GeForce 8800 GTS : 320 vs 640 MB What are the improvements in practice of the additional 320MB?
With Quake 4, performances collapse with the GeForce 8800 GTS and only 320 MB of memory (we had to restrict the X-axis to have a readable graph). We remind you that we test Quake 4 in Ultra high quality mode, which uses non compressed textures requiring more memory space. The 320 MB of the GeForce 8800 GTS aren’t enough and the incessant transfer to video memory destroys performances. This reduction in quality, however, is much less significant than with a GeForce 7 equipped with only 256MB. This leads us to believe that Nvidia hasn’t yet really worked on the GeForce 8 drivers for cards with less dedicated memory. Performances in High quality mode are “normal”.
Tomb Raider Legend also requires a lot of memory. With this game the FPS sometimes drops to less than 5fps instead of approximately 30 with a card featuring at least 512 MB. It is important to remind you here that reported figures are averages and that when the card is restricted by video memory, it generally leads to dramatic performance drops for limited periods of time. Most often than not, however, performances are similar.
F.E.A.R. and Half Life 2 Lost Coast are also sensitive to the quantity of memory once antialiasing is activated as this requires important 4x memory areas for some rendering buffers.
Finally, performances with Far Cry consequently drop as soon as the memory space is insufficient. This is the case in 1920x1440 in HDR and FSAA 4x.
If in most cases, 320MB are enough with current games, they restrict the GeForce 8800 GTS in specific areas such as very high resolutions with anti-aliasing.