A Beginner’s Guide to Graphics Cards
The IBM PC was the standard computer at the dawn of the computer age, thanks largely to its modular design and replaceable components.
Like the original IBM, every PC’s motherboard now includes slots into which any third-party manufacturer may put the components required to operate the PC. Among these components is the graphics card, which shows all of the pictures on the screen.
What You Should Know About Graphics Cards
A graphics card resembles a miniature version of a computer motherboard; it is a printed circuit board that contains a CPU, RAM, and other components. A graphics card is often referred to as a graphics processing unit, or GPU, although the GPU is simply a component (albeit the main, defining component) of the graphics card.
In reality, GPUs are classified into two types:
The Integrated GPU
The integrated GPU is incorporated into the motherboard and cannot be updated or removed. This is common in laptops and low-cost desktop PCs. Unfortunately, these graphics generally have low performance and are unsuitable for gaming or professional graphics creation activities.
A Discrete GPU
A discrete GPU is installed on a graphics card inserted into a computer’s expansion slot on the motherboard. This kind of graphics card is changeable, which allows it to be updated when newer graphics cards are produced, preventing a PC from becoming outdated.
How Do You Choose a Good One?
Choosing the best graphics card for your budget is a difficult job, but that’s just the beginning. It makes little difference whether you’re considering an AMD or Nvidia GPU; once you’ve decided on a particular GPU—choosing.
Graphics Card Memory Amount
For 1080p gaming, choose a card with at least 6GB of RAM, ideally 8GB or more. If you play with all of the settings cranked up or install high-resolution texture packs, you’ll need additional RAM. More than 8GB is excellent if you’re gaming at extremely high resolutions, such as 4K.
This is crucial. You must ensure that there is enough space in your case for your card. Next, take note of the length, height, and thickness. Graphics cards are available in half-height (slim), single-slot, dual-slot, and triple-slot configurations (or more). Most game cards will be full-height and take up two or more expansion slots, with current-gen cards being thicker and bigger than many previous-generation versions.
TDP is a measurement of heat dissipation, but it also provides you an estimate of how many watts you’ll need to operate your card at factory settings. (Nvidia is switching to TGP, or Total Graphics Power, which refers to the total power of the card.) If you’re using a 400-watt power supply unit (PSU) with an overclocked 95-watt CPU and wish to add a card with a 250-watt TDP, you’ll almost definitely need to upgrade the PSU.
All strong gaming cards use more power than the usual maximum of 75W provided by the x16 PCIe slot. As a result, these cards need the use of additional PCIe power connections, which are available in 6- and 8-pin configurations. (The RTX 30-series cards from Nvidia use 12-pin connections, but they also come with 8-pin to 12-pin adapters.) Some cards have one of these connections, while others have two or three, and 6- and 8-pin ports may coexist on the same card.
This is essential. Some cards with the same GPU (for example, an RTX 3060 Ti) will be factory overclocked to a little higher speed, which may result in a minor variation in frame rates. Memory speed, core counts, and architecture must all be considered in addition to clock speed. On cards with the same GPU, better cooling often overcomes clock speed.
CUDA Cores / Stream Processors:
Like clock speed, this is somewhat significant, but it only tells you a portion of what you need to know when attempting to estimate the approximate performance level. Again, comparing core counts within the same architecture is more informative than comparing core counts across architectures.
So comparing Nvidia Pascal vs. Ampere CUDA cores (or Streaming Multiprocessors) isn’t as helpful as simply Ampere. Similarly, comparing Navi with Vega or Polaris Stream Processors (or Compute Units) isn’t very useful for AMD. It is even less helpful to compare AMD and Nvidia designs just on core counts.
Memory speed / bandwidth
Considerably significant. Greater memory, like quicker clock speed, may make one card faster than another. For example, because of the higher memory bandwidth, the GTX 1650 GDDR6 is about 15% quicker than the GTX 1650 GDDR5.
Ports are critical. Some displays support HDMI, while others support DisplayPort, while some older models only support DVI. A few displays also enable USB Type-C signal routing for DisplayPort signals, although they are currently uncommon. Check that the card you want to purchase has the connections you need for your monitor(s), so you don’t have to purchase an adapter.
Finally, if you’re looking for a Best Graphics Card, we suggest familiarizing yourself with each card’s specifications, comparing benchmarks, and checking out recommendations from reputable sites.
The GPU chip in each graphics card is produced by either NVIDIA or AMD, while the card itself is built by a different manufacturer, such as EVGA, ASUS, or Gigabyte.
The major differences between these manufacturers will be customer service, warranty, noise level, and heatsink quality.
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