Just a couple of weeks ago AMD was looking to trump the launch of the Nvidia RTX 4070 by pointing out that many modern games need more VRAM than that card provides. Well, one Brazilian modder has just proven how important VRAM can be by performing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 VRAM mod that transformed the performance of the card.
Originally shipping with 8GB of VRAM, the Nvidia RTX 3070 has a relatively small amount of VRAM by modern standards. Its direct replacement, the RTX 4070, has 12GB while even some variants of the lower-end RTX 3060 have 12GB.
Meanwhile, AMD’s competing cards also have a lot more – the 6700 XT has 12GB and the 6800 XT and 6900 XT have 16GB. With AMD’s data showing the likes of Resident Evil 4 using as much as 17.5GB of VRAM if set to run at high resolutions and detail settings, there’s clearly plenty of reason to believe a VRAM upgrade is worthwhile.
To put this to the test YouTuber Paulo Gomes set about performing an RTX 3070 upgrade, desoldering the card’s original 1GB VRAM chips and replacing them with 2GB chips. This transformed the one percent minimum frame rate of the card in Resident Evil 4 from 7fps to 40fps.
Checking the VRAM usage of the card in this game, before the mod it used 7.8GB but then after the mod it used 11.3GB, clearly indicating the card’s VRAM had previously been a limitation. Not all games demand this much but it’s certainly becoming more common.
Sadly, while those minimum frame rate improvements are impressive, the mod didn’t revolutionize average frame rates with them jumping up a mere one percent. But as most gamers should know, a consistent frame rate with high minimums is far more important than bumping up an average fps by a few percent.
For those hoping to quickly perform a similar upgrade themselves, though, the process was not a simple one. As well as the tricky desoldering process requiring a hot air soldering gun and needing specialist jigs to apply the tiny solder balls to the underside of the new VRAM chips, the mod also involved replacing several tiny resistors to alter the voltage delivered to the chips, as well as changing the performance mode of the card in Nvidia Control Panel.
Not to mention that you’ll need a handful of spare 2GB VRAM chips, which aren’t the easiest thing to get hold of unless you’re already in the graphics card repair business.
This isn’t the first time users have attempted to increase the amount of VRAM on a graphics card. Some older cards came in two VRAM configurations so adding extra chips to the lower configuration cards was relatively simple – you still needed the soldering skills but no other mods were required. This is the first we’ve heard of it being done on a modern card, though.
Everything about this story is what we love about PCs and PC modding. Yes, it’s on the extreme end of what’s possible for most users – a simple component upgrade can be scary enough sometimes – but that ability to tinker and make things meaningfully better is at the heart of the entire industry.
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