GPU Buying Guide: Choose a Graphics card for your pc

The GPU is the brains of your computer and has a massive effect on its performance. We’ll show you how to choose a graphics card for your PC that gives you the best bang for your buck!

If you’re just getting started with building a gaming PC then choosing your graphics card is probably one of the most confusing parts of the process. There are so many questions surrounding the GPU that it can be difficult to know where to start, particularly because there are so many options on the market.

So, you just built a new pc and built it yourself, congratulations! Now you are at the crossroads of choice on what graphics card to buy.  There are so many choices and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We don’t want that to happen, so let’s narrow our focus to mid-range cards ranging from the price of $180 – $250.

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GPU Buying Guide- Choose a Graphics card for your pc
GPU Buying Guide- Choose a Graphics card for your pc

Graphic processing unit (GPU) is one of the most important hardware in a computer. So, it is obvious that you will want to choose the best GPU when buying your new pc or upgrading an old/existing one. Well, I am writing this article in order to help you choose the best graphic card that suits your needs or requirements. You can read this article and understand what you should consider while choosing a graphic card for your pc.

Choosing a graphics card for your PC can be a difficult and stressful task. You have to balance price and performance, features and form factor, power consumption and heat output. It’s difficult to get all of those things right at once, especially considering that there are a multitude of different GPU manufacturers out there and they use proprietary interfaces. That’s why organizing this guide is so important. To make things simple, we’ve gone ahead and organized all the major brands of graphics cards on the market right now. This will allow you to choose the right kind of GPU for your needs quickly, easily and painlessly.

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You have a high-end new rig, but no matter how much you spend on your GPU, it doesn’t perform up to expectations. This could be attributed to the fact that you started with a weak GPU. If you want to perform visual tasks like gaming, video and photo editing, and more, your computer has to have a graphics card. Graphics cards are used to render images and present them on your screen. The two most important things when selecting a graphics card are performance and visual impact.

Why you should upgrade your graphics card?

The main reason you should upgrade your graphics card is to take advantage of increased performance. If you only use your computer for basic browsing, watching videos and documents, it’s quite possible that you don’t need a more powerful GPU.

Graphic processing units, or GPUs, have been around for quite a while. They were first developed for the sole purpose of powering video cards and making PC games look better. Today, they’re generally used by gamers, video and photo editors, engineers, IT professionals and anyone who wants to boost their PC performance while also taking advantage of the many multimedia features and capabilities built into Windows. The key thing to understand is that upgrading your graphics card can make you enjoy your computer more because everything moves faster and operates more smoothly.

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Graphics cards don’t actually degrade over time, but they can become obsolete. If you’re trying to buy a graphics card for a specific task, there are some questions you’ll need to answer first. How old is my computer? Will I continue to use my PC for at least the next year and a half? What am I trying to do with the graphics card (rendering, gaming)?

4 to 5 years of GPU Age

Graphics cards usually last 5 years before they’re due for a replacement. As graphics cards age, they become less capable of handling today’s newest games. After five years, your card might start to stutter during gameplay or just not have the power to showcase a brand-new video game in the way you want.

When it comes to graphics cards, the longer you wait, the more performance you can get for your dollar. Graphics card families typically last about 4-5 years before we see any major changes in architecture (ie. DirectX 11 graphics cards don’t support DirectX 12 games). This means graphics cards tend to be replaced every few years as new architectures make their way into the market and prices come down on the previous generation.

For Non-gamers

If you’re looking for a graphics card, you’re probably most interested in how it can improve your gaming experience. However, these days there are also many benefits for non-gamers too. From watching videos in 4K (Ultra HD) to running professional programs such as AutoCAD or with a classroom of students in virtual reality, the ever-increasing complexity of modern software has placed greater demands on the limited processing power of our computers. To keep pace with this rising demand, we have seen an explosion in both the size and performance of powerful graphics cards.

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Avoid Potential bottlenecks

The GPU is a common CPU bottleneck for gaming PCs. Your GPU determines how far you can improve your PC’s performance. If your CPU is cranking out frames per second (fps) faster than your GPU, then your GPU will stutter. This occurs when the game processes more frames than your GPU can process within the given time frame. If this is the case, you may notice decreased fps during gameplay, which could result in lag spikes, choppiness, or even a complete freeze of the game for 1-2 seconds.

As discussed in the first half of this guide, choosing the right graphics card for your needs isn’t easy. There are a lot of important factors you should consider before purchasing a GPU. This is especially true if you’re looking for a new GPU to upgrade an existing system with, or planning a new build entirely. 

In this second half of the article, we’re going to go over all the different factors that could help you develop a baseline for what your needs are, namely when it comes to choosing the right GPU for your particular situation. We’ll start by going over whether you should build your own computer or buy one already pre-built. While building your own computer is more cost-effective, there are pitfalls to avoid – and we can help you with that. 

Then we’ll discuss what kind of video card problems to watch out for, and whether or not it’s time to upgrade your CPU – but before we do that, let’s start off by talking about where you’re going to put this blockbuster bit of tech.

What to look for in a graphics card?

If you are in the market for a new graphics card, you will have to choose between AMD and NVIDIA. Both manufacturers offer quality GPUs and choosing one over the other is actually more of a qualitative decision. It comes down to preference of manufacturer and specs.

Before you rush out and buy the latest graphics card for gaming, there are a few things you need to consider. 

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First of all, you need to decide on the amount of memory you want in your graphics card. Do you want 2GB, 4GB or more? 

There’s more to it than just deciding how much memory you want. Furthermore, do you want a discrete GPU or graphics card integrated into the CPU? This is because if you’re going for a gaming PC, then this is what you should be looking for. If it’s for business purposes, however (e.g. rendering video), then you should take that into consideration too. 

You should also look at factors such as the form factor of your PC (desktop vs laptop), thermal design power (TDP) and what power connectors your card uses and so on.

1. Integrated vs. discrete graphics

Integrated graphics mean you only have one source of graphics power, which is the integrated graphics. It is generally less powerful than a discrete graphics card found in desktop PCs and laptops – but not always. Integrated graphics are more common in smaller form factor systems such as laptops, but you’ll find them in desktop PCs as well for those who don’t need to run high powered visual software.

Integrated graphics cards are still far from obsolete. In fact, they’re actually very common, and you can find them in many laptops and even some desktops. Of their more powerful cousins, discrete graphics cards, integrated graphics cards don’t churn out as much raw processing power. And compared with the similarly named (and sometimes priced) integrated motherboard chipsets discussed below, integrated graphics aren’t as advanced. But if you’re on a budget or don’t do much 3D gaming or other graphically demanding tasks, most integrated GPUs are fine for basic visual tasks like streaming movies and TV.

Integrated graphics look like they have the same performance as discrete graphics, but they don’t. They’re shared between your PC’s main processor and RAM so they can’t do as much on their own as discrete graphics. 

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Discrete graphics are able to handle more extreme applications like intense gaming and rendering scenes in 3D animation software. Discrete also generate more heat, consume more power, and require a dedicated slot on your motherboard. However, there’s one upside to discrete graphics; you can upgrade them to higher levels of performance for things like heavy gaming or video editing, which you won’t be able to do with integrated.

2. Desktop vs. laptop graphics cards

If you’ve ever stepped foot into a gaming forum, you are probably subconsciously aware that there’s a lot of debate going on about the differences between desktop vs laptop graphics cards. Some gamers swear by desktop graphics while others swear by laptops. Ask either group what the biggest difference is and they’ll start arguing — but I’m here to tell you what to consider when buying graphics cards for your desktop or laptop, and let you know which one’s better for each case.

If you’re in the market for a new graphics card and are deciding between a laptop or desktop, consider how you’ll be using it. If you’ll be playing games on a large screen, such as an HDTV, desktop graphics cards will offer better performance and features than laptop cards. Laptops also tend to do well with moderate gaming, so if you’re not concerned about high-performance graphics and want something portable, a laptop is a good option. For those who can afford it, though, desktop computers provide more memory bandwidth, texture mapping capacity and pixel processing abilities than laptops.

Despite being more powerful than laptop cards, dedicated video cards for desktop PCs can be a pricey investment. However, this is largely due to gamers’ preference for high-end models with the latest GPUs from the leading manufacturers. If you use your computer mainly for business, then it may not necessarily be a requirement that you splurge on top-of-the-line gaming cards. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the power of a dedicated GPU without having to pay too much or compromise performance by opting for a mainstream or budget model.

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If you’re not making heavy demands on your GPU, such as editing 4K videos or rendering 3D models, a laptop graphics card will easily get the job done without eating into your battery life. However, if you need a graphics card for something more intensive, gaming or other use cases, then you should opt for desktop hardware.

3. Ray-tracing

Graphics cards have been getting more powerful in the last couple of years. This has meant that you can play games at a decent frame-rate at 4k resolution or even higher. One of the exciting developments in this growing technology area is ray-tracing, which is used in most modern gaming graphics cards to produce realistic lighting effects. It does this by tracing a path of light and then attempting to simulate the way that light interacts with objects in the real world.

If you need to visualize a set of geometric data in 3D, ray tracing might be worth considering. One of the applications for ray tracing is virtual prototyping, which provides a good look at what your product will look like from a variety of angles.

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Ray-tracing technology is seen in both recent and upcoming games like Cyberpunk 2077, Watch Dogs Legion, and Control. Rasterization has been the standard form of rendering for video games since the mid-1980s. It’s based off technology created by William Fetter and Hungarian computer scientist, Péter Szorády at Cornell University. They called it “line tracing,” but since it was used to create an image, a rasterization process was adapted so that a 2D image could be created.

Ray-tracing has been used in big-budget action films for years now, but it’s more difficult to render this in real time in your PC game. Until recently, developers have used a process called rasterization, which translates 3D polygonal models into 2D images and finished the rendering of light effects during postproduction. In the past two years however, more developers are adopting more advanced ray-tracing techniques.

Games like Cyberpunk 2077, Watch Dogs Legion, and Control made extensive use of ray-tracing this year. Ray-tracing, mimicking the way that the human eye processes light reflection and shadows, represents one of most significant leaps in graphics in years. In real-life, ray-tracing creates incredible effects like refracted light through a crystal or water droplets on a glass table. This is incredibly difficult to render in real-time, which is why it’s only used in films today (most recently being used by Marvel).

Ray tracing is one of the most exciting things to happen to graphics for a long time. Graphics cards like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 have given us our first taste of what real-time ray-tracing can look like in games, and that’s just one part of the new Turing architecture which combines real-time ray-tracing with deep neural network processing and AI (also known as DLSS) to boost image quality while reducing performance. So with the beginnings of ray-tracing and the new Turing architecture, you can still expect some impressive performance from modern graphics cards. That goes for everything from huge explosions in a firefight, down to the sun’s rays peeking through a window in a dimly lit room.

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4. Graphics card memory Size

A graphics card with a high amount of vRAM is great for running resource-heavy applications (ie. games). But for those just using their PC to browse the internet, more vRAM may not be necessary. As the complexity of an application increases, the amount of memory required to run it effectively will increase alongside it. This is why more vRAM can enhance your gaming experience.

When should you start thinking about adding vRAM for graphics?   So how much is enough vRAM? That depends on many things, including the game, the settings used and what other programs you’re running in the background. Our goal is to ensure that your system has enough vRAM allocated so that it can never run out of memory when rendering graphics. The short answer is that the general consensus is 4GB of vRAM or more – although it will be much better with 6GB if your budget allows.

The amount of memory you need in a graphics card ultimately depends on what resolution you want, whether you’re creating content or consuming it. A rough guide is that 2GB is enough for most users, 4GB is good for gaming and high-res work, and 8GB or more is required for production work that requires ray tracing, such as Blender and Maya. But there are always exceptions, especially games with large open worlds, which may need their own textures loaded into RAM.

5. GPU Pricing

The value of graphics cards—typically measured in terms of performance per dollar—has been plummeting in recent years. It turns out that speculating on GPUs is a great way to get rich quick. This is because, unlike gaming consoles and their CPU/GPUs which are custom, highly-optimized for gaming engines, video cards all conform to a generic standard known as PCIe . This means that any game can be run on any card which means the GPU makers all try to win by competing with each other on price.

There are many great graphics cards for both AMD and NVIDIA. The best graphics card in each category will be determined by your needs. If you want one for general use, we recommend the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. If you want one for gaming in particular, the above two graphics cards are still good choices; however, if you want to run games at the highest settings with a 60 fps+ frame rate there is no substitute for these graphics cards: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT and one of NVIDIA’s 20-series GeForce RTX cards

Some thoughts on How to Choose a Graphics card for your pc?

First and foremost, you’ll want to check the card has a PCI-Express power connector. You’ll want to use a PCI-express connector from your PSU in order to avoid drawing too much power from your main motherboard itself, which could damage it. The TDP (Thermal Design Power) of the card should be listed on the specification sheet, which is in turn related to how much wattage the card needs to be put in its ideal operating environment. Having insufficient power will harm the components of your graphics card, particularly if it gets too hot.

The graphics card is one of the most important components inside a gaming PC. It does a lot of work, and it’s also where you spend the most money—around 50% more than other components like your CPU or RAM. So you want to get it right.

Between the four major PC video card makers—Nvidia, AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm—there are nine different graphics processing chip models. Add to this a few thousand different board designs and memory configurations from dozens of manufacturers selling to retailers who turn around and sell directly to you, and it can be daunting trying to pick the perfect model for your needs.

Whether you’re a gamer building your own PC for the first time, or you’re building a new gaming rig for your latest title, there are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a graphics card. Should you go with AMD or nVidia? What about the amount of VRAM do you need? With regards to brand, is EVGA better than Gigabyte? As soon as you start thinking about these questions, more questions arise. How much power does it draw? Will my current power supply handle it? Do I need one with more PCIe slots? At this point, you may want to reach for the antacid—or tap out and just buy the best GPU straight from the source.

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