Long gone are the days when only CPUs were sufficient for computer tasks. Now, you need to pick the right graphics card to have the best gaming experience.
Even if you don’t plan on gaming, there are still plenty of purposes for a GPU. They are a necessary component for designing and editing for professional use in applications such as Photoshop, AutoCAD, Aftereffects, etc.
What’s more, is that you need a proper GPU to enjoy popular videos today in Ultra-High or 4K resolution.
Choosing a GPU that is suitable for you depends on a variety of factors:
- Your plan of how you will be using it.
- The games you will be playing on your system.
- The specs of your other components such as CPU, monitor resolution, form factor, etc. GPU manufacturers: NVIDIA or AMD, with Intel also recently throwing their hats into the ring.
- And of course, your budget – which is highly affected due to limited availability, scalper prices, and crypto mining (but thankfully GPUs designed specifically for mining are now becoming available).
Considering all these variables, picking the right graphics card can get a little scary.
This is why we have prepared this short guide to give you 5 tips on choosing a GPU that is right for you.
1. Get a Card with Decent Ram and Always Match your CPU
For gaming, you need a graphics card with at least 6 GB of RAM. And if your primary usage is not gaming, it’s still better to be on the safer side and get the 6 GB card anyway. We have seen many instances where a great GPU is bottlenecked by a CPU.
This means the GPU won’t be running at full capacity because the CPU isn’t able to keep up with it.
This usually happens when people under or overspend on a graphics card. For example, paying $800 for a graphics card but only a measly $150 for a CPU and vice versa. So, keep some budget for your CPU to have a balanced build all around.
The only scenario where under or over-spending is justified is when you plan on updating your rig soon. And you can always check whether you can run it on your PC with SYSRQMTS’ free online tool. You can test your PC against more than 16 thousand games.
2. Plan for the Types of Games you will be Playing
In general, the more memory or video RAM (vRAM) a GPU has, the more detail it can process.
1440p and 144hz monitors have become quite popular these days. So, a graphics card with 8GB RAM is ideal. However, if you are on a budget, a more economical GPU will let you game at 1080p in 30-60 FPS. And on the other hand, 4K gaming at 240+ FPS is also possible. What’s important is to always be mindful of the refresh rate of your monitor and the games you will be playing.
Games popular for their storylines such as GTA V, Assassin’s Creed, Batman, or God of War can be enjoyed at higher resolutions, and there can be a compromise on FPS (if needed). The gaming experience for these games isn’t really affected at the FPS range of 30-60. Furthermore, on a tight budget, they can also be greatly enjoyed at 1080p as well.
On the other hand, if competitive gaming is more your style, you would need to go for higher FPS. You can significantly improve in head-shooting in first-person shooter Games such as Apex Legends, Call of Duty, and CSGO. Higher FPS means you will be viewing images quicker, therefore will respond quicker to outplay your opponents.
3. Have Sufficient Wattage, Space, and Cooling
People usually don’t pay much attention to the Power Supply Unit (PSU) but it’s an equally important component as a GPU.
If you don’t have enough wattage, you won’t be able to run your GPU at adequate capacity.
You will also face system restarts as soon as the power requirement exceeds PSU capacity. Furthermore, a poor-quality PSU may cause spark or fire and may destroy your entire system!
As GPUs become more important to display better images, they need a higher power supply. So, they should be able to cater to this higher current supply without overheating.
Therefore, they are made hefty with bigger heat sinks. Hence, you need a PC case that will be able to house your bulky GPUs. All this, while also being able to support adequate cooling, either by air or water.
4. AMD or NVIDIA GPU
AMD and NVIDIA are the only two companies producing GPUs in the world; Intel GPUs are to arrive soon too. Although there are other manufacturers too, they partner with these companies in one way or another.
Both NVIDIA and AMD have their pros and cons and there are entirely dedicated guides for them (you can read a dedicated guide here). You can choose a graphics card from these two companies depending entirely on the features you want.
NVIDIA GPU offers a Ray-Tracing feature that produces dynamic lighting to make sceneries look more realistic. AMD has an answer for this feature with Fidelity FSR, but it isn’t as advanced as NVIDIA’s. AMD is popularly known for affording better GPUs at affordable prices in budget builds. However, each company has its price-to-performance qualities in each gaming tier. Nonetheless, due to limited availability, you should get a GPU from any manufacturer that is on a good deal (brand loyalty doesn’t matter as much).
5. Finally, Budget
Obviously, in the real world, you always have to consider the budget for any product.
Especially, with limited availability, high demand, and scalper prices, GPUs have been selling well above MSRP. The MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices) can range as low as under $200 (techguided) or even go up to $1,500 for high-end RTX 3090s.
The prices of these GPUs are reflected in their performance and features, so you can pick the right graphics card accordingly.
What Else to Consider?
Here are a few extra tips to help you choose a GPU for your system:
- Don’t count on overclocking. It requires high expertise and also voids the warranty of cards. And the performance boost isn’t as significant. There’s no need for high-risk, low reward.
- Getting dual cards is outdated and doesn’t give a performance gain of 1+1=2.
- Consider Thermal Design Power (TDP). It is a measurement of heat dissipation of the GPU that also estimates wattage requirements at stock settings.
- Have sufficient power connectors in PSU for your GPU (it depends on the card, but a safer bet would be to have 3 8-pin connectors).
- ALWAYS avoid bottlenecking. If you are paying 100% for your components, shouldn’t you use 100% of the components?
Picking the right graphics card can be a difficult process but rewarding process.
The most important tips to choosing a GPU include your budget, your usage, the games you play, and the specs of your other components. Budget GPUs will let you enjoy 1080p or even 4K resolutions in the 30-60 FPS range.
On the other hand, high-end GPUs will give you a fully immersive experience at amazing 8K resolutions. You can even enjoy gaming at 360 Hz with high-end GPUs now!
The technology for gaming is rapidly advancing, but if you can get your hands on the right GPU, it can easily last you for over 5 years (which is when you are due for an upgrade anyway).