Sometimes RAM and VRAM are confusingly used interchangeably, but they are not same things. If you’re looking for a new computer, it is important to look at the specification of both and know what each is in relation to your purchase.
They are often conflated in consumers’ minds when choosing a new computer. In fact, these two components are so integrated into our day-to-day lives that one almost doesn’t notice they are different until it comes time to buy and operate a new machine.
RAM is commonly found in laptops, mobile devices, and servers while VRAM is more prevalent in high-end desktop systems.
While there is a general correlation between the two, it is important to understand the differences between them when selecting to buy a PC or laptop. If you want to know why one is more important or which one you should pay attention to, here’s the answer.
What is RAM?
RAM is an acronym for random-access memory, and it’s a type of computer memory that computers use to perform tasks.
Random-access memory is like the working space in your brain. There are millions of things stored in RAM at any given time, and it allows you to pull up whatever information you need almost instantaneously.
Random-access memory (RAM) is used to store data temporarily while applications run on your computer. Without RAM, doing just about anything on your PC would be much, much slower.
RAM is not just a storage device but also a mechanism for data transfer between the processor and memory. In computer systems with ultra-low power or embedded systems, an internal memory known as Random Access Memory (RAM) is a critical component of the system.
In electronic devices, RAM is typically found in laptops, desktop computers, servers, smartphones, tablets, and embedded systems used in digital entertainment centers.
One of the great things about modern computers is just how easy it is to upgrade almost any component. RAM has long been one of those components that you could upgrade and reap noticeable performance gains.
What is VRAM?
Video Random Access Memory, also known as VRAM, is a memory that resides on a video graphics board to maintain visual data between frames. VRAM serves as the primary storage site for graphics-related information while the CPU deals with non-graphics-related tasks.
VRAM is a specialized form of RAM that is used to directly store the elements (pixels, lines, etc.) of video data.
Because different types of data do not access memory at the same rate, VRAM buffers, and formats graphics data structures so they can be immediately accessed by a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) or by the graphics processing unit (GPU).
VRAM is the memory in a display adapter devoted to the storage of image data for display. Typically the amount of VRAM on a video card is the biggest determinant of video performance. The more VRAM, the better the resolution and color depth possible for that card.
It is used in both 2D and 3D computer graphics as part of the graphics hardware acceleration used to hold the image data displayed on a display screen as well as creating and manipulating that image.
The amount of VRAM on any given video card is usually measured in megabytes per second and ensures that large amounts of image data can be accessed quickly by the processor when drawing to the screen.
Differences Between VRAM and RAM
The difference between RAM and VRAM is that RAM is the physical memory on a computer and VRAM is the memory that stores data for a graphics processor.
The main difference between VRAM and RAM lies in how the two types are accessed. RAM contains multiple pieces of information that can be accessed via a single charge, while VRAM needs a new charge for each byte-addressable unit of data stored. This means that VRAM takes longer to access than RAM.
When a processor does a computation, it stores the data on RAM, the faster and bigger the RAM is, the faster the processor can do computations.
When you run some 3D game or any software that needs graphics processing, your graphics card (which has its own built-in memory) transfers some of its data to your main memory which is your RAM. If you have more VRAM than regular RAM, then this means you can hold more data on graphics processing before they are moved to your main memory for further processing.
Which is better RAM or VRAM?
If you’re wondering which is better RAM or VRAM, the answer is RAM. That’s because graphics cards come with a high solid amount of video memory called VRAM for short and that memory is only meant for storing and instantly displaying things like textures and 3D models.
If a game loads all its assets from its own disk, it’ll be using the hard drive more often than if it loaded everything from fast system memory.
Even though the speed of your hardware greatly affects your computer’s performance, the RAM still plays an important role in the overall performance of your computer. This is because even though data are loaded into the system memory, the instructions for executing the program are stored inside the CPU.
If your data and instructions (inside the CPU) are not sufficient to do a specific job, then you might find your system running slow.
The more information you have to hold in RAM, the longer it takes for you to decide on what program to launch first that’s why it’s always better to have more RAM when you are working with computers.
Does More RAM Increase Graphics?
Graphics memory speeds and capacity are determined by the graphics card, not the amount of RAM you have. Adding more RAM will allow your computer to run programs faster and it will make your computer more responsive overall, but it won’t increase graphics memory.
To improve your graphics memory, you’ll need to add more VRAM to your video card.
Why Do Games Use RAM and VRAM?
To successfully run a 3D video game, you’ll need a rig with a graphics processing unit (GPU) and at least one gigabyte of VRAM. You can think of RAM as an overall term, referring to the system memory storage space that’s allotted to run applications and other programs.
VRAM is used specifically for storing textures during the rendering process.
So basically all the apps you have running will use RAM, so they need to be loaded into memory. Some games will require a VRAM such as 4GB for super graphic-intensive games.
Is 2GB VRAM Enough For Gaming?
2GB VRAM is enough for gaming in medium-high detail up to 1080p. It may be too early to assume that 4GB is a requirement.
VRAM matters for texture resolution and sub-pixel anti-aliasing. 2GB should be enough for the next 3-5 years for medium-high detail levels up to 1080p gaming.
History of RAM
RAM was invented in 1967 by Robert Heath Dennard and was subsequently granted a patent for his one-transistor DRAM in 1968. The first commercially DRAM was available in the early 1970s and virtually on all computers by the mid-1970s.
History of VRAM
VRAM was originally developed in the 1980s at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.
The original inventors were Frederick Dill, Daniel Ling, and Richard Matick. For their invention, they were granted a patent in 1985. They worked for IBM’s Research Division but had an inventor’s agreement with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Life Savers, Inc.