System RAM and dedicated VRAM: What's the difference?

I built a new PC a year ago and thanks to the generosity of Amazon I have 16gb of ram instead of the 8gb I purchased. Here is my current system:

Case: HAF 912 with two 120mm fans and two 200mm fans.
Processor: AMD FX 6100 3.3ghz (currently using stock heat sink, will upgrade to Hyper 212 to OC to 4.1 ghz when I return from Afghanistan.)
Mobo: MSI 970A-G46
RAM: 4 X 4gb Corsair Vengeance 1600mhz
PSU: OZ 750W 80PLUS Bronze
HDD: WD 1TB SATAIII 7200RPM with 32MB cache
GPU: XFX Radeon HD 6770

I want to upgrade my GPU and I am currently looking at the Radeon HD 7850 but I am torn between the 1gb and 2gb cards. When I return to school I will be using a triple monitor set up because I use SPSS regularly which has a God awful interface and doesn't lend itself well to being minimized or using the snap feature on Windows. This way I can have my data available on one window, the paper I'm typing up on another, and a third for my sources/facebook/watching HIMYM while I work. From everything I've read, running three 24" monitors at 1080P takes quite a bit of graphics processing, even if I'm not playing games. I imagine I will play some games, I already have Civ V installed on the system, but the last "action" game I played on the PC was BF2. Enough of the plot development though, I think that's enough to give some context to my question.

Do GPU's make use of system RAM or are they limited to their on-board RAM? 16gb is more than I need, 8gb was plenty hence why I bought that, so if all that RAM is sitting there unused, can the GPU use the system RAM when it's under more stress?
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  1. no they don't and they can't, but look to here, and see what the vram usage is whilst gaming on much higher than 3x 1080p.

    2GB will be fine, its GPU horsepower thats the limiting factor when gaming. for desktop use you'll topping out at 500MB I'd estimate.
  2. Best answer
    if you're using integrated graphics, it will use the system ram. in igp, system ram is directly prportional to its vram. on discrete gpu, the system ram is not used by the gpu.
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