Video card is a processor whose sole purpose is to handle video feeds for a display output device. With time these processors gained its importance and hence its power to take care of more load, that is, more the GPU or Graphics Processing Units’ memory, it is able to feed more pixel information to the display device.
Of this huge market, filled with various GPUs, it is indeed tough to choose one for yourself, which, will keep a balance of both budget and performance. It is advised to have a budget of one-third of the whole computer for the graphics unit since it’s the beauty of the displayed output, which would matter in due time. A little knowledge about the technicalities and thereafter a little hint will make your buying experience easy. Before jumping into specifics of a model, it would be sage to make you aware of the terms like ram memory type, bandwidth, refresh rates, and clock speed. If you like to be able to do some gaming while travelling you should look for a gaming laptop. For some good advice on what to look for and also some specific laptop recommendations, have a look at Tech News Central’s article about gaming laptops.
Clock speed is the time required to process one information. It’s expressed in terms of frequency to make it presentable (seconds will be in order of E -6, and faster the CPU, lesser will be time, inconvenient to express), and to make calculations easier. Factory overclocked unit, sounds awesome, but they are not as good performers as their later higher models, plus it heats up quicker, and is more power craving than the immediate naturally clocked model.
RAM memory type and amount
An amount of physical memory is embedded in the GPU which is required to store the pixel – wise information and flush it into the screen, hence larger the pixel density, more is the RAM required, that is small displays are quite okay with lesser physical memory, whereas you might even need multiple graphics units for 4K displays, hence getting excited for the amount of physical memory a GPU makes no sense. Also, memory types DDR, DDR2, DD3, DD4, DDR5 etc. are available, where DDR means Double Data Rate, which means it will transfer two memory value in one clock cycle, and the trailing digits refers to the number of SDRAMs or Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory, present. Hence it’s no brainer to understand that more the number of RAM groups, more is the bandwidth (next heading to make you understand better) or data transfers per second.
One clock sweep will gather a set of information (that is bits) to transfer, therefore, the amount of data bit transfers taking place in a second is called the Bandwidth. This is the most determining factor for anything. For instance, a 5GB DDR2 GPU looks nice, but a 1GB DDR5 is infinitesimally better because it can handle more data in the same amount of time. For example, if a video card with 200 MHz of type DDR video RAM, which is 128 bits wide then it has a bandwidth of 6.4 GB/s, since it’s DDR, it’ll transfer twice of 128 bits, therefore (128*2) bits * (200 *1000000) Hz = 51200000000 bits per second = 6.4 GB/s.
It’s the speed at which the screen refreshes itself to display the next new image. Higher refresh rates and higher FPS or Frames per Second is required to avoid lags, screen tearing, and stutter. Basically when the program initiates a draw, that is drawing a frame to be presented on screen, but the screen is not yet presented since the screen refresh did not take place, which is therefore called lag, sometimes, portions of the screen gets updated to the new frame, which causes screen tearing.
Also, with advancements of technologies, graphics processors are made to work at par with CPUs to increase performance. Image processing, video rendering being the primary objective, the GPU cores perform tasks in parallel fashion and are faster. CPU performs in serial way to work out the calculation, but technologies like CUDA, and APUs, have hit the market to make computers at least 50 – 60 times faster.
Things to keep in mind:
- Space inside cabinet: The GPU card sizes matters, sometimes it doesn’t fit in the cabinet, take a measure before you spend your hard-earned money. Cooling Systems and higher power supply units might need an extra space.
- Power consumption: Compare your power sources power dispensing capabilities, if it didn’t sign up for powering GPU level load, you might have to upgrade, also high-end GPUs require power conditioning to save itself from voltage fluctuations, thereby buying a trusted power supply will dispense sustained power into the GPU.
- Compatibility with other components: Other components should be as good as your GPU to help you get the best out of your rig, you can’t expect a Pentium Dual Core to keep up with latest GPUs, same goes for RAMs and motherboards, every component has its role and all should be at par to give you the right output, more and less of each other can cause compatibility issues.
- Cooling systems: High performing GPUs often use up a lot of power and get heated up soon, if they are not cooled evenly, they will not perform up to the mark, hence will cause lag and stuttering, also might get too worked up and fail the electro
- Multi – Graphics Units, are not better: If you don’t have a huge display like 4K displays, you are better off with a single higher performing unit. Because different cards would have even the slightest differences, which will cause the other to lag, power dispensing fails, etc. and twice the cards won’t result in twice the performance, it’ll increase the performance to a max of 50%. The Higher addition of which decreases the amount of extra advantage.
MSI GeForce GTX 960
NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 960 Chipset is of 128 – bit wide address space with a GDDR5 memory. It is supported by both DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.4 3D APIs. Supports 2 – Way SLI for future expansion. Has an HDMI port and 3 display ports for multiple monitors. Power consumption is 120 W. Some important features comprises of Armor 2X Thermal Design which delivers more airflow than traditional single fan thermal design. Bigger heatsink size allows better heat dissipation.Propeller Blade Technology emits about 20% more airflow than traditional fan design and produces less noise. Airflow Control technology concentrates more airflow towards heat pipes hence increases cooling and dissipation efficiency.
Built with certified Military Class 4components to MIL-STD-810G standards for top stability and quality. It has an ATX Form Factor of Dimensions 10.75″ x 5.12″(L x H). This card can easily handle rigorous gaming at 1920×1080, minimum power. Choose wisely if you want to upgrade your display to multi or higher resolution or want a cheap, high-performance upgrade, this would be an awesome choice.
MSI GAMING GTX 960 4GB OC Twin Frozr-V HDCP Ready SLI Support (GTX 960 GAMING 4G)
78 new from $219.99
7 used from $190.00
as of June 26, 2016 8:37 am GMT
- Chipset: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
- Video Memory: 4GB GDDR5 7010MHz Memory, Card Dimension - 10.5 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
- Max. Resolution: 4096 x 2160, Support 4x Display Monitors
- Connectors: Input: 8pin PCI-E Power Connector; Output: Dual Link DVI-I, HDMI, 3x DisplayPort's
- 400W System Power Supply Requirement; 120W Power Consumption
EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 750 Ti Chipset is of 128 – bit wide address space with a GDDR5 memory and has 640 CUDA cores for parallel processing of data. It is supported by both DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.4 3D APIs. Has one HDMI port and one display port, that is, no room for multiple monitors. Power Supply of 300 W or more is advised. Some important features comprise of NVIDIA TXAA Technology or temporal anti-aliasing creates a smoother, clearer image than any other anti-aliasing solution by combining high-quality MSAA multisample anti-aliasing, post processes, and NVIDIA-designed temporal filters., NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0, NVIDIA PhysX Technology, NVIDIA FXAA Technology which makes it 60% faster than MSAA, NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync, NVIDIA Surround, NVIDIA CUDA Technology helps in It enables dramatic increases in computing performance by harnessing the power of the graphics processing unit, OpenCL support is Open Computing Language is a low-level API for heterogeneous computing that runs on CUDA-powered GPUs, NVIDIA SHIELD-ReadyGameStream™ technology allows you to bring your SHIELD on the go and access your desktop’s games through a Wi-Fi connection, NVIDIA G-SYNC-Read.
It has an ATX Form Factor of Dimensions 6.70″ x 4.38″ (L x H). One of the best entry level GPUs with the least power consumption to body size ratio, performance is comparable to Radeon R7 260X, which has similar specs at a lesser price. CUDA helps in processing data other than sole graphics, people have been known to use CUDA processors for video and image rendering and bitcoin mining as well.
EVGA Geforce GTX 750 Ti 2GB GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 ACX Cooler 02G-P4-3759-KB
4 new from $154.99
as of June 26, 2016 8:37 am GMT
- Core Clock Speed: 1176 MHz
- Boost Clock Speed: 1255 MHz
- CUDA Cores: 640
- Memory Clock Speed: 5400 MHz Effective
- Memory Bandwidth: 86.4 GB/sec, Bus: PCI-E 3.0, Interface: DVI-I, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2
XFX Radeon R9 285
AMD FreeSyn technology helps to cope up sync with the draw and a scan rate of the display unit and hence putting an end to choppy gameplay and broken frames for almost any frame rate also eliminates image tearing and lags for effortlessly smooth gaming.XFX Ghost Thermal 3.0 Technology has optimized fin arrays and lengthened electroplated heat pipes for extraordinary efficiency and performance for playing through long hours to your heart’s content. It is 256-bit wide addressing, DDR5 type GPU, with one HDMI and one Display port.
Minimum Power Supply required is 500W, Also the ATX form Card has a dimension (L x H) of 8.7″ x 1.5″. It is supported by both the famous 3D APIs. No lag streaming makes game playing seamless.
MSI Graphics Cards R9 285 GAMING 2G
3 new from $263.61
1 used from $199.00
as of June 26, 2016 8:37 am GMT
- AMD Radeon R9 285 GPU
- 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 VRAM
- Display Port, DL-DVI-I, DL-DVI-D and HDMI
- PCI Express 3.0
- Advanced Thermal Design: TWIN FROZR IV
MSI R9 Radeon 380
Made to fit in PCI Express 3.0 slots, with 256-bit addressing space, and of GDDR5 memory type, it is the most advanced GPU of its class. DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.4 support is available. Power Consumption at a very nominal 150W is very minimal compared to other GPUs with the similar performance. AMD released features are Next-Gen Thermal Design: Twin Frozr V, which gives you less noise and heat, hence lets you forget about the cooling system. Its inbuilt fans will be enough to keep it cool and calm for your rigorous gaming.
Torx Fan – Maximizes airflow and dispersion. Super Pipe – Improves dissipation efficiency through special Heatpipe layout. Zero Frozr – Fans stop spinning in low load to keep the card quiet and increase lifetime.Airflow Control technology – Deflects airflow towards heat pipes to improve thermal and dissipation efficiency. Built with certified Military Class 4 components to MIL-STD-810G standards for top stability and quality. In the bundle; gaming apps, Easy Tuning – OC, Gaming and Silent modes adjust Graphics Card settings based on user requirements. Eye Rest – Dedicated color profiles for Gaming, movies, and Eye Rest, allow to custom visually related setting what you like. LED control chooses – from 5 unique lighting modes to set the right ambiance for their gaming moments with just one click. ATX form card with dimensions (L x H) 10.55″ x 5.43″. A pretty impressive choice, for the given budget.
MSI R9 380 GAMING 2G Graphics Card
38 new from $192.45
1 used from $185.00
as of June 26, 2016 8:37 am GMT
- Chipset: AMD Radeon R9 380
- Core Clock: 970 MHz (Silent Mode), 980 MHz (Gaming Mode), 1000 MHz (OC Mode)
- Video Memory: 2GB GDDR5
- Memory Clock: 5500 MHz (Basic Mode), 5600 MHz (OC Mode)
- Memory Interface: 256-bit
XFX Radeon R7 370
GDDR5 memory type with 256 addressing space, and an HDMI slot and a Display port, version 1.2. This GPU stretches your screen the max of 2048 x 1536 for analog display units, for 2560 x 1600 (DVI) digital and; 4096 x 2160 for HDMI; DP. Minimum Power supply required is 500 W, that is a little hungry on power, and hence will also produce a lot of heat, you’ll obviously need to have a separate cooling system for your rig. It also has the XFX Ghost Thermal 3.0 Technology which reduces heat and helps endless gameplay. The card is of Card Dimensions ( 9.21” x 4.53”). Highly advisable for a gaming rig. One of the best performers.
XFX DOUBLE DISSIPATION R7 370 995MHZ XXX OC 4GB DDR5 DISPLAYPORT HDMI DUAL DVI Graphics Card R7-370P-F24M
3 new from $169.99
as of June 26, 2016 8:37 am GMT
- 4GB DDR5 Memory
- XFX Double Dissipation Cooling Design
- 975MHz GPU Clock
To end with, all other graphics cards has its own specifics, which obviously makes the other stand out some way or the other. But it’s still a case of compatibility with the other hardware you have, A strong GPU is a waste of money if the other hardware used alongside doesn’t have the capability to drive/get driven by a superior piece. Try making a list of pros and cons, before spending for anything.