Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why is my 1Gb video card so slow for games!?

More is better, right?  you might be surprised at what some vendors do to just sell cheap  slow parts!

(A brief explanation and history of video cards for better understanding)

Video cards have been with us since the dawn of computing, Old Eisa and Isa Video cards with 128KB of video ram to display ancient 320x240 8bit gray scale monochrome resolutions, those where the days!,  DOS was strong and Microsoft ventured into the world of Windows,  Suddenly, a whole new array of resolutions where available, but only if you possessed enough Video Ram to cough it up!

In order to display an image in your monitor, the system has to be able to hold the data (picture-bits) somewhere, to send the video signal to your monitor, you roughly need  around 2mb of video memory  to display a 640x480@32bit image, around 8Mb for 1280x1024@32bit and  probably  64Mb to display 1920x1080 resolution, calculations we can just overlook now a days, but its important to mention!

Games have always pushed the boundaries and needs of Video systems (as well as 3D CGI workstations)and soon came the games, video card brands, and Video algorithms to display better imagery in faster fashion, from Vga to Vesa modes to OpenGL , Glide and Microsoft's Direct3D, Brands like TRIDENT,ATI,  NVIDIA, S3, CIRRUS LOGIC, DIAMOND, ELSA, 3DFX and even Compaq! all trying to better the others, and  they all found out that in order to push the limits, the video cards needed to become a processor unit themselves (not just video memory for the CPU)

Video Cards Processing units, just as PC processors have evolved over the years, each new generation bringing more power than the previous one,More Megahertz, bigger caches, better instructions sets , multiple video processing cores, today we have 800$ video cards that have 300 Stream processors or 400 Cuda cores,  games not only need Video ram to store Images, but also Textures, High resolution textures need to be accessed FAST, within the video card and this is referred as Bandwidth, 64bit 128bit  256bit , the bigger the greater the quantity and speed of texture transactions, so your games look pretty and fast!

I bet you can see where i am going with all this, When choosing a video card you have to keep in mind its Processing Capabilities, and Its Video Memory SPEED and Bandwidth, shelling out 600-800 dollars for a video card is a safe way to get the best gaming experience.


well here is the point of all this, you see as stated before a video card only needs around 64 mb to display Full HD resolution 2d Imagery , Video games do have high resolution textures but even today they roughly need around 200-600Mb of texture memory, depending on the resolution you can test this yourself, grab a tool like MSI Afterburner, and you can see how much Video memory is in use when you are gaming.

(There are video cards that boast 2GB, but keep in mind these are 2 Video proccesors sandwiched into a single slot card, each with its set of memory, so in reality its only 1gb used per video proccesor)

So, hopefully i still have your attention, bear with me this is the part where i tell you why to avoid cheap 1gb  video cards!

if you are building a computer for gaming DO NOT BUY ANYTHING UNDER 100$, the sub 100$  market is flooded with slow memory, low bandwidth, proccesor crippled version of the better cards, all suitable for small HTPC (small pc with tv atached for movie-youtube viewing), i often get people come to me, asking me why their new 40$ 1GB video card, wont play the latest video games.its becuase the memory is crippled, slow and not fast enough to play games, it could have 100gigs of video memory and it wont matter!

The same goes for Integrated Video memory on Motherboards and laptops, Video memory means nothing when it comes to gaming, unless you buy a  DELL or ALIENWARE  Laptop for OVER $3000 Dollars that boast POWERFULL video proccesors!

-sighs-  i hope this was an interesting read for you, i know i skipped and omitted a lot of details, but i tried my best to give you a condensed  explanation of why you should not focus on video memory in this day and age :3

-Stay tuned -

1 comment:

  1. i got myself a GTX 460. Never been happier.
    I did some tests to see when the memory fills. It was in Just Cause 2 if i am not mistaking at 1920x1440 with all at max. Thats the only time i have seen all 1024 Mb of memory full