How much video RAM for a 4k monitor?

I previously wrote about my experience moving to a 4K monitor.

I've been relatively happy with it except for one thing: I found that 1GB video RAM simply isn't sufficient for a stable system. This wasn't immediately obvious as it appeared to work in the beginning, but over time I've observed that it was not sufficient.

I'm not using it for gaming or 3D rendering. My typical desktop involves several virtual workspaces with terminal windows, web browsers, a mail client, IRC and Eclipse. Sometimes I use vlc for playing media files.

Using the nvidia-settings tool, I observed that the Used Dedicated memory statistic would frequently reach the maximum, 1024MB. On a few occasions, X crashed with errors indicating it was out of memory.

After observing these problems, I put another card with 4GB video RAM into the system and I've observed it using between 1024 MB and 1300 MB at any one time. This leaves me feeling that people with only basic expectations for their desktop should aim for at least 2GB video RAM for 4k.

That said, I've continued to enjoy many benefits of computing with a 4K monitor. In addition to those mentioned in my previous blog, here are some things that were easier for me with 4K:

You can do much of this with a pair of monitors, but there is something quite nice about doing it all on a single 4K screen.