Shopbot's Official 2020 Buying Guide for Graphics Cards
The most important thing is research, and a basic understanding of computer builds. You will need to have a set budget for your graphics card, as this is the most expensive part of your PC. If you are building from scratch, then you should work out your total spending budget for your build and set aside 30%-40% of that for the GPU.
You will also need to consider what you will be using it for, as this will drastically affect the choice of your card. For gamers, the entry-level to mid-range will work well if you are on a budget. For hardcore gaming, then you’ll be in the market for a high-end GPU. For more compute-intensive tasks such as video rendering or mining cryptocurrency, you will need to look at a specific range of cards.
Let’s take a look at some key points:
·GPU (Nvidia & AMD)
·Reference and Non-Reference Cards
·Case & Cooling
·Monitor Resolution & Refresh Rate
GPU (Nvidia and AMD):
There are two main manufacturers of GPUs that power these components Nvidia and AMD. AMD has become more competitive with its upper-mid-range and well-priced GPUs. The Navi-based RX 5000-series cards have managed to match Nvidia on the power consumption front. Nvidia is unmatched at the very top of the range market, as AMD cannot outperform the RTX cards today.
Reference and Non-reference Cards:
·Reference cards refer to the original design and architecture of the card design. These cards are manufactured by the two prominent companies Nvidia and AMD.
·Non-reference Cards is a customized card produced by other manufacturing companies, and they build different cooling systems on the card and make adjustments where they think it is needed to boost performance.
It is essential to get the wattage that will power your GPU and the whole system. Look in the range of the “80 Plus” power supply as they are the best quality and most stable power delivery.
Case and Cooling:
The other key factor to look at is the size of your case. This will determine the size of your card if you have already chosen your case; if not, then get a case that will fit your card as there are many shapes and sizes on the market to-date, so keep that in mind.
The other point you will need to consider is the cooling within the case and will it effectively keep your GPU cool and running at an optimal temperature if the GPU gets too hot this will lead to thermal throttling so try to keep your system and GPU as cool as possible to allow for peak performance.
Thermal Design Power (TDP) is a measurement of heat dissipation, and this helps you estimate how many watts you will need to run the card at stock settings.
Most GPU cards require connecting additional PCIe power connectors that come in six- and eight-pin varieties, you may even find that some cards have multiple variants of this port set up.
If your power supply doesn’t have the additional connectors you need, you should get adapters that draw power from SATA or Molex connectors or just simply upgrade.
Ports are of consideration as you will need to match up your port on your motherboard to the cards connector, then you need to make sure your power supply has enough PCIe plugs to connect to the card. Some monitors have HDMI, and others use DisplayPort check the card has the connectors you need for your monitor, so you do not have to buy an adapter.
Monitor Resolution & Refresh Rates:
Matching your monitor resolution is also essential, as this will affect your display performance. The basic card will run 1080P at 30-60fps display, but if you are going for a 4K/8K at 120fps resolution, then look at the high-end range of GPUs.
Dual cards are not worth it unless you must. Multi-card SLI setups vary in support per game, rather get the best single card you can afford.
V-RAM or Graphics card memory:
For gaming at 1080p, 4GB V-RAM will work well. You will need 8GB or higher if you play ultra-high settings turned up, or you are gaming at extremely high resolutions such as 4K or 8K.
CUDA Cores or Stream Processors:
This refers to the number of processing units in the GPU, similar to the number of cores in a processor, the more, the better.
Ray Tracing (RT):
RT is relatively new to graphics cards; it deals with advanced computing tasks like reflection, refraction, scattering, and dispersion in new games to give a whole new level of realism and more intense shading.
Wrapping it Up
Research and benchmark tests are the best way to make an informed decision. Look at the performance and features a card can deliver to you today. It also is advised to look at what will serve you best in the future, especially when spending several hundred dollars on a graphics card.