If you’re looking into building a gaming PC, it is essential to pick the right GPU for your setup. The process of choosing the right GPU, however, can be nerve-wracking, as there's so much to consider, from the type of monitor you’re using to the size of your chassis and more.
If you are well-aware of your PC requirements and performance goals within a given budget, it’s quite easier to pick a GPU as per your needs. Here are a few factors that need to be taken into account before purchasing a GPU.
The GPU market is flooded with hundreds of graphics card from dozens of manufacturers. But only two companies – AMD and Nvidia – make the GPUs that power these components.
If you’re on a tight budget, go for AMD. There is none to beat AMD in terms of price. AMD offers powerful budget, mid-range, and upper-tier GPUs at a competitive price.
If it is the performance that matters to you the most, Nvidia should be your go-to choice. Nothing from AMD can outperform Nvidia’s top-tier cards today. Nvidia, however, comes with a hefty price tag.
AMD Radeon RX graphic cards seem to consistently offer more bang for your buck in the lower price bracket. Nvidia, on the other hand, rules the high-end GPU market with more powerful and expensive cards.
The monitor requirement is another factor that should determine your purchasing decision. What does your monitor supports – Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync? Both of these technologies synchronize the refresh rate between the video card and the display to eliminate tearing. It is crucial to choose a GPU that is compatible with your monitor.
For serious gaming at 1080p, you better opt for a graphics card with at least 3GB of memory. It is recommended to go for 4 GB though. You’ll need more memory if you play with all the settings turned up or you install high-resolution texture packs. For gaming at higher resolutions such as 1440p or 4K, 8 GB or more is ideal.
Also, you need to pay attention to memory bandwidth. Data ready to be processed by the GPU is usually stored on the card’s dedicated memory called as GDDR3, GDDR4, GDDR5, or GDDR6. Note that GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth of GDDR3 clocked at the same rate.
Check the dimension of the graphics card before making a purchase, as you need to be certain that there will be space in the case for your GPU.
Take note of the power supply as well. How many amps can it supply on the 12v rails? How many watts is it rated for, and how many six- and eight-pin PCIe connectors does it have? Cross-reference this information with the graphics card you want to buy. If your computer can’t handle it, you’ll want to look for a graphics card that will require less power or consider a power upgrade.
Lastly, check the ports. Some monitors use DisplayPort, others have HDMI, and some older units only use DVI. Ensure the card you want to buy has the connectors you need for your monitors. If you buy a card with different ports from the ones on your monitor, you may have to buy an adapter at an extra cost.
While CUDA cores don’t tell you much about performance, they are very important, especially in gaming. CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is Nvidia’s proprietary parallel computing language that works to leverage the GPU in specific ways to perform tasks with greater accuracy. A CUDA core is Nvidia’s equivalent to AMD’s Stream Processors.
The more the number of CUDA cores or Stream Processors, the better the GPU is at rendering outstanding visuals. This is very important for handling intensive graphics work or in gaming where frame rates are paramount.
Just like CPU, the GPU produces heat for all the processing work it does, which is shown by its TDP value. TDP values indicate the amount of power required to keep the GPU at an acceptable temperature. The more power the GPU requires; the more heat it will produce. As such, always go for the GPU with the smallest TDP value.
If you take all the issues mentioned above into consideration while purchasing a GPU, you are most likely to end up with a PC that delivers the desired output, in general. Investing in a capable GPU will not only get you a capable PC for graphic intensive work but also give you a more fluid and immersive gaming experience.