We use the MSI Afterburner OSD to watch the video card for problems. We we looked at the future of video games back in 2011 we speculated about 4GB and 8GB video cards which are now widely available.
After noticing some cards thermally throttle we want to make sure expensive video cards are fixable before they fail outright. We keep a large tube of MX-4 handy for emergencies.
We use 64-bit Windows as modern machines have upwards of 8GB of memory and video cards with upwards of 1024MB. We have not seen many cards even at the bottom of the market with less than 2048 MB of VRAM.
EVGA GTX 1060 3 GB
Right now we are using a GTX 1060 3072MB video card for testing games and writing reviews. The nVidia Pascal card is recent enough to still under warranty. There is no rush to get a new card yet.
We use a standard mainstream 1920×1080 LED LCD which is very affordable worldwide. We believe 1920×1080 will slowly be replaced by 4K panels but prices are still well above mainstream budgets.
We also monitor the VRAM usage carefully and even many low system requirement even 32-bit games use upwards of 1024MB VRAM. Modern 64-bit games are better positioned to use the hardware as needed and available. More games than ever are 64-bit, even those with easy system requirements.
Windows 10 1809 has improved the gaming performance and Microsoft has done more for the upcoming release. Gaming is a major focus for the desktop community.
With 3072 MB VRAM we are finding games are staying with the limit of the card. We intend to get more video cards this year and we will continue to study VRAM requirements as opposed to main memory. We are looking at 4096 MB cards and 8192 MB video cards for the shop. Larger VRAM is helpful for 3D programs like Blender for making new game maps etc.
Windows 10 runs fine with 8 GB of RAM however 16 GB does perk up performance as Windows is designed to use the main memory more than previous versions of Windows to make the machine more responsive. With 16 GB of memory, more of a game’s assets can be loaded which should improve gameplay. RAM is much faster than even a M.2 PCIe SSD which is why Windows is now caching game data more extensively. So installing 16 GB seems to be a good place to be with 1920×1080 gaming.
Crysis 3 rises from 56 fps to 71 fps when upgrading 4096 MB to 8192 MB main memory using an i7 CPU and a GTX 970. This shows that limited main memory can affect game performance. Do not waste money on faster RAM speeds, the low speeds are fine for gaming. The amount of memory is what really matters.
LEFT 4 DEAD 2
We play Left 4 Dead 2 a lot and we notice it can use 1.5 GB of VRAM on our GTX 1060 which is how demanding the game can be at 1920×1080. This is one of the main reasons we are focused on what games really need for 1920×1080 gaming. To be sure, the venerable old GTX 260 can play Left 4 Dead 2 fine, its eye opening when a more advanced card is used.
16 GB RECOMMENDED
Many recent games like Ashes of the Singularity now recommend 16GB of main memory with a strong GTX 970 4096 MB video card to have the best gaming experience. Wolfenstein: New Colossus also recommends 16 GB main memory along with a GTX 1060 6 GB video card. AAA class games are pushing hard for 16 GB main memory to have enough room to handle the game resources.
For those with more than 8 GB VRAM video cards, we recommend 24 GB to 32 GB main memory to have enough resources for video buffer etc. The mainstream 8GB is still very playable for the most part, but a few recent games work a lot better with 16GB.
Before you rush out an buy a new video card with 8192 MB VRAM, make sure you box has enough main memory to handle it. 24 GB or more RAM is needed to handle the game, windows and the video card buffers.
Many virtual reality games have very high system requirements. Some recent VR games recommend 16GB and even 32GB of main memory along with a top tier video card. Many recent VR games require a GTX 1070 or better which is a very expensive video card. The GTX 1070 comes with 8 GB of memory on it. The RTX 2080 is so expensive that few are sold. Given the high cost of VR the segment will not be mainstream anytime soon.
REAL TIME STRATEGY
The Real Time Strategy game genre is pretty much dead. Developers who try publishing them are finding out they wasted their time. RTS games are less demanding but people are not into them anymore.
The battle royale genre has exploded to the point where the games have been so diluted from competition that few are likely to survive The original Counter Strike still makes the Steam top 100 list even after 20 years. Many MOBA games are demanding mostly due to the use of modern engines.