With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 release date imminent, AMD has taken the opportunity to highlight how having a lot of VRAM is important for high-end gaming, something the RTX 4070 is expected not to have.
The RTX 4070 is believed to have 12GB VRAM, which may sound like a decent amount but AMD highlights how modern games can often use in excess of this 12GB figure, if given the opportunity. Its charts show games such as Resident Evil 4 and Hogwarts Legacy can use over 15GB VRAM, which in theory could mean these games run slower on a graphics card with a lower amount of VRAM.
As of 13 April, you can also now read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 review to see how it performs in our benchmarks.
In comparison, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT has 20GB VRAM while the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX has a bonkers 24GB graphics memory. Meanwhile, even AMD’s older 6800 XT, 6900XT, and 6950 XT cards all have at least 16GB VRAM.
There’s certainly merit to AMD’s argument – especially in light of Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 rumors suggesting that upcoming card may have only 8GB of VRAM – however AMD’s own charts also show the extreme circumstance under which these high memory usage numbers apply.
Of the games highlighted by AMD, it’s only when running at 4K and generally only with ray tracing turned on that we see VRAM usage push beyond 12GB. Given AMD’s 7900 series cards have considerably less capable ray-tracing hardware than Nvidia’s 4000 series cards, it thus seems a bit of a moot point to highlight this memory difference – the ray tracing hardware will limit performance far more than the memory limitation, in our experience.
It’s also a slightly odd point to drive home given AMD doesn’t have a 7000 series card that competes with the expected Nvidia RTX 4070 price. The latter is expected to sell for what these days seems like a quite reasonable $599, which puts it in competition with the AMD RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT. Yes, both those cards have 16GB of VRAM but they’re also a generation behind on performance, with the ray tracing hardware on those cards being particularly poor compared to Nvidia’s 3rd-generation RT cores expected to feature on the RTX 4070.
That said, there is a wider lesson here. Games are getting bigger and using ever larger textures while gamers are expecting ever more to run at high resolutions such as 4K and with features like ray tracing enabled. As such, while older generation cards with less VRAM, such as the venerable GTX 1080, might still hold up in many titles at lower resolutions, upgrading to a card that provides only a modest boost in rasterized gaming performance but includes ray tracing hardware and more VRAM could result in better real-world performance in the latest AAA games.
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