When assembling a new game pc, the video card is definitely one of the most important components. The fact is that it performs most of the hard work when it comes to gaming graphics, so it is not surprising that the choice of this peripheral device is a priority.
However, as often happens, in the case of computer equipment, there are several factors that should be considered when choosing a video card: from performance Before compatibility.
Considering all this, as well as the fact that many users are wondering what video card to choose, we created a special guide, in which we will consider and answer the general issues that may arise from newcomers (and not only)!
graphic Processor and video card: What is the difference?
Many probably noticed that the terms " The graphics processor" and the "video card" are often used as synonyms, however it is worth noting that this is not the same - between They have a difference.
The term "graphics processor" (abbreviated GPU - Graphics Processing Unit) is a specialized processor that is designed to handle graphics and applies specifically to graphic chips. At the moment, NVIDIA and AMD are two leading providers of graphics processors.
The video card is the final product and consists of a video memory, a printed circuit board, connectors and coolers. This hardware intended for processing graphics and video output as a whole.
Now, when buying a video card, there is always possible to buy it directly from NVIDIA or AMD. However, most models are made by partner companies, such as ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, EVGA, Sapphire and others. Despite the fact that the manufacturer can change almost any aspect of the video card, it is not capable of changing the graphics processor itself. So an RTX 3070 is an RTX 3070 anyway, no matter what PCB the company uses or what cooling it installs.
Now that we've sorted this out, it's time to move on to the main topic - finding the perfect graphics card.
How to choose the right GPU
When looking for the right GPU, there are two key questions to answer: what resolution are you playing at and what frame rate do you want to achieve?
Resolution means the number of pixels displayed on the screen, and the more pixels, the more realistic and detailed the game will look. The most popular resolutions for gaming today are 1080p (FHD), 1440p (QHD), and 2160p (4K), but higher resolution titles require more processing power. So the higher the resolution, the lower the frame rate will be.
Now the latest mid-range GPUs can handle QHD at 60+ FPS and even 4K at 30-60 FPS! However, it is worth remembering that performance varies from game to game depending on how demanding and optimized it is. On the other hand, you can just use Google to find out what kind of performance to expect from a particular GPU.
Speaking of frame rate, this component indicates how many frames the video card can display and display every second. Logically, the more frames, the smoother and more responsive the gameplay, so it's easy to see why some gamers (especially those who mainly play competitive multiplayer projects) prioritize performance.
The average gamer will probably be more than happy with a stable 60 FPS, but some will inevitably want to max out, and that's where high refresh rate monitors come in. A regular monitor or TV can only display a maximum of 60 fps, so if you want more, you'll have to invest in a gaming monitor at 144 or 240 Hz.
Variable refresh rate
Speaking of monitors, VRR is also worth mentioning. Like frame rate, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) refers to displays. So what is it and what is the purpose?
When it comes to monitors with a high refresh rate, they inevitably use VRR technology, as it produces a smooth gaming experience without any tearing or stuttering. Various gaming models are currently available that are equipped with AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync.
These technologies were developed by AMD and Nvidia respectively, and both have their pros and cons:
- FreeSync has open source and cheaper to implement, so the technology is being installed on a wider range of monitors. However, these types of models only support a limited frequency range, and they are all listed on the AMD website.
- G-Sync, unlike FreeSync, is Nvidia's proprietary technology and is therefore more expensive to implement, meaning that these types of monitors tend to cost more than their FreeSync counterparts. But here it is worth noting more stable performance and some additional features.
In addition, there is the question of compatibility. Until recently, FreeSync only worked with AMD GPUs, while G-Sync was only compatible with Nvidia GPUs. The situation is a little more complicated now, as some FreeSync monitors are now certified as "G-Sync compatible", meaning they can support adaptive sync when used with an Nvidia GPU, but don't have access to the full set of G-Sync features.
Currently AMD GPUs are not compatible with G-Sync, but this may change soon as Nvidia reportedly makes the technology more accessible to consumers who do not own GPUs from company.
which you will encounter when discussing graphics. But what does she represent?
Essentially, ray tracing is an advanced and very realistic way of rendering lights and shadows. Until recently, the feature was exclusive to Nvidia RTX GPUs, and had many drawbacks, the main one being that the technology was very demanding on hardware and could lead to a sharp drop in FPS.
As for AMD, the company has already added ray tracing to its arsenal with the new line of RDNA2-based RX 6000 GPUs. In addition, the latest consoles from Xbox and PlayStation also use RDNA2 type GPUs, so ray tracing is becoming much more accessible and widespread. This means that developers will definitely start to pay more attention to the technology, but Nvidia still has the advantage thanks to DLSS (Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing).
How to choose the right video card
Once you have decided on the graphics processor, the next step is to select the whole graphics card. As mentioned earlier, Nvidia and AMD make the chips, i.e. the GPUs themselves, while their partners make and sell most of the graphics cards available on the market today.
Below we will look at the factors that should be considered when choosing video cards.
First of all, this is the design and appearance of the model. Of course, gamers who value functionality above all else don't care, but given the rise in popularity of translucent PC cases, it's no surprise why hardware manufacturers are paying more attention to aesthetics than ever before.
When talking about the design of a video card, we usually mean the appearance of the backplate (if there is one) and the backlight. It makes sense that manufacturers want their products to stand out from the competition, which is why many graphics cards have different design elements that make them stand out from other models.
In the past, companies often used solid colors that served as a sort of corporate brand identity (for example, Gigabyte graphics cards were orange, and Zotac painted their devices yellow). However, manufacturers now generally opt for an overall neutral design so that the models can fit on as many PCs as possible.
Of course, this does not mean that the colors have completely disappeared. Instead, there is RGB backlighting, which is far superior to the banal color. Customizable lighting allows the graphics card to fit into almost any PC, so the feature is popular not only among video cards, but also other components and gaming accessories.
In addition, the backplate (backplate) has become a fairly common part of the design of modern video cards. It supports the card, that is, it prevents the PCB from bending under the weight of the cooler, and also makes it easier to clean the video card. However, beauty is the main attraction of the backplate as it is obviously much nicer to look at than the back of the PCB.
Furthermore, some backplates come with thermal pads that allow them to act as heatsinks, but most backplates don't really affect cooling at all.
When choosing a video card, you will probably notice that they are all different sizes. Some seem rather small, while others are quite bulky, because of what the standard size video card looks miniature compared to them.
Well, as we have already installed, it is the manufacturer who develops a printed circuit board, and there are several good reasons why "mini" video cards are so popular.
First, they are usually a bit cheaper, since there are fewer materials for their manufacture, and secondly, such models can fit in housings with a small form factor. However, the devices of this type have a drawback - cooling less efficiently. Naturally, due to a small size, compact video cards are equipped with smaller coolers and are usually cooled with only one fan. This leads to higher temperatures, greater noise and limited overclocking potential.
Larger models, on the contrary, seem bulky, because they are supplied with a large cooler, which improves cooling efficiency and allows the manufacturer to install additional fans.
In general, a compact video card is a good option if you want to save or just looking for a model for the Mini ITX or use as an external graphics processor. On the other hand, the larger map is likely to have better cooling and create less noise, although you need to make sure it is suitable for the body.
Once we started cooling, It's time to consider this aspect closer. If we talk about modern video cards, there are three main types of cooling: active, liquid and fan.
To date , active cooling is the most common and best suited for most game PCs. The video cards cooled in such a way have an open cooler and from one to three fans that pass the air through it.
As mentioned above, one fan may be sufficient to maintain the temperature of the video card within the normal range, but this ultimately leads to greater noise. Thus, cards with two and three fans are usually the best choice if you are not in search of a compact model or do not want to save a little.
Video cards with fan cooling are less common, and there is reason. The devices of this type have a closed cooler and operate from one fan, which sucks cold air and blows hot straight from the body.
This helps prevent heat buildup inside the case, which can be useful for small cases or multi-GPU workstations, but fan-cooled cards tend to run much louder and generate more heat than those with active cooling, so it's understandable why they're not as popular.
Liquid cooling, like fan cooling, is also not very popular, although there are slightly different reasons for that. Graphics cards of this type offer unparalleled cooling performance with less noise, but are more expensive and really only worth using with high-end GPUs if you're going to be overclocking the card and want to get the most out of your hardware.
worth discussing in more detail. So how important is overclocking for GPUs? Well, our answer is: not really, at least for the average player.
The reason is quite simple - it is impossible to squeeze much more performance out of the video card in this way.
Yes, high-performance models equipped with quality liquid cooling can definitely provide more or less noticeable performance improvements. On average, the clock speed of an air-cooled video card can be increased by about 5-10%. As you might expect, the performance gain is negligible, especially when it comes to budget and mid-range GPUs.
Now that you know this, you might be wondering why even bother with a good cooler on a card?
Well, the answer to this question is also quite simple: lower noise levels, lower load temperatures, and durability are all reasons to consider a cooler when choosing a graphics card.
should be remembered?
Well, video memory is a pretty simple item, since capacity is the only thing you really need to worry about. Most modern video cards come with 4, 6, or 8 GB of video memory. 4 GB is a pretty good option for 1080p gaming, while 6 or 8 GB is fine for demanding projects with high quality textures or high resolutions (like 1440p or 4K).
In 2021, it is expected that new high-end video cards will be equipped with GDDR6 type memory, which offers roughly high data transfer rate than GDDR5, so if you are really not Do not write a penny and do not think about acquiring an older model, buying one of these models is a good idea if you need a more promising device and / or you are going to play high resolution.
As we have already mentioned, it is producers that solve which ports and in What amount they are on the video card, but what should pay attention to this aspect? To begin with, we note that today there are three main connections in the video cards: HDMI, DisplayPort and Dual Link DVI-D.
DVI - the oldest connector from this group, and Dual Link DVI-D is its newest iteration that can still be seen on some monitors and video cards, since the port can support 1080p and 1440p with an update frequency of 60 Hz. Yes, he is still able to show himself well even in 2021, but this is not the perfect choice.
HDMI is the most common connector that can be found on both televisions and monitors. In addition, you often encounter HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0, but what do they differ?
The main differences are to resolve and frequency of the update: HDMI 1.4 supports only 1080p at 144 Hz, 1440p at 75 Hz and 4K at a frequency of up to 30 Hz, while HDMI 2.0 is capable Verify 1080p at 240 Hz, 1440p at 144 Hz, and 4K at 60 Hz. In addition to this, HDMI 2.0a and HDMI 2.0B also have support for HDR. Fortunately, HDMI 2.0 is backward compatible with HDMI 1.4, however, the video card, and the monitor must be equipped with HDMI 2.0, if you want to fully use the capabilities of the new technology.
Then we have Displayport, which is the main attribute of modern game monitors, and you will probably use it. As in the case of HDMI, two versions of DisplayPort: 1.2 and 1.4 are the most common. The older port 1.2 supports 1080p at a frequency of 240 Hz and 1440p at 144 Hz, as well as 4K with a frequency up to 75 Hz. However, the new port 1.4 raises everything to the level higher, as it supports the resolution of 1440p to 240 Hz and 4K to the impressive 120 Hz.
However, it is not only a high-frequency update - DisplayPort 1.4 is also the only technology that currently supports NVIDIA G-SYNC and HDR (as opposed to DisplayPort 1.2). Like HDMI, DisplayPort has backward compatibility, but the video card and the monitor must have the appropriate ports if you want to fully take advantage of the new version.
Finally, we must also mention USB-C, since now some high-performance video cards are also equipped with this port that continues Pick up popularity, and it should be remembered if you are going to use VR headset on your PC.
In any case, the HDMI, and DisplayPort are quite suitable for games in 2021, but gamers who put in priority productivity, for obvious reasons prefer DisplayPort.
So we disassemble all the important factors Worth considering when choosing a video card for PC. If you really thought about buying a peripheral device, then use our guide as a universal assistant. Enjoy the shopping!