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Is there really that much of a difference? 512mb vs 1GB

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 5, 2009 6:38:02 PM

Hey,
My cousin's birthday is coming up and I am upgrading his system. Here are his old specs:

E6750 @ 3.2 Ghz
680i LT
4GB 800 mhz DDR2 4-4-4-12
2 8800 GTS 512mb
PC P&C Silencer 750w

The stuff I bought him arrived today, a used Asus X38 and 2 5850s. I got him to give me the PC yesterday, to install windows 7 as far as he knows. I tried putting one of my 4890s in out of curiosity. I noticed that in some games, especially fallout 3, the single 4890 gave a much better experience at his resolution, 1920x1080. When it comes to horsepower the 8800 GTS 512s should do a decent amount better, and they do in games such as Crysis and Call of Duty. I was quite surprised at my findings. So I must ask, is the extra 512mb really that important?

Can't wait to install those 5850s, he should rival my machine now!

More about : difference 512mb 1gb

a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 7:11:06 PM

Higher resolutions certainly have a higher need for more GPU RAM. Take a look at Tom's graphic charts and you'll notice as the resolution increases, in general the cards with the higher RAM still keep decent frame rates but those with lower RAM drop off significantly.

The same factor is evident with processing features like Anti-Aliasing. The higher you crank the AA, the more RAM you'll want to keep frames up (granted there is much more to it than just that).

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a c 130 U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 7:14:27 PM

Theviper pretty much has it down. Higher res's, AA, AF, etc, use more Video-Ram.

Also, dibs on a 8800? ;3


I kid.
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Related resources
November 5, 2009 8:44:01 PM

I understood there was a difference, but it just seems amazing to me that 512mb of VRAM is now obsolete!

Guess I knew that, I just didn't think it all the way through.

I remember when 128mb was a big deal and I wished that I could afford a card with that much VRAM.
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a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 8:50:00 PM

It's not obsolete yet, it's just relegated to mainstream cards instead of the enthusiast market.
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a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 8:53:56 PM

It seems to depend a lot on the game and textures, but one thing I do know for sure is if you are hitting that ram limit, it can seriously slow down the framrates. I had a modded Oblivion that would top out around 600-700MB of textures, and on my 512MB card it would go down to around 10FPS and sometimes even crash. With my new 1GB card (same type otherwise) it could easily sustain 30+ in the rough zones.
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November 5, 2009 9:35:55 PM

^article says it all
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November 5, 2009 11:50:55 PM

It does make a difference in cards powerful enough to utilize it. Slapping 1gb on a 9400gt is absolutely useless because the bottleneck is the power of the processor itself. When you start getting more computing power from your gpu then it needs the extra ram. Basically, 1920x1080 is a lot of pixels, so it needs a powerful processor to render it and enough ram to hold those rendered shots. The three go hand in hand in hand. Large screen (and numerous effects), powrful core, more vram. A 9400gt won't be able to render the high resolutions and eye candy, so it does not benefit from extra ram. And let's not forget, not all games are the same. As EXT64 said his modded Oblivion is a resource hog, hence more ram needed. Where an unmodded Oblivion may slip in below the threshhold of 512 and be perfectly playable.
BTW, can I be your cousin? I don't get cool stuff like that from anyone. jk. Nice gift!
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November 6, 2009 12:47:51 AM

Just as a bit of a follow-up, I compared the ATI 4870 512 and 1g version in the article linked by belial2k. In most titles it shows little to no difference the major exception being Farcry 2 and to a lesser degree Fallout 3. These titles both have excellent graphics and make the point that more vram is needed for the 4870. Another point I would like to make is about the 4890, which is (obviously) more powerful than the 4870. Do you see any 512 cards on the charts of the 4890? Do you know why? Because the processor on those cards will get bottlenecked by 512 ram at higher resolutions and cardmakers know this. They have the power to process more, thus needing more room for what they render. Same with the GTX 285. They don't offer 512 versions because cards that powerful are meant for higher resolutions due to their rendering power. Some people don't really understand this and that's how card makers rip customers off by putting $x worth of extra (useless) ram on a card not powerful enough to utilize it and charge $xx for said product. It's a waste on the card, but if they can trick people into thinking it's a better product, more profit! To get back on topic and reiterate what I said before. Extra ram is needed in cards with the power to utilize it, but also still depends to some extent the game being played.
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November 6, 2009 5:41:14 AM

The difference is near nil for most people the real need is for the highest resolutions hell if you remember when the voodoo 2 was super awesome because in SLI you can render in the HUGE 1024x768 instead of 800x600 or 640x480 because SLI made it render every other line so the cards only needed the ability to do half the work.

It's just how it goes i'd like to see a comparison if above 256mb is really needed might actually see something more diff then 512 to 1gig of video ram. But it's just how the tech industry movies more,better,faster for cheaper
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a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2009 11:58:43 AM

2 8800GTS 512 cards in SLI should easily best a 4890. The memory probably does not have as much to do with performance issues here as the fact that some games simply do not scale well at all with SLI, or there may be a better version of a driver for the game you are running, etc. But, that was one of the reasons I tell people to never, ever buy 2 lessor cards and put them in SLI over a single more powerful card. You will have better results across the board with a single powerful card than with 2 lessor cards SLI. And you have less heat, less fan noise, etc. Crossfire scales better than SLI in most games, except a couple, and one of them being Crysis. You really do need to look at the games you intend to play if you are going with a mulitple GPU setup, or you may be disappointed with the performance you get for the amount of money you spend.

And yeah, I have had a 8800GTS 512 OC card for lets see now, 2 years?
I keep thinking I will upgrade it, but I have yet to find a game that it won't run at my res of 1280x1024 with most settings on high decently (as long as I don't get too carried away with AA/AF) They were IMHO one of the classics, one of the best GPU's ever made.
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November 6, 2009 2:30:42 PM

Quote:
It's just how it goes i'd like to see a comparison if above 256mb is really needed might actually see something more diff then 512 to 1gig of video ram. But it's just how the tech industry movies more,better,faster for cheaper


That would be an interesting benchmark if possible. Especially in some of the mid to high end cards. It would really illustrate the need for more ram.


Quote:
2 8800GTS 512 cards in SLI should easily best a 4890. The memory probably does not have as much to do with performance issues here as the fact that some games simply do not scale well at all with SLI, or there may be a better version of a driver for the game you are running, etc. But, that was one of the reasons I tell people to never, ever buy 2 lessor cards and put them in SLI over a single more powerful card. You will have better results across the board with a single powerful card than with 2 lessor cards SLI. And you have less heat, less fan noise, etc. Crossfire scales better than SLI in most games, except a couple, and one of them being Crysis. You really do need to look at the games you intend to play if you are going with a mulitple GPU setup, or you may be disappointed with the performance you get for the amount of money you spend.

And yeah, I have had a 8800GTS 512 OC card for lets see now, 2 years?
I keep thinking I will upgrade it, but I have yet to find a game that it won't run at my res of 1280x1024 with most settings on high decently (as long as I don't get too carried away with AA/AF) They were IMHO one of the classics, one of the best GPU's ever made.


The recommendation of 1 superior card over two lesser cards is always my stand as well, for the same reasons. While I think sli'ed 8800gts's may be able to beat a 4890 at most resolutions, I think you would see some titles it would not at higher resolutions. Since sli mirrors ram (both cards contain same info, using only 512 instead of total 1024), all the info at that lower resolutions fits in the frame buffer. Now you essentially have a dual core processing unit but still need to worry about ram. If you were to run at higher resolutions and/or with more effects enabled your setup (sli) would suffer great penalty because it would run out of necessary ram. Essentially choking the combined power of your (hopothetical) cards. If you consider that a 4890 may/likely has less processing power than sli 8800gts's but probably has little problem with any game at higher resolutions it only further makes my point.


http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-cards-charts-2009-high-quality/compare,1511.html?prod%5B2831%5D=on&prod%5B2860%5D=on

This link shows a comparison of 8800gts 512 sli vs. 4890 1gb. In a Fallout 3 and Farcry 2 the sli bests the 4890 until you apply aye candy at 1920 resolution. I believe this is a ram issue, not a processing issue. The 2 cards still should have enough power to push past the 4890.


I think the main thing is, we can identify most cards that need the upgrade from 512 to 1gb. They are upper midrange to lower high end cards that generally offer both variants. Just below the level of cards that only offer 1gb. No cards in the low end need 1gb, as that is only a marketing ploy. In many instances the 512 will be enough. My resolution is 1920x1200, so I would never opt for the lower memory on a card because at that resolution is where you start to see major differences in SOME games. However with texture quality in new games becoming better and more complex, spending $20 or so on a card may mean the difference in playing a new game or watching a slideshow. That is my opinion on the matter.
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November 6, 2009 2:31:01 PM

The testing shows there is no significant difference between the 4890 and the 8800gts in sli with high resolutions and high quality settings... For example the cumulative scores are

Nvidia Geforce 8800 GTS SLI

* (2x512 MB) 1727

MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC

* (HD 4890 1024 MB) 1689.60

as you can see, not a huge difference, but the sli cards do have less than a 5% lead in these test. Using more and different games they would probably show that is within the margin of error.

Also when you study the charts, you see better and faster the memory on the card the less difference there is between 512 and 1gb. More modern cards such as the 4800 series and the gtx/gts 200 series have exactly the same scores (within a 3% margin of error) between the two versions, even when AA and AF are cranked at high resolutions. It is possible there might be a game or two that will show a difference, but this topic has been covered by almost every major tech site at some point, and they pretty much all agree that, at least for now, 512 is all you need to run 95% of the current crop of games with no quality loss. The fact that so many people people believe you NEED 1GB can be chalked up to a very effective marketing campaign by the card makers to make you buy the more expensive version of the cards.
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a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2009 2:55:44 PM

Actually it is as I stated before. If you game at the highest of resolutions and use a lot of AA, you will notice a difference between 512 MB and 1 GB.

I checked a bunch of charts before I made my first post. 10 frames per second is a lot when you're below the 60 fps margin.
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a c 105 U Graphics card
November 6, 2009 3:16:50 PM

You can take those charts and stick them where the sun don't shine. If you have two GTX260's, one running at 640/2300 with 896 memory and one running at 640/2200 but has 1792 memory and everything being the same you get no stutters in Crysis ( example ) with the 1792 card with 8aa@ 16x10 and you do with the 896 with no AA, what's that tell you. Crysis isn't the only game that benefits from the extra ram. FarCry2 does also. Not only with the higher settings but with draw distance too. And think about the games coming out in the next 6 to 12 months. Not all will benefit from it but it's sure good to have and somewhat misleading as far as Tom's and others charts. It's easy to run benchmarks, some of which are built into the games and optimized, and it's another to play a whole game and see where problems occur and why. Only an idiot would buy a card with 512bit memory on it, especially running at higher resolutions. :kaola: ..... framerates don't mean crap, playability does.
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November 6, 2009 3:38:36 PM

Quote:
For example the cumulative scores are


Which doesn't show the point of extra ram can be useful in certain applications. It does show that in low res the sli dominate and at high res the 1gb 4890 makes the importance of extra ram (in certain titles) relevant.

Quote:
You can take those charts and stick them where the sun don't shine. If you have two GTX260's, one running at 640/2300 with 896 memory and one running at 640/2200 but has 1792 memory and everything being the same you get no stutters in Crysis ( example ) with the 1792 card with 8aa@ 16x10 and you do with the 896 with no AA, what's that tell you. Crysis isn't the only game that benefits from the extra ram. FarCry2 does also. Not only with the higher settings but with draw distance too. And think about the games coming out in the next 6 to 12 months. Not all will benefit from it but it's sure good to have and somewhat misleading as far as Tom's and others charts. It's easy to run benchmarks, some of which are built into the games and optimized, and it's another to play a whole game and see where problems occur and why. Only an idiot would buy a card with 512bit memory on it, especially running at higher resolutions. :kaola: ..... framerates don't mean crap, playability does.


Good example(s). The fact is on higher end cards and with the future of pc gaming moving towards more and larger textures, extra ram will show benefit. Is it absolutely needed? In a lot of cases, no. But if you game at high res, you've already shelled out for a larger monitor and if you are considering a pricey gpu, you should consider dropping the extra ~$25 to be sure you will have an enjoyable gameplay experience and be ready for future titles that may be even more ram sensitive. I'm not saying anyone is wrong for buying a card with the minimum offered ram, just take into account all things if you are going to purchase right now.
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a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2009 5:20:14 PM

Especially if dual carding, you'll want to move up one notch in ram over what you would usually get with the single card, because you will probably end up running out of ram before raw GPU power in that case. I know with my old 6800GT's, they still had the processing power, but games began to come out requiring more than 256MB of ram, and thus the cards would do very poorly. If they had each had 512MB, that setup would have been useful for longer.
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April 16, 2010 3:03:58 AM

EXT64 said:
Especially if dual carding, you'll want to move up one notch in ram over what you would usually get with the single card, because you will probably end up running out of ram before raw GPU power in that case. I know with my old 6800GT's, they still had the processing power, but games began to come out requiring more than 256MB of ram, and thus the cards would do very poorly. If they had each had 512MB, that setup would have been useful for longer.


so my two 9800gtx + sc with 512 are not good at 1680 by 1050??? or is that the cut off? i do want to move up in a card but want the prices to come down on the dx-11 cards or for n.v to make other cards beside the 480 or 470....

get back to me
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a b U Graphics card
April 16, 2010 3:25:49 AM

They will most likely be fine in most games, especially at that resolution. However, as every game is coded differently, you results will vary. You should see a good improvement with that upgrade.
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April 16, 2010 3:40:05 AM

thanks for the info.....
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