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2GB really enough graphics memory for modern games?

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a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 4:17:16 AM

So, after getting sick of blizzard's money making schemes in Diablo 3, as well as catching a break from my work schedule, I decided to hop on good ol' skyrim for some dragon slaying adventures today

for some reason, I decided to also run MSI afterburner and monitor everything while I was playing for fun (being on this forum has developed interesting habits for me :D  ) long story short, throughout most of my gaming session on a single 1920x1080 monitor, my video memory usage was hovering between 2000 and 2100MBs. btw, I do have a second monitor hooked up, just not gaming on it.

Anyways, while I do have a 7970, so this does not present a problem, but my question is, how can Nvidia ever think that a mere 2GB is sufficient for their flagship card? also, are things like the 6GB of memory on sapphire's up coming 7970 vapor-x and toxic edition really not as ridiculous as they seem?

P.S. I do have the HD textures pack and I was running 8XAA :bounce: 
June 29, 2012 4:25:56 AM

Benchmarks show that yes, 2GB is plenty for all of today's games. I haven't yet seen a benchmark that shows a performance drop off that can be clearly linked to simply not having enough vram at 2GB.

It's not difficult with some mods to get Skyrim to chew through 3GB vram. My guess is that it could chew up 6GB vram pretty fast at 1080p too. Doesn't really mean it needs it or else performance will suffer...
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 4:31:30 AM

But as we all know, benchmarks and real-world utility can often differ... from my understanding, when you start hitting the memory limit you start running out of buffering space, and are more likely to have problems such as screen-tearing with vsync if you can't triple buffer...

I guess, essentially, I'm a little suspicious about the benchmark fps counts as they don't account for artifacts or tearing at all... or do they?
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June 29, 2012 4:37:44 AM

All I know is that I've seen no hard data that suggests 2GB hurts performance in any way when compared with 3GB+

I know for a fact that with the mod setup I have on Skyrim, it would love to use WAY more than 3GB vram (I have about 250 mods installed right now and a bunch of higher-than-ultra ini tweaks). However, I don't have busted performance even though it doesn't have all the vram that it would like to use.

Game engines are pretty good about storing tons of stuff in vram that they don't need all the time - just so that it's there and doesn't need to be loaded regularly. It's very difficult to tell when a game needs more video memory and when it is just throwing stuff into memory to fill up extra space but that it doesn't really need.
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 4:40:39 AM

I think its just like anything else, for most modern games 2GB is probably going to be completely adequate for the next few years, by then Nvidia can throw 4GB on their new high end boards....... This reminds of of 1999 and hear a computer salesman telling my parents that "you'll never need more than 512mb of ram" lol my how times have changed.
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 4:42:36 AM

fair-enough... guess I'll just have to find a sack of gold in the near future to quad-fire sapphire 7970 toxic and bench them against 7970 lightnings with BF3 running in triple-screen 3D or something to find out the truth!

oh a man can dream :D 
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 4:44:37 AM

rage33 said:
I think its just like anything else, for most modern games 2GB is probably going to be completely adequate for the next few years, by then Nvidia can throw 4GB on their new high end boards....... This reminds of of 1999 and hear a computer salesman telling my parents that "you'll never need more than 512mb of ram" lol my how times have changed.


well, Mr. Bill Gates famously said "640K ought to be enough for anybody." in 1981 :p 
June 29, 2012 4:47:34 AM

Aren't most games still designed to run on either a 32 or 64-bit OS? If they're designed to be 32-bit processes, they can't use more than 3GB vram anyways, right?
June 29, 2012 4:49:20 AM

We've all seen that BF3 can use more than 2gb of vram, however like said above... some of that is stored memory and some of that is real time memory. I've been watching my BF3 memory usage, and it usually sticks at around 1gb at 1920x1080p somewhat low-medium settings. I've seen people saying upwards of 2gb-3gb for triple monitor. However, how much of that is just stored and not released, and how much of that is actually what's needed.

So, as of now, going by the benchmarks and reviews, there is no performance gain whatsoever going above 2gb vram. I read a few reviews on the 4gb gtx 680, and they all seem to state that 4gb is pointless, there's no difference with any modern game between 2gb and 4gb.

I think it's way too early in the game to start saying 2gb is too little. A few months ago 1gb was the norm... I do trust nvidia with their memory limits and I do think they have a very good understanding of how much memory is needed on the cards today. In all honesty, ATI put more memory than nvidia possibly as more marketing for them.
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 4:49:56 AM

BigMack70 said:
Aren't most games still designed to run on wither a 32 or 64-bit OS? If they're designed to be 32-bit processes, they can't use more than 3GB vram anyways, right?


wow... can't believe I forgot that :lol: 

and judging by the chips they're putting in next gen consoles, we'll be using 32-bit and 3GB of vram for a long time to come :pfff: 
June 29, 2012 4:50:20 AM

Well, Nvidia also has a 256 bit bus right now... not much point slapping 3-4 GB of memory on the smaller bus.
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 4:54:31 AM

lmulder said:

I think it's way too early in the game to start saying 2gb is too little. A few months ago 1gb was the norm... I do trust nvidia with their memory limits and I do think they have a very good understanding of how much memory is needed on the cards today. In all honesty, ATI put more memory than nvidia possibly as more marketing for them.


for general single monitor gaming, I agree that 2gb is definately sufficient for now.

but for those of us who wants to experiment and have a little fun with a few extra monitors, 2gb and a 256-bit bus leaves one wanting more, which is why I went AMD. It's also why I'm surprised why Nvidia would limit their top-end card's max potential in such a way... as i'm sure many of you have seen, in 2560x1600p gaming, the 7970 start to really shine with that extra memory bandwidth
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 4:55:15 AM

vmem said:
well, Mr. Bill Gates famously said "640K ought to be enough for anybody." in 1981 :p 


lol my point exactly
June 29, 2012 4:57:33 AM

vmem said:
for general single monitor gaming, I agree that 2gb is definately sufficient for now.

but for those of us who wants to experiment and have a little fun with a few extra monitors, 2gb and a 256-bit bus leaves one wanting more, which is why I went AMD. It's also why I'm surprised why Nvidia would limit their top-end card's max potential in such a way... as i'm sure many of you have seen, in 2560x1600p gaming, the 7970 start to really shine with that extra memory bandwidth


This is half the reason I went AMD as well... Nvidia didn't give us their top-end card :( 

I'm tired of messing around with Crossfire drivers, so I'm hopeful that Nvidia can right the ship with the GTX 780 or that AMD can deliver a great GCN revision with the HD 8xxx series so that I can get back to a single card. I want my GPU performance to be around the 7970 OC CF level, because I think that's going to be in a good spot for the next generation of games, but I don't like the driver hassle that goes with a multi-GPU setup.
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 5:00:02 AM

I do have to admit however that because my HD6870's are only 1GB cards I do see FPS drop when playing BF3 on Ultra settings and thats with only a single 24" 1920x1080 monitor and running crossfire so generally I run at custom settings with some ultra and some high presets.

So the need for more Vram is needed just maybe not 4GB or 6GB.
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 5:04:23 AM

vmem said:
wow... can't believe I forgot that :lol: 

and judging by the chips they're putting in next gen consoles, we'll be using 32-bit and 3GB of vram for a long time to come :pfff: 


There is no relationship between the 3GB limit on 32-bit processes in Win32 and VRAM. Nor are consoles limited by that number.
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 5:04:27 AM

BigMack70 said:
This is half the reason I went AMD as well... Nvidia didn't give us their top-end card :( 

I'm tired of messing around with Crossfire drivers, so I'm hopeful that Nvidia can right the ship with the GTX 780 or that AMD can deliver a great GCN revision with the HD 8xxx series so that I can get back to a single card. I want my GPU performance to be around the 7970 OC CF level, because I think that's going to be in a good spot for the next generation of games, but I don't like the driver hassle that goes with a multi-GPU setup.


HA, my 2nd half of the reason for going AMD this generation was because Nvidia kept delaying the GK110 and when I heard rumors of the GK107 release I just "rage quit" on Nvidia :pt1cable: 

As for next gen performance, I was actually thinking about getting a second 7970 after their prices drop some more. if history tells us anything, it'll be a few generations before they truly surpass a flag-ship card, and you're 7970 are already OCed really far. though this recent change to 28nm showed a lot of promise, and given that it's a new architecture, who knows?
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 5:05:24 AM

vmem said:
for general single monitor gaming, I agree that 2gb is definately sufficient for now.

but for those of us who wants to experiment and have a little fun with a few extra monitors, 2gb and a 256-bit bus leaves one wanting more, which is why I went AMD. It's also why I'm surprised why Nvidia would limit their top-end card's max potential in such a way... as i'm sure many of you have seen, in 2560x1600p gaming, the 7970 start to really shine with that extra memory bandwidth



It's far more complicated than those numbers imply.
June 29, 2012 5:06:58 AM

Temile said:
There is no relationship between the 3GB limit on 32-bit processes in Win32 and VRAM. Nor are consoles limited by that number.


You mean except for the part where a 32-bit process can't address more than 3GB worth of memory addresses in video memory, making anything beyond 3GB unusable to the program, right?
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 5:07:16 AM

Temile said:
There is no relationship between the 3GB limit on 32-bit processes in Win32 and VRAM. Nor are consoles limited by that number.


really? thought for sure there was a limit

anyway, going to bed, will check back tomorrow morning. I really appreciate everyone's input!
June 29, 2012 5:07:28 AM

i got 3gb gtx 590 (1.5gb per gpu) and im fine. only game is maybie bf3 that needs 2xmsaa instead of 4x
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 5:11:03 AM

stanistheman said:
i got 3gb gtx 590 (1.5gb per gpu) and im fine. only game is maybie bf3 that needs 2xmsaa instead of 4x


I'm not really talking about practicality, but rather to maxing out things. for instance, you probably bought the 590 when it was the top dog. now if I were you, I'd probably try to run something like bf3 with 8xmsaa or maybe even 16x. regardless of whether or not I would actually notice the game play difference, a vram limit forcing me to drop performance ticks when I bought a top end dual GPU card would've left me disappointed
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 5:14:19 AM

BigMack70 said:
You mean except for the part where a 32-bit process can't address more than 3GB worth of memory addresses in video memory, making anything beyond 3GB unusable to the program, right?


The 32-bit process is running on the CPU and doesn't address video memory at all when you are using a discrete video card. The way it works is basically this: the CPU is responsible for loading textures off the disk and into system RAM. Once the texture is in place, the driver is signaled to upload the texture to video memory (via DMA) and when that is complete the GPU takes over. The CPU memory can then be discarded and other textures loaded from disk and then up into video memory. In theory, if you had 100GB of video memory you could transfer 100GB of textures from disk, through system memory and eventually to VRAM...just like you can copy 100s of GBs of data from disk to disk through system memory without having anywhere near 100s of GBs of RAM.

Believe me, I'm a graphics programmer and do this stuff every day.
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 5:16:27 AM

vmem said:
really? thought for sure there was a limit

anyway, going to bed, will check back tomorrow morning. I really appreciate everyone's input!



There is a 3GB limit on what a 32-bit process can address in system RAM. System RAM and video RAM are shared if you use something like Intel HD2000/4000 or other integrated graphics, but not with a discrete graphics card.
June 29, 2012 5:22:20 AM

vmem said:
I'm not really talking about practicality, but rather to maxing out things. for instance, you probably bought the 590 when it was the top dog. now if I were you, I'd probably try to run something like bf3 with 8xmsaa or maybe even 16x. regardless of whether or not I would actually notice the game play difference, a vram limit forcing me to drop performance ticks when I bought a top end dual GPU card would've left me disappointed


Oh no. i bought my 590 4 days ago. for 350dollars brand new. perfomance is over 90fps on bf3 ultra with everymaxed i find that the 1.5gb is enough fro example on mafia 2 its fine, gta iv its fine, skyrim etc. even bf3 seems fine to me so yes. 1gb is not. you ATLEAST need 1.5gb imo. when i had my amd 5970 2gb(1gb per gpu) i had fps drops from lets say 80fps to 0 fps cause of vram hitting limits(ultra everything). i do not experiance ANYTHING like that with the 1.5gb so yes.
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 5:29:18 AM

stanistheman said:
Oh no. i bought my 590 4 days ago. for 350dollars brand new. perfomance is over 90fps on bf3 ultra with everymaxed i find that the 1.5gb is enough fro example on mafia 2 its fine, gta iv its fine, skyrim etc. even bf3 seems fine to me so yes. 1gb is not. you ATLEAST need 1.5gb imo. when i had my amd 5970 2gb(1gb per gpu) i had fps drops from lets say 80fps to 0 fps cause of vram hitting limits(ultra everything). i do not experiance ANYTHING like that with the 1.5gb so yes.


Wow, now that's a steal. Yeah I wouldn't complain about that price
June 29, 2012 5:36:50 AM

Yea cheers man i was gonna buy it and sell it for a 680. but its faster than a 680 so i dont see the point. hows your perfomance going on diablo? with a single 7970>?
a c 91 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
June 29, 2012 12:41:25 PM

stanistheman said:
Yea cheers man i was gonna buy it and sell it for a 680. but its faster than a 680 so i dont see the point. hows your perfomance going on diablo? with a single 7970>?

Maxed everything on D3. It bothers me that it uses 98% of my GPU and skyrim only uses 80%... But oh well
!