How much ram do you really need?

alright so here's the story, my friend purchased a 680 2gb with incentives to use it to cram as many mods as he can into Skyrim. After doing so, he ended up with massive frame fluctuation. After being somewhat disappointed, he looked at evga precision and saw that he was using ALL of his ram to play skyrim and came to a conclusion that the limitations in ram caused the frame drops.


He has an i5 3570k at like 4.4GHz stable so I don't think there's a CPU bottleneck

He rocks a 1080p monitor


Alright so here's the question....He wants to get a video card with 6gb of ram (7970 toxic Edtition/GTX Titan) while I say he should get a video card with 4gb of ram (R9 290/290x)...(when the non-reference is out)

I say grab an R9 290 or 290x (when asus makes a non-reference version)

And he says he want's a 7970 6gb or a GTX Titan

What do you guys think? how much ram do you guys use when playing Skyrim with tons of mods? Do you think 4gb is enough? can 1080p gaming even use more than 4gb?


Give me good non-biased answers guys, I will be linking this thread to him.

I would think that 6gb GDDR5 ram might be excessive but would definitly get the job done. A 4GB or even 3GB GDDR5 card should be plenty. Grabbing a non-reference 290 or a 4gb 760 should work.

Has he installed the 4gb DRAM fix? Could be his desktop ram causing the bottleneck? 

He has 8gb of ram at 1866Mhz

4gb 760 would be a slight downgrade I think, but that's just me thinking, I don't care about Vram too much.... I only use 1 1080p monitor and have no interest in modding skyrim at all atm

A 4gb Card will do him Well. I say Grab a Radeon R9 290. Much cheaper than the 290x with similar performance. If that isnt enough VRAM. Then he has too many mods. lol. I personally have a 3gb card and i run about 15 mods on skyrim at 1920x1200. Ultra Settings with no lags. So that should be a good basis to judge the choosing off of. 


The reason I bring up DRAM is that Skyrim is capped at how much RAM it uses, I think 2gb, and Bethesda put out a patch to bring that cap up to 4gb. If he hasn't tried installing that fix it might help out a bit was my thought.

I suppose it depends on what mods your friend is using but I would think the 680 could handle it, I suggested the 760 4gb as an alternative for if the 2gb memory wasn't enough.

6GB all the way !

I wouldn't spend more money on another GPU. I run Skyrim just fine with well over 100 mods on my 2GB GTX 670. Install ENBoost. That should help cut down on RAM and VRAM usage. Scan through the mod list and remove any unnecessary mods. You'll also want to make sure that you're using appropriate textures for your monitor's resolution. I personally can't tell the difference between 4k textures and 2k textures at 1080p. If this is true for either you or your friend, then try installing the high quality textures instead of the ultra high quality textures. This will help cut down on VRAM usage.

Here's a thread that can help with modding Skyrim...

And here's a tutorial on installing ENBoost...

The DRAM issue was addressed by Bethesda a long time ago. Since version 1.3.10, you should no longer have that problem anymore. Also, the game can only use 3.1 GB of system RAM before it crashes. This is a limitation in the Creation Engine itself.

Yep feel sorry, to be fair though buying the Nvidia cards with 2GB of ram was a massive mistake, and a really crappy thing for NVIDIA to do (since they know that 2GB is not going to last long). With any luck he could pawn that off to someone and get a non-reference R9 290, and maybe push that sucker to 1.3GHz  boost (since they were getting 1.15ish on review samples).

The amount on Vram on heavy modded games, is for me allways the reason to choose a R9-280X 3GB vram over a GTX770  2GB vram.

a 4GB card will do him well and a 290 performs better than a 680 anyways

yes, a 760 would be a downgrade in performance, simply because it's a less powerful card.

What about a 4gb 770 vs. a 280x 3gb what would you suggest then?

Some Skyrim mods are not kind to Nvidia drivers. So not only do AMD have a larger amount of Vram on their similarly performing cards, but there is less of a clash between the drivers and certain mods. You just have to find the mods that work for you (or your friend).

2GB of Vram should be fine for a large number of mods in Skyrim, 3GB would be preferable. I don't think it is worth spending money to switch cards. The 680 is a great card for 1080p.

And as a side note, the 760 isn't really powerful enough to use 4GB of Vram.

280x. 4GB on that card is a little bit unbalanced, because the 770 doesn't really have a sufficient bus width to properly use it. And Skyrim mods work best with AMD drivers. Which is why the 280x performs similarly to the 780 in modded Skyrim.