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GDDR5 vs GDDR6 – Which Is Better?

Out shopping for one of the latest graphics cards? Well, you’ve probably encountered letter-number combinations such as “GDDR5” and “GDDR6”. And if you’re not a tech-savvy person, you’ve probably only concerned yourself with how much graphics memory capacity a video card has.

Your personal computer or laptop is made up of different components such as the CPU, RAM, storage devices, and graphics card. Between these different components lies one specification that encompasses all of them – MEMORY.

But not all of them have the same type of MEMORY. For example, RAM or RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY uses memory to store data that allows the computer to run. Storage devices like your HDD and SSD use memory for long-term data storage.

RAM uses short-term memory because they come and go as needed by the CPU. HDD and SSD use long-term memory.

Now, graphics card use what they call VRAM or Video RAM. It works a lot like the RAM on your CPU, but instead, it stores short-term data in order for the graphics card to run. The GPU’s VRAM cannot be accessed by the CPU.

Having said that, more video cards are now using GDRR6 as they slowly transition from the GDDR5 chips. But what does that mean for the end user? What’s the actual difference between these types of video memory?

We’ll find out in this article as we discuss the subtle differences between GDDR5 vs GDDr6.

What Does GDDR Even Mean?

Nvidia RTX 3050 GDDR5 vs GDDR6

GDDR is short for Graphics Double Data Rate, and is a form of short-term memory used by GPUs to store data. The VRAM is responsible for compiling images received and displays them on your monitor.

Graphics card manufacturers will always post the type of GDDR the GPU is using. Right now, the current version is GDDR5 for a lot of the semi-recent video cards but we are now getting graphics cards with GDDR6 memory. Soon, GDDR6 will become the industry standard.

How and Where is GDDR Used?

GDDR memory is used for everything that has to do with graphics. You use VRAM for gaming, 3D modeling, video editing, and more.

Data that’s used for image compilation is cached into the VRAM and comes and go as it’s needed. Data stored in VRAM is short-term, which is also it’s downfall. Unlike SSD and other storage devices, data does not stay long in a VRAM. Once the data is used, it’s removed from the VRAM to make room for the next set of data.

But its short-term memory capacity is also its biggest weakness. If the video card doesn’t receive power or is turned off, you lose all data for that session.

GDDR5 vs GDDR6 – Which Should You Go For?

Two Different GPUs GDDR5 vs GDDR6

The biggest difference between GDDR5 vs GDDR6 is their transfer speeds. GDDR5 has a transfer rate of 8GB per second and GDDR6 has a transfer speed anywhere between 14gb and 16GB per second. Roughly double the transfer speeds of a GDDR5 graphics card.

Is this increase in transfer speed noticeable by your average user? The benefits are hard to quantify, mostly because the newer iterations of graphics cards are intended to out-do their old counterparts. Having said that, a new iteration will almost always leave a performance gap between them.

Another point for consideration is their capacity. GDDR5 graphics cards have different sizes ranging from 512MB to 8GB, whereas your GDDR6 will have higher capacity. Your GDDR6 graphics card will only have two sizes: 8GB and 16GB.

What About GDDR5X?

GDDR5X is considered a half-step between the GDDR5 and GDDR6. with a transfer speed between 10GB and 14GB. It has a higher transfer speed than the GDDR5, but is only slightly lower than the GDDR6.

What Are Some Examples of Graphics Cards with GDDR Memory?

Graphics Cards with GDDR5 Memory



Graphics Cards with GDDR6 Memory



Do You Even Need GDDR6?

By now you’ve already known the difference between GDDr5 vs GDDR6, and you’re probably thinking…

Do you even need a GDDR6 graphics card? Is there are a way to upgrade the GDDR installed in your graphics card?

We got good news and bad news.

First the good news. What you need out of the GDDR6 graphics card will determine whether or not it’s worth getting. Do you need the graphics boost to power through rendering tasks? If so, a GDDR6 graphics card might be a good investment.

But if you have a GDDR5 GPU and want to upgrade the VRAM only, well that’s where we have the bad news. Unfortunately, VRAMs are soldered directly onto the GPU, so you can’t replace them.

But overall, a GDDR6 is still considered a direct upgrade over the GDDR5. But even if it’s an upgrade, it doesn’t mean that it’s inherently better. For example, a GDDR5X graphics card liker the GTX 1080Ti has the same performance as an RTX 3060Ti.

How Faster Is The GDDR6 Over GDDR5?

The theoretical difference between the two generations of video RAM is one thing, but real-world benchmarking is another. The latter is more realistic since you’re comparing results in real time.

But is it even possible to do a physical benchmark? Yes!

One benchmarking done by a forum poster named VideoCardz compared two GDDR generations from one graphics card – the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650. The GPU has two iterations, namely a GDDR5 variant and GDDR6 variant.

The GDDR5 variant has a higher base clock speed of 1485MHz compared to the GDDR6’s 1410MHz speed. But the GDDR6 variant has a higher memory speed of 12,000MHz than the GDDR5’s 8000MHz.

As you can see from the charts below, the GDDR6 variant was slightly better amongst different games. The GDDR6 variant was about 5% to 8% better compared to the GDDR5 variant.

GTA 5 Benchmarking GDDR5 vs GDDR6
Gaming Performance GDDR5 vs GDDR6

Gaming performance averaged at 6% for the benchmarked games such as GTA 5, Overwatch, and Valorant.

Both GPUs have the same TDP of 75 watts, but the GDDR6 variant used 9% lower power consumption than the GDDR5 variant.

As you can see, the overall GPU performance gap isn’t that great between the GDDR5 and GDDR6. Sure the latter has a higher performance recorded in the benchmark, but it’s pretty much negligible to say the least.

And by negligible, we mean that if you’re running a game at 60FPS on ultra settings on the GDDR5 variant, then you should be able to do the same thing on the GDDR6 variant. You won’t notice the difference between the FPS and graphics settings even.

Is 8 GB GDDR6 Enough?

If you plan to go into 1080p gaming, then 8GB of GDDR5 or GDDR6 is more than enough. But if you’re doing video editing, 3D modeling and animation, and other professional tasks, then you’ll need something higher than 8GB.

Is There a GDDR6 Shortage?

Between 2020 and 2021, there has been a shortage of GDDR6, thereby limiting the production of the RTX 30-series and Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards.

A global shortage of semiconductors plagued the industry, further worsened by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Shipping of stocks weren’t done on time because shipping of medical supplies was heavily prioritized.

The shortage was made worse by cryptocurrency miners who hoarded the GDDR6 graphics cards. Scalpers also hoarded stocks of these graphics cards, thereby driving the price upwards.

The Wrap Up

Now you know that GDDR stands for graphics double data rate. It refers to the standard VRAM that a graphics card uses to store short-term data.

GDDR6 is definitely a solid choice for gaming and other graphically-challenging workloads. However, they’re quite on the expensive side but they’re worth it if you ask me.

The difference in performance between a GDDR5 vs GDDR6 isn’t that substantial as seen from the benchmarks above, unless you’re comparing low end GPUs to a high-powered one.