Finding the Best 6GB VRAM Graphics Cards (GPUs)
Many PC gamers ask themselves, when choosing a new graphics card, “how much VRAM do I need?” And there is no one right answer to this question.
The perfect amount of VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) you need varies depending on different factors. At the end of the day you don’t want to spend a fortune on a GPU with a lot of VRAM when the only thing you are doing is browsing the internet and playing some Minecraft. By getting a lot of VRAM you would be overpaying based on your actual need for VRAM. On the other hand, you don’t want to bottleneck your PC with not enough VRAM, if you are using your PC mainly for gaming.
We find that in 2020 the best compromise between performance and price is in the 6GB VRAM range for GPUs. Most people play on a Full HD monitor which has an 1080p resolution. Here you can see our recommended VRAM amounts for different resolutions:
- 720P: 2GB of VRAM
- 1080P: 2GB-6GB of VRAM
- 1440P: 4-8GB of VRAM
- 4K: 8GB+ VRAM
You basically get the most performance for your money and 6GB VRAM is plenty for any game really. Of course some will not run on 200 FPS on high to ultra graphics settings, but does that really make any difference for most people? We don’t think so. That’s why we present you three different graphics cards with 6GB of VRAM each that offer different performance and pricing.
Test Results: Best 6GB VRAM Graphics Cards (GPUs)
Ranking First: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060
- Better performance than GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
- Great for 1080p and even 1440p
- Runs much cooler than previous
- Easy overclocking
- Higher power consumption
Best performing Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM
The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 is a mid-range graphics chip for gaming laptops in 15″ form factor and larger. Notebooks with this graphic solution are available from about 1,200 Dollar at the time of testing and already offer an appealing performance.
The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 “is based on Nvidia’s current Turing graphics chip generation and promises improved performance with optimized power consumption. Mid-range laptops in the 15 inch form factor and larger are intended as the main application area for this graphics solution.
The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 has 2,944 shader units, a 192 bit wide memory bus and 6 GB GDDR6 graphics memory. The core clock rate reaches up to 1.545 MHz in the Acer Predator Helios 300 test device, with the overclocking profile “Extreme” even up to 2.040 MHz (according to GPU-Z). The memory bandwidth is 336 GB/s. Nvidia puts the power consumption in the technical data at 80 to 90 watts, which should provide for a correspondingly high heat development. As a recommended case form factor, 15 inch notebooks and larger crystallize out, which is also not undercut by the currently offered devices.
The test results show that the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 currently feels most comfortable in the DX12 range. It already reaches 5,833 points in normal mode in 3DMark Time Spy in Acer’s Predator Helios 300 and can thus assert itself just ahead of the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 from the Alienware 15 R3. If you use the maximum possible overclocking, the result increases to 6,508 points, which is an increase of about 11 percent.
In the Unigine Heaven Extreme benchmark, it falls back a bit in comparison to the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080, but still achieves a competitive result with 98 fps. Overclocked, the RTX 2060 also performs about 11 percent more here and achieves 108 fps.
In opposition to the recently reviewed Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080, the RTX 2060 delivers a minimally better result with 2 fps more performance despite the actually weaker hardware equipment. The Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 achieved 139 fps here and Nvidia’s Quadro P2000 marks the current performance peak with 183 fps in notebooks & mobiles.
OpenGL (optimized, workstation CAD)
The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060, as a game graphics from its basic orientation, is not specifically designed for professional use in the CAD area. Nevertheless, it can at least score points in terms of performance in this environment, depending on the software. Especially in DirectX programs, like 3dsMax, special OpenGL driver optimizations are omitted and the pure computing power can show its advantages.
The SPECviewperf.13 benchmark covers CAD, CAM, exploration and also a medical MRI. Programs such as Creo, Siemens NX or Solidworks in particular benefit from optimized drivers. This is where the professional Quadro chips come into their own. The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 again cuts a very good figure at 3dsMax, Maya and Showcase and beats Nvidia’s Quadro P4200. The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 is always a bit faster.
The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 bears the Nvidia VR-Ready logo. And rightly so. The graphics unit achieves a very good 6,330 points in the VRMark Orange Room, thus clearly exceeding the VR Ready specification of the VRMark of 5,000 points. In the overclocking mode “Fast”, this results in 7,042 points. In contrast, the overclocking mode “Extreme” in combination with the VRMark Orange did not produce a usable result.
Verdict: Best performing Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM
The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 is a powerful gaming graphics chip of the middle class segment. Due to the high performance and the associated power consumption, the use is generally intended for the 15-inch form factor or larger.
Overall, the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 proves to be very powerful in the test. Challenging games shouldn’t be a problem in FullHD resolution. It can also hold its own very well against the competition in the CAD area with software with a DirectX interface. Thanks to the Acer Predator Helios 300’s overclocking option, the user is put in the position to call up about 11 percent more performance if necessary. This provides a welcome plus and, depending on the game title, perhaps the decisive performance margin.
All in all the RTX 2060 is the west performing Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM of our test.
Ranking Second: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
- Excellent 1080p performance
- Best price-performance ratio
- Nearly as fast as the RX 5700
- Even beats out the RTX 2060 in some titles
- No ray tracing support
Best price-performance ratio Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM
A look at the technical data reveals a special feature of the RX 5600 XT: It has 6.0 GByte VRAM, while all other current models from AMD use either 4.0 or 8.0 GByte.
A step that was probably made easier for AMD due to the competition from Nvidia: The Geforce models, which are to be considered the main opponents of the RX 5600 XT, all also have a maximum of 6.0 GByte video memory.
In our benchmarks, the RX 5600 XT from Asus reaches almost exactly the performance of the RX Vega 56 without a BIOS update and can thus already beat the models of Nvidia’s GTX-1660 series. The performance increases by about four percent with a BIOS update, which further reduces the manageable gap to the RTX 2060.
The competition from the own house in the form of the RX 5700 is, however, about 15 percent ahead of the RX 5600 XT with BIOS update and about 20 percent ahead of the values without BIOS update.
|GPU||RX 5600 XT||RX 5500 XT||RX 5700 XT|
|Chip||Navi 10||Navi 14||Navi 10|
|Clock||1.375 MHz game clock1,560 MHz max. Boost||1.717 MHz game clock1,845 MHz max. Boost||1,755 MHz game clock1.905 MHz max. Boost|
|Video memory||6.0 GB GDDR6||4.0 / 8.0 GB GDDR6||8.0 GB GDDR6|
|VRAM clock||12.0 GHz||14.0 GHz||14.0 GHz|
|Memory interface||192 bits||128 bit||256 bits|
|Memory bandwidth||288 GB / s||224 GB / s||448 GB / s|
|TDP||150 watts||130 watts||225 watts|
Models of the RX 5600 XT, which in opposition to the Asus card also rely on higher clocked memory, should once again increase by about five percent, making the RX 5600 XT comparably fast as the RTX 2060.
8.0 GByte VRAM vs. 6.0 GByte VRAM: If you compare the Radeon models with 8.0 GByte VRAM with the RX 5600 XT, which has 2.0 GByte less video memory, an increase in the gap is only noticeable in the 4K resolution, at least in our benchmark titles and in view of the average fps, whereas it remains quite stable in the other two resolutions.
For the Full-HD resolution officially targeted by AMD with the RX 5600 XT, 6.0 GByte video memory is (still) enough according to the test results, but the larger VRAM pad for the future still represents 8.0 GByte VRAM.
The GPU clock rate: Under typical gaming load, we measured values in the range of 1.700 MHz in our open test setup after the BIOS update; before that it was about 100 MHz less.
In comparison: Our test specimens of the RX 5700 XT and RX 5500 XT reach somewhat higher rates in the range of 1.800 MHz, Nvidia’s current graphic cards often manage to get close to 2.000 MHz.
You can’t reproach the RX-5600-XT model from Asus in terms of volume. The three axial fans stand still in idle anyway, but even under gaming load they only turn with about 30 percent. This makes the Asus card the quietest model in our test field.
The RX 5600 XT proves to be a very efficient graphics card, especially without, but also with the BIOS update.
Without the BIOS update, the entire test system consumes hardly more power than the Radeon RX 5500 XT, and that with a clearly higher performance.
With the BIOS update, the result for energy efficiency deteriorates only slightly, but the RX 5600 XT is on a very good level in this discipline one way or another.
Already in the run-up to the test of the Radeon RX 5600 XT, it was shown that its price environment seems to be very important to AMD and Nvidia: First Nvidia makes the RTX 2060 a bit cheaper, then shortly before the release AMD pushes BIOS updates for higher clock rates.
However, both the new RX 5600 XT and the RTX 2060, which has already been available for a year, have a problem: The RX 5700. In our test course it is a bit faster than both models, but currently only slightly more expensive, and it also has 2.0 GB more video memory.
Verdict: Best price-performance ratio Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM
For Full HD, 6.0 GBytes might still be sufficient in most cases in the long run. In the price range of just over 300 Dollar, which according to AMD’s official emphasis should continue to be available on the market, especially since ray tracing is not (yet) a decisive argument for us personally.
Another competitor worth mentioning is the GTX 1660 Super, also thanks to its comparatively low price of currently about 230 Dollar. The RX 5600 XT and the RTX 2060 are about 15 to 20 percent faster on the road, but also almost 25 percent more expensive.
The RX 5600 XT thus shares the fate of the RX 5500 XT in our view: performance and efficiency are right so far, and especially the price is very fair compared to the competition making the RX 5600 XT our Best price-performance ratio Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM in this test.
Ranking Third: Nvidia Geforce 1660Ti
- Outstanding features and build quality
- Reasonably priced
- Efficient and overclockable
- Great performance at 1920 x 1080
- No RTX ray tracing capabilities
Great performing Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM for a cheaper price
The Ti version is followed a short time later by the Geforce GTX 1660 without the “Ti” addition, which we’ll take a closer look at in this review based on gaming benchmarks. It’s a Gigabytes Geforce GTX 1660 Gaming OC 6G – a Founders Edition from Nvidia itself isn’t available (like in the GTX 1660 Ti).
As the technical data below shows, the main difference between the GTX 1660 and the GTX 1660 Ti is the lower number of shader units and the use of 6.0 GBytes lower clocked GDDR5 RAM (instead of GDDR6). The raytracing and tensor cores are reserved for the RTX models from the Geforce RTX 2060 on.
Compared to the Geforce GTX 1060 from 2016 with Pascal instead of Turing chip, the GTX 1660 primarily increases in the shader units. Apart from Turing functions like the most efficient use of shader units for a higher performance without optical losses (“Variable Rate Shading”), the rest remains largely the same.
Nvidia names 225 Dollar as the official price. For comparison: The GTX 1060, which is currently on sale, is currently available from about 200 to 220 Dollar, the GTX 1660 Ti is at least 260 Dollar.
Competitor AMD has the RX 580 for about 170 Dollar and the RX 590 for about 230 Dollar in similar price and performance regions, both with 8.0 GByte VRAM.
In comparison to Nvidia’s standard specifications for the GTX 1660, our test model of Gigabyte offers a boost clock rate increased by 75 MHz. According to experience, the rates in games are actually in fact, but anyway mostly clearly higher, as the chip still has air to the top depending on temperature and power consumption.
In terms of cooling, the GTX 1660 Gaming OC 6G is equipped with three 80 mm axial fans, for which the TU116 chip shouldn’t pose a big challenge. There is a backplate on the back and a Gigabyte logo with RGB lighting on the top.
The GTX 1660 Gaming OC 6G always clocks with about 1.995 MHz under gaming load in our open test setup. Thus, it achieves somewhat higher rates than Asus’ GTX 1660 Ti (1.950 MHz). However, the 1660 Ti always has a clear advantage over the GTX 1660 in the range of about ten to 25 percent due to more shader units and higher clocked GDDR6 memory.
The conditions in the duel with the predecessor GTX 1060 are similar, but the GTX 1660 is always faster there. On the one hand, because the Founders Edition of the 1060 with radial fan clocks about 150 to 200 MHz lower under load than the GTX 1660 Gaming OC 6G from Gigabyte. On the other hand, because it has fewer shader units (1,280 instead of 1,408).
In comparison to custom designs of the GTX 1060, the advantage should turn out to be smaller because the cooling solution of the Founders Edition isn’t optimal and adapted manufacturer cards can definitely reach values in the range of 1.950 MHz in view of the clock rate.
The fans of Gigabytes GTX 1660 Gaming OC 6G are idle, under gaming load they run with about 1,800 revolutions per minute (respectively at 54 percent). This results in only slightly audible and never obtrusive 40.9 db(A) in our measurements.
In view of the temperature, you could even let the fans turn a bit slower without any problems: Even after a longer playing time, we only measured a chip temperature of just under 63 degrees in the open test setup. It’s still an acceptable 47 degrees in idle due to the fan standstill.
The Geforce GTX 1660 can easily keep its predecessor in check in the test, even if the advantage over over overclocked custom designs will turn out to be smaller than in the Founders Edition of the GTX 1060, which is slowed down by its cooling solution.
Basically, the additional shader units remain as the main advantage of the GTX 1660, so the change isn’t worthwhile for owners of the predecessor. The situation is more complicated for gamers with slower and older models than the GTX 1060 or the Radeon RX 580.
Both the GTX 1060 and the RX 580 (and the RX 590) still represent basically sensible purchase options, whereby the somewhat faster GTX 1660 is also not a bad choice – especially if it should end up in the 200 Dollar price range sooner or later.
Verdict: Great performing Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM for a cheaper price
AMD’s Radeons can score in this comparison with 2.0 GByte more VRAM in a worse energy efficiency. However, it is difficult to estimate whether 8.0 GByte will offer decisive advantages in the near future compared to 6.0 GByte in the Full-HD resolution primarily suitable for these cards in a higher number of games – still, according to our experience, this is only very rarely the case. On the other hand, the same applies to Turing extras like the Variable Rate Shading.
Overall, the GTX 1660Ti brings higher performance into the price range around 200 Dollar, which is basically to be welcomed. All in all the GTX 1660Ti is a great performing Graphics Card (GPU) with 6GB VRAM for a cheaper price.
Graphics memory & textures – How many GB of Video RAM are needed?
Four to six gigabytes of graphic RAM have so far been completely sufficient even for demanding games. But now 8 gigabytes of video RAM are recommended for some games – in the texture pack for the game Middle Earth: Mordor’s shadow even six gigabytes. We want to explain some things about graphic RAM and textures and take a closer look at this development.
Games become graphically more complex from year to year, especially concerning the higher detail modes, which you can typically choose in PC games. The graphics card is the crucial component to meet the demands. With the more and more elaborate graphic details, not only the demands on the pure graphics card performance increase, but also on the RAM that the graphics card has available for itself.
About six to seven years ago, 512 megabytes of video RAM were generously dimensioned, three years ago it was one gigabyte – today, four gigabytes are the current standard, and the newer graphics cards of the upper middle class already come into the shops with no less than 6 gigabytes. We therefore want to address the topic of graphics RAM in a way that is not too technical, but easy to understand even for average gamers and PC fans. At the end you will also find a detailed conclusion and some current graphics cards with two to four gigabytes of graphics RAM as purchase tips.
What is graphic RAM?
RAM is first of all a quickly accessible memory, the short-term memory of a PC, so to speak, in which data is loaded and stored from the hard disk, because there it can be called up very quickly when needed. The graphics RAM is the memory that is intended for data that is necessary for the graphics calculation. Modern CPUs usually offer a built-in graphics unit that replaces a graphics card and, depending on the processor model, is even sufficient for older or less complex 3D games.
The CPU graphics unit uses the normal main memory of the PC – the memory reserved for this is the graphics memory for this CPU graphics unit. But if you don’t want to play current game titles only at low detail levels, you will definitely install a separate graphics card in your game PC for currently at least 90 to 100 Dollar, which is plugged into the PCIe slot of the mainboard. Such graphics cards have their own graphics RAM. This is also called VRAM (video RAM) and is faster than the normal main memory of the PC. With current gaming graphics cards GDDR5-RAM is used. The G stands for graphics – DDR4 is currently standard for normal working memory. The advantage: the graphics card can access the necessary data without any detours, which is much more quickly available due to the fast RAM than if the data had to be fetched from the normal working memory or even from the hard disk. The main focus in games for the use of the graphic RAM is on textures, which we will come to on the next page.
A texture is simply a kind of sticker that is stuck on a 3D object calculated by the graphics card – in a figurative sense. The basis is an image file, which, depending on the object to which it belongs, has a diffuse pattern or clearly defined shapes and colours as image content.
An example of a diffuse pattern: for a grey rock or stone, for example, a texture is grey, but with several shades of different shades of grey, plus black or brown spots if necessary, or darker and lighter lines that are supposed to simulate cracks. The graphics card then projects this texture onto a 3D object that is supposed to represent a stone. Without the texture, this stone object would only be a smooth, monochrome lump lying on the ground in the calculated graphic. But the texture makes it look like a real stone, including the quirks, cracks and furrows. If the stone would be really cracked and dented already as a 3D object, this would mean much more calculation effort – therefore the texture helps to make the stone look more plastic and realistic without much calculation effort.
An example for a clearly defined texture would again be a house wall. Under certain circumstances this can consist of a single texture. The house as a 3D object may then have a completely flat front, so it requires almost no computing effort. Windows, doors, brickwork etc. are then simply projected onto this flat wall using a single texture that looks like a photo of a house front, so to speak. The whole thing then resembles a theatre backdrop – of course you notice this immediately when you approach the house in the game. But for a house in the background, such a texture is perfectly suited to save computing power. A house that you get close to will consist of much more surfaces and single objects. As textures there are then separate textures for example for the front door, several wall textures for the walls, a wood texture for the window frames and so on.
Especially more demanding gamers don’t like it at all when they approach an object and its surface looks clearly pixelated or muddy because the texture has only a low resolution. You’ve already seen an example on the previous page, where the bale of straw looks halfway tolerable from a distance with low texture quality, but really looks extremely bad up close.
But since textures with high resolution also need more memory and therefore also strain the graphics card, the developers have to make compromises. For gamers who have a particularly good graphics card, there is a special Ultra mode for the graphics details in some games, which often also offers HD textures, i.e. textures in HighDefinition resolution. Sometimes HD textures can also be optionally downloaded by the players first. Or private users offer HD textures if the respective game is moddable. A good example for the latter case is The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, which now has a huge fan community as well as countless mods, many of which also refer to graphics and offer better or simply different textures. But even without additional downloads almost every game still offers the possibility to choose between quite good, average or rather bad texture quality, depending on what your PC can handle.
Video RAM and textures
The connection between video RAM and textures should be clear now: in order for the objects to look realistic, many textures of high quality and high resolution must be used. A higher resolution in turn means that the texture also requires more memory than a texture with lower resolution. Since the texture should be available in the video RAM for smooth gaming, it also plays a role in how much video RAM the graphics card has.
If there is too little Video RAM available, the textures have to be reloaded from the hard disk again and again – this can lead to a kind of data jam and a jerky game. The graphics card itself could already calculate the new image, but has to wait for the texture to be loaded into the VRAM, so that the game graphics falters. For this reason it pays off if the graphics card has as much VRAM as possible – especially with a view to the future. In addition, some graphics detail modes require a minimum amount of VRAM to be able to play this mode.
Mods and Downsampling
Especially for games that allow modifications of the game content, the mods that improve the graphical quality are especially popular. Here it can happen that you need much more VRAM than before. But also, if you use higher resolution than the normal Full-HD (1920 by 1080 pixels) or downsampling for your PC, you have to expect a higher demand of VRAM.
With downsampling, the image is calculated by the graphics card in a resolution that is significantly higher than the resolution of the monitor. Afterwards, the high-resolution image is downsampled to the resolution that matches the monitor – for most players this means Full-HD. Advantage: the higher resolution allows more details to be calculated, which, by cleverly downscaling the image to normal Full-HD resolution, results in a slightly better overall picture than if the graphics card only calculates in Full-HD. The differences are not big, but depending on the game, they are quite visible. But of course downsampling requires much more graphics processing power and VRAM. You can find some information about downsampling in the article of our colleagues from PC Games Hardware from last year, which is still up to date and where you can find some sample images.
Conclusion and graphics card buying tips
The demand for VRAM at higher details is growing from year to year. For Ryse: Son of Rome, four gigabytes of VRAM are recommended, the HD texture pack from Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor even requires eight gigabytes. But as long as you are still satisfied with the FPS values (frames per second), you don’t need to upgrade your graphics card. The graphics modes with extremely high-resolution textures often look only slightly better than the next lower graphics level in the running game – so you should be left in doubt, especially since the ultra details are rather a bonus with some games, with which the developers want to show what is possible at most.
Currently, when buying a new graphics card, which should keep up with maximum details for a while, you should still look out for at least 4 gigabytes of graphics RAM, from a budget of 260 Dollar four gigabytes. Six gigabytes of graphics RAM as a requirement for the graphics card is something that is only available for very special texture packs that are usually only available via optional download. For example Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
That these six gigabytes are currently only a topic for absolute hardware enthusiasts can be seen in the fact that not even Nvidia’s new flagship, the GTX 980, has that much graphics RAM: four gigabytes were standard and maximum at the same time. With six gigabytes, you get a variety of GPUs from Nvidia – for under 300$.
These facts show that the game manufacturers can under no circumstances demand more than eight gigabytes of VRAM for higher detail levels in the foreseeable future, unless they wanted to exclusively address richer hardware freaks as a new target group – which won’t be the case. Don’t let yourself feel that your PC is not good enough in the near future just because it is not good enough for the extreme detail mode offered by some upcoming games. Graphics cards over 500 Dollar with more than eight gigabytes of VRAM should at most be seen as useful for gamers who can spend extremely high amounts of money on hardware to use special HD textures or even for especially high resolutions or downsampling.
Finally, we have compiled some current gaming graphic card series as purchase tips in a table, which are available in the shops with six GB VRAM. The cards are sorted by performance on the top of this page.