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Question Is buying anything less than 8GB of VRAM not worth it?

Dannar26

Senior member
Mar 13, 2012
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The title begs a question I've had in my mind. What do you think? Here's what got me thinking of this:

With all the crazy sales from Microcenter, I built a new rig for a friend. She opted to reuse some of the parts of the old rig, and doesn't care about what's left over. So, I now have a haswell i5 (not the K model, the exact part number escapes me), 16 GB DDR3 and a small 128GB Kingston SSD. I'm looking to put a lower end GPU into this thing for the kids to play on.

It begs the question: should I be looking to purchase anything with less than 8GB VRAM? I know this may be overkill in some respects, given that the rest of the machine is older. It seems like rx580's are getting close to the $100 impulse buy mark, so would I be dumb getting a rx570 or 1650S now?
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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Well... it kind of depends... on what games you'll be playing, and what res.

AAA games in 4K UHD? Yeah, get an 8GB VRAM GPU.

But wait! You say! RX 570 8GB, can't effectively play modern AAA games @ 4K UHD. Tis true.

So, again, why spend money on the 8GB variety? I have no idea!

If you're mining with the GPUs, then yes, get as much VRAM (and GDDR6!) that you can afford. Although, on my rig with a G4560, unknown RAM amount, and an RX 580 4GB and an RX 470 4GB mining edition card, using ClaymoreDual (newest?) in NH, I can still mine ETH. Even though, in Win10, a similarly-equipped GTX 1650 4GB card cannot (DAG too big, OOM error in CUDA in Win10). (Guess it has something to do with virtual VRAM support with Polaris?)

Honestly, for 1080P, a 4GB VRAM card should be "fine". At least, for the next few years, until console ports start coming out that expect 8GB VRAM. But why not future-proof, and get 8GB VRAM cards today? Well, newest consoles are also going to have built-in RT, which today's (RX 580 8GB, GTX 1650S) budget/mid-range cards can't do.

So, if you want RT, get a 2060S, IMHO.

Bottom line: Personally, given the age of those parts, I think that a GTX 1650S or RX 570 4GB would be FINE. That assumes that you will be gaming at 1080P, mid/high settings, for the next couple of years, and not appreciably mining.
 

VirtualLarry

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I'm looking to put a lower end GPU into this thing for the kids to play on.
This for someone's kids? Don't overthink this. Keep an eye out @ Newegg for GTX 1650 *REFURB* cards. I picked up a Gigabyte with like 3x HDMI 2.0 and 1x DP, with a 6-pin PCI-E power connector, dual-fan, for $129.99. Looks and works like new, the only thing that I noticed, was the label on the box said "Refurbished" at the bottom of it. (These are probably coming off the line basically new, as either new-old-stock, or unsold oversupply, because everyone with a clue is buying GTX 1650 Super (GDDR6) for $10 more, and the regular GTX 1650 (which was overpriced at launch, let's admit that) isn't selling. But at $129.99? Way more reasonable. They should just drop the MSRP, IMHO.

Edit: That being said, look up some Gamer'sNexus and HardwareUnboxed YT videos on the GTX 1650 and GTX 1650 Super. The GTX 1650S is comparable in performance to the RX 570, in most cases (but costs more). The "plain vanilla" GTX 1650 (GDDR5) version, is notably slower, but more power-efficient. Depending on the user's power-supply, that might make a difference. Then again, most GTX 1650 cards seem to have a 6-pin PCI-E power, so most of them aren't without power connectors. Look at the "ITX" single-fan models to mostly have no additional power connector requirement. (Zotac, I'm looking at you.)
 

Thunder 57

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2007
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Considering 4GB is becoming a problem in some cases and that next gen consoles will have large amounts of memory, I would be wary of 6GB cards as well. The RX 570 (if they made 8GB versions) or RX 580 8GB seems like a no brainer.

There's 8GB RX 580's on Newegg for $150.

Looking at the size of that SSD though, odds are your kids wont be playing anything demanding. So maybe 4GB is OK for your needs.
 
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VirtualLarry

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Aug 25, 2001
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Considering 4GB is becoming a problem in some cases
@ 1080P? Where? (Edit: I'm not aware of any modern PC games that won't play on a 3GB GTX 1060.) (Edit: Ok, maybe you won't be able to load the high-resolution texture pack. But still, that doesn't make a game unplayable.)

(Edit: Yeah, if you're mining ETH, on NVidia, 4GB is not good enough anymore. But for gaming / non-mining purposes?)

Edit: Speaking of 3GB 1060 cards, people that were using them for mining are dumping them, maybe pick one of those up instead of a GTX 1650 / RX 570?
 

Thunder 57

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2007
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@ 1080P? Where? (Edit: I'm not aware of any modern PC games that won't play on a 3GB GTX 1060.) (Edit: Ok, maybe you won't be able to load the high-resolution texture pack. But still, that doesn't make a game unplayable.)

(Edit: Yeah, if you're mining ETH, on NVidia, 4GB is not good enough anymore. But for gaming / non-mining purposes?)

Edit: Speaking of 3GB 1060 cards, people that were using them for mining are dumping them, maybe pick one of those up instead of a GTX 1650 / RX 570?
There was talk about the 4GB version of the RX 5500 XT struggling in some places compared to the 8GB model, but after taking a quick look that seems to be rather overblown.

The Tomshardware review says "The 4GB variant is considerable slower in certain titles" but then doesn't even list both in it's benchmarks :rolleyes: . Anandtech warns about it too:

I do have some concerns about the long-term implications for the 4GB RX 5500 XT, especially with the next-generation consoles set to launch in a year’s time. With the consoles setting the baseline for most multiplatform games, it’s a reasonable bet that VRAM requirements aren’t going to stay put at 4GB much longer. So while the 4GB RX 5500 XT is a great value now, I suspect it’s going to run out of VRAM well before its compute performance gets to be a bottleneck.
 
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VirtualLarry

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There was talk about the 4GB version of the RX 5500 XT struggling in some places compared to the 8GB model, but after taking a quick look that seems to be rather overblown.
That was, IIRC, more of a PCI-E 3.0 versus 4.0 thing, and the fact that those cards are only PCI-E x8, and not anything game-specific.
 

Thunder 57

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Aug 19, 2007
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That was, IIRC, more of a PCI-E 3.0 versus 4.0 thing, and the fact that those cards are only PCI-E x8, and not anything game-specific.
That seemed to be the case but that still means that the 4GB model was running out of RAM and had to access system memory.
 

Dannar26

Senior member
Mar 13, 2012
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We'd be talking 1080p @ 60hz gaming. I have a spare PSU to replace the old one was well. Going from a baseline 80+ 450 to a gold 650. Even though it's an EVGA GD model made by FSP instead of Superflower. I have to RMA this yet, as the one I got has been super finiky about starting up a system unless I try multiple times. Assuming EVGA holds their end of the warranty, I assume I'll have a functional 650 watt PSU to play with.

Over the holiday season I'm pretty sure I saw a rx580 around the $120 mark. I feel like it's not impossible to see this again. My only concern is about how long Polaris will be supported for. Maybe that's a dumb fear? I know the 5000 series drivers are in a sorry state, but I think that over the long term going with a 5500 vs rx580 might be well worth it (price being equal?). Not sure if the 8GB 5500's are going to be anywhere near the price of a rx580s anytime soon though.
 

VirtualLarry

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I do have some concerns about the long-term implications for the 4GB RX 5500 XT, especially with the next-generation consoles set to launch in a year’s time. With the consoles setting the baseline for most multiplatform games, it’s a reasonable bet that VRAM requirements aren’t going to stay put at 4GB much longer. So while the 4GB RX 5500 XT is a great value now, I suspect it’s going to run out of VRAM well before its compute performance gets to be a bottleneck.
That's an interesting data-point.

But are these kids "Gamers" (*with a captital 'G'), or just gamers. Do they stream to Twitch.tv, or ... just play some games occasionally.

Honestly, I think that the VRAM issue is way over-blown here. Unless they're likely going to be using the SAME card, five years from now, in which case, future-proofing and getting an 8GB GDDR6 card, like an RX 5500 XT 8GB card might make some sense. MIGHT. We don't know how things are going to pan out in the next year, with newest consoles getting RT (Ray-Tracing) support in hardware. Might make all non-RT-capable PC GPUs obsolete in one shot. Or it might not. We all saw how "3D" and then "VR gaming" panned out.
 
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VirtualLarry

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I still say, get the cheapest (refurb!) GTX 1650 or RX 570 4GB card that you can, OP, or possibly a (used!) 3GB GTX 1060 ex-mining card. (If they were smart miners, they were running them cool, and not heavily OCed and thermal-cycling.)

That would likely handle most games for the next, roughly 2 years, and then OP can take stock of the industry, when we know how the console RT situation is going to pan out.
 
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Dannar26

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It appears a number of these 570's are on sale.

The sapphire pulse is the same price, and has better reviews? Should I go with that over the Asus model?
 

VirtualLarry

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Depends on whether you give any credibility to those reviews that claim that the Asus' fans break off.

One thing to consider, is that some Sapphire cards require a UEFI BIOS to operate properly and boot. (I don't know if the 'Pulse' models do, but some do.) Contrast that to the Asus ROG STRIX RX 570 card, of which I've personally used one in an AM2+ AMD 780G mobo, that was pre-UEFI.

So, if you care about "Legacy" / "Pre-UEFI" boot support, then I would probably trend towards going with the Asus card. Or an XFX.
 
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Stuka87

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My old gaming machine (Which I just replaced last month) had a 4GB RX480 Nitro+, I played at 1080P/60, and I never had a VRAM issue. And I actually would monitor it sometimes because I was curious. I never got hitches, stutters, or used more than 3.5GB. And at that usage, the settings were arguably too high for the card as frame rates were on the lower side of 60.

If this is for kids, I would not bother spending extra money on an 8GB card. They will most likely happily play on whatever you put in front of them.
 

Dribble

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The VRAM issue is overplayed, the 8GB minimum argument comes mostly from people who consider playing on anything less then ultra settings not worth it. With 4GB you occasionally might have to drop a setting or two, the game will still look and play great - I'd be surprised if the kids even noticed the difference.
What they will complain about is the amount of HD space...
 

noscop3

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Definitely depends on what games you want to use it for.CS:GO/Minecraft or games like the division 2.Also depends on the settings you want to use.Most new games eat up the 4GB vram on ultra settings inevitably.My choice 2 years ago was the rx580 8GB aswell.I paid $200 for it and i still think it was worth it,so if you have the opportunity to get it at $100 I wouldn't think twice honestly.Of course if you want to go with nvidia things are a bit different.Whatever you do,do not buy the 1060 in 2020.The 1650 or 1660 are better and they are the same price(at least in my country).
 

Mopetar

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Jan 31, 2011
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The title begs a question I've had in my mind.
Minor pet peeve on my part, but the phrase "begs the question" is used to indicate a kind of fallacious argument. Consider a common example question of this form, "Do you still beat your children?" This begs the question "Did you ever beat your children?" because the original question implies something (in this case they you previous beat your children) which may not be true and means that there's no good answer to the original question, because answering it at all affirms the incorrect underlying implication.

What most people really mean is that something "raises" a question. I blame news anchors that try to sound knowledgeable when they really aren't for spreading this incorrect use of the phrase.

Should I be looking to purchase anything with less than 8GB VRAM?
I think that really depends. How long do you plan to keep the card? At some point we're going to see most games requiring more than 4 GB and I think a lot of them are already butting heads with that limit. There's some legitimate cause for concern with the newest consoles pushing towards 8 GB of memory, but keep in mind that some of that gets set aside for the OS to use. If you want to buy something to last for five years, you might start hitting a wall with 6 GB in a few titles down the road, especially if you want to run at higher resolutions. If you upgrade every two or three years, I don't think having less than 8 GB is necessarily going to be a problem.
 
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Dannar26

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Mar 13, 2012
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Minor pet peeve on my part, but the phrase "begs the question" is used to indicate a kind of fallacious argument. Consider a common example question of this form, "Do you still beat your children?" This begs the question "Did you ever beat your children?" because the original question implies something (in this case they you previous beat your children) which may not be true and means that there's no good answer to the original question, because answering it at all affirms the incorrect underlying implication.

What most people really mean is that something "raises" a question. I blame news anchors that try to sound knowledgeable when they really aren't for spreading this incorrect use of the phrase.
Hm. Good to know.

I think that really depends. How long do you plan to keep the card? At some point we're going to see most games requiring more than 4 GB and I think a lot of them are already butting heads with that limit. There's some legitimate cause for concern with the newest consoles pushing towards 8 GB of memory, but keep in mind that some of that gets set aside for the OS to use. If you want to buy something to last for five years, you might start hitting a wall with 6 GB in a few titles down the road, especially if you want to run at higher resolutions. If you upgrade every two or three years, I don't think having less than 8 GB is necessarily going to be a problem.
I doubt that I will upgrade this machine very much. I'm sure the rx570 is definitely plenty for now, as most games for them aren't crazy demanding. You're correct in that they aren't going to be picky about it.

Where my head is at: The i5 has integrated graphics, which I imagine would be acceptable for a minecraft box for the time being. We're on the verge of getting a new generation of cards, and it seems like cards such as the rx570 and 580 are consistently being marked down. Getting an 8GB rx580 for $100-120 seems like it would be the sweet spot, unless there's a really compelling reason to go for cheap Navi cards due to better support for newer architecture. I am aware this is not currently the case however.

I really have nothing against nVidia, but their price to performance is consistently worse across the board. I swear it's becoming nearly an Apple situation...I'm not spending nearly $300 for a low end card because red team bad.
 

VirtualLarry

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Aug 25, 2001
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Getting an 8GB rx580 for $100-120 seems like it would be the sweet spot, unless there's a really compelling reason to go for cheap Navi cards due to better support for newer architecture. I am aware this is not currently the case however.
Navi drivers are "sort of" still getting worked out. Polaris is proven, it works pretty well, if not the most power-efficient architecture.

BTW, most Polaris cards are "overbuilt", or rather, built to higher standards than most NV cards. So getting an 8GB RX 580 for $120 or so, is actually a bit of a deal. (I assume that with the rise of GDDR6-using cards, that the GDDR5 memory that these older cards use, has come down quite a bit in price.)
 

Mopetar

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Navi drivers are "sort of" still getting worked out. Polaris is proven, it works pretty well, if not the most power-efficient architecture.
My bigger concern with Navi is that it will get deprecated when RDNA2 cards come out. AMD does have a pretty decent record with support for their older cards, but RDNA2 is supposed to be the basis for the next major consoles and I wouldn't be surprised if AMD puts a lot more effort into that, and something has to give for that to happen. To some degree it depends on how much the architecture gets tweaked between the first and second generation, but when you come out with a brand new architecture there's usually a lot of low-hanging fruit and room for decent performance gains from making those kinds of tweaks. If those cards do provide a significant uplift, I wouldn't be surprised if AMD borrows from NVidia's playbook and neglects the older cards a bit more than usual to give everyone an even bigger reason to upgrade.

Polaris actually does quite well if you play around with it. A lot of cards benefit heavily from undervolting since AMD pushed those cards to edge out of the box just so as many of the chips as possible could hit the target clock speeds.
 

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