Graphics Card

For all those who feel that their laptops or computers are too sloppy or choppy for videos and games, looking for a new graphic card is the way to go. All laptops and computers come with a video card by default for playing videos and games. But not unfrequently, this default video card is not enough to handle more complex graphic processing, seeing as both games and video / image editing software get more demanding by the day. This buying guide deals with the general concept of this component and what should be considered before purchasing a video card. Read buying guide

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Buying guide

MSI GeForce graphics cardKnow what a Graphics Card is

A video graphics card is a small card that is just like a computer in the sense that it comes with its own processor and memory. The cards are designed to take burden from a computer’s processor when dealing with large and complex graphical elements – and they are much more efficient in that regard due to their dedicated structure. It is slotted straight onto the computer’s motherboard and can be easily accessed and replaced with even very basic computer knowledge.

Facts to consider before buying Graphics Cards

Before you even start considering the features of the potential video graphics cards you are looking for, it is a good idea to ask yourself a few questions and take the answers into consideration:

What do I want from the graphics card? What do I need to do with it?

As a matter of fact, many computer users do just fine with the graphics card that comes with their desktop PCs or laptops. If you are planning to buy a new piece, you probably already have at least a vague idea of what you need. If your intention is to just have some added functionalities like splitting the image onto two monitors and transcoding, you’ll probably be good replacing your built-in card with a low-end one in the market. Most of the time, however, people willing for a new graphics card want to play all the latest generations computer games at maximum settings. For that purpose you will most likely have to buy more expensive and powerful units. But remember: always take cost-benefit into consideration. By reading Shopbot’s customer and expert reviews you will notice that even cards which are relative cheap can have a good performance in relation to most users’ average needs, with the really expensive models being intended for a very specific user base with special needs that require a very dedicated setup.


Other factors that can be considered include the slot in which graphics card would be placed. For older computers, PCI or AGP slot is used for placing graphics card. Therefore, always check if the card you wish to buy is compatible with your current motherboard – a card that cannot be slotted into the PC is useless. On the other hand, newer products feature PCI Express Slot, which is usually compatible with latest graphics cards available in the market. Output port is another factor that should be considered. Usually, graphics card come with a port that can be plugged into the monitor or can be plugged into an HDTV. Such cards require HDMI port. So, those who wish to use their Graphics Card with HDTVs should opt for ones with such port.

Choosing a Video Graphics Card

After you have taken these most basic matters into consideration, it’s time to start thinking about the actual relation between performance and cost offered by each individual product. To make an effective evaluation it is important to know what defines a good and powerful video card. Read about some of the most relevant characteristics of these products below.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)Gigabyte AMD video card

Before purchasing Graphics Card, their processing unit is probably the first factor that must be considered. Currently, two companies manufacture most of the GPUs that end up in the best and most sought-after video cards out there. One of them is AMD (previously ATI, known for their Radeon units) and the other one is Nvidia (of the long-standing and famed GeForce unit). Although there are other smaller companies manufacturing this product, these two are by far the most popular choice among both users and graphics card manufacturers. Cards from these manufacturers are available in different price range and both of them offer similar processing speeds for their similar priced products.


There are obviously key differences between how these two major GPU lines work, but it boils down to the fact that the final output is generally much more relevant to the user than the whole process – and they are both fairly equal in that regard. The GPU is what determines the card’s capabilities of handling the actual business. Much like a car’s engine, it’s the centerpiece to get everything running – but not the only thing needed to do so. And just like a motor, they depend on other, smaller parts to actually work. This is where memory and clock speed come into the game.


Like we said earlier, GPUs are similar to CPUs in that they have their own processing core. Being mindful of these is actually pretty important when choosing your video card. For example, the GeForce GTX770 model comes with integrated memories ranging from 2 to 4 GB DDR5. If you have very specific needs regarding GPU memory, this is a very relevant point. The exact amount of memory of GRAM needed for a card shall be determined by the user and the usage of the card. For instance, video games provide a recommendation for memory that a graphics card should have for smooth playing of a game. Similarly, videos also have recommendation. Therefore, if one has a list of games that they would love to play, they should note the overall memory requirement of each product and find a graphics card that provides recommended memory. In fact, users should have more than the recommended memory so that future software, which can be hungry for more memory and better processing speed get that from the new graphics card. Clock speed is another matter that has to be taken into consideration if you intend to tune your video card in the future (a process known as “overclocking”).

Bits, Power and Temperature

Graphics cards usually come anywhere in 64 to 512 bit. These bits are basically a representative of how quickly information travels from processor to the memory. A budget card usually has 128 bits of processing information, but a higher end one should have a minimum of 256 bit processing speed. So, choose the one based on what kinds of games you have to play or what kind of video editing software are required. Moreover, video cards depend more on the Thermal Design Power than any other component of your computer. Some sets can require up to 450 watts of power to run at full efficiency, and it’s very important to take that into consideration and make adequate choices, such as aiming for a less power-intensive unit or investing in a new power supply.


Always keep in mind that you might want to add other components in the future. Temperature control is the next big thing when it comes to video cards; in fact, some users regard it as an absolute top priority. Having a great cooling system for your video card not only means that it will be a much more durable product, but it also means that users have the opportunity to make bigger tweaks when overclocking. Nowadays these cooling systems are pretty efficient, with the WINDFORCE lineup being one of the highlights.

Graphics Video CardMiscellaneous

There are other factors that merit attention when buying a graphics card, even if they are not as closely related as the ones cited above. The size of the unit, for example, is very important when analyzing its compatibility to your PC. If it doesn’t fit, you can’t use it at all. DirectX support is also crucial for running some programs – but, as a general rule, if a card has adequate components to run a program, it will also be compatible with the required DirectX. Nevertheless, it’s good to keep an eye open for that.


The number and type of output ports (dual-link DVI, HDMI, DisplayPorts…) as well as the card’s internal power connectors, support for multi-card setups and other special features which are generally related to the manufacturer. For example, AMD’s Eyefinity technology for running up to six monitors from a single video card, while Nvidia’s PhysX focuses on making it easier for processed objects to behave more like real-life.


If you consider all these factors and do extensive research using Shopbot’s tools for both comparing prices and reading reviews about each product’s performance, buying a new video graphics card will become much more natural and secure.

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