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Video Memory: How does it Translate? Eye candy?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 28, 2011 11:39:43 AM

All,

I have been feverishly and meticulously reading, researching, and reviewing for weeks now. I've made my decision which cards are options for me but one thing is left standing: the card's memory.

How does video memory effect what options I can turn up in games? Animation detail? AA? VSYNC? Tripple Buffering? etc. In every game there are tons of options you can tweak and I'd like to know which ones lean more heavily on your video RAM and which ones lean more heavily on your GPU processing power.

To be more specific, here's my situation: I like playing on max / ultra settings, I love the eye candy, the animations, I *need* vsync / tripple buffering, and all that other jucy stuff. I will be playing at 1080p. I never want to run multiple GPUs. I'll never upgrade to a higher resolution monitor.

Money is not on a budget but I really want to not waste money by purchasing a card that is excessively more than I need.

So the question is: 570 2.5GB, 580 1.5GB or 590 3.0 GB. Originally I leaned towards ATI cards due to their higher memory (and less ackward memory numbers: 1.5? really you couldn't just go 2.0?) but it looks like the community at large experiences better results with nvidia.

Thanks in advance for your help and let's not make this a flame war! Let's talk facts and what options really require video memory!

Justin
October 28, 2011 11:42:15 AM

By the way here is what I'll be paying through my vendor so you can take into account price difference:

1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1.2GB (Includes PhysX) (EVGA SuperClocked 012-P3-1572-AR) [+$186]
More Info1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 2.5GB (Includes PhysX) (EVGA 025-P3-1579-AR) [+$227]
More Info1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB (Includes PhysX) (Overclocked EVGA Edition) [+$306]
More Info1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 3GB (Includes PhysX) (EVGA 03G-P3-1584-AR) [+$436]
More Info1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580x2 3GB (Asus MARS II Edition) (MARS II/2DIS/3GD5) [+$1,344]
More Info1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 3GB (Includes PhysX Technology) [+$556]
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October 28, 2011 12:00:32 PM

Resolution leans more on your vram, also have multiple monitors.

But to recommend a card out of your list... go with the 580 1.5 gb, if you have multiple monitors 3gb.
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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:02:15 PM

Basically, it doesn't

the vast majority of benchmarks have shown that games are not designed to utilize more than 1gb of vRAM, so adding more really doesn't help.

in some cases, it will allow you to play at higher resolutions, or with ridiculous amounts of anti-aliasing with less of a hit (but still, not adding a huge amount of performance), but almost conclusively, the GPU will begin struggling long before you hit the limit of the vRAM.

The most important thing is the power of the GPU itself. a 590 is overkill, and a 580 is arguably the same. however ifg you have the cash, both will play anything you throw at them.

personally i think the 570 is less of a bargain, because the newer 560ti isn't that far behind performance wise, but much cheaper.

value wise, a couple of 560ti's in SLI are your best performance for the cash.

but it all comes down to how much you want to spend. Personally, i would go for either a single or dual 560ti's. best value per dollar in both instances.
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October 28, 2011 12:06:47 PM

Thanks for the replies so far!

But please keep in mind a dual GPU option is not an option for me.

So welsh, your saying that all those options games give you, like higher character textures, animations, etc. don't tax a GPU's VRAM? It's on the GPU processor?
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a c 105 U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:09:02 PM

some of you need to move to the 21st century. Yes, vram means a lot and YES, you need more than 1gig to run games at high res and high settings.

I would never get a 590, though it boasts high ram it really only has half of what it's advertised as. Same with cross fire and the same with sli. 2 cards with one gig does not make 2gigs. Sounds odd but it's true.

What games do you or are you going to play and at what resolution and what do you expect from your machine.......... and post all your specs.
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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:20:27 PM

Greater the Resolution and texture quality, Anti Aliasing we use the more VRAM needed to store that data. That's the theory. If the card cant handle that much resolution and texture details then having high amount of memory is totally useless. For example take the case of a Geforce 8400GS. GeForce 8400GS cant handle any of the todays games beyond 1024x768 resolution and quality settings must be lowest possible. A GeForce 8400GS 512mb and 2GB version will perform the same not even a gain of single fps that's because the GPU of 8400GS don't have the horsepower to drive a game beyond 1024x768 with low graphic quality setting. Hopes you got it....... :) 
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October 28, 2011 12:22:06 PM

Quote:
Metro 2033 at 1080p uses 1300mb of my GTX 480..


Yes, but the focus of this topic is game quality: so what settings are you playing at? Ultra? The whole point is I want to be able to turn all the quality settings to max!
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October 28, 2011 12:24:52 PM

swifty_morgan said:
some of you need to move to the 21st century. Yes, vram means a lot and YES, you need more than 1gig to run games at high res and high settings.

I would never get a 590, though it boasts high ram it really only has half of what it's advertised as. Same with cross fire and the same with sli. 2 cards with one gig does not make 2gigs. Sounds odd but it's true.

What games do you or are you going to play and at what resolution and what do you expect from your machine.......... and post all your specs.


Core i5 2500k not overclocked
8GB 1600
120 GB SATA III SSD
800W PS
Video: TBD

I am preparing for SWTOR when it comes out in December but I want to be able to play anything really.

Can you give some specific details or articles that point out that these settings require more VRAM? Also, is the 580 3GB actually have 3GB or is that not accurate like the 590? How can I tell which cards allow use of all the RAM?
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October 28, 2011 12:26:07 PM

Quote:
Yes my settings are at max.....


You can play Metro 2033 at absolute MAX at 1080P with playable / smooth framerates on a 480?
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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:26:15 PM

Unless you guys are privy to some benchmarks that are vastly different from the ones I've seen recently, i would say you are incorrect.

fact is, more vRAM makes a very small difference to your frame rate. having more video ram doesn't help better diffused lens flare, or cascade lighting, or tesselation, or any number of other video effects. graphics nowadays are about alot more than just textures, and having a more powerful graphics processor is FAR more important than having lots of ram. a 6850 with 5gb of vram is not going to outperform a 6950 with 1gb.

as a direct comparison, just look at reviews of the 69501gb compared to its 2gb varient. virtually no change.

if you can't go with a dual GPU setup, go wither with a 560 ti or a 580 then. depending on budget.

EDIT: found some good benches showing a 560 1gb versus 2gb. numbers say it all.







as you can see, even at higher resolution the extra 1gb makes no difference. every other review I've come across has said the same thing, and i looked at MANY while deciding between 1 and 2gb variants of 6950.

So OP, my original point still stands. more than 1gb is not worth paying extra for. spend the money on whichever GPU is the most powerful.
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a c 105 U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:44:04 PM

"fact is, more vRAM makes a very small difference to your frame rate. having more video ram doesn't help better diffused lens flare, or cascade lighting, or tesselation, or any number of other video effects. graphics nowadays are about alot more than just textures, and having a more powerful graphics processor is FAR more important than having lots of ram. a 6850 with 5gb of vram is not going to outperform a 6950 with 1gb. "

well, first thing, more ram isn't there for more FPS although it does happen from time to time and only in minor FPS boost. The idea of more ram is to be able to handle the tessellation and "other video effects" while providing steady, even, stutter free game play. If you want more FPS from your video card get the one with the highest clocks not the most ram......... but then if you don't have the ram you'll have to make adjustments and play at lower settings with less eye candy.

yes, the 580 3gig actually has 3gig of ram.......... don't know what swtor is.......... don't have to look for benchmarks to prove this. I know from experience. And when you read benchmarks on the net they are almost always automated and people just write down numbers without actually knowing if a game stumbles or not, and if so why.
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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:48:30 PM

For someone who's been here a long time, you seem to have very little grasp of how gaming benchmarks are run, or how hardware works in general.

It's too late for me to go trawling for more benchmarks so i just grabbed the first ones i came across, but if you find ones that show minimum framerates you will see almost identical results. If a reviewer found one card had lower minimum framerates or stuttering, they would mention it. in this case, they dont need too. If both cards have almost EXACTLY the same average framerates, it obviously had almost identical minimum and maximum framerates.
there's no conspiracy here.

more RAM does not allow you to play at higher settings. at BEST, you will get slightly more frames when playing at very high resolutions or at very high AA levels.
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October 28, 2011 12:54:02 PM

These benchmarks reflect games with the eye candy NOT turned up. Which is why I think the difference is little, no?

welshmousepk said:
Unless you guys are privy to some benchmarks that are vastly different from the ones I've seen recently, i would say you are incorrect.

fact is, more vRAM makes a very small difference to your frame rate. having more video ram doesn't help better diffused lens flare, or cascade lighting, or tesselation, or any number of other video effects. graphics nowadays are about alot more than just textures, and having a more powerful graphics processor is FAR more important than having lots of ram. a 6850 with 5gb of vram is not going to outperform a 6950 with 1gb.

as a direct comparison, just look at reviews of the 69501gb compared to its 2gb varient. virtually no change.

if you can't go with a dual GPU setup, go wither with a 560 ti or a 580 then. depending on budget.

EDIT: found some good benches showing a 560 1gb versus 2gb. numbers say it all.

http://www.fudzilla.com/images/stories/Reviews/Graphics/Nvidia/Fermi/560/Gainward_560_2GB/avp1920.jpg

http://www.fudzilla.com/images/stories/Reviews/Graphics/Nvidia/Fermi/560/Gainward_560_2GB/dirt2560.jpg

http://www.fudzilla.com/images/stories/Reviews/Graphics/Nvidia/Fermi/560/Gainward_560_2GB/metro1920.jpg

as you can see, even at higher resolution the extra 1gb makes no difference. every other review I've come across has said the same thing, and i looked at MANY while deciding between 1 and 2gb variants of 6950.

So OP, my original point still stands. more than 1gb is not worth paying extra for. spend the money on whichever GPU is the most powerful.

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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:55:37 PM

all of these benchmarks reflect the games at maximum settings. it says right there at the top: @max, @ultra. @ very high.

they also each got run twice with and without AA, and still no change.

some people really do see what they want too.

sometimes its like hitting your head against a brick wall around here. I'd forgotten why I'd left.
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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 12:58:58 PM

Quote:
Are you directing that at me?


sorry no, at swifty.
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a b U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 1:03:15 PM

Quote:
Just checking pal ;) 

My argument was the person saying a single 480 playing metro at max.
FYI a 480 is 1 below a 580.
My 480 has no heat issues or noise due to my superior cooling.
I kill a standard 580 and everything in between it.


yup, i used to max it on my 5870 OCd. you do need to be tolerant of low frames with that game though.

might have to re-run that when i get my second 560ti...

anyways, its 2am, so off to bed. I hope somebody takes my comments into consideration. It's far too easy for the ignorance to win around here.
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October 28, 2011 1:18:44 PM

Sorry I missed that! Just being devil's advocate as much as I can =)

Meant no disrespect. And thanks again for all your advice and help!

At this point I am thinking the 580 1.5 GB in lieu of all the advice, the fact that I will not be playing on multiple monitors, or at a resolution higher than 1080p.

Justin

welshmousepk said:
all of these benchmarks reflect the games at maximum settings. it says right there at the top: @max, @ultra. @ very high.

they also each got run twice with and without AA, and still no change.

some people really do see what they want too.

sometimes its like hitting your head against a brick wall around here. I'd forgotten why I'd left.

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October 28, 2011 1:27:15 PM

And just to confirm, getting the 3 GB 580 won't help future proof me at all yes? Basically for my setup the extra ram provides essentally NO benefit even for future game releases.

As a note it would cost me an extra $130 to get the extra ram.
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a c 105 U Graphics card
October 28, 2011 2:05:10 PM

those benchmarks above from fudzilla.......... I already got done saying the extra ram is there NOT for more FPS but better, smoother playability. the number might be the same but I really doubt the actual game play would be the same when you sit in front of the machine and play. I ran Metro on a 1gig and 2gig card. there is a difference. The 1gig card spits and sputters badly. And it would be nice to see the hardware involved. really like to see those top end Intel quad cores running at 4.0 and those high end SSD's. Kinda unrealistic for most people wouldn't you say ? and I forgot, bet physx was disabled because they threw an ATI card in the mix....

OP. good choice on the 580.
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