Not so long ago we would consider the 256MB of onboard graphics memory to be excessive luxury: additional chips would only make the product more expensive and didn’t ensure any performance growth, because the games of those days simply didn’t have that much graphics data. Some graphics card manufacturers took advantage of the users’ affection with big numbers and equipped not very high-performance graphics accelerators with 256MB of slow memory. As a result, the customer got attracted to the beautiful number, overpaid for the memory he would actually not use and never got the anticipated performance gain.
A lot of things have changed since then. Nowadays, 256MB of onboard graphics memory has already become a common thing: contemporary games boast much more detailed graphics. Besides, most gamers prefer to play with full-screen anti-aliasing (FSAA) and anisotropic filtering enabled, which also increases the requirements imposed upon the graphics memory subsystem. Almost all graphics cards from the performance-mainstream market segment are currently equipped with 256MB of GDDR3. As for the larger capacity of the graphics memory, solutions with over 256MB onboard have so far been only seen in the professional solutions designed specifically for 3D modeling and CAD/CAM tasks.
The first sign that the new consumer type of graphics accelerators equipped with 512MB of graphics memory is about to hit the streets was the Doom III 3D shooter. The game developers claimed that a graphics adapter with so much memory was required to achieve acceptable gaming performance in Ultra high Quality mode. Our tests however, have shows that this statement was by far exaggerated and the cards with 256MB of memory worked perfectly well in this mode running about as fast as in High Quality mode. But the green light has already been turned on and it was just a matter of time how soon the graphics cards equipped with more onboard memory would appear in the market. Especially, since the software developers didn’t sit still with their hands in pockets and kept working on new projects with better quality and more complex graphics than in such popular shooter games as FarCry, Half-Life 2 and Doom III.
512MB of graphics memory may actually become a must for most upcoming games. But do we really need it now? Will it ensure any significant performance improvement in the contemporary games? Will it affect the price point of the cards greatly? Today we will do our best to answer all these questions for you: our today’s article will be devoted to a new ATI graphics accelerator with 512MB of graphics memory.