What Is VRAM, How to Check It, and Can You Increase It?

GPU die and VRAM close up

If you’re a gamer, video editor, or work with 3D modeling, then you’ll know that VRAM is one of the most important things to your work. A good amount of Video Random Access Memory (VRAM) gives you the ability to go about your graphically intensive work, without stutters, freezes, and other frustrations.

This guide discusses what VRAM is, how to check it, and whether you can increase it.

Tip: worried about GPU overheating? Find out what a good GPU temperature is, and how to check it.

What Is VRAM?

As noted, video RAM is dedicated to the medium. It differs from regular RAM in that it works with your graphics card, but it performs the equivalent job. The regular RAM is a short-term data store for data and information from the CPU. The CPU calculates and processes, and the RAM stores. That’s very much the same deal between the GPU and the VRAM. GPU processes, and VRAM stores graphical data like textures between the GPU and the display.

VRAM is just one of the many factors that affect frame rates in games, and lets you edit videos and do 3D modeling or animation without seizing your computer.

What Is Vram Gpu Vram And Coolerjpg
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

While each game (and resolution) pushes your VRAM to a different degree (Red Dead Redemption 2 will push your PC much harder than Minecraft!), as a general rule, listed below is how much VRAM you should have for a smooth experience, without GPU artifacting and choppiness:

  • 1080p: 4GB – 6GB
  • 1440p: 8GB – 10GB
  • 4K: 10GB+

VRAM is something that physically exists on your GPU, so you can’t increase your VRAM without changing your GPU. However, you can do some things to make sure your PC is making the most of the VRAM available to it.

Good to know: gaming on Windows? Check out these tips to optimize your Windows 11 PC for gaming performance.

How to Check Your VRAM

First off, whether you can increase your VRAM depends on your choice of machine. If you’re on a Mac, your options are limited, and for all intents and purposes, you can’t do this. On Windows, it’s a slightly different story.

Regardless, you can check how much VRAM you have on either machine. On a Windows PC, open Settings -> System -> Display, scroll down, and click Advanced display.

Windows display settings

Click Display adapter properties for Display 1. A dialog box will open, showing the detailed properties of your GPU.

Windows advanced display settings adapter properties

Look for Dedicated Video Memory to see your total VRAM.

Windows display settings video memory

Note that if you have a laptop with a dedicated GPU, the above method may point you to the amount of regular RAM dedicated to your iGPU. To see the VRAM available on your dedicated GPU, you’re better off getting a tool like CPU-Z, and checking under the Graphics tab.

CPU-Z graphics memory

To do the same thing on a Mac, bring up a Finder window by pressing F4 or Command + Space. Type “System Information,” and press Enter. You can also bring up the System Information window by holding Option, clicking the Apple menu, then clicking System Information.

Under Hardware, click Graphics/Displays, and you’ll be able to see the amount of VRAM for any dedicated GPU that you have.

Mac system information graphics properties

For some Macs, like the Apple Silicon M1 Macs and others, the above method will not show you the VRAM, as M1, M2, and M3 processors utilize shared memory between the GPU and the system. You can find this shared memory in the Memory section under Hardware.

Mac system information memory properties

You can’t technically increase your VRAM, but there are a couple of tricks you can do to give it a little boost. Manage your expectations, however:

  • Fake a VRAM increase using Registry keys.
  • Increase the amount of RAM allocated to VRAM through the BIOS.

Trick Your PC Into Thinking You Have More VRAM

In some cases, a game or program won’t run if your PC doesn’t have much VRAM. The reason for this is that the developers don’t want their games running with terrible performance, then having to deal with complaints from gamers with underpowered PCs. However, using a little registry trick, you can fool a game into thinking you have more VRAM than you actually do, which may help certain games run.

Type regedit in the Windows search box, and press Enter. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Intel. Right-click the Intel folder on the left, and click New -> Key to create a new key called GMM, then select the newly-created folder.

Registry Editor new key

In the side panel on the right, right-click anywhere in an empty area, and choose New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it “DedicatedSegmentSize,” and give it a Value data of 512.

Registry Editor new key memory value

Restart your computer to see whether the problem has been solved and if you can play the game or run the desired program.

VRAM is central to gaming, video editing, and other graphically demanding activities. It’s also physically soldered onto your GPU, so you can’t physically increase it, but you may get some benefits out of following our guide above to fake a VRAM increase.

Now that you know more about what VRAM is, its uses, and its limitations, you may be interested in buying a new graphics card if your current GPU is not up to par. If you’re unsure about the difference between RAM and VRAM, we have a guide that can help. If you have enough VRAM but still aren’t getting the GPU performance you desire, try overclocking your GPU with MSI Afterburner. Also, check out our guide on how to use the different kinds of game controllers with Steam.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

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Tanveer Singh
Tanveer Singh - Staff Writer

After a 7-year corporate stint, Tanveer found his love for writing and tech too much to resist. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he writes on PC hardware, technology, video games, and Windows. When not scouring the web for ideas, he can be found building PCs, watching anime, or playing Smash Karts on his RTX 3080 (sigh).