Since I’m a gamer, I do spend a lot of time while buying hardware for my personal computer. I wouldn’t say that I have the best gaming PC, but I will say that I’ve have the best gaming and multimedia PC for the amount that I’ve spent so far. I’ve seen many people buying or spending a lot of money on some graphics card which didn’t worked as they expected. As a gamer and a computer geek I will try to explain some of the major aspects about graphics card that you should always look into before buying a graphics card.
Memory isn’t everything
Most of the people I know other than my friends, always say that we have 2GB graphics card, and it’s better than my card. This isn’t the case always. There are a lot of things that matters in a graphics card other than memory. Like its architecture, shaders, GPU chip model, clock frequency, memory frequency, bus width, memory type, and bandwidth.
For example a graphics card with 2GB memory of 128-bit bus width will lose by a big margin from a 512MB 256-bit bus width graphics card.
When two cards have the same memory, same memory frequency and clock frequency, then bus-width make a big difference. For a 256-bit bus width graphics card, the bandwidth just doubles when compared with a 128-bit bus width graphics card.
Similarly memory type also plays a major role. As GDDR = ½ GDDR2 = ½ GDDR3 = ½ GDDR5. This is only applicable if all the above mentioned factors are the same.
Choosing the right make and model
Now choosing the right model and make of graphics card among both ATI and NVidia.
If you think buying a newer generation graphics card of ATI, say ATI 5670 is a lot better than ATI 4xxx series, then you are mistaken. The old and mighty ATI 4870 will trash ATI 5670 and even ATI 5830 to some extent. Here is little trivia about ATI which you should know, ever saw the graphics card model as here 4870. You see that I marked the second digit of the model, because it is the main aspect which tells whether the card is low-range, mid-range, or high-end graphics card.
- 3-5: Low end or multimedia PC
- 6-7: Mid-range or middle entry gaming cards
- 8: High end graphics card
For NVidia, there is no such thing as number, but characters as GS
So you got my point that many older generation graphics card are faster than the newer generation graphics card.
Power Requirements and MotherBoard Specification
Now this is a common mistake many people make. If you buy graphics card like GTX 580 and don’t have a power supply minimum of 800W, you’re just going to fry your motherboard and graphics card. So before buying graphics card kindly check it power supply specification. These specifications are always given on the graphics card box.
Another thing which people often forget is the memory bus interface supported by your motherboard. Think if you have the newer generation cards that have support for PCI-E 3.0 x16 and you’re using it on PCI-E 2.0 x16. Then this will only bottleneck your cards performance as it will run on almost half the power it can run on.
Slower RAM and CPU
Now if you have a faster graphics card like the one I mentioned above NVidia GTX 580 and run it with a dual core processor, then you’re slow CPU will only make your card run a lot slower than it actually can. This happens because the card has to wait for your CPU to do the processing work and has to work hand in hand. Vice versa is also not good. Like if you have Corei7 and have an ATI 4350, then your card will only make your processor run slow as it has to wait for fetching data from your slow card.
Similarly try to keep your RAM upgraded to match your gaming and hardware preferences.
Which graphics card to buy according to your need?
This is the most important thing which you should know before buying a new graphics card. If you’re among the people who play older online games like Counter Strike and DOTA, then a lower range or a low mid-range graphics card will do the trick.
If you want a graphics card to play online MMORPG or games like CRYSIS at 19” or 20” monitors with anti-aliasing low or turned off then you can go for mid-range graphics card.
If you want to play high-end games on large screens or multiple monitor, then go for high performance or high-end graphics card.
If you’re among the people who want to just watch movies with good picture quality with a little bit of designing, then choose high low-end card or low mid-range graphics card.
Low-End Graphics Card:
NVidia– Geforce GTX 630,620, 610.
ATI– Radeon 5350, 5370, 5450.
Mid-End Graphics Card:
NVidia– Geforce GTX 460, 470, 560.
ATI– Radeon 5770, 6770, 5750
High-End Graphics Card:
NVidia– Geforce GTX 480, 580, 680.
ATI– Radeon 5970, 6970, 5870×2
Closing Words: I think I explained most important facts that you should know before buying a graphics card. If you still have some dilemma about which graphics card you want to buy, you’re free to throw in questions.