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I am currently trying to upgrade my rather outdated (but reliable :) ) PC without spending very much money at all. I have these two similar graphics cards in my possession right now.

EAH4350 Silent

EAX1550/TD/256

As you can see both cards are similar, yet the second one has half the video memory and double the effective memory size of the first?

My question is, what is effective memory, how does it relate to video memory and/or the performance of the card? (And to be extremely general, which card will run Skyrim better?)

** Basic specs on my PC **

  1. CPU: Intel core2 duo @ 2.8GHz
  2. RAM: ddr2-1066 4GB (2X2 GB)
  3. OS: Windows xp sp3
  4. GPU: Currently have the EAH4350 Silent installed
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I finally worked out what 1GB effective memory actually means in the EAX1550. ATI has a feature on some of their cards called HyperMemory which allows the card to steal some of the the systems main memory (RAM). The reason for doing this is that it allows for ATI to produce cheap video cards with a large amount of processing memory without the need for expensive on board memory.

The downside to this is that it requires the system to surrender a portion of its RAM for graphics processing. Also, due to the fact that a large portion of the GPU's memory is not on board, large amounts of data must be moved between the card and the main system causing some latency issues.

As for which one plays Skyrim better, i have yet to run some tests but i will probably post my very unofficial results here for anyone who is interested. (My money is on the card without HyperMemory, as it should run slightly faster, albeit with less memory)

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