cannot put off as much heat since the cooling fans they have are much less powerful than a desktop.  

For example, the GeForce GTX 680 is the fastest single-chip desktop video card on the market right now.  The laptop version, though, is called the GTX 680M (notice the M there, for 'mobile') and is a little slower than the desktop-class GTX 660 Ti.

The only way to really get a feel for how fast laptop video cards are is to look at their specs - number of cores, core speed, memory bus width, and memory speed - and then compare those to similar desktop cards.  You can also simply reference benchmarks, and the website notebookcheck.net has a lot of good info like that about laptop-specific hardware.

You will notice the same thing with CPUs as well: the laptop models will have lower clock speeds, usually by about 20%, and sometimes have less cores than their desktop counterparts too.  For example, the Core i5 3000-series desktop chips are all quad-core, but the same series of mobile processors are only dual-cores.

Posted on 2012-11-20 16:59:50

Excellent article. My use is for Photoshop and Premiere Pro. In two other Puget Systems articles on Photoshop and Premiere CS6, the GTX 680 had great results using the 2GB model. Would I benefit much with a 4GB model (again only for Ps and Pr)? Thanks!

Posted on 2012-11-23 09:14:51

We didn't test that specifically, but I don't think so.  My reasoning is that those other articles showed very little difference between 1GB and 2GB cards, so I don't think going with even more memory would be likely to help.  There may be some special-use cases with those applications that could benefit, but nothing that was covered by our testing at least.

Posted on 2012-11-23 17:03:08

I work with the CS6, mostly Photoshop and Premiere Pro as well for videos - I'd love to see some serious testing on those applications to know for sure if there are any benefits to 4g over 2g since I'm in the market for a new GPU.

Wondering if gddr6 will be in the next GPU line up too.

New games may start using loads more memory now that the PS4 and XB1 consoles are out with 8g of ram - wonder if 4g may be of more use in the near future for gaming at that point.

Posted on 2013-06-23 16:25:20

This article was very helpful. Thanks!

Posted on 2012-12-11 04:50:05

 Thanks a lot mr.George. Looks like my choice goes to GTX650. Well there's another question I want to ask. What is really the difference between GTX650 and GTX650Ti. What makes Ti is better? is it because it's a newer series?
And as for GTX650 with 1GB memory is enough to play nowadays high-end games? or should I get GTX650 with 2GB memory?
Thanks. Sorry for my not so good english

Posted on 2012-12-17 17:00:50

For gaming, I don't think there are going to be many cases where a card with performance levels near the GTX 650 needs more than 1GB of memory.  The GTX 650 Ti is a slightly faster card, between the 650 and 660.  I'm not sure why NVIDIA chooses to use the 'Ti' tag on the end of some models instead of just using an intermediate number (like 655), but that is the basic concept.

Posted on 2012-12-17 18:29:12

In max payne 3 on ultra settings it uses over 2 gbs of ram so if you have 2 gb or less you cant play it on high..

Posted on 2012-12-29 16:08:31

For a game like Dragon Nest.. what kind of video card is recommended?

Posted on 2013-01-11 23:25:49

That game's recommendations are simply a GeForce 8000 series or higher... so just about any modern video card will likely do it. I don't have any hands-on experience with it, though, so I can't say more. You might ask on their forums.

Posted on 2013-01-11 23:56:05

I am running a EVGA GTX 680 2GB Signature + with Skyrim on a 1920 x 1080 monitor and max out VRAM with stuttering. I achieve this feat by using many high resolution texture mods in addition to tweaking shadow and other settings and run max settings on all available options. I am buying a 4GB VRAM version to try to solve this little piccadillo. 

Posted on 2013-01-22 06:50:21

Interesting - I play Skyrim at home on a GTX 660 Ti 2GB, at 1920x1200 with all graphics options in the game maxed-out and the official high-res texture pack installed... and it is silky-smooth.  Perhaps some of the other mods you have are pushing things even more?  If so, I will be curious to see if the added video card RAM fixes your performance issue - please post back with your thoughts after you are done!

Posted on 2013-01-22 17:08:31

this zotac video card 2gb or 4gb is DDR3?????? SIR....

Posted on 2013-01-29 02:10:36

Both of the video cards in this article (and I believe all GTX 680's in production regardless of brand) use GDDR5 memory.

Posted on 2013-01-29 02:33:35

Is it really worth it to buy a laptop ( with a resolution of 1920x1080) with 4gb nvidia graphic card?2gb or 3gb would be just fine?

Posted on 2013-03-18 17:49:11

For gaming at that resolution, 2GB should be just fine - but a card with more RAM might also be faster in other respects. Further, some other (non-gaming) tasks could benefit from added video RAM.

Posted on 2013-03-18 19:53:03
Hector Sanchez

I'm planning to get an AlienWare M17x laptop for my birthday here are the specs:

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit (Windows 8 Upgradeable)

3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3610QM (6MB Cache, up to 3.3GHz w/ Turbo Boost 2.0)

8GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz (2DIMMS)

1TB RAID 0 (2x 500GB SATA 3B/s 7,200 RPM)

2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon HD 7970M

17.3-inch WideFHD 1920 x 1080 60Hz WLED

Slot-Loading Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD+-RW, CD-RW)
I want to know if I should get it. I want to play games like BF3, BO2, etc on high or max settings. Will it cut it?

Posted on 2013-04-07 16:27:12

Hello George, I just wanted to drop in and say thank you for answering the questions. As I went through your answers it answered all my questions and should help me make a better decision about 2GB vs 4GB GPU.

Posted on 2013-06-11 17:32:28

I'm glad this article helped, and appreciate your kind words :)

Posted on 2013-06-11 17:33:50

can i ask u this which better to use AMD Radeon HD 8970M 2GB or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M 3GB ... if the games will be played on 1 screen and both laptops have 8gb ram and intel i7 processor ... can u replay as soon as possible plz

Posted on 2013-06-18 11:44:31

On a laptop, you are looking at a maximum resolution of 1920x1080 with the built-in screen (and maybe lower, depending on the system). At that resolution the difference between 2 and 3GB will not really matter. Further, you aren't comparing two identical GPUs - so I would base your choice on the performance of the Radeon HD 8970M vs GeForce GTX 770M.

Looking them up on notebookcheck.net (a great resource for laptop hardware info!) it looks like they are pretty close in performance. The AMD card may have a slight lead in raw power, but when cards are this close a lot of times the winner in any specific game will just come down to how the game favors AMD or NVIDIA.

I think, personally, I would go with the NVIDIA card - but that is probably because I've had better luck over the years with their video cards. I don't think you would be making a wrong choice with either of these cards :)

Posted on 2013-06-18 15:56:04
Andy Mark

Mr George i have a MSi Gt70 which had a 4gb GTX 675M. the card has burnt out and honestly i just don't have the money to put a 680M in it. from what you have stated above i infer that i can get a 2gb card installed in my laptop as its resolution is below 1920 * 1080?

Posted on 2013-08-05 23:58:49

Yeah, I would expect a 2GB card to be just fine in terms of memory usage. What you will want to pay closer attention to is the GPU performance itself (don't get something much slower than what you were used to) and compatibility with your laptop. Changing laptop video cards is a bit trickier than with desktop cards; you might even want to check to see if the system is still under warranty from the manufacturer before you make any changes to it yourself.

Posted on 2013-08-06 00:10:49

Great work mate u know your stuff. This is a topic that is hard to get a straight forward answer on but you nailed it. So thank you for your knowledge and work.

Posted on 2013-06-25 06:58:19

thanks this was very helping! so i plan on running 1080p single monitor, i dont have a reason to get a 4gb ddr5 card. ill stick with the much cheaper 2gb version =)))

Posted on 2013-07-16 17:12:27

But in games isn't ram and cpu the most demanding?

Posted on 2013-07-21 06:16:11

RAM is actually a fairly small factor - as long as you have enough (4GB+ usually) then you are fine. The main factors are the CPU and video card, and it is a balancing act between them. If you go too high on one you'll be limited by the other, so you want to look at benchmarks and see what the sorts of games you play do well with.

Posted on 2013-07-22 05:37:17

Im going to be live streaming and alot of video editing, is more vram on my graphics card more beneficial for HD video editing? im debating between the 7970 3GB GDDR5 RAM or the same card but with 6GB GDDR5 RAM

Posted on 2013-07-22 23:36:25

£100 price difference between the 3GB and 6GB cards

Posted on 2013-07-22 23:37:20

There may be some specialized cases where >3GB of video RAM would help, but for what you have described I don't think it would help you specifically. Streaming isn't using your video card, and from the tests in this article you shouldn't need the added RAM for gaming either. I haven't seen tests on video RAM as it relates to video editing, but I would not expect that to be a factor at normal resolutions (like 1080P).

Now you do want a fast CPU and fair amount of system RAM for what you have described, since live streaming during a game takes added CPU resources / time. You also need to carefully set up the amount of upstream bandwidth your streaming takes, so that you don't choke the game you are playing (assuming it is an online game).

Posted on 2013-07-22 23:40:47

Thanks for the reply, CPU im going for is i7 3930K, 16GB of system DDR3 RAM

Posted on 2013-07-23 00:40:35

That would be overkill for pure gaming, but with your plan to stream and edit videos as well I think that makes sense! Make sure to get 4 x 4GB of memory, though, since that CPU can use quad-channel memory (for higher performance than with two 8GB modules).

Posted on 2013-07-23 05:52:11

wow, awesome bit of advise, i was going to get 2x8GB because i was under the impression less sticks is less strain (cant remember where i read that) but ill get the 4x4 now.

Posted on 2013-07-23 07:36:19
commonsense boy

lol its a ps4 ram hype proven just that hype article LOL more and more ram doesn't make magically graphics better....

you only need ram until you run out of adding more to do nothing is pointless SONY LOL PS4

pc gpu cards need to start using low latency memory latency is killing these cards and EDRAM chuck 64mb of edram on the thing and 2gb gddr5 job done plenty for the next ten years with ease COMMONSENSE

ps4s 8 gb proven bs in so many ways 1 its pointless 2 it was a lie anyway its 4.5gb for games and simply adding more and more large slow external memory isnt going to do SHIT

faster memory better memory higher bandwidth memory yes more shit ram no its that simple

Posted on 2013-07-27 07:51:00
commonsense boy

16mb can just about do a 1080p render in edram give these cards 64mb esram and smaller gddr5 and allow both pools of ram to work on gaming frames etc PROBLEM SOLVED

Posted on 2013-07-27 07:53:12

There is one very useful application for the extra VRAM. When I fly my flight simulators, My 480's 1.5GB of VRAM is always maxed out!! I feel 4GB would go a long way with X-Plane flight simulator. Maybe you should have added X-Plane to your bench mark.

Posted on 2013-08-19 08:32:17

That is good to know! I wonder if X-Plane needs between 1.5 and 2GB, though, or if it would really benefit from >2GB of video RAM. Unfortunately no one here that I know has a copy of X-Plane, so we can't really test it easily :(

Posted on 2013-08-19 15:56:12

A demo copy is available on - http://www.x-plane.com/down... . The limitation is that after 15 minutes, it'll not allow you to use a joystick anymore but you won't need to run the benchmark. As I haven't flown X-Plane with one of those 4GB cards, I won't be able to tell you for sure but from my experience with flight simulators, I know that they are intensly V-Ram hungry and that an extra 500mb of VRAM will not make a dent. It's literally populating and animating an entire world from scratch, including roads, cars, other airplanes. It preloads endless amounts of objects and the textures in the VRAM. If you do endup making a test, be sure go to to the graphics settings and put all the textures, lighting and anti-aliasing at highest levels. My gut is telling me that the 4GB would shine over the 2GB. I'll be getting a 4GB model soon (either GTX 770 or 680) but don't really have a 2GB counter part to run the comparison myself.

Posted on 2013-08-21 06:49:56

Thank you for the info about the demo - that is good to know! I may see about using that for a future test like this :)

Posted on 2013-08-21 16:00:42

Glad to help! I found another use for the extra V-Ram. Skyrim's Vanilla looks can sometimes be pretty hanous, so there's this big community of moders. Mods change alot the textures, armours, character models, the ambient lighting, the colors, light and shadow. One of the problems that Moders run into is that Skyrim has 3.1GB RAM stability limit (as all 32bit programs do) and if you mod too much, you can make it unstable because it needs more RAM than can be allocated by the 32bit architecture. Anyways, this youtube video ( http://tinyurl.com/l7b83vn ) shows you this tool that's used to minimize the use of RAM and one of the tricks it uses was to transfer some of the information from RAM to the VRAM. Before the tool's usage, Skyrin was running at 2.6GB of RAM + 2GB of VRAM and after the patch, it was running at 0.7GB RAM + 3GB of VRAM. The guy was running a 4GB VRAM GTX 470 which meant that the tool could transfer even more stuff to the VRAM and he can install even more mods. These are non-standard usages but who hasn't seen a really well moded version of Skyrim and wanted his game to look lie that?

Posted on 2013-08-22 05:37:29

MSI N770 TF 4GD5/OC (GeForce GTX 770 GAMING) or ASUS GTX770-DC2OC-2GD5 for BattleField 4 on 1080p max ultra settings or crysis 3?

Posted on 2013-08-25 02:00:59

Battlefield 4 is not out yet, so we can't be sure what it will need. Crysis 3 should not need any more than 2GB of video memory at that resolution, though, and I don't expect BF4 will either. If you can get both cards for the same price, of course it wouldn't hurt to go with the model that has more onboard RAM... but if you are looking for the best value, and don't plan to go past 1080P resolution, the 2GB model should be just fine :)

Posted on 2013-08-26 05:11:47

Great article George, and thanks for continuing to support and respond to comments for over a year now!

This is still an important issue, and something I've started thinking about for future-proofing a PC against next-gen console specs. I know that you could probably write a whole article about this, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts about how the new console architecture, particularly the PS4's, with its unified pool of 8 GB GDDR5 and memory bandwidth of 176 GB/s, will impact gaming PCs. It might be a little too early to tell, and maybe the GeForce 800 series can close the gap, but I'm honestly feeling a little outdated, and I'm in the process of building a $2500 PC. My worry is that 2-3 years down the line, once developers figure out how to optimize for consoles, the raw performance specs of a PC just won't hold up as well.

I know it's a bit off-topic since this article is really about 2GB vs 4GB VRAM, but I am still debating whether buying 4GB cards will even help for the future, since the PCIe bus feels like a turtle now.

Posted on 2013-09-02 15:23:36

Graphics memory bandwidth isn't nearly everything, and looking at the specs from Sony the performance of the GPU in the PlayStation 4 should be about on par with the current AMD Radeon HD 7850:

http://us.playstation.com/p... (claimed 1.84 TFLOPS)

http://www.amd.com/us/produ... (1.76 TFLOPS)

The CPU side of things looks to be a 'low power' 8-core AMD chip, which would be analogous to something in their current desktop CPU line but probably clocked lower to reduce power consumption. Neither of those performance points worry me at all as a PC gamer: my home computer, with its last major upgrade over a year ago, would beat the PS4 on processing power by a pretty wide margin :)

Posted on 2013-09-02 19:24:32

I just bought a EVGA Gtx 760 SC /w ACX cooler 2GB, then after i bought it, i found the HD 7950 /w boost 3GB was available in the shop, i was EXTREMELY pissed off. Whenever i open a website to read about next-gen games ( built on consoles), i found that 2GB of vram wont be enough(as people said) as BF3 uses 1.5 in busy 64 players servers with large maps, as well as crysis 3 and skyrim modded which are vram hungry games. So, from your answers, i realised that you are an expert and probably not a fan-boy(who will say OMG HD 7950 BEATS GTX 760 A**), i wanted to ask you couple of questions which maybe have been implied from what i have said:

1) Is my GPU with its 2GB vram enough for next-gen games(and approxmately what is the time until which it can handle the games?), i forgot to mention that i use a screen of 1600x1200 and i am not intending to upgrade to a higher resolution whatsoever and i game on single monitor(pure gaming PC). Another point, i'm not the kind of people who wants everything maxed out, i can sacrifice some settings such as AA, AF( which i think wont differ that much) for the sake of better gameplay experience.

2) Which GPU is better the VAPOR-X HD 7950 /w boost or mine (EVGA gtx 760 SC /w acx cooler). If you can provide me with any evidences as tests, benchmarks or articles i would be extremely thankful.

3) What does 1080p mean? That question will blow off my head and i cant find any answer to it, and what is my screen pixels 1600x1200 so i can know where am i in the tests or such things.

4) A lot of people and reviewers says that FX-8350 is predicted to beat Intel core i5 n next-gen games due to 8 cores as in PS4 with even clock boost, will this difference be significant with my CPU(listed downwards)? I thought most important thing in gaming was GPU, and the MOST IMPORTANT function of CPU is NOT to bottleneck the GPU and limit its potential, so why will it differ when it comes to number of cores?

5) I think there are some other factors than VRAM for improving gameplay as gtx-770 which is considered somehow a beast for gaming and gtx-680 as well, are just 2GB VRAM, if u can explain this to me or give me a simple article to read about(im interested to know more), i would be again EXTREMELY grateful.

Here is the rest of my build if you are interested in knowing it:
CPU: Intel core i5-4570
Motherboard: ASUS Z87-k(doesnt support SLI, was sad to know this)
PSU: SeaSonic M12II Bronze 620W 80 PLUS
Case: NZXT Lexa S
RAM: 8GB(2x4GB) G.Skill Ripjaws-X DDR3 1600 CL9 1.5v
Cooling system: i dont have any at the moment actually as my budget ran out before buying it, and i am not thinking of overclocking(as it may be obvious from mobo and CPU), and the case had some pretty good supplied fans

Sorry for making this too long and boring to read, thanks in advance for any answer you will provide me with (:

I hope i didnt wasted a lot of your time :P

Posted on 2013-09-08 16:14:25

Sorry for making this post a reply, it was done mistakenly.

Posted on 2013-09-08 16:43:57

1 & 3) It is impossible to know for sure what future games will need, but so far 2GB seems fine for current titles - even pretty cutting edge ones - so long as you aren't playing at a super high resolution. This will tie in with your 3rd question, so I'll just answer that here too: 1080P is shorthand for a resolution, specifically 1920x1080. That is the standard for HDTVs currently, and is a common resolution on monitors in the 21-27" size range as well. Your 1600x1200 resolution is a little smaller in total pixels, with 1.92 million pixels vs 2.07 for 1080P. Still, that means that if you see games performing well at 1080P (which is more common to see tested in benchmarks and reviews) then those results should apply pretty closely to your resolution as well :)

2) The GTX 760 Superclocked is faster than the HD 7950 Boost, at least in a couple of the benchmarks I looked at on a review. I'll link to the Crysis3 test page of that article, since the games I'm most interested in personally at the moment (MechWarrior Online and Star Citizen) both make use of CryEngine:


Now that could change in situations where the added RAM on the Radeon HD 7950 would come into play, but current games at your resolution should not be affected by that. There are also other games where AMD cards generally lead, and still others where the two cards are neck and neck. Here is a comparison between the non-Superclock GTX 760 and the 7950 Boost, so you can see even more game comparisons:


3) See #1 above

4) As much as I liked AMD back in the day, I really don't see them being competitive against Intel except on the budget side of things. Even if games start to use all of the cores on AMD's 8-core chips the Intel Core i5 architecture still wins most benchmark comparisons:


(pay close attention to which tests are 'higher is better' and which are 'lower is better')

I think AMD is an okay choice for people who prefer it as a brand, and for folks on a limited budget... but otherwise Intel has maintained a solid lead since the release of the Core architecture several years ago.

5) Yes, VRAM is only a small part. Like system RAM, as long as you have more of it than you need you are fine - it is not helpful to have excess, it only hurts if you are lacking. The actual speed of the GPU is a bigger factor, and also the speed of the CPU. You want to strike a good balance between the CPU and GPU: if either is too slow it will limit overall system performance.

The CPU you have is a solid one, and you have a nice power supply and RAM too. I am not specifically familiar with that motherboard, but I like Asus boards in general (that is what we use mostly here at Puget Systems). I think you would be fine with either video card, though if you already own one and it is working well for you then I don't think it is worth worrying about changing :)

Posted on 2013-09-09 00:12:40

Thanks a bunch William, your answer was really full of useful information that i couldn't find by googling for sometime, i guess its time for some research about the GPU matter and speed and other factors that affect its performance apart from VRAM, thanks once more ^^

Posted on 2013-09-09 02:52:45

For those asking about BF4 requirements, I found benchmarks for the BF4 Alpha here: http://www.bf4blog.com/batt... If the info is correct, BF4 would be the first game to use more than 2gb at 1080p (when using MSAAx4).

Posted on 2013-09-19 00:03:31
irfan ahamed

hi i am irfan, i am a graphic designer fully worked in corel draw x5, illustrator cs 6, photoshop cs6, my system config is i3 3rd generation processor, 8 gb dd3 ram, i am going to attach new graphic card for my system. i want good graphic quality in working time if you don't mind please refer or suggest which one i pick graphic card. i am so confusing. best and cheap graphics card.


Posted on 2013-10-11 15:14:05

Of the programs you mentioned, Photoshop is probably the most needy in terms of graphics power. We have an article from last year about graphics card performance in CS6, which should help you decide what card to get:


Posted on 2013-10-11 15:17:03

Right now at this moment of time I'm deciding between the laptop GS70 MSI AND THE G750jx ASUS. Main difference in performance is the graphics card which is gtx765m 2gbvram on the msi and gtx770m 3gb vram on the ASUS. Is there a major difference between this two graphics card?

Posted on 2013-10-12 03:40:16

There is a pretty decent performance difference between those, but not due to the amount of RAM so much as the fact that the 770M is about 30% faster. It also uses a faster memory interface (192-bit vs 123-bit on the 765M). If all else is equal, the 770M is a better card for gaming... but if you aren't using the GPU heavily, the other could save you money and give you longer battery life (since it uses less power).

Posted on 2013-10-12 16:47:13

Which Card would last longer it I wasn't planning on upgrading for at least 4 years? Nvidia GeForce 775M with 2GB GDDR5 or the Nvidia GeForce 780M with 4GB of GDDR5? Thanks

Posted on 2013-10-25 20:32:25
Daniel Brown

I'm not aware of any NVIDIA GeForce 775M part. Maybe you meant the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M or the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M?

Beyond the VRAM difference, the higher model number cards generally have faster 3D processors. The performance of the 3D processor is the main consideration for gaming, the amount of VRAM is secondary. So if you are looking to keep your system relevant for as long as possible into the future, it would generally be best to go with the higher model number card (in this case the 780M).

Posted on 2013-10-25 20:57:35

Thanks for the quick reply, greatly appreciated

Posted on 2013-10-26 06:41:00
Jim H

Hi, currently I'm deciding between msi gtx 760 4g and evga gtx 760 2g. Obviously there's difference in pricing, but I'm still considering if 4g would be necessary for me. Right now my set up is a 1920x1080 screen as main display and a 1600x900 as secondary screen. I'd play games on my main screen while watching streams or netflex on my 2nd screen. If 2g is sufficient enough, then I'll just go with 2g. Which would you recommend? Thank you for your time!

Posted on 2013-11-15 20:13:59

Hmm, we didn't test the impact of having a secondary monitor on graphics memory usage. For just gaming at 1920x1080 you are definitely fine with 2GB, but if the price difference isn't huge I might be tempted to go for more in your situation... just to be safe.

Posted on 2013-11-15 20:32:32

Hi ? my problem is when i stuck my syncmaster 190T in laptop. On max payne you can see video memory is:4gb when i run without monitor.. video memory is 3GB FPS is the same. my card is gtx 780m. What is the different between these things... Thanks already..

Posted on 2013-11-17 22:54:22

Why the 2 gb version is better than the 4 gb version . wHY?

Posted on 2013-11-29 13:46:10

It isn't - they scored almost identically for the most part, within the statistical margin of error in the cases where the few cases where the 2GB version edged out the 4GB. If you go to demanding enough of games at high enough resolution, though, then the added memory on the 4GB card started to help performance (as seen in the very last test).

Posted on 2013-11-29 17:02:11

I have a 2GB video memory and when I play tomb raider or far cry 3 on my PC it has an extremely low frame rate, should I upgrade to 4GB?

by the way that is when I set it to full HD and ultra setting.

The games you mentioned are more graphically intensive when at ultra and full HD.

Should I upgrade to 4GB?

Posted on 2013-12-07 20:52:28

What video card do you have? The GPU itself is actually a lot more important (most of the time) than the amount of video memory.

Posted on 2013-12-07 23:25:06

I am using the AMD Radeon HD 7700M, any help?

Posted on 2013-12-09 17:28:36

That is a lower mid-range graphics card for laptops (the M at the end stands for 'mobile'), so regardless of the amount of video RAM it has I am not surprised that it would struggle to play games at full HD resolution (1920x1080)... especially with quality settings cranked up. I would think that should do much better if you reduce the quality settings and the resolution - maybe try running games at 1280x720 instead?

Also, since it is a mobile-class video card I expect that it is installed in a laptop or maybe an all-in-one desktop... and in either case, it is probably not going to be upgradable. I'm sorry!

Posted on 2013-12-09 19:48:27

It is true, I am using laptop; I usually use the word "PC" as a more general term.

Can you recommend a laptop that can handle the games I mentioned and the games you listed at full HD and ultra setting, including games like the new assasins creed black flag and call of duty ghosts and battle feild 4 and titianfall. And be future proof? I know that's a lot but is there a laptop that can handle it?

I know that desktops are better but I always need the mobility of a laptop.


Posted on 2013-12-09 23:50:17

Hmm, to handle those sorts of games at 1920x1080 resolution and high quality settings you need a fairly powerful video card. Ideally, a GeForce GTX 780M - the fastest single GPU available on laptops currently - would be best. If you are limited on funds, a GTX 770M would get you good performance... you just probably wouldn't want to max-out quality settings on the latest games.

The CPU is also important, with a lot of newer games being able to utilize a quad-core processor to get more performance than a dual-core. As such, I would look for something with a Core i7 quad processor (on laptops, that means a model with qm at the end).

Round that out with 8 - 16GB of memory and, if possible, a solid-state drive... and you should be set :)

In our line, the Traverse Pro (either 15 or 17" models) would let you pick out those specs:


Posted on 2013-12-10 00:02:58

How about desktops? Can a desktop take the load?

One last thing: what should I look out for when buying a video card?

Thank you.

Posted on 2013-12-10 17:26:45

Desktop processors and video cards are much more powerful than those in laptops, since they don't have to be limited to what can run off a battery or be cooled by tiny fans in a small chassis. As such, yes: a desktop could be much better equipped for this sort of gaming!

I would hold to most of my recommendations above, except that the CPU and video card could be less expensive and yet still more powerful at the same time. On a desktop, the Core i5 processors are quad-core and thus would be excellent for gaming. On the video card side, the GTX 660 would roughly match the GTX 770M I had recommended, or something a little faster like the GTX 770 if you want to more closely match a GTX 780M. The RAM should still be 8 - 16GB, and a SSD if possible... but that could be sacrificed if you need to keep costs down.

Here is a link to our Spirit system with specs along those lines, and including a full 1080P monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse:


As you can see, that ends up being several hundred dollars less for performance that would exceed the laptop I linked to previously :)

Posted on 2013-12-10 18:54:24

should I buy gtx-760 4GB or 2GB considering following?

1080p resolution
single monitor
medium to high setting
Should be able to play games for next 3-4 years.

Posted on 2013-12-16 07:02:28

All of our testing data in this article would point to 2GB being plenty for that resolution. Please note, though, that this is a year and a half old now - newer games may need more memory, and if they don't today there is definitely a chance they will as the years go by. We haven't revisited this topic yet, so until we do it might be a good idea to look and see if there are any other, more recent articles on this topic available.

Posted on 2013-12-16 17:07:58

I have a question: Should I get the R9 270x with 2GB vRAM or 4GB? I have a 1080p single monitor. I would like to use it for the next 2 years and play at around high settings.

Posted on 2014-01-19 00:08:04

At 1080P the difference in video RAM there shouldn't matter. I would make sure you get everything else you need first before spending more money there... but if you have extra room, it doesn't hurt either.

Posted on 2014-01-19 07:50:00

well this is stupid ofc 4gb isnt going to out perform2gb since none of these games in 1080p require more than 2gb of vram start runnning them in 2560/1600 and then show some bench marks for how the 2gb stands against 4gb

Posted on 2014-01-21 13:44:37

At the time this article was written, a year and a half ago, such monitors were rare. That is why we tested at 1080P *and* at 3 x 1080P (5760x1080). That latter resolution, across three screens, is more demanding than 2560x1600/1440. As you may note above, even then the amount of video memory didn't matter outside of Unigine Heaven!

Now of course with newer games this may have changed, so perhaps we will revisit this topic again in the future.

Posted on 2014-01-21 17:10:31

Great article .. Thanks william

Posted on 2014-02-16 20:06:34

I realize this is a 2 year old article, but it still is relevant and the article itself was very helpful, so I figure I'll ask my question here.
I am a first time PC builder (well, technically this'll be my second build, but the first time I've chosen my own parts) and I was wondering if it would be better to get a(n?) R9 270x OC 2gb, 270x 4gb, or r9 280 (not x).

The article clearly says that 2 vs 4gb wouldnt matter, but they're both the same price on newegg, so was gonna go with 4 instead. However, I'm debating between the 4gb 270x and a 3gb 280 because the 280 has a 384 bit interface vs the 270x's 256bit.
Would the extra 50$ be worth it to go with a 280 rather than the 270x 4gb? They're all from Gigabyte if that matters, and I plan to run Skyrim with High res texture packs and ~150 mods, some of which are graphical enhancements and mesh mods, BF3/4, DOTA 2, and a smattering of new games whenever they come out.

Posted on 2014-04-07 23:21:31

Hmm, that is a tricky question - because you aren't just comparing the same card with two different amounts of memory, but also a card with a faster GPU and memory bus. I would say that the faster R9 280 3GB is going to beat the R9 270X all the time - no matter how much memory the 270X has. It would be difficult to find a case where the difference between 3GB and 4GB of video memory was enough to offset the 280's faster GPU *and* faster memory bus, and I definitely don't think you are going to hit any problems with that card's 3GB of memory unless you are playing at very high resolutions (above 2560x1600).

Thus, if the $50 difference doesn't break your budget it would probably be the best way to go.

Posted on 2014-04-08 15:54:18

so if i am going to have a single monitor 2gb is enough for the upcoming games also ?

Posted on 2014-04-26 10:39:22

It depends on the monitor resolution. For 1920x1080 (and other close / smaller sizes) I think 2GB is still fine - and it is still the standard on most mid-range video cards. If you are using a higher resolution, or are worried about games 2+ years out, then investing in a faster card with more video memory is probably worthwhile. Don't just get a lower-end card that has extra memory packed on, though, as high resolutions need fast GPUs even more than they need a lot of memory.

Posted on 2014-04-27 03:26:51

ok so this article is old but i still feel like i should say, as an owner of a 4gb GTX-760, i do use more than 2gb VRAM and get pretty much the same performance as a 770. I regularly see game using upwards of 3gb VRAM even at 1080p gaming. It will always help when I get a 1440p monitor soon.

Posted on 2014-05-08 22:12:13

But have you compared the memory usage to a 2GB GTX 760? It's allocated memory which is not the same as memory being used. Compare the same games running at the same settings at the same resolution and you'll see that lower memory config cards will show lower allocated memory while higher memory config cards will show higher memory. This is why performance isn't affected.

Also, no way you're getting the same performance as a GTX 770.

Posted on 2014-09-02 22:40:27

Thanks! This was helpful, was considering whether to get the 2GB or 4GB version of the Gigabyte GTX 760, looks like I'll be going for the cheaper option, cheers

Posted on 2014-05-22 11:58:04

I want to buy a GTX 770 GPU but i cant decide on 2 gb(palit) or 4 gb(gigabyte) i want them for ultra settings in all new games for at least 2 years which one should i buy???

Posted on 2014-10-03 19:37:36

I'm not sure what pricing you are seeing for the 770 right now, but if at all possible I would go for the GTX 970 instead. It is newer, uses less power, performs on par with the 780, and has 4GB of memory standard. It should better prepare you for max quality settings in future games :)

If you have to stick with a 770, I suppose a 4GB model might not be a bad idea these days. The testing I did on this was two years ago, so newer games can use more memory now than they could back then. It also depends on what resolution you are gaming at. 1920x1080 is still probably fine with 2GB of memory, but I upgraded to a GTX 980 myself (from a 670) because I game at 2560x1440.

Posted on 2014-10-03 19:41:50

My vcard memory is 64 kb.. i use a hp 630 do i have any hope with the big games demanding 128 and above?

Posted on 2014-10-06 18:06:52

64kb? I have to assume you mean 64MB instead, but even that is an amount found on video cards from 10+ years ago. If that is how old your video card / computer is, I would definitely not expect any modern video games to run well (if at all).

Posted on 2014-10-06 18:12:28

What is best GTX 760 4GB or GTX 770 2GB???

Posted on 2014-11-21 09:32:57

The GTX 770 2GB would be better for almost all situations. The main place where the GTX 760 with more memory would be better is if playing at very high resolutions (over 2560x1440)... but at that point the performance of the GTX 760 is not sufficient for good results, so even though it might be marginally better it still wouldn't be great.

Posted on 2014-11-21 16:54:00
Aekpong Moramat

4 GB Will good on Ubisoft's game
Developer of ubisoft not know how to made the game for play with normally graphic card.

Posted on 2014-12-01 11:38:53
Joseph Mascaro

whats better for graphics card 2gb or 4gb??

Posted on 2015-08-21 21:19:12

Well, at the time I wrote this article (3 years ago) it didn't really matter - that was the conclusion of the article, in fact. However, in the three years that have passed games have gotten more demanding and screen resolution has gotten larger (at least on the high end). I would say that if you are playing games above 1920x1080 these days it is good to have a video card with >2GB of memory. For 4K resolution, you actually want >4GB for many games!

There is a lot more to it than just the amount of video memory, though: the performance of the GPU on the card is an even bigger issue, and what you are doing (gaming, media editing, etc) is of course critical as well.

Posted on 2015-08-21 21:34:47

My Graphic Card is NVIDIA GeForce 250 i cant install the driver???????? why?

Posted on 2015-10-24 08:17:26
Christoper kalkowski

Hello im buying a graphics card but I cant decide which on i should get.

These are the ones i'm looking at:

Radeon R9 270X 2gb
Radeon R7 370 4gb
GeForce GTX 760 2gb

Posted on 2016-01-23 20:31:56

Those are all pretty comparable in performance (based on this http://www.tomshardware.com... ) - so I would tend to lean toward a NVIDIA card (the GeForce line) myself. We've seen better reliability with those compared to the Radeon series.

Posted on 2016-01-23 20:35:15

hello sir... i read your whole article plus user reviews... at the same time i am stil confused about this VRAM.. here my confusion is, HP15-ab522tx model comes with 1366*768, intel i5 6th gen 2.3 GHz and 4GB graphics (model nvidea 940M) ... is it wise to go with this model, since it has no full HD screen, does future games may require this amount of VRAM (4GB) with this model?
or i may go with HP star wars special edition- full HD antiglare screen and graphics 2GB graphics (model nvidea 940M)
i will buy the laptop based on your answer..@ sir
thank you

Posted on 2016-02-06 08:26:04

Honestly, neither of those sounds like a good idea for games. The GeForce 940M is just not a very powerful video card. If that is your only option, though, the version with the lower-resolution screen is probably better: that will mean less work for the video card to do, so the 940M will be able to play a little better there than it would at the higher 1920x1080 resolution.

Posted on 2016-02-07 07:51:23