What is VRAM? If you play video games, edit videos, or do anything else that's graphically intensive, then VRAM is a fundamental component to your user experience. But you might not have heard of it, or you may not be aware of just what it is and what it does.
We're here to lift the fog of confusion, and explain exactly what VRAM is, and why you should know about it. You'll thank us for this great public service.
What Is VRAM?
VRAM is Video RAM. Like RAM, but specifically used to store image data. It is most commonly utilised in graphically intensive functions, such as 3D graphic design software, or for video games. Having a decent amount of VRAM is important to use these sorts of programs without suffering from issues such as freezing or stuttering.
As an example, the more graphically demanding a game is, the more VRAM it will need to run smoothly. A 1080p game may get by with 4GB of VRAM, while a 4K game might need 8GB or more.
There are different types of VRAM: Rambus DRAM, Synchronous Graphics RAM, Window RAM, and Multibank DRAM. We won't go into the specifics of each. They all perform more or less the same function, but the way they transfer data varies slightly.
VRAM normally exists within your GPU, given that it works almost exclusively with your graphics card. But how else does it differ from RAM more generally?
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What's The Difference Between RAM And VRAM?
In simple terms, all VRAM is RAM. But not all RAM is VRAM. RAM is your general system memory, that's used for running various apps and programs, as well as your operating system.
VRAM meanwhile, is solely dedicated to supporting graphical processing. If you don't have enough VRAM to cope with the demands of whatever you're doing, then regular RAM will step in to try and help. However, this will often lead to a reduction in performance, because RAM simply isn't as good at processing graphics as VRAM. One is highly specialised, while the other is more multi-purpose.
Can You Increase VRAM?
Increasing your VRAM is influenced slightly by what device you have. If you use a MAC, then you are pretty much stuck with whatever it came with. But you do have more options with a Windows device. You can check how much VRAM you have by following these steps:
- Open Settings > System > Display.
- Go to Advanced display settings.
- Click on Display adapter properties.
- On the dialog screen, click the Adapter tab. Here, look for the Dedicated Video Memory option. This is your total available VRAM.
If you find you need a bit more, then the easiest way to go about it is by upgrading your GPU. These will often come with added benefits such as GDDR6 over the earlier version of GDDR, as well as being more capable of coping with newer, more demanding games.
Increase VRAM via BIOS
It is also possible to increase VRAM via the BIOS. This takes a little more jiggery-pokery:
- Type regedit into the Start Menu or search bar.
- Select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Intel within the Registry Editor.
- Right-click, and create a new key called GMM then select the folder from the menu on the left.
- Right-click on the right panel again, and this time, choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- Name it, and give it a value between 0 and a maximum of 512.
- Restart your computer for this to take effect.
This method essentially tricks your computer into thinking it has more VRAM than it actually does.
And there you have it. VRAM is system memory dedicated to graphical display. Think of it as the Special Forces of the RAM world. It is one of the key components in ensuring that games and other graphically demanding processes run smoothly. It's therefore crucially important to ensure you have enough of it to run the programs you want to use.
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