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Re: how much graphics RAM?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg24034] Re: [mg24031] how much graphics RAM?
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 02:19:57 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

At 03:07 AM 6/20/2000 -0400, Murray Eisenberg wrote:
>System requirements for Mathematica 4.0 under Windows NT do not say
>anything about graphics (video) RAM.
>To run Mathematica reasonably under Windows NT on a system with 128 MB
>RAM and up to a 256 MB swap file, and a resolution of 1024 x 768, what
>recommendations do you have, and why, for how much graphics RAM is
>desirable.  This is for undergraduate student use with 2D and 3D
>graphics, including animations.
>In particular, is 4 MB graphics RAM really enough? 8MB?
>Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
>Mathematics & Statistics Dept.       phone 413 549-1020 (H)
>Univ. of Massachusetts                     413 545-2859 (W)
>Amherst, MA 01003-4515

Graphics RAM doesn't really make much of a difference in running 
Mathematica.  Here's where it *does* make a difference...

* The maximum supported resolution/color depth combinations for your card 
(which, of course, has an indirect effect on Mathematica).
* For 3D animations or special effects which use the hardware directly 
(typically through OpenGL or Direct3D), amount and type of memory can make 
a difference.  Mathematica currently doesn't make use of any of these types 
of effects except for the experimental RealTime3D facility in 4.0, which 
relies on OpenGL for animations.  Of course, the point is moot if the card 
doesn't have a decent 3D accelerated chip set.

I would suggest that the main factor your students should consider (if they 
don't use the computer for games or other graphics-intensive applications) 
is the maximum screen resolution supported by the available memory (keeping 
in mind the limitations of the monitor, of course).

For example, 4 megabytes would not support a 1600x1200 32-bit display, 
which is something a student might want to do if s/he has a 19" or larger 
monitor.  But it would be enough to support a 32-bit display on almost 
every 17" or smaller monitor at maximum resolution.


John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

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