There is currently a lot of discussion about how much VRAM a graphics card should have. There are enough reasons for this, such as the release of the new Geforce RTX 4070 with 12 GB or AMD’s latest blog entry, which advertises Radeon GPUs with a lot of VRAM at the expense of Nvidia. You can find out more about this in the following article:
Anyone who buys an Nvidia graphics card is making a big mistake – thinks AMD for one reason in particular
We measured: Overall, we look at nine current games to see how much VRAM they reserve with maximum details. With a view to the detail level, this is a worst-case scenario that can be mitigated with lower settings, especially with reduced texture details.
It is also important to know that too little VRAM can manifest itself in different ways. Poor performance is a possible consequence. But it can also lead to significantly blurry textures that load late. In the worst case, both happen. But what do our measurements say specifically?
VRAM usage in Full HD (1920×1080)
We start our look at the VRAM reservation of games with the comparatively frugal Full HD resolution. Basically, the higher the resolution and level of detail, the more video memory is required. Ray tracing also drives up the VRAM requirement again.
When looking at the values, note that they initially only indicate the VRAM reservation if there is a lot of video memory. To be more precise, we measure with a Geforce RTX 4090, which has 24.0 GB. The other main components are AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D and 32.0 GB of DDR5 RAM.
The fact that as much video memory as specified here is reserved does not automatically mean that annoying problems will arise with a little less VRAM. However, the values still provide a rough guide.
On average, we measure a reservation of 8.0 GB even in Full HD. There are individual titles such as Age of Empires 4 or Anno 1800, which are just over the 4.0 GB limit, as well as games such as Call of Duty or Hogwarts Legacy, which are already at the 12.0 limit in Full HD scrape gigabytes.
Our recommendation for Full HD: To be on the safe side, a graphics card with 12.0 GB VRAM is recommended for playing in Full HD. If you can live with reducing the texture details a bit in particularly demanding games, you can still get by with 10.0 or 8.0 GB. Even 6.0 GB can often be sufficient, but that is not future-proof.
VRAM usage in WQHD (2560×1440)
If we go one step higher in the form of the WQHD resolution, the VRAM requirement climbs a bit, as expected, but the change is not too big on average: Across all tested games we now have a requirement of 9.0 GB instead 8.0 GB.
The number of pixels is particularly important, which increases relatively moderately in WQHD. While there are almost 2.1 million pixels in Full HD, WQHD has around 3.7 million pixels. The increase when switching to the 4K resolution, which represents 8.3 million pixels, is even more pronounced.
In WQHD, the limit of 12.0 GB is getting closer in some games, for example in The Last of Us or in Cyberpunk with the new and very challenging Overdrive mode. Also scratches F1 2022 now at the limit of 8.0 GB and Returnal exceeds it.
Our recommendation for WQHD: If you play in 2560×1440, a graphics card with more than 10.0 GB VRAM is even more important than in Full HD if you always want maximum details including ray tracing. In most cases, you can still get by with 12.0 GB. We generally no longer recommend less than 8.0 GB for playing in WQHD.
VRAM usage in 4K (3840×2160)
The change to the particularly demanding 4K resolution is also clearly noticeable when reserving the video memory. On average, the requirement of our test title increases from 9.0 to just over 11.0 GB.
Some of the games are now even scratching the 16.0 GB limit or, as in the case of Cyberpunk, reach it in overdrive mode. At the same time, a VRAM reservation below 8.0 GB is only given in three out of ten measurements.
Our recommendation for 4K: If you want to play as carefree as possible in 3840×2160 pixels, you need a graphics card with 16.0 GB of video memory. It’s certainly possible to still (smoothly) play the game with 12.0 GB, at the latest with slightly reduced details. Below this limit, however, there may be more and more problems in the future when you play in 4K.
When it comes to memory requirements for games, RAM can also be an important factor. We only recently looked at how much RAM you need for gaming these days. You can find out more about this in this article:
How much RAM will you need in 2023? We test 8GB vs 16GB vs 32GB in games
What are your experiences with regard to the VRAM requirements of games? Have you encountered any problems with this lately? Which graphics card or how much video memory do you have? And how do you see the recent development that PC games not only appear more and more frequently with a high VRAM requirement, but also with technical problems? Feel free to write it in the comments!