Articles: Graphics

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It is no secret that the question about the amount of onboard video memory a contemporary graphics adapter needs is one of the eternal questions in the consumer 3D graphics industry that keeps surfacing over and over again as the games evolve. Many gaming fans with years of experience should remember the times when users were arguing about the benefits of having 128MB of memory vs 64MB, and the benchmarks often showed that there was no serious performance gain so it didn’t make sense to pay extra money for additional memory.

As I have already said, technologies are never the same – game developers are in constant search for ways of increasing their visual attractiveness and I have to give them due credit, they do pretty well here. However, there is always a price for everything, and in this case you had to sacrifice your video memory resources. That is why what used to be expensive excess, soon became a worthy and then absolutely necessary condition for acceptable performance or even proper launching of the favorite game. As a result, the minimal amount of onboard video memory for a relatively high-performance graphics accelerator has gradually increased to 256MB and then 512MB. Today the latter number little by little becomes the necessary minimum – even the cheapest gaming graphics cards are currently equipped with so much memory, for example, a pretty successful Radeon HD 4770, while almost all higher-end solutions come with 896MB or even 1024MB of video memory. How soon will the time come for making the next step forward, if it should ever come?

There is no definite answer to this question. There is an opinion that PC gaming industry has come to a dead end. Even if we disregard the opinion about the genre crisis that also has every right to exist, we can actually state two things. On the one hand, we have reached the maximum resolution of 2560x1600, while most gamers are still playing in lower resolutions; and on the other hand, multimedia projects keep pushing in aggressively and they have very good chances of success as they are initially optimized for considerably more modest resources of Microsoft and Sony gaming consoles. Exceptions like Crysis, are luckily, quite rare, that is why we dare suppose that 1GB of video memory will most likely remain a standard for a pretty long period of time.

However, some graphics card makers dare take a look into the future and release solutions with extreme technical specifications. Sometimes, these launches become prophetical, but sometimes they just turn into pointless jumping the gun. In particular, we could offer you a very good example of the latter type: a budget graphics accelerator equipped with humongous amount of video memory – when the manufacturer tries to accomplish both: save some bucks and at the same time rely on the magic of large numbers to attract potential customers. This trick often works well, because not all gamers know that the amount of onboard video memory is not the only factor determining the graphics card performance.

We are not trying to unmask anyone here today, even though the solution we are going to discuss seems a little ambiguous. On the one hand, the manufacturer didn’t try to save on anything when they designed Gainward GTS250 2048MB Limited Edition, but on the other, is the use of so much memory on a GeForce GTS 250 justified? This is what we will try to find out today.

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