3GB VS 8GB VRAM

While the GTX 1060 has 3GB of VRAM it still can play most 64-bit games fine. The RX 480 with 8GB of VRAM is used by many games more heavily suggesting the GTX 1060 was held back by the lack of VRAM.

The LG panel is 3840×2160 with HDR capability. Playing games at this resolution is very demanding. Even the most expensive video cards struggle at UHD resolutions.

If the GeForce GTX 1060 was equipped with 8 GB of memory it would likely have performed better with modern 64-bit games. AMD on the the other hand provides 8GB with the RX 470 which is not a choice with nVidia. Its unwise to turn your back on the gaming community as there will be serious consequences. Digital coins will die eventually.

Many recent games are 64-bit for good reason. 64-bit systems can have vast amounts of main memory and VRAM can be mapped into much larger address space.

The OSD in MSI Afterburner is configured to show VRAM in addition to temperatures. The goal is to tune game settings. Playing games at 4K UHD HDR is very demanding and affordable video cards struggle hard.

Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop is a 32-bit game but the VRAM used with the RX 480 jumped considerably. Many other 32-bit games also showed varying changes in VRAM allocation.

The RX 480 and GTX 1060 are competed in the $200+ market. nVidia has been providing less VRAM than rival Radeon cards in addition to slower memory performance.

Given the observations so far it’s obvious that cards with less than 4GB are not well suited to 64-bit gaming as compared to the 8GB variants.

A few demanding DX12 64-bit games allocated much more than 4GB of VRAM. Rise of the Tomb Raider broke past 4GB of VRAM. Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Ashes of the Singularity both exceeded 6GB. The average frame rates at 4K were also better in favor of the RX 480.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is GPU bound using 5411MB of VRAM. Even with D11, many game need 8GB video cards to be able to prevent stutter and throttling.

Batman Arkham Knight uses upwards of 6GB of VRAM. Screenshots do not show the OSD suggesting Warner bros wanted clean images.

Apex Legends uses 8GB in the insane settings. Gameplay is fairly good at 3840×2160 with the RX 480 while the GTX 1060 struggles at 1920×1080 due largely to the lack of VRAM this game demands.

Sapphire overclocked the RX 480 to slightly over 6 TFLOPS while the EVGA GTX 1060 is slightly below 4 TFLOPS. This means the brute force capability of the RX 480 is more than 50% better. The 266% increase in VRAM makes the RX 480 better able to handle texture buffers. The 33% better memory bandwidth affords the RX 480 faster transfers.

The results are clear, gaming today needs an 8GB card. Even at 1920×1080 where its less demanding, the advantage of more VRAM cannot be underestimated. Testing at 4K simply magnifies the needs.

GTA5 is DX11 and its playable at 4K with the RX 480 ahead of the GTX 1060 which can only play at 2560×1440.

Wolfenstein: New Order uses the VULKAN API and it is just as demanding for VRAM as the others.

Compared to the Xbox One and its 12 CU, the RX 480 has 36 CU which makes it triple the performance. The clock speed of the RX 480 is markedly faster as well. The Vega 11 graphics in the R5 2400G is also much more powerful than the Xbox One.

From a gaming perspective it is obvious that moving to an 8GB card is needed. It seems to be as important as raw TFLOPS. All of games shown use more than 3GB VRAM so it’s clear that moden games are more demanding.

It’s only a matter of time before 16GB video cards become more available. While 8GB VRAM is viable now there are several games that push even that much.