How to choose the right graphics card for your computer

How to choose the right graphics card for your computer

Choosing a video card for your computer is not an easy thing to do and it is worth taking it responsibly. The purchase is quite expensive, so you must pay attention to some important details so as not to overpay for unnecessary options or buy a card that is too weak.

In this article, we will not give recommendations on specific models and manufacturers, but will only provide information for reflection, after which you can make your own decisions on the choice of graphics adapters.

Selecting a graphics card

When choosing a video card for your computer, the first thing to do is decide your priorities. For a better understanding, let's divide computers into three categories: office ., game и workers. This will make it easier to answer the question "why do I need a computer?" There is another category. "Multimedia center".which we will also talk about below.

The main goal when choosing a graphics adapter is to get the performance you need, without overpaying for extra cores, texture blocks, and megahertz.

Office computer

If the machine is intended to be used for word processing, rudimentary graphics programs, and browsers, it may be called an office computer.

For these machines, cheaper graphics cards, colloquially called "plugs", are quite adequate. These are AMD R5, Nvidia GT 6 and 7 series, GT 1030 has been recently announced.

At the time of writing, all featured accelerators have 1-2GB of onboard video memory, which is more than enough for normal activity. For example, Photoshop requires 512MB to use its full functionality.

Among other things, the cards in this segment have a very low power consumption or "TDP". (The GT 710 has 19W!), Which allows passive cooling systems to be installed on them. These models carry the prefix in their names "Be quiet". and they are completely silent.

Office machines equipped in this way have the ability to run some not very demanding games as well.

Computer for games.

Gaming graphics cards occupy the biggest niche among these devices. In this case, the choice depends mainly on the budget that is planned to be mastered.

An important aspect is also what is planned to be played on a computer of this type. To determine whether the gameplay on this accelerator will be comfortable, the results of numerous tests published on the Internet will help.

To find the results, just type in Yandex or Google a query consisting of the name of the video card and the word "tests". For instance, "GTX 1050Ti Testing"..

With a small budget, it pays to pay attention to the mid- and low-end video cards in the current lineup when planning your purchase. You may have to sacrifice some "frills" of the game, lower the graphics settings.

In the event that funds are not limited, you can also look for HI-END class devices, that is, the older models. Here it should be understood that performance does not increase in proportion to price. The GTX 1080 is sure to be more powerful than its little sister, the 1070, but the gameplay "by eye" can be the same in both cases. The price difference can be quite large.

Work PC.

When choosing a graphics card for a work machine, we have to decide which programs we intend to use.

As mentioned above, an office card is quite suitable for Photoshop, whereas programs such as Sony Vegas, Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, and other video editing programs that have a "viewing window" (a window for previewing processing results) will already require a more powerful graphics accelerator.

Most modern rendering programs actively use a video card when producing 3D or video scenes. Naturally, the more powerful the adapter, the less time will be spent on processing.
The most suitable cards for rendering are those of Nvidia with its technology CUDA, allowing you to take full advantage of the hardware capabilities in encoding and decoding.

There are also professional accelerators in nature, such as Quadro (Nvidia) and FirePro (AMD), which are used in complex 3D scene and model processing. The cost of professional devices can be exorbitant, making their use in home workplaces unprofitable.

The professional equipment lines also include cheaper solutions, but the "Pro" cards are highly specialized and at a similar price will lag behind the conventional GTX in the same games. In case you plan to use your computer only to render and work in 3D applications, it makes sense to buy the "pro" ones.

Multimedia center

Multimedia computers are designed to play various content, especially video. For some time now, movies with 4K resolution and huge bit rates (the amount of information transmitted per second) have appeared. In the future, these parameters will only grow, so when choosing a video card for multimedia, you must pay attention to whether it will process this stream effectively.

It seems that normal movies are not able to "load" the adapter to 100%, but in fact 4K video can significantly "slow down" on weak cards.

Content weighting trends and new coding technologies (H265) force us to look for new and modern models. At the same time, the cards of the same line (10xx from Nvidia) have the same blocks in the graphics processor PureVideoIt decodes the video stream, so there is no point in overpaying.

Since the TV is supposed to be connected to the system, you should worry about having a connector HDMI 2.0 on the video card.

The amount of video memory

As you know, memory is the kind of thing you can never have in excess. Modern game projects "gobble up" resources with a terrifying appetite. Based on this we can conclude that it is better to buy a card with 6 GB than with 3 GB.

For example, Assasin's Creed Syndicate with "Ultra" graphics preconfigured at FullHD (1920 × 1080) resolution consumes more than 4,5 GB.

The same game with the same settings at 2,5K (2650 × 1440):

At 4K (3840x2160), even owners of high-end graphics adapters will have to lower the settings. It is true that there are 1080 Ti accelerators with 11 GB of memory, but their price starts at 600 dollars.

All of the above applies only to gaming solutions. The presence of more memory on office graphics cards is not a necessity, because it would simply be impossible to run a game on them that is capable of mastering this volume.

Brands

The current reality is such that the difference between the quality of the products of the different suppliers (manufacturers) is leveled to the maximum. The aphorism "Palit burns well" is no longer relevant.

The differences between the cards in this case are in the installed cooling systems, the presence of additional power phases, which allow to achieve stable operation in overclocking, as well as the addition of several, useless from a technical point of view, «beauties »Such as RGB backlighting.

Later we will talk a little about the effectiveness of the technical part, but about the "pluses" of design (read: marketing) we can say the following: there is a positive point here: it is an aesthetic pleasure. Positive emotions have never hurt anyone.

Refrigeration system

A GPU cooling system with lots of heat pipes and a huge heatsink will of course be much more efficient than a simple piece of aluminum, but when choosing a graphics card, keep the heat pack (TDP). You can find out the package size on the official website of the chip manufacturer, for example Nvidia, or directly on the product card in the online store.

Below is an example with the GTX 1050 Ti.

As you can see, the package is quite small, most of the more or less powerful CPUs have TDP starting at 90W, while they are quite successfully cooled with cheap box coolers.

I5 6600K:

Conclusion: if the choice fell on the junior in line cards, it makes sense to buy the cheapest, since the surcharge for the «efficient» cooling system can reach 40%.

With older models, things are much more complicated. Powerful accelerators need good heat evacuation from both the GPU and the memory chips, so it wouldn't hurt to read tests and reviews of video cards with different settings. We have already mentioned how to search for evidence before.

With or without overclocking

Obviously, increasing the operating frequencies of the GPU and video memory should have a better effect on performance. Yes, this is true, but with an increase in performance you will also increase the power consumption, and therefore the heating. In our humble opinion, overclocking is advisable only if it is impossible to work or play comfortably without it.

For example, without overclocking the video card is not able to provide a stable frame rate per second, it "hangs", it "freezes", the FPS drops to a value where it is simply impossible to play. In this case, you can consider overclocking or buying an adapter with higher frequencies.

If, on the other hand, the game is developing normally, there is no reason to overrate the specifications. Modern GPUs are quite powerful, so a frequency increase of 50 to 100 megahertz will not be more comfortable. However, some popular resources go out of their way to draw our attention to the notorious "overclocking potential" which, from a practical point of view, is of no use.

This applies to all video card models that have the prefix in their name "OC"which means "overclocked" or factory overclocked, or "Play". (Play). Manufacturers do not always explicitly indicate in the name that the adapter is overclocked, so you have to look at the frequencies and, of course, the price. These types of cards are usually more expensive, as they require better cooling and a powerful power subsystem.

Of course, if the goal is to score a bit more points in the synthetic tests, to amuse your self-esteem, it is worth buying a more expensive model that can withstand a good overclocking.

AMD or Nvidia.

As you may have noticed, in the article we describe the principles of adapter choice using Nvidia as an example. If your eyes are on AMD, all of the above can apply to Radeon cards as well.

Conclusion:

When choosing a graphics card for your computer, you should be guided by your budget, your goals and common sense. Decide for yourself how you will use your workplace and choose the model that best suits your situation and that you can afford.

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