All You Need to Know before Buying a Graphics Card

Buying a Graphics Card

Before buying a graphics card, we need several things to keep in mind. There is no alternative way of buying a graphics card for good quality games or high-level video editing.

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There is an integrated graphics card in every CPU but you can only play normal games and perform ordinary graphics work. So, you should decide to buy the best graphics card.  

If you are a professional video editor, gamer or graphic designer, you must need a dedicated graphics card. But it is a very troublesome task in buying the best graphics card.

If you cannot choose the right graphics card as per the configuration of your PC, your money will be lost. So, you will have to keep several things in mind to make sure that you are buying the right model or brand.

Buying the best graphics card has become a risky activity. It is essential to know what we need to get the graphics card the first time and enjoy our purchase. Today, we are going to know the most important details while deciding to buying the Graphics Card for any user.

In the era of gaming computers, the graphics card has taken more importance than the CPU. In fact, many users avoid buying powerful CPUs to invest money in this important component. It is responsible for processing everything, which has to do with textures and graphics. But how much do you know about this hardware? Here, we explain everything that we consider most important.

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Before we begin, we are going to take for granted a series of parameters and basic characteristics. We understand every computer must-have today. For example, counting on the nuance of the update and not the purchase of a new PC.  It is necessary that our motherboard has a PCIe 3.0 X16 at least. The board implies equipment from 8 years earlier to the present.

The Best Graphics Card and The Gaming Era

Undoubtedly, the most used term to refer to GPUs is the graphics card. It is not exactly the same and we will explain it. A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is basically a processor built to handle graphics. The term obviously sounds very similar to CPU. So, it is important to differentiate both elements.

When we are talking about a graphics card, we are really talking about the physical component. This is built from a separate PCB from the motherboard and provided with a connector. Usually, PCI-Express with which it will be connected to the motherboard itself. On this PCB, we have the GPU installed and also the graphics memory or VRAM along with components. They are VRM, connection ports, and the heatsink with its fans.

Gaming wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for graphics cards, especially, we mean computers or PCs. In the beginning, you all know that computers did not have a graphical interface. We only had a black screen with a prompt to enter commands. Far are these basic functions. Now, we are in the gaming era, in which we have computers with a perfect graphical interface and in huge resolutions. They allow us to handle environments and characters almost as if it were real life.

Why separate GPU and CPU?

To talk about graphics cards with property, we must know what they give us and why are so important. We could not conceive of a gaming computer without a physically separate central processing unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

What the CPU does?

Here, we have it quite simple as we all can get an idea ​​what microprocessor does in a computer. It is the central processing unit in which all the instructions generated by the programs. The peripherals and the user himself send a large part of those. The programs are made up of a succession of instructions. We will be executed to generate a response based on an input stimulus. It may be a simple click, a command, or the operating system itself.

Now comes a detail that we must remember when we see what the GPU is. The CPU is composed of cores, and a large size we can say. Each of them is capable of executing one instruction after another. It can execute more instructions at the same time. On a PC there are many types of programs. Many types of very complex instructions divided into several stages. But t a program does not generate a large number of these instructions in parallel. How do we ensure that the CPU “understands” any program we install? What we need are few cores, very complex, and very fast to execute the instructions quickly. So, we will notice the program, which is fluid and responds to what we ask of it.

These instructions are basically reduced to mathematical operations with integers, logic operations and also some floating-point operations. The latter are the most complicated as they are very large real numbers. They need to be represented in more compact elements using scientific notation. Supporting the CPU is RAM, a fast storage. The RAM stores running programs and their instructions to send them over a 64-bit bus to the CPU.

What does the GPU do?

Precisely, the GPU is closely related to these floating-point operations which we have talked about earlier. In fact, a graphics processor practically spends all its time performing these types of operations. They have a lot to do with graphical instructions. For this reason, the experts often call a mathematical coprocessor. In fact, there is one inside the CPUs, but much simpler than the GPU.

What the CPU does

How a game is made of? Fundamentally, the movement of pixels thanks to a graphics engine. It is nothing more than a programme focused on emulating a digital environment or world where we move as if it were our own. In these programs, most of the instructions have to do with pixels and their movement to form textures. In turn, these textures have color, 3D volume, and physical properties of light reflection. All this is basically floating-point operations with matrices and geometries that must be done simultaneously.

Therefore, a GPU does not have 4 or 6 cores, but thousands of them to do all these specific operations in parallel over and over again. Sure, these cores are not as “smart” as CPU cores. But they can do a lot more operations of this type at the same time. The GPU also has its own memory, the GRAM, which is much faster than normal RAM. It has a much larger bus between 128 and 256 bits to send much more instructions to the GPU.

In the video that we leave you linked. Myth busters emulate the operation of a CPU and a GPU and in terms of their number of cores while painting a picture.

How the CPU and GPU do together?

At this point, you may think that the CPU also influences the final performance of the game and its FPS. Obviously, and there are many instructions that run on behalf of the CPU.

The CPU is responsible for sending data in the form of vertices to the GPU, so that it “understands” what physical transformations (movements) it must make to the textures. This is called Vertex Shader or physics of movement. After this, the GPU obtains information about which of these vertices will be visible, doing the so-called pixel clipping through rasterization. When we already know the shape and its movement, then it is the turn to apply the textures, in Full HD, UHD or any resolution, and their corresponding effects, it would be the Pixel Shader process.

For this same reason, the more power the CPU has the more vertex instructions can be sent to the GPU, and the better it will lock. So, the key difference of these two elements is the level of specialization and the degree of parallelism in the processing for the GPU.

What is an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU)?

We have already seen what a GPU is and its function in a PC, and its relation to the processor. But it is not the only existing element that is capable of handling 3D graphics, and that is why we have the APU or Accelerated Processor Unit.

This term was invented by AMD to refer to its processors with a GPU integrated in the same package. Indeed, this means that within the processor itself we have a chip, or rather, a chipset composed of several cores that is capable of working with 3D graphics in the same way as a graphics card. In fact, many of today’s processors have this type of processor, called IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) within themselves.

But of course, a priori we cannot compare the performance of a graphics card with thousands of internal cores with an IGP integrated within the CPU itself. So its processing power is still far less, in terms of raw power. To this we add the fact of not having a dedicated memory as fast as the GDDR of graphic cards, being enough with part of the RAM for graphic management.

We call independent graphics cards dedicated graphics cards, while IGPs are called internal graphics cards. Intel Core ix processors almost all have an integrated GPU called Intel HD / UHD Graphics, except for models with the “F” at the end. AMD does the same with some of its CPUs, specifically the Ryzen of the G series and the Athlon, with graphics called Radeon RX Vega 11 and Radeon Vega 8.

A little history of Graphics Card

Gone are the old text-only computers that we have now, but if something has been present at all times it is the desire to create increasingly detailed virtual worlds to immerse ourselves inside.

In the first general consumer computers with Intel 4004, 8008 and company processors, we already had graphics cards, or something similar. These were only limited to interpreting the code and displaying it on a screen in the form of plain text of about 40 or 80 columns, and of course in monochrome. In fact, the first graphics card was called MDA (Monochrome Data Adapter). It had its own RAM of no less than 4 KB, to render perfect graphics in the form of plain text at 80 × 25 columns.

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After this, came the CGA (Color Graphics Adapter) graphics cards, in 1981 IBM began to market the first color graphics card. It was capable of rendering 4 colors simultaneously from an internal 16 palette at 320 × 200 resolution. In text mode it was able to raise the resolution to 80 × 25 columns or what is equal to 640 × 200.

We keep moving forward, with the HGC or Hercules Graphics Card, the name promises! A monochrome card that raised the resolution to 720 × 348 and that was capable of working together with a CGA to have up to two different video outputs.

We have to take into account the power supply, with at least two 8-pin connectors to house any current model and of course, a tower at least ITX with 28 cm of space for the graphics card. With these three parameters covered at least, let’s see what we have to take into account to choose correctly.

What mistakes do we make while buying a graphics?  

A graphics card is the most useful thing for playing games on the computer. A good graphics card increases the capacity of our PC while a wrong graphics card can destroy our PC. Let’s see such mistakes while buying the best graphics card.

  • Graphics card selection based on only memory

Graphics card cannot run with just its memory. GPU, memory bus and a few other components make a graphics card stronger. Example, you want to buy a graphics card. You have two choices –one 8600GT card with 512MB of memory and two 8800GT with 256MB of memory. You choose first. Actually, the 8800GT card is much more powerful than the first 8600GT card. We should note that a large amount of memory is only useful when you play games in high resolution. So, we should take a final decision before buying the best graphics card.

  • Not considering the size of the computer case and the specification of the card

It can be a good choice before buying a graphics card, not considering the size of the computer case and the specification of the card.

  • New card, more powerful

The graphics card that you are buying, came out in the market a few days ago. So, there is no reason to think that it will have much more power.

  • Super-duper graphics card but slower processor and less RAM

The user should follow the above matter before buying the best graphics card.

Do you want to buy laptop with graphics card? 

The laptop runs on the battery. So, if the card consumes more power, the charge will end quickly and the battery will also be wasted. So, you should search the website to know the power consumption. For example, 5470 is better than ATI 4670. But in 4670 consumes less electricity. We should see whether the laptop has enough air vents to properly dissipate the heat generated by the graphics card and they are easily blocked. It is very difficult to fix if the laptop’s graphics card is damaged. So, buy a laptop with good reviews and configuration.

What do we need to know before buying graphics card?

You first need to know before buying a graphics card that there are only two companies –NVIDIA and AMD — which manufacture graphics processing units (GPUs). Both of these companies license other companies like ASUS, Gigabyte, EVGA, MSI to sell their products. These companies offer a variety of graphics card services such as the Colling system, Clock rates or Software. So, If the GPU of the graphics card is the same, these devices may differ depending on all the companies. So, if you first do not decide which GPU company’s graphics card will buy, you should buy the graphics card that works best for you based on your budget.

The following things should be considered before buying the best graphics cards 2020.

Price and compatibility

There is no difference in installing Air Conditioner (AC) in a hut and connecting an expensive graphics card in a low configuration computer. This graphics card will only waste your money. If your processor is Pentium brand, it is better not to use expensive graphics card.

Computer experts suggest fixing 30% of your PC’s total budget for graphics cards and also upgrading your power supply after installing the graphics card. So, we should look at the compatibility of our PC before we decide on buying a graphics card how much expensive the card.

Space and cooling

At present, the two companies — AMD and Nvidia –are currently making graphics cards. Other companies use their components. Now, you should look at the cooling system before buying a graphics card regardless of brand or model. You should see if there are additional fans with the graphics card.

Also, keep an eye on the space issue. Space means to your CPU casing. As current graphics cards are large in size for the use of a cooling fan, they often do not fit into small casing. In that case, if you have to buy a large size graphics card, you should change the casing before buying the best graphics card.

Random-access memory (RAM)

Random-access memory RAM

You must consider the RAM before buying the best graphics card. Because it is really difficult to understand the statistics of the graphics card. However, one of the things to consider for a graphics card is RAM. The performance of the graphics card will depend on RAM configuration. As the amount of RAM is important, the type of RAM is also important. DDR3 RAM is very good for high-performance graphics cards. But now graphics cards with GDDR5 RAM are now showing better performance. However, if your system RAM is 8GB, a 4 GB graphics card is better for perfect performance. So, there is no alternative way to consider the RAM before buying a graphics card.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth actually gives real entertainment for graphics cards. If the DDR is high, you will get high bandwidth. You always should try to buy a DDR5 graphics card. Before buying a graphics card, you should note that this GDDR5 has nothing relation with the DDR of your system RAM. Bandwidth means how fast the GPU can access memory. Graphics cards with higher bandwidth can quickly deliver data in shader cores. As a result, games, and videos can run clearly and smoothly. So, we need to look at the two aspects below to understand the bandwidth of the graphics card. A. Clock speed. B. Bus Width

Shader core

Shader cores have many effects on bandwidth. It is called CUDA cores in Nvidia while stream processors in AMD. The shader cores live the 3D object. The best graphics card with more shader cores will render the faster and clearer image. So, we should think about Shader core before buying a graphics card.

Model number

The model number is written after the brand name. The is the format of the model number of the graphics card. It is best to choose new models within the budget for improved gaming performance. So, you should not forget about model number before buying a graphics card.

Can you ensure proper power supply for PC?

Power supply

When it comes to compatibility of graphics card, the first thing is the power supply and the computer case. Graphics cards consume the most energy in a computer. We should make sure before buying a power supply that it will meet the needs of the graphics card. For this, we first look at what watts of power minimum is required to run a graphics card. You should buy a power supply that can supply more power than that. We should think on proper power supply before buying a graphics card.

What kind of games do you play?

What kind of graphics card you buy will depend on what kind of games you play? If your game depends on too much on graphics, you must think buying a good graphics card. For example, if you play games like The Witcher 3, PUBG, Battlefield 1, you must consider buying the best good graphics card.  If you play game like League of Legends, Dota 2, Minecraft, there is no need to buy so much good graphics card for playing such games.

How much numbers of transistor?

The more transistors there are on the card, the less noise there will be. The better the video will be filtered. So, we should consider about numbers of transistor before buying a graphics card.

Is there facility of multi-output? 

If you want to watch on two or more monitors at once, you need facility of multi-output in the graphics card. You will notice that almost all cards have two or more ports. These are provided so that you can view it on all monitors at the same time.

Will the graphics card save energy?

You should keep an eye on whether your chip is raising your electricity bill as well as working. For this, we should buy the card by looking at the rating of Energy Star.

Budget to buy the graphics card

The budget is a really important thing to purchase any graphics card as it will be him that limits acquisition. Well, for the simple reason that we have to be flexible, both above and below. Therefore, we should think about the budget before buying a graphics card.  

Know our needs

With the budget in more or less narrow GAP, it is our turn to introspect ourselves for our needs. This is essential as there is no better purchase than the one with which we feel totally satisfied.

Choosing one model or another will depend, apart from the budget, on the performance under the resolution. We expect about loudness, temperature or overclocking without forgetting the consumption or weight of the card, RGB synchronization, etc. Knowing ourselves and being honest with yourself will make the decision the right one.

Information before starting to buy the graphics card

It seems that it may come as a surprise. But the reality is that we need to be informed as possible in order to decide correctly. Reviews or quality analysis, opinions of other users and making a scout for many stores are important or more than everything is written.

Each user is different and some characteristics prevail more than others. So, the information we have is an important part of the decision we are going to make.

Know the power of your power supply

NZXT launches its first modular power supplies with real-time consumption control. Part of the characteristics of the graphics card is its consumption. Our power supply will supply this consumption. Therefore, we have to know two fundamental parameters of it: power in watts and amps + 12V line.

It is advisable to have in these two characteristics twice the benefits. The card we are looking at requires (at least). A PSU at 50% of its performance is when it is more efficient. It wastes less energy in the form of heat, therefore. If the GPU is seen 250 watts, the ideal is to overcome the barrier of 500 watts in the source. Consumption must be added what is required by the rest of the team.

Make sure you have enough PCIe connectors

Although we start with the fact that our PSU has at least two 8-pin connectors, ideally it has several options: single 8 and 6-pin connector, double 8 and 6-pin connectors, or even both.

This would leave the door open to any GPU on the market in this section, whatever that graphics card consumes.

Dimensions

There are many models of a graphics card, but we need one that fits well in our box. As there are as many models of boxes as there are graphics, we take into account the internal space. It will be both in length and height as well as brackets for the installation of the component.

The matter usually happens that pre-assembled equipment the boxes are very compact dimensions. It limits the largest graphics card models ergo as it is a section to take into account in this type of case.

What will be the weight of the graphics card?

Typically, larger charts tend to weigh more. This is important if our motherboard does not have PCIe with reinforcements. A very heavy card can deform it and even break it in certain cases.

There are options to alleviate this, such as reinforce, which are cheap and some cases aesthetic options. They allow the graph to stay straight without having a single point of support in the PCIe. In any case, weight is another key factor, just as important as dimensions.

Video outputs to buy graphics card

Finally, the video outputs necessary for our monitor are something fundamental that we must take into account. Many current models already directly dispense with the old DVI. So, if our monitor integrates this input, we will need a GPU with support for it.

We assume that no one is going to look for a graphics card with VGA output. Type of monitor has been EOL for almost two decades but in the case of DVI. Although it follows the same path, there are still monitors with support.

With these tips, buying the best graphics card will be a lower risk action. We will be sure that the chosen option is one that interests us and adapts to our needs.

The urge having the best graphics performance faces the reality of the budget. We have the fact that the graphics card is not the only component of our gaming or video / photo work system.

Renewing the graphics card usually means investing a significant amount in adapting other components to future reality of our PC.

It will be useless to acquire a high-end card if neither memory nor processor are balanced. It will complement the new super device of the team. Even, the monitor can be a bottleneck that requires a facelift. It will be a waste of money to invest a graphics to play 4K if our bedside screen is only 1080p. We are not going to buy a new one.

Finally, while buying the best graphics card to renew our PC, we must be clear over the purpose that we will give our PC with the new graphics card. Although we are not going to play next-generation titles or process 4K video, we may be able to find a model that offers us everything. We are looking for in the new graphics card for a very reasonable price.

What will be the power and speed of a graphics card?

In each model of graphics card, there are innumerable characteristics that mark its power and performance. The most straightforward are gross power TFLOPS, CUDA cores, or running speed/frequency.

If you compare this data within the same generation, you can have a basic overview of the performance level of each model. In all three cases, a higher number of frequencies, TFLOPS or CUDA cores indicates a more powerful model.

The amount and type of memory: the most important thing to consider.

Although the gross power will mark a good part of the decision while choosing a new graphics card for our PC. The value which we must pay more attention is the type of memory that the card includes and its bandwidth (measured in GB /s).

While choosing the amount of RAM, you always look at the type and bandwidth above the amount as you would prefer to have a faster memory than more GB of one with less bandwidth. If we are talking about the same type of memory and bandwidth, you can start to consider choosing a model with more GB especially. You are going to work with several monitors or very high resolutions.

The memory section is one of the most different between manufacturers and ranges. The current fight between Nvidia and AMD is partly in the use of the HBM/HBM2 type by the second, and of the preference (for a matter of price and times) from Nvidia for the GDDR5/GDDR5X. Typically, the HBM type is present in the highest range and the GDDR in the lower ones.

Connectors, power and video outputs

The following specifications or features to evaluate and compare between graphics cards are easier. They have to do with consumption, cooling, connectors or video outputs offered to the user.

If we refer to power and consumption, the way in which to connect it depends on the range. We can find cards which are fed directly from the connection slot while current high-end cards usually have their own power connections (we must check to have free connectors in the power supply)

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The figure that marks the maximum consumption, overclocking possibilities and power requirements, as in processors, is the TDP. Watch out for the standard cooling systems as the noise at the full performance of the graphics card will depend on them.

Regarding the outputs and connectors, we must pay particular attention to whether there is the capacity to use more than one monitor, the maximum resolution supported, as well as the compatibility or the connectors available.

Manufacturers Editions and SLI

With each presentation of the graphics cards from the two giants AMD and Nvidia, hardware manufacturers complete the reference models with custom editions in different aspects. They often include interesting improvements.

The most common ones which are not mere appearance (such as lighting and customization) have to do with cooling, connections /outputs, power, and even speed thanks to standard overclocking values. Here, you must assess whether the extra price is relevant for the use you are going to make of that improved graph.

In some specific cases, the user of a PC intended for video editing or 3D creation needs a graphics configuration composed of more than one dedicated graphics unit.

This possibility of combining several graphics cards in a single PC has a different name depending on whether we choose a model from AMD or Nvidia. In the case of the first, we would be referring to cards compatible with crossfire while those of Nvidia are SLI.

  1. Think about what use you are going to give it

The first thing, we have to consider what we want the graphics card for. If we are only going to use it to watch videos, any low-end card that does not exceed 30 euros is enough. On the contrary, if we want it to play at good level, we will need a mid-range or high-end one, which is a jump to $150-200.

Key: A card of less than 70 euros is not useful to play with a minimum of guarantees.

  1. Names and Ranges

The nomenclature of a graphics card indicates important things, both in the case of AMD and NVIDIA. Examples, an HD 7850 is translated as follows: 7 is the generation or series, 8 is the range, the higher the better, and 5 the position it occupies within the range to which it belongs. So, as noted above, the higher it is, the better. Another example, now with NVIDIA: in the GTX 780 the 7 indicates the generation and the 8 the range, the higher the better.

Key:  If the second figure, which indicates the range, is too low, it means that we are dealing with a graphics card that offers quite poor performance.

  1. NVIDIA or AMD:

Today, both companies offer almost identical performance and are good options. We are not going to go into complicated comparisons. We will only say that both NVIDIA and AMD have optimized games where the differences between one and the other are more pronounced, such as Battlefield 3 in the case of those in green.  So, we do not opt ​​outright by one or the other.

Key:  Both companies offer excellent and very capable products. GPUs various 1mxs5.

  1. More memory is not synonymous with better

A very common mistake among less expert users. A low-end card with 2GB of RAM will perform much worse than a mid-range card with 512MB of RAM. Because, what matters are other things, like the flow processors or shaders, the memory bus, the texturing units, etc.

Key:  While purchasing a graphics card we must look at the range to which it belongs. This is indicated to us, as noted, by the second figure present in the name of the card. For example, if they offer us a GTX 650 with 2 GB and a GTX 660 with 1 GB, we look at the second number. we will know that the second is higher.

  1. The type of memory matters.

Definitely, if they offer us an HD 7770 with 1 GB of GDDR5 and another HD 7770 with 2 GB of DDR3, a dilemma arises for more than one, especially since the second is cheaper than the first. Despite what it may seem at first glance, the important thing is not, once again, the quantity, but the quality. GDDR5 memory is much faster than DDR3, which means better performance in games. On the other hand, current games only use more than 1 GB at resolutions higher than 1080p. These resolutions are reserved for the most powerful cards. The high-end ones, so buying a mid-range or low-end card with more than 1 GB of memory is totally absurd.

Key:  Currently, the fact that a graphics card mounts GDDR5 memory is synonymous with acceptable performance.

  1. Importance of the memory bus

The presence of a 64-bit memory bus indicates that it is a low-end graphics card and that it is not good for gaming. If it has 128 bits and mounts GDDR5 memory, it is a card that offers acceptable performance. On the other hand, if it mounts a 256-bit bus or more, it is a medium or high-end product, very capable.

Key: In the case of the memory bus, more is better.

  1. Nobody gives hard to four pesetas

Indeed, if they tell us that a graphics card has 2 GB and is “great” but costs very little, they are messing us up.

Key: Although it is possible to find offers, power and performance are paid, something costs little it will yield little.

If we take into account in these seven points, we will have it easier when it comes to choosing a graphics card. We will avoid being ripped off. We have tried to make it as easy and simple as possible. But if you have any questions, we invite you to express it in the comments.

How will you keep a graphics card better?

  • Keep driver updated.
  • Monitor the temperature. When it gets too hot, turn off the PC and let it cool down. Use software to control the fan.
  • Don’t even think about overclocking without the help of an experienced person.
  • After a few days, open the card from the motherboard and clean the slot.
  • Use adequate power supply.

Verdict

These are the best tasks before buying a graphics card. Above all, you should take into account the above-mentioned issues. Hopefully, you’re ready for buying the best graphics card.

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