Most of the electronic device or gadget we use has a display screen. E.g. Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone etc. even the gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation require display to play. Watching movies, browsing etc are some of the common task done using such electronic devices. There are some applications or task in devices like computers, laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles which require more processing power to make the images or video on the screen to look better. CAD, rendering, video editing , high-end gaming(like Crysis, Call of Duty, Battlefield etc) are some of the application that require more processing which are usually processed by integrated graphic adapter or an external dedicated graphic card(video card).
|Nvidia Geforce 780 – Graphic Card|
Integrated graphics adapter are those which are built in motherboards which have relatively low processing power compared to external dedicated graphic card. The graphic cards are exclusively meant for applications like CAD, rendering, visual effects, video editing, high-end gaming etc. Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Maya, AutoCAD, Adobe After Effects etc are some of the software applications which uses the graphic card to a maximum extent. Most of the current generation high-end games require graphic card to render the game on the display or screen. The graphic cards can also be called as GPU (Graphical Processing Unit). Now let us see some of the factors and tips to be noted before buying a graphic card.
Brand & Generation of the GPU/Graphic Card
There are two top brands namely Nvidia and ATI and they are pioneers in graphic cards. Both of those companies offer wide series of graphic cards built with various technologies. The brand is something which you must decide on. It is always better to buy current generation hardware since it will be equipped with latest technology. Say for example the latest series of graphic cards from Nvidia is Geforce 700 series which offer Shadowplay feature to record the gameplay video without affecting the performance during games. There will always be major improvements in hardware, performance and features in latest generation cards compared to the pervious generation. Shadowplay is an example for it. Some of the other features include multi-monitor support, overclocking capabilities etc.
Level of Graphic Card
Once you have decided the brand and generation, the next thing you must decide on is the model which will be one among the 4 levels of categories namely entry-level cards, mid-range cards, high-end cards and enthusiast cards. The levels represent the powers that it can deliver and of course higher the level and higher will be the price. The entry level cards are meant for photo editing and video editing applications. E.g. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere. Mid-end, high-end and enthusiast cards offer great performance for visual effects and particularly gaming. The performance in gaming depends on the gameplay settings like resolution, ant aliasing etc. The enthusiast cards offer maximum performance with maxed out settings. The current generation cards even offer support for 4K resolution displays.
Model vs GPU-RAM
There are many people who are always concerned about the RAM in graphic cards. Many think that having a 2GB graphic card like Geforce 630 which is low-end card can satisfy their needs when it comes to gaming. Just think of one thing. Is a $100 USD priced 2GB Geforce 630 card equivalent to $200 USD priced 2GB Geforce 650 card? It’s not. It is also the model which decides the performance of it. RAM is just a memory to hold the data. It is the processor in graphic card which is going to process the files. The processor in graphic card should be capable of processing the application files which you are running. Always better will the processor performance with better model of cards. RAM technology is another thing to notice and GDDR5 is the latest technology in terms of RAM in graphic cards. You may find 2 cards with same models but sometimes the RAM technology differ in GDDR4 and GDDR5. It is better to look for GDDR5 since it offers faster memory access.
PCI-E Interface Support
Most of the current generation graphic cards are installed in motherboards with PCI-E interface and most motherboards do have it. But note that most of the new graphic cards have support for PCI-E v2.0 or even v3.0. If you use the graphic card which supports PCI-E v2.0 in PCI-E v2.0 compatible motherboard, that won’t be an issue. If you use the graphic card which supports PCI-E v2.0 in PCI-E v1.0 compatible motherboard, then you will get only half the bandwidth used and the other half will be unutilized. So check for the PCI-E compatibility in the motherboard.
Power Supply Unit is the hardware unit in desktop that power up the entire hardware in the system. Your PSU should be capable enough to run the graphic card which requires more power compared to the other hardware. Most of the low-end cards are powered by the PCI-E interface itself. But most of the other cards require external power supply from the PSU. So PSU specification is another important thing to take care of.
There are multiple ranges of graphic cards with different sizes or form factors. Some of the old cabinets may not support space for newer cards. This problem arises usually when installing enthusiastic cards in older cabinets. This problem may even arise with some of the high end cards.
I have almost covered some of the important things to be noted when buying a graphic card. It is always better to read many reviews, watch unboxing videos, watch video reviews to know in depth about the card which you are buying.