How to check VRAM usage easily and quickly

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Today, we will show you how to check your VRAM usage. It’s quite a simple venture and it only requires downloading a couple of free apps and setting them up. Let’s start with showing you how to check VRAM usage while on desktop or when running a game or a program in windowed mode. 

How to check VRAM usage on desktop

If you’re browsing the web and want to see how much VRAM is used while your graphics card is idle or if you’re running a GPU benchmark or a game in windowed mode and want to see real-time video memory usage, the first thing you should do is download GPU-Z. This is a powerful yet lightweight GPU monitoring tool that has all the info you need. 

Once downloaded just run the app (it doesn’t require installation) and click on the “Sensors” tab. Once there, look for the “memory used” section. There, you can see the VRAM usage in real-time. And if you want to see just how much memory your graphics card has, just to the “Graphics Card” tab and look for the “Memory Size” window. 

Another way to monitor the VRAM usage is via MSI Afterburner. Just open the app (or download it if you don’t have it), click on the “detach” button, and there you’ll have a detailed GPU monitoring window with all necessary info. Among which is the memory usage, the graph you need. Expand the window until it suits you and there you can monitor VRAM usage in real-time while the benchmark or the game is running. 

These GPU monitoring apps are also great for looking at all kinds of GPU-related data. You can monitor GPU clock in real-time, GPU thermals and power consumption (quite handy when overclocking for instance), or any other type of data available. 

How to check VRAM usage while playing games or running benchmarks

When playing games in fullscreen as well as when running full-screen GPU benchmarks, the only way you can use GPU-Z or MSI Afterburner for real-time VRAM usage is in case you have a multi-monitor setup. For everyone else, the best solution is the On-Screen-Display feature found in RTSS (Rivatuner Statistic Server). The app is part of the MSI Afterburner download, which is needed for displaying GPU-related data via RTSS OSD.

First of all, download the MSI Afterburner. Next, install the program and run it. RTSS should start along with the Afterburner. Open RTSS by finding its icon on the Taskbar Notification Area (if you’re using Windows 10). Next, turn the Stealth Mode on (which circumvents some multiplayer titles from blocking the OSD) and customize the OSD. Once finished, open MSI Afterburner. 

Go to “Settings”, then “On-Screen Display” and assign the OSD hotkeys. Make sure they don’t overlap with controls in any games you play. Once you’re done with that, go to the Monitoring menu. There, select the data you want to have on the OSD. To see real-time VRAM usage, select the “Memory Usage” graph, then click on “Show In On-Screen Display.” Add any other info you want to see (GPU temperature, usage, etc.) and click on Apply. 

Now, once you enter a video game or launch a GPU benchmark, press the key assigned to show or toggle the OSD and that’s pretty much it. If you don’t need to see VRAM usage in real-time and want to see just how much video memory apps and games use over time, open MSI Afterburner and look for the “Detach” button. This will detach the GPU monitor window and allow it to resize it.

Resize the window to get a better overview, then right-click on it and disable the “Always on Top” function. And if you want to have a monitoring log, right-click and then enable “Log History to File.” Now, enter the game or benchmark, and Afterburner will monitor the GPU while in-game. Once you exit, you can see just how much VRAM has been used, second-to-second, while you’ve played the game. 

Don’t forget that MSI Afterburner is also great for overclocking and undervolting your GPU. RTSS, on the other hand, has an excellent built-in frame limiter, on top of its OSD feature.

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Senior Hardware Editor