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VRAM requirements for 2560x1600 gaming?


Junior Member
Jan 30, 2011

I am currently trying to decide between a 7850 and a 7950 for a 2560x1600 monitor. I'm upgrading from a GTS 250, so either card will be a huge upgrade, but I've heard a lot of people saying that 2GB VRAM is the minimum for 2560x1600 gaming. What I'm wondering about is the difference between 2GB and 3GB of RAM. I've even seen the 4GB 670, but that's a bit more expensive than what I'd like to buy.

Basically, I've had it with my old card, and don't want to wait to upgrade any longer. I was going to just get a 7850, but would the extra GB of ram in the 7950 make much of a difference for 2560x1600 gaming? Is it worth another $150? How close are we to games requiring 3GB of RAM for full texture settings at 2560x1600? I was thinking of maybe getting the 7950 and then running it in crossfire later. What I'd really like would be a 3GB 660 or so, but I'm tired of waiting for new cards to come out... then again, I wonder if I should wait a bit for AMD to have another round of price cuts. Augh!

Anyways, here's my system specs. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer :)

System Specifications:

I. Processor/CPU:
2500k @ 4.6GhZ

II. Current Graphics Card:
GTS 250 1GB

III. Display Resolution:

IV. Power Supply Unit Specification (Brand, Wattage, Ampage, Age). If possible, please provide a link to a website containing the power supply specifications:
950W PC Power & Cooling

V. Case Specifications(N/A, Model, Length, Low Profile, Cooling, HTPC, Water, Silent):
Watercooled, though I may not watercool the new video card as blocks are expensive...

Purchase Details:

Budget? Please be sure to include currency (If not USD), retailer preferences & specify whether rebates are a viable option.
Up to $400

Any particular preferences (Manufacturer[nV or AMD], Brand[XFX, Sapphire, EVGA, etc], Cooling Solutions)?
Just want something that will OC/overvolt well

III. Do you plan to have any Multi-GPU solutions such as Crossfire or SLI?
Maybe eventually... will likely just sell the new card later on though and replace it with something newer still.

IV. Have you previously looked at a product(s) which you feel would fit your needs?
7850 vs. 7950

V. What are your needs for this GPU? Which games(If any)do you intend to play? If you have this information at hand, what are the desired detail levels?
Starcraft II, Diablo II, Skyrim, would like settings as close to max as possible.

VI. Do you plan on overclocking the card you intend to purchase?

Additional Notes

Feel free to add any details that you feel were not covered within this template!


Diamond Member
Jan 22, 2006
The vram of the 7950 will help in some cases.

What will help more is the speed advantage of the 7950 vs the 7850. Honestly, at that resolution, more gpu power and then a bit more.


Diamond Member
Jan 28, 2005
Honestly, with a 1600p screen you are going to want atleast 3gb of vram. We are on the cusp right now where modded games can push over 2 gb and I'm sure games out of the box will be able to do so soon


Jan 12, 2005
Since you've kept your GTS250 this long, it would appear you are the type of person that wants to get at least a few years out of your cards. With that in mind, I would get the 7950 for the extra horse power and video ram.


Diamond Member
Sep 16, 2010
If you want to use MSAA or hi-rez mods, then go with more VRAM. If you are okay with FXAA and "stock" games, then 2GB is enough at your rez.


Diamond Member
Oct 12, 1999
None of those choices are really sufficient for that resolution in my opinion. You need either:

670, 7970, or 680 (or maybe even two of these) to really do that res well.


Senior member
Oct 10, 2011
I was in the same position as you. Blizzard games will be fine on an OC'd 7850, but I've chosen to go with NVIDIA this generation due to the games I play performing better with NVIDIA cards. Unfortunately, you will not be able to completely max out Skyrim at 1600p unless you go SLI GTX 670/680 4GB. Xfire can do it, but incompatibility with my monitor and microstutter puts it out of the equation. In the end I've chosen to go with a single ASUS GTX 680 or 670 2GB DC2T (whichever comes in stock first). With some settings toned down and Windows Aero disabled, I think I'll be good until gk110.

Majic 7

Senior member
Mar 27, 2008
Here is where I am at 1.5 GB. Batman AC maxed, 44fps and about 800 MB ram. Skyrim ultra with Hi res DLC and Static Mesh improvement Mod, 60 fps and 1480 max ram. Crysis 2 maxed, 1500 ram. Everything is playable right now but I am at the edge.
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Don Karnage

Platinum Member
Oct 11, 2011
Just to add BF3 in ultra at 1920X1080 eats 1546 megs of Vram. I don't think 2560X1600 would eat another 500 megs


Diamond Member
Nov 15, 2010
1.28GB works with 5900x1080.

I don't believe either the 7850 nor the 7950 are really going to provide enough gpu horsepower to actually take advantage of the additional vram.

Neither the 680 nor the 7970 OC'ed are capable of doing 60 fps with 4xMSAA in BF3 at that res.

If you are considering the 3GB 7950 you should look at the 670 2GB, as it is faster than both the other cards, and 2GB is enough for what settings you'd actually want to use for smooth playback.


Elite Member
Sep 5, 2003
1.28GB works with 5900x1080.

I don't believe either the 7850 nor the 7950 are really going to provide enough gpu horsepower to actually take advantage of the additional vram.
Exactly. HD7950 is already miles slower than GTX670. Next generation games will use even higher resolution textures and more tessellation - both areas where Kepler trumps GCN architecture. If anything HD7950 will run out of GPU power way before it actually benefits from 3GB of VRAM. We can already see HD7950 being dominated by GTX670 in today's games, nevermind next generation games.

"Starcraft II, Diablo III, Skyrim, would like settings as close to max as possible."

The first 2 games will be maxed out on HD6870. The 3rd game runs much faster on GTX670. Actually GTX670 even beats HD7970 with 3 displays in SKYRIM which means VRAM isn't an issue.

I wouldn't get HD7950 at all since it needs a 30-40% overclock just to match a $400 GTX670 in latest titles.

Also NV cards have historically performed better in Blizzard games. So for SC2 and Diablo 3, GTX670 will be faster than HD7950.

If you want the best bang for the buck, get the HD7850. For the games you listed, without a doubt GTX670 > HD7950. GTX670 will also be better for next generation games since it's much faster in tessellation and texture performance than HD7950 is.
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Dark Shroud

Golden Member
Mar 26, 2010
The duel fan 7950s OC just as well as the 7970s. The 7950 OC models can be had for the same price as a 470 so it's a pretty good deal.

Especially for people who play at high resolutions.


Diamond Member
May 30, 2004
I ran some benchmarks in Skyrim and Civ 5 to answer just that question. If you like to utilize community mods for the games you play, I'd say the 3GB is well worth it at 1600p. My overclocked 7970 had no problem running Skyrim maxed out and an oced 7950 wouldn't be far behind.

That said, most non-modded games will run fine at 1600p with 2GB of vram.


Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2012
Skyrim runs capped at 60 fps with a single 7970 Oced at 1440p max 4x msaa. It is okay even at 8x msaa. It doesn't need cf or sli. If you don't use aa then even a 7850 oc will max it out. It needs a fast CPU though


Diamond Member
Feb 17, 2012
Nnd assuming the cheapest 670 is $400+ buy a 7950 high oc for $350 or less and 7950 refernece for $300+ but much below $350