How to Pick a Graphics Card for Gaming

The Graphics card is the second most important computer element after the processor. It plays a direct role in the system’s performance, speed, and efficiency, especially if you play games for entertainment purposes or do content creation. If we look at its duties, it takes the graphics-related load from the processor and processes that data, and presents that onto the screen. So, if your job is anyhow related to image processing, video editing, 3D rendering, or development, a good-quality card is your necessity. 

When we have seen why we need a card then let us check the latest trends in the tech market. All the actual brands or third-party manufacturers are trying their best to revolutionize the industry, which is a good thing. But it’s making the market complex and more difficult for ordinary users to uncover some best-suiting products for them. But don’t worry since we have answered, how to pick a graphics card, in this post. So, read until the end and know more about analyzing the card market.

Know your budget first

The first and most important thing is to know your budget. It’s obvious that a graphics card with a higher price tag carries more performance than a one with a lower price. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t find something impressive at an affordable price because you can. The prices for cards can start at 200$ up to 2000$ dollars. But do we really need such an expensive card? Well, I should go for excellent value instead of the price tag. 

As I mentioned earlier, a card with a higher price usually has the same performance. So, if you’re a high-end gamer or serious content creator and can spend nearly 1000$ on a card, suggest you go for it. This investment can last up to several years and can give you a future-proof combination when paired with a processor. So, if you have enough budget for a high-end card without breaking your bank, you must go for it. 

Why do you want a graphics card?

Graphics cards come in many different features, specifications, shapes, and sizes. They are separated and selected differently by the customers according to their needs and requirements. This is why we have added this factor to know your purpose. If you are not sure what kind of graphics card will work best for your needs, then it may be time to do some research. Many buyers often undertake this factor but buy an inappropriate unit wasting their money and time.

There are hundreds of graphics cards from tens of brands. All are made for several users and their different types of usage. For example, if you’re a developer or often train some models in machine learning, you can work out with a mid-tier graphics card. You don’t have to invest in a high-end card made for gamers or content creators. Well, gamers or content creators can invest in some sort of ultra-edge products since they may need those during their intensive workloads. 

Desktop vs. laptop graphics cards

The differences between desktops and laptops are numerous, but one thing that stands out is how each type of computer requires a specific kind of card. You can find several differentiating factors, like form factor, performance, speed, and price. In this section, we will be looking at those factors that create differences in both types of cards. 

Form factor

The most famous difference is the different sizes that you’ll notice between the cards for desktops and laptops. The graphics cards for laptops are smaller and don’t require as much input power to run since they have to fit into a small chassis. In contrast, the desktops’ PC towers are bigger in size and can accommodate bigger graphics cards. So, these cards are bigger and more powerful in terms of performance and memory. 

Performance

The laptop’s graphics cards are not as powerful as the PCs and it may take longer for certain tasks to complete on laptops due to their less-powerful cards. It’s obvious that you can’t play high-end games and do content creation on the same level as on desktops. Interestingly, the brands are trying their best to reduce this gap in performance between both types of cards but it’s still there. 

Price

The laptop cards’ performance is less than that of desktop ones, but they often cost more. It seemed like a strange discovery for me until I realized why–manufacturers have to take care when building smaller cards and keep everything portable without disrupting how people use their laptops. For such an extra consideration, they have to do extra things that cost more than the normal bigger graphics cards. 

How much memory is enough?

The most asked question on the internet when choosing a card to purchase is how much video memory it has and what we need. Well, it’s important because we want our graphics processor to be effective at rendering during intense workload conditions with more information being loaded into its calculations and passing through execution quickly. 

The more memory you have, the better it is for you and your performance. Starting for the very basic needs, 2GB is enough for basic programming and development but may be too little if your job requires creative work like gaming or professional creations. You can choose 4-6 GB to suit well in these cases since they give potential users plenty of space without compromising on their needs when it comes to processing power.  

As far as the gaming performance matters, the card’s memory depends on the resolution you want when playing games. Most modern, high-end video cards run the latest AA titles at 1080p with 6GB. But you may need at least 8GB or more of available space for an effective 1440P/4K in-game experience without any problems. So consider these factors and then choose the card’s size according to your needs and expectations. 

Quick Shopping Tips:

Brand: AMD or NVIDIA

Nvidia and AMD are both great brands in terms of manufacturing good-quality cards. But if you’re looking for a graphics card with the most features or price-to-quality ratio then NVIDIA should be your first choice. Their cards have been improving over time while AMD’s real-time ray tracing still isn’t up to par yet. That being said it really depends on what kind of performance boost someone wants from their GPU so overall either brand can work fine in this situation.

What about the display?

It’s a total waste of money if you buy an expensive card that can provide 4k resolution but want it to match with your monitor with only 1080p capabilities. You should make sure before ordering, whether or not the resolution capabilities on both devices are the same or not because otherwise they’ll just seem like contrast without any real quality. In short, check the monitor’s resolution, fps, and refresh rate, and buy a card accordingly. 

Clock speeds and overclocking

The clock speed of a graphics card is an important factor to consider. You can think about it as the overall operational effort or speed put into rendering frames and usually measured in MHz or GHz (or some other unit). A base sped-up version will typically have higher boost speeds available through overclocking, allowing more headroom for manually adjusting settings if needed. So, buy a card with higher clock speeds and overclocking headroom. c

TDP

Each computer element uses electricity to operate and a proper input power supervises the component’s performance and speeds. Like most computer elements, graphics cards come with a power supply recommendation by the manufacturer at which it works effectively. There is a rated TDP that indicates the least power at which a particular element can work and operate properly. You must ensure to provide sufficient input power to the card so it can function at a peak pace.

Cooling performance 

Graphics cards produce a lot of heat when they’re running at maximum clock speeds. If you want to keep your graphics card running at a stable speed, make sure that it has good-quality cooling with plenty of airflows and adequate heat dissipation via the given heatsink. It’s also important since a card can provide adequate overclocking performance only when it has adequate thermal management. 

Can it support VR?

Since the metaverse and block-chain based technologies are evolving so much that the graphics cards should have VR support. It not only allows you to survive in the current-era games but also lets you enjoy connecting the higher-resolution headsets. You can skip this factor if you’re not a VR enthusiast but its lover must keep reading until the end to gather more information. 

Well, you can’t expect good-quality VR support with some low-quality graphics cards. To do so, you need to use the GPUs with PV VR HMD that often comes with mid-range to high-end products. You can go for NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super or AMD RX 5700 or any higher-end card. Some affordable options include AMD Radeon RX 570 and NVIDIA GTX 1060 with a good-quality performance. 

What about ray tracing and AI?

Ray Tracing technology allows the card to automatically adjust the lighting during the gaming session to present appealing scenes and graphics on the screen. On top of that, the Tensor cores are there in numerous graphics cards that further enhance the quality with the help of AI-based enhancements. Both these technologies are the backbone of the attractive graphics and NVIDIA is famous for embedding these into its cards. 

If we look at the current tech market, the NVIDIA RTX 30-series GPUs are perfect in terms of ray tracing and DLSS technology. In addition, the AMD RX 6000-series card has pretty much the same ray-tracing performance as Nvidia’s previous-generation RTX 20-series but lacks the DLSS feature. But AMD has given FidelityFX Super Resolution but it’s not the same type of features and can’t fulfill the requirements. 

Check the customers’ reviews

In the end, you must ask some experts about your choice and let them tell you about it. If it’s not possible then there is another way as well. When you are looking for a graphics card, it’s important to check reviews from people who have bought the product and used them. I think this is one of those features that can really help narrow down your options so they don’t end up being something bad or just not what we wanted at all.

There are so many online eCommerce stores where sellers put their own thoughts about any given piece of hardware–so take advantage by checking the reviews on the platforms which seem most reliable before making purchases yourself. You can visit famous stores like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and more to do this thing. Don’t read all the comments but check the people’s reactions about the specific card’s performance, speeds, and other important aspects.

Conclusion

Graphics cards are often one of the most difficult components to buy for a new PC, and that’s because they’re so important. Not only do you need to understand graphics card jargon like several terminologies and important factors, but also how each different type of card will perform according to your specific needs. May this be the reason why we have received hundreds of messages from our customers telling them, how to pick a graphics card?

An incredibly high-end GPU could last for eight years or more with proper care and maintenance; however, this will depend largely upon how often you play games and do content creation. During the process of purchasing one, make sure to check the form factor, price, performance, and thermal management capabilities of the card. Moreover, you must match the output of the card with the monitor and check whether it can present that or not.

Aleem Iqbal
Aleem Iqbal is a hardcore gamer since childhood. He developed his passion for writing due to gaming. He is a graduate of Virtual University. He started writing about 4 years ago.