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How important is the ram on the graphics card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 24, 2011 1:41:48 AM

is SLI or Crossfiring two cards with less ram going to outperform a single card with higher ram?

My computer is i7 950, 1000 psu, current motherboard x16.


Example, I want to purchase a GTX 560 with 2gigs of ram or buy 2 GTX 560's with only 1 gig of ram each.
November 24, 2011 2:03:13 AM

I think it was either Tom's or a similar site that benched a 560 ti 1gb, and 560ti 2gb.. No difference on any tests. I have the MSI 2gb version and I am happy with it even if it has no extra benefit.
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a c 105 U Graphics card
November 24, 2011 2:08:57 AM

I found that above 1600 res you need more than 1gig. there will be little or no difference in fps as the charts show but that's not why the extra memory is there. sli-ing 2 1gig cards does not give you 2gigs of vram.
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November 24, 2011 2:16:44 AM

swifty_morgan said:
I found that above 1600 res you need more than 1gig. there will be little or no difference in fps as the charts show but that's not why the extra memory is there. sli-ing 2 1gig cards does not give you 2gigs of vram.



my question is is it possible with 2 GTX 560's 1gig ram in SLI to play BF3 and other upcoming top games at their highest settings, or will I need at least 2gigs on the graphics cards.

My concern is that the 1gig ram cards in SLI will be outdated for future top games and I will have to rebuy new cards in order to play the top games. How valid is this concern?
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November 24, 2011 3:08:43 AM

swifty_morgan said:
I found that above 1600 res you need more than 1gig. there will be little or no difference in fps as the charts show but that's not why the extra memory is there. sli-ing 2 1gig cards does not give you 2gigs of vram.


Swifty..Based on your above..is it safe to say the resolution playes a biger role in deciding how much vram you should get on your card? Like it wouldnt matter what game i intended to use it for, Get the vram based on the resolution you plan to run? Not sure if this is your suggestion, just trying to figure it out.
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a c 105 U Graphics card
November 24, 2011 3:18:31 AM

do what you want to do I'm not in the mood for this.................
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November 24, 2011 3:21:27 AM

That was a serious question. In no way did i intend for it to sound otherwise. It would help me make better choices in the future.
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November 24, 2011 4:05:48 AM

The graphic card RAM usage is based on the resolution on which you play.Two cards with less RAM will do good on less resolution than higher RAM card but at high resolution even two cards with less RAM will have performance drops........
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December 1, 2011 1:44:33 AM

ok, I dont like work in labs at Nvidia or anything but here's my 2 cents:
video cards used to have ram for nothing more than a frame buffer which meant the higher the resolution (X pixels times Y pixels) times the higher the color depth (16 bit color, 24 bit, 32 bit etc) dictated how much ram you needed. then along came 3d cards which added ram primarilly to hold textures.
today, video ram is used for this same function, some of the ram is for frame buffers but if you calculate it out even at the max resolution today - (1900x1080 = 2,052,000 pixels X 32 bits = 65,664,000 bits / 8 = 8.208 megabytes of ram! that's it! (yes there's double buffering and triple but still a drop in the bucket).
so 99% of the ram is left over for textures and rightly so. why? cuz games need many many textures to make 1 on-screen scene that's why. you have grass, tree bark, leaves, sky, facial, clothing, etc etc. and each one can be 4096x4096 or more. that's where all the ram goes.
now realize that when you run SLI, each card only has to render 1/2 the screen, but it still needs the full "pallet" of textures to render its scene with. so each card has to get all the textures loaded into its ram that the entire scene needs anyway.
in other words - SLI really has nothing to do with ram.
higher resolution textures, scenes with farther visible distances, having headroom to load up-comming textures for the area you're moving to. these are the driving factors to how ram gets used and why more is important in graphics.
I've heard "benchmarks don't show any benefit to more ram", well DUH! benchmarks are about speed in processing, the card still processes the same so its not going to show in a benchmark. that's like comparing horsepower with (2) 400 hp cars that have different size gas tanks! of course they have the same muscle but one goes farther than the other!
how much you need is still a tough answer. but if you're looking at a card that has X amount of ram and THE SAME VERSION card is available with double the ram for an extra 10% higher cost. I say its worth it.
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December 1, 2011 2:17:42 AM

Marklampi brings up a lot of good points.

Both resolution and game graphics (to put it simply) will affect how much ram is needed.

Right now I'm using 1.25 gigs of ram on my GTX 570 when playing Battlefield 3 on ultra at 1920x1080. As seen here:


It is possible (and likely) that as games get more advanced, they will require more ram. Whether that makes a huge impact on your FPS or not is a bit trickier. Some sites show that it makes a huge difference, and others show that it doesn't affect much at all.

I personally would go the SLI 2 one gig cards. Overall they have more power, and will be more capable in rendering graphics. If I started to see memory being a problem, I'd do some minor graphic options tweaking (such as dropping the AA and such down) and continue playing.
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