If you want your video games to run seamlessly, your computer should have a graphics processing unit (GPU) with sufficient dedicated memory. What is GPU memory?
GPU memory is the amount of memory specifically used in processing the graphics requirements of a video game or video editing software.
This memory could be in the computer CPU’s integrated graphics or a dedicated GPU. It is used to store computations and files that the chip needs to process whatever is on the screen.
The GPU is a chip used by your computer’s graphics card or video card to display videos or images on your computer screen. This chip has a particular type of RAM (random access memory) called video RAM or VRAM.
Read on to learn more about GPU memory, how it is used in your computer, and how it can be tweaked or manipulated to optimize its use.
What Is GPU Memory?
Graphics memory is the kind of memory specifically used to process graphics, be it images or videos, by either the CPU’s integrated graphics unit or a dedicated GPU.
This memory is actually a storage space used to store calculations and files that the chip needs to process the images or videos on the screen.
If you want to play high-performance video games or work on video or graphics editing software that uses huge amounts of data, you will need a large amount of VRAM or video random access memory in your computer’s GPU. That is how important GPU memory is.
The GPU amount must be sufficient to display intricate images and videos of high-performance games on the computer screen. This is also true when running several displays of images with high refresh rates or high resolutions.
For your computer to display seamless videos and images, you will need a separate graphics card. A mid-range graphics card must have a dedicated GPU memory bandwidth of at least 512 MB. High-end graphics cards must have a minimum of 1024 MB VRAM.
What Is Shared GPU Memory?
Shared GPU memory is a type of computer architecture design where the graphics card unit’s chip does not have a dedicated memory. It shares the memory of the main system RAM with the CPU and other computer components. This design is called UMA or United Memory Architecture.
Systems with GPU shared memory can run on systems with single processors, clustered microprocessors, and parallel multiprocessors. Moreover, shared GPU memory is mapped into the CPU’s main address space.
Dedicated graphics memory is different from shared graphics memory because it has a separate (dedicated) graphics card. Moreover, you can increase the shared memory of the onboard graphics/video card by changing the settings in the system BIOS.
What Is GPU Memory Clock?
The memory clock of a GPU refers to the speed of the VRAM on the graphics card. It shows how many times per second data is transferred from the VRAM to the GPU or from the system to the VRAM. This speed shows how many cycles per second the memory makes.
It’s possible to increase the GPU memory clock’s speed by first conducting a GPU memory test. Overclocking it will raise its megahertz (MHz) or the clock frequency of the graphics card. This will result in improved game performance because it will increase frame rates.
The memory clock speed (GPU) is also important as the GPU clock, especially with video games with big gigabytes of textures.
You can try a 50 to 100 MHz boost, or about a 10% increase, and observe if it will result in improved game performance. Anything under or around 10% should still provide you with a stable version.
However, increasing the GPU’s core clock is more important than increasing its memory clock speed if you really want to improve game performance. GPU core clock upgrading will always improve performance more than upgrading the memory clock.
GPU Core Clock Vs. Memory Clock
The GPU core clock is different from the memory clock.
The core clock of the GPU is the speed of the chip of the graphics card unit. In general, it is more important than the memory clock when it comes to improving performance.
On the other hand, the memory clock is the VRAM’s speed or video random access memory of the graphics card.
Meaning of GPU Memory Overclock
GPU memory overclocking is tweaking your graphics card to improve game performance. It is the same as tuning up a car engine. As you overclock your GPU, the more processing power it will provide. This will result in video games that run smoother and multimedia files that can render faster.
Overclocking GPU or VRAM will provide you more fps, although not that much. An overclocked VRAM can get unstable faster than an overclocked GPU. If you overclock your GPU or your CPU, it will run much louder. It is safer to overclock their memories since they won’t produce much heat.
It is worth overclocking GPU memory because they can improve performance and increase frame rates but only as much as 15%. However, because of the heat produced, it may not be as stable as before.
If you overclock the GPU memory to increase the frequency, it won’t reduce the GPU’s lifespan so much. But overclocking your processors may void the warranty. It seems you can get a GPU permanently overclocked if you will flash its BIOS.
How to Overclock GPU Memory?
You can boost your PC’s performance without spending anything by overclocking its GPU or graphics card. A graphics card upgrade will be quite costly. Getting the most out of your present GPU might be the only thing you will need at this time.
Tools in Overclocking GPU Memory
GPU Overclocking Software
You will need GPU overclocking software. The MSI Afterburner is recommended for this purpose. Install it on your PC or laptop and run it. You’ll see the current GPU clock and the Memory Clock of the GPU chip on the app’s main dashboard.
The temperature of the chip will also be displayed on the right side of the dashboard. It should be no more than 90°C. If you want, you can modify the skin of the software. Just click on the settings and go to User Interface and apply the change that you want.
There are 4 sliders on the dashboard. Use them to control the overclocking procedure. The 4 sliders represent:
1. Core Voltage
Controls the voltage level that goes into the graphics card. This may not be available on newer graphic cards.
2. Power Level
Enables the card to get more power from the PSU (power supply unit) of your CPU. For instance, if the graphics card’s default is 200 watts, you can use this slider to increase it to 240 watts.
Set the slider to 120. You’re required to do this if you want to overclock your card a bit more. However, this will also increase the heat generated by the system.
3. Core Clock
Use this slider to specify the GPU core clock speed that you want. You will use this slider more than once in this procedure.
4. Memory Clock
Use this slider to use the one in number 3, and only it will be for the GPU memory.
Benchmark Tool (Furmark or 3DMark)
You will also need a benchmark tool to stress-test your GPU. There are two tools that you can use, Furmark and 3DMark. They are both free to download from the internet.
Again, what is GPU memory? GPU memory refers to the memory being utilized in processing a video game or video editing software’s graphics requirements. It is located in the computer‘s CPU or a dedicated GPU.
Steps in Overclocking GPU Memory
1. Benchmark Your Current Settings
Launch Furmark or 3DMark. These are two benchmark tools that you can use to stress-test your GPU. These tools will provide a useful reference point for your GPU’s performance, clock speeds, FPS, and temperature. Take a screenshot of the figures. You will use it to compare results later.
2. Overclock the GPU Chip
Run the MSI Afterburner to overclock the GPU chip. Do this gradually. Increase the core clock by 5%. Observe if you are experiencing any strange graphical glitches, artifacts, or crashes.
The chip should be stable at this level. There won’t be much improvement, though. You are just doing this to check if there will be any issues that will come up.
3. Overclock the Memory
Try increasing the memory clock from 50 to 100 MHz, or about a 10% boost. If games show strange artifacts at these slight overclocks, your hardware may not be designed for overclocking, or you may have to raise the temperature limit.
4. Fine Tune
- Increase the GPU clock by around 10 MHz, then test once more;
- If it is still stable, raise it again by another 10 MHz;
- Do it again and again at these low MHz increments;
- Then run a benchmark test, or play a video game for a couple of hours;
- Check for performance improvements and stability issues;
- At a certain point, your OS may reboot or freeze. That indicates the limit of your GPU;
- Reduce the speed from 10 to 20 MHz below this limit; and
- If you run an overclocked GPU very near its crashing point, it will result in you hitting a wall after hours of videogame playing.
Once you find a stable core clock, repeat the same procedure with the memory clock. Do it separately so you will know which of the two experiences problems.
5. Raise the Power Limit
Now that you know your computer’s limit, you can choose the most viable clock speed that will make you happy. You also have the option to raise the power and temperature limit using the MSI Afterburner and observe how your system reacts.
If you have chosen the first option, start to play a game. Even without overclocking, you will notice that the fans are now slightly louder, and the card is not reducing its clock as drastically or as fast. If you turn on the RivaTuner of the MSI afterburner, you will be able to observe this.
6. Fine Tune the Second Time and Test
Now that you have released more power, you can go back to increasing the speed by increments of 10 MHz. The graphics card will probably rise above its earlier crash point.
It is probable that instead of just a small +100 MHz/200 MHz, you may be able to achieve +170 MHz/450 MHz. It will take some fine-tuning and a lot of patience before you can find that sweet spot.
Benchmark your system once more as soon as you get a stable clock. Use the 3D Mark or Furmark testing tools to do this. Do this as well with your favorite games. Expect to see different numbers, especially in the actual gameplay.
Why Do You Need a Dedicated GPU Memory?
Dedicated memory refers to the memory that is reserved exclusively for the use of the GPU. This is the VRAM on a discrete or separate GPU. The main reason why a dedicated GPU is used is for gaming purposes.
You don’t need a dedicated GPU if most of your computer work involves the following:
- Word Processing,
- Sending and receiving emails,
- Video streaming, or
- Working on Office suite apps.
If you are playing older games, you also don’t need a discrete GPU.
If you want to increase the dedicated memory of your GPU without spending anything, do the following:
- Restart your computer. Press the dedicated BIOS key repeatedly during the boot up to enter the BIOS settings of your PC or laptop;
- When the screen presents you with the BIOS menu, find the menu similar to Graphics Settings, Video Settings of VGA Share Memory Size. They are usually found under the Advanced menu;
- Then increase the pre-allocated VRAM to whatever option you prefer;
- Save the configuration and restart your computer; and
- At your next boot up, follow the same procedure to check if the VRAM of your computer has already increased.
Conclusion: GPU Memory – Essential Things You Should Know
GPU memory is the capacity or amount of memory used to process the graphics requirements of video editing software or a video game. This memory could be in the integrated graphics unit of the CPU, or it can be a dedicated GPU.
This memory or space is used to file and save or store computations that the chip needs to process whatever is on the screen. There should be a minimum of 512 MB GPU memory for mid-range graphic processing and 1024 MB GPU memory for high-end visual processing.
Again, to overclock your GPU memory, here’s what you should do:
- Benchmark Your Current Settings
- Overclock the GPU Chip
- Overclock the Memory
- Fine Tune
- Raise the Power Limit
- Fine Tune the Second Time and Test