What is Video Memory (VRAM) on a Laptop?
Video RAM is one of the many marketed features of graphics cards. Other features are the boost clock, CUDA cores or stream processors, etc.
This article talks about what VRAM is, how it works, why it is important and most importantly how to check the amount of Video RAM your laptop has. Basically, everything you need to know about VRAM.
This will help you better understand the benefits of VRAM and how you can use that knowledge as leverage in buying a new laptop.
What is Video Memory (VRAM) on a Laptop?
Video random access memory, or in short VRAM is a type of random access memory used for storing and processing graphics.
VRAM is different from your laptop’s RAM. You could say it is the RAM of the video or graphics card purposely dedicated to processing images and graphics.
For example, if you look at the spec sheet of the GTX 1070, it says GTX 1070 8 GB GDDR5. Meaning the video ram is 8 GB and the type of RAM is a GDDR5.
A VRAM can be single-ported or dual-ported. A single-ported VRAM can only complete one action at a time.
A dual-ported VRAM does this simultaneously, whiles images are being displayed, new images are being written onto the VRAM.
VRAM was created to be the solution to provide colour graphics at a reduced cost. VRAM is also known as a frame buffer or video memory
How Does Video RAM Work?
When an image or video needs to be displayed, it is first read by the processor as data from the main RAM which is not a video RAM.
The data is then written onto the video RAM and converts the data into analogue signals by a digital-to-analogue converter and sent back to the display.
If the VRAM is single-ported it completes an action before moving onto the next.
A dual-ported VRAM can do both actions simultaneously, one port is dedicated for read-only and the other is accessed by the computer.
Why VRAM is Important?
Yes, VRAM is important. The more VRAM a graphics card has the more powerful it is.
For example, when you compare an RTX 2060 to an RTX 2070. The RTX 2070 has more VRAM than the RTX 2060 since it is the more powerful of the two.
Higher VRAM allows you to enjoy higher resolutions and detail settings. The more VRAM a graphics card has the more space it has to store and write complex data.
It allows you to game at higher resolutions, max texture quality and visual options like anti-aliasing and FXAA switched on.
You could think of it this way. If you have two laptops with the same specs except they have different RAM sizes: 4 GB and 8 GB.
Guess what? The laptop with the 8 GB RAM will not suffer from performance issues when several applications are open.
But, the 4 GB will suffer if the number of applications opened are more than it can take. If that doesn’t happen, the performance will be much similar to the laptop with 8 GB of RAM.
More VRAM only matters if you know you are going to connect your laptop to multiple displays or a single high resolution display.
Software like Adobe Photoshop or graphics processing software to render complex graphics on very high resolutions also require a lot of video RAM.
Does more VRAM Increase FPS?
More VRAM doesn’t necessarily mean more FPS. The higher the VRAM the higher gaming resolutions you can play at. A GPU with plenty of VRAM will be able to hold more complex graphic cards.
Just like a PC or laptop with plenty of RAM can run several applications at once.
Can VRAM Be Increased?
Yes, there are two ways of increasing VRAM.
- Buy a new graphics card or a laptop with a more powerful graphics card
- By increasing VRAM through the regedit method
Types of Video RAM (VRAM)
All VRAM are not the same. Here are the types of VRAM.
Synchronous Graphics Random Access Memory (SGRAM)
Synchronous graphics RAM is a single-ported video RAM. SGRAM can synchronize itself with the central processing unit (CPU) clock speeds of up to 100 MHz.
The synchronisation is done by transmitting at prescribed intervals and provide a timing pulse with their packet.
SGRAM can act like a dual-ported VRAM by opening two memory pages at once. Examples of SGRAM are the GDDRX (where X is a number).
Multibank Dynamic Random Access Memory (MDRAM)
Also known as Multibank DRAM. A conventional VRAM is monolithic where the entire data is read at one-time. MDRAM stores its memory into an array of 32 KB parts or banks.
This design has made it possible for the banks to be accessed individually increasing the overall performance and can be configured in smaller increments reducing the cost of components.
Window Random Access Memory (WRAM)
Window RAM which has nothing to do with Windows is a dual-ported type of VRAM. It is a very high-performance VRAM and costs very less.
Additional features have been added to it to provide high performance in reading data used for text drawing and block fills.
It is used in the Matrox’s Millennium series video cards.
Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory (RDRAM)
The fastest type of memory available made by Rambus Inc. The RDRAM can transfer data at speeds up over 1 GHz whilst the SDRAM transfers data up to 133 MHz.
Because of its high data transfer speeds, RDRAM is typically used for video memory on graphics accelerator cards, cache memory, and system memory in high-performance servers and workstations.
The Difference Between VRAM And RAM
As mentioned earlier, VRAM is the RAM for graphics card only. RAM, on the other hand, is a temporary storage for the whole computer system which it makes use of.
If the computer had an integrated graphics card. It would have used the RAM as its VRAM. But, for dedicated cards because it has its own RAM, VRAM to be precise. It doesn’t use the system’s RAM.
Is VRAM and Graphics Card Same?
No, VRAM is the memory used to store graphics information and its a component of a graphics card. A GPU, on the other hand, is a processing unit designed to handle and compute graphics information.
Information gets stored in the VRAM of the GPU. The GPU then processes the information and outputs it on your display.
How To Check Video RAM (VRAM)
Okay, so you know what VRAM is, how it works and the types of VRAM. Next, is to check how much video memory (VRAM) you have
Method 1 – Using CPU-Z
- Download CPU-Z. You can get it here.
- Install and run it
- Open the Graphics tab
- Look for the memory section. The memory section shows the size, type and vendor.
Method 2 – Display Settings
- Press the Windows key
- Click Settings
- Select Settings
- Look for display and click on it.
- Scroll down to the end and choose Advanced Display Setting.
- An Advanced Display Settings window will open. Select Display Adapter Properties for Display 1.
- A window will open showing the Adapter Information of your graphics card. Look for Dedicated Video RAM. The amount shown is the size of your VRAM.
Is Dedicated Video RAM (VRAM) Important?
Yes, dedicated VRAM is important. Especially when you play a lot of games or work with graphic related software. If graphic cards didn’t have their own RAM and would have been difficult to process graphics.
Because it has to share the system’s RAM with the rest of the hardware and software. This slows down graphic processing power.
So by having its own VRAM, your graphics card will be in a much better position to perform better.
Why do you think powerful graphic cards have large amounts of VRAM?
Powerful graphics cards are always going to have large amounts of VRAM. And VRAM is also one of the main reasons why dedicated graphics cards are different from integrated.
Dedicated cards have their own VRAM whiles integrated cards do not but rather share the system’s RAM.