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GPU vs. RAM | What’s The Difference

If you’re not a hardcore PC nerd, you may not be entirely clear on the differences between GPU and RAM. After all, they’re both major PC components that are integral to the functioning of your computer.

Lucky for you, I’m here to shed some light on the subject.

What’s the Difference Between GPU and RAM?

The difference between GPU and RAM lies in their core functions. A GPU (graphics processing unit) is responsible for rendering images, video, and 3D graphics. On the other hand, RAM (random access memory) stores data temporarily and helps your computer run faster.

Your GPU is a special processing unit that attaches to your PC’s motherboard. When your PC needs to generate visuals and graphics, it performs these computations in your GPU.

GPUs receive instructions on what graphics need to be generated, then produce frames and send them to your display. Your display plugs directly into your graphics card, which houses your GPU.

Like the GPU, your PC’s RAM is also connected to your PC’s motherboard, but it has a totally distinct and separate function.

Your PC’s RAM is a high-speed memory store that is used by your computer’s processor (CPU) to read and write data at high speeds.

Interestingly, your GPU has its own type of RAM, called VRAM, that is housed in your graphics card.

When your GPU is processing graphics, it uses VRAM for high speed storage, and not your PC’s general RAM, which is only used by your CPU.

Which Is More Important for Gaming: GPU or RAM?

Your PC’s GPU is more important for gaming than its RAM. This is because the GPU generates visuals, while RAM is more related to the performance of your processor (CPU). As a result, a good GPU is necessary for gamers who want to enjoy smooth and realistic gameplay, while RAM has little impact on gaming.

The main benefit having lots of RAM in a gaming PC is that you can get away with running many programs simultaneously.

The more programs and Chrome tabs you want to run simultaneously, the more RAM your PC will need in order to avoid lagging and crashing.

For example, if you like to game while listening to Spotify, broadcasting on OBS, and watching a stream on Twitch in Chrome, you’ll want to have lots of RAM.

In most cases, though, your GPU is much more crucial to your gaming PC’s performance. The GPU processes your PC’s graphics, so it’s the deciding factor in how smooth and realistic your games look.

Typically, upgrading your GPU is the best way to get higher FPS (frames per second) while gaming, and upgrading your RAM past 16GB isn’t likely to provide a real benefit for gaming.

Can RAM Replace a Graphics Card?

RAM can never replace a graphics card because they serve two different purposes. GPUs are responsible for generating visuals, while RAM is only responsible for storing data for processing.

It’s the same way with a car. You need good tires to go fast, but you also need fuel. Good tires won’t help you if you don’t have enough fuel.

The same goes for a computer. A GPU won’t help you if you don’t have enough RAM. Both are important for gaming, and neither can replace the other. Their functions are equally vital, but totally distinct and separate from one another.

Does RAM Affect GPU?

RAM does not directly impact your GPU’s performance. However, if you have insufficient RAM, your system will start to use virtual memory. Virtual memory is stored on your hard drive, which is slower than regular RAM. This can cause your games to stutter and may even lead to crashes.

For example, if you have 4GB of RAM and are trying to play a game that requires 6GB of RAM, your system will need to use at least 2GB from your hard disk.

This is usually a bad idea as the processor has to sit idle while the hard disk is trying to search and present the requested data.

To avoid this, you need to make sure you have enough RAM for the games you want to play. 8GB of RAM is enough for most games, but some games may require more. I recommend at least 16GB of RAM for gaming PCs.

Can You Upgrade GPU RAM?

You cannot technically upgrade the RAM in your GPU (VRAM), as it is built into the GPU itself. However, buying a better graphics card can increase the VRAM on your GPU.

For example, if you have a GTX 1080 with 8GB of VRAM, you can upgrade to a GTX 1080 Ti with 11GB of VRAM. This will significantly boost performance, as the extra VRAM will allow your GPU to process more data.

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👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers, viewers, and gamers answer questions they have regarding live streaming, gaming, and PCs. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I also have a Youtube channel where I make videos about streaming. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.