Graphics cards (GPU) are considered to be the most important components by gamers and choosing the right one for your PC is essential. An upgraded GPU will allow you to play games smoothly at higher resolutions.
When choosing your graphics card you should consider these 3 things:
- How much am I willing to spend on a graphics card?
- What resolution am I looking to play my games at?
- AMD or NVIDIA?
When you’re looking for a graphics card, first and foremost you need to be looking out for that model number.
The ultimate performance indicator of any graphics card is its model number. This is a combination of the graphics processor, clock rates and memory bandwidth. The format by which manufacturers name their graphics cards is as follows: brand + model number. For example NVidia GeForce 980Ti or AMD Radeon R9 290X.
Manufacturers will often advertise flashy factory-overclocked cards with more RAM, however, you might find that the bog standard version of the next model up will majorly outperform any factory overclocked version of the lower model. For example, if going with NVidia a 980Ti is likely to outperform any factory-overclocked 980’s. The same applies to AMD GPUs.
Memory Isn’t Everything
Don’t get sucked into buying the GPU with the most memory. Some gamers have a fixation on the amount of memory their graphics card has, however, memory definitely isn’t everything.
You need to pay attention to the bandwidth. GDDR5 provides almost twice the bandwidth of DDR3 at the same clock rate. Remember, if given the choice of 4GB of DDR3 or 1GB of GDDR5, go with the GDDR5.
Sure, the graphics card is the most important component in a gaming PC but be aware that the rest of the system will have a big part to play too.
If you’re planning on putting a high-end graphics card in your machine, make sure that the other components can handle it. For example, there would be no point running a GeForce 980Ti if you’re also running an older dual-core CPU such as a Celeron or Pentium.
If you are running an older CPU but wanting to play games at a decent resolution and high framerate then we’d recommend you upgrading this too.
Crossfire & SLI
Graphics car manufacturers have developed their own technologies that allow you to run two or more GPUs simultaneously in the same PC. This will lead to an increase in performance.
The technologies behind this have been named CrossFire (AMD) and SLI (NVidia).
If you’re looking to play your games on a dual/ triple monitor set up then this technology is ideal, however, if you’re going to be playing games at a 1080p resolution on one monitor then dual GPUs might not be necessary.
As well as being costly (having to buy two GPUs), many of the high-end graphics cards will cater for most gamers needs without having to double-up.
If you are looking to run 2 GPUs simultaneously then don’t expect to see a 100% increase in performance over a single card set up. It’s much more realistic to expect a 25-50% increase. They also use up a lot of power and generate a lot of heat which will often lead you to increasing your cooling set up.
The last thing you want to do is receive your brand new GPU only to find out that it doesn’t fit into your PC case. Make sure you do your homework and find out the size of the graphics card before ordering.
Have you considered whether the GPU is compatible with your power supply? How many watts is the GPU rated for? How many PCIe power connectors does it have? If your power supply isn’t compatible and you need to upgrade, be sure to check that it has an ’80 Plus’ power supply rating.
As mentioned earlier, high performance graphics cards are prone to generating heat that could potentially fry the GPU.
There are two type of coolers that you need to look out for, reference and aftermarket.
Reference coolers are found on lower-cost specimens and typically channel heated air out the back of the case. Unfortunately, reference coolers tend to be a little noisier than other cooling methods.
If you can spend a few more pounds then you’ll often find that graphics cards will have built in custom coolers. These differ between manufacturers and are usually much quieter than reference fans. One downside to these custom coolers is that heat tends to be recycled into the PC case.
With this in mind, take a look at our full range of the latest graphics cards here.