Graphics Cards Buying Guide
Purchasing Graphics Cards
Consider the following when shopping for graphics cards:
- Choose a GPU that suits how you intend to use it. For example, if you want to game in 4K, you will need a graphics card with high clock speeds and large VRAM. You may even need multiple graphics cards in the same computer.
- If you are building a gaming PC, it is advisable to allocate between 20-30% of your budget to the GPU. This should help you get the best set up for your money.
- Always check compatibility when upgrading your GPU and never undertake this task without first conducting detailed research into what you need. Similarly, try to match your GPU with the existing components and understand your bottlenecks.
- While you might like the idea of a laptop with a powerful GPU, the reality is that it will increase the size of the unit and drain the battery sooner than shared graphics. Weigh up this trade-off carefully when making your choice.
- GPUs create a lot of heat. Bear this in mind when you are creating or upgrading your PC and be sure to allow space for the requisite cooling systems.
- There are countless portable devices such as laptops, tablets and hybrids that contain GPUs. In most cases, these graphics cards cannot be upgraded and any attempt to do so is likely to cause irreparable damage.
GPUs enable better visuals and reduce the strain on your CPU so it can focus on other essential tasks that will improve your computer’s performance. How well a GPU performs, however, is usually dictated by three variables:
- Clock speed (MHz or GHz) is a good indicator of GPU performance and higher speeds are likely to mean better visuals and higher frame rates. However, it is only useful to compare clock speeds in cards of the same generation by the same manufacturer.
- VRAM (GB) keeps the GPU supplied with data so that it doesn’t have to communicate with the slower system memory or hard drive. Opt for as much VRAM as you can afford as insufficient memory will seriously affect performance.
- The type and bandwidth of the GPU’s VRAM is also hugely important. Where possible, opt for the most recent advances. GDDR5 VRAM, for example, is always preferable to GDDR4.
Types of GPUs
The type of graphics card that you need depends on how you use your computer. There are two main types, namely shared and dedicated. Their differences and strengths are as follows:
- Shared graphics is when graphic tasks are performed by a chip that shares its memory with the RAM and other CPU components. These GPUs generate less heat and use less power than dedicated graphics, making them a sensible choice for laptops.
- Computers with dedicated graphics feature a separate processing unit that takes responsibility for all graphic related tasks from the CPU. These units are optimised to deliver better visuals, relief to the CPU and a faster performance all round.
- If you don’t game or work with high resolution media, shared graphics may be all you need. However, if your needs are more advanced, you are always likely to benefit from using a computer with a dedicated GPU.
AMD Graphics Cards
AMD GPU Technology
AMD is one of the leading names in GPU technology and their processors boast features that are not available on cards made by other manufacturers. Look out for the following when making your choice:
- Crossfire – this feature allows you to install several, compatible GPUs in your PC and harness the combined power of all them for a considerable performance boost compared to that delivered by a single card.
- Freesync – AMD GPUs feature advanced technology that resolves communication issues between the processor and compatible monitors to remove tearing and stuttering for flawless visuals.
- Eyefinity – this technology allows you to work or game across as many as 6 screens so you can enjoy an immersive experience like no other.
NVIDIA Graphics Cards
NVIDIA GPU Technology
NVIDIA is another leading player in the GPU market and offers products with advanced features that are exclusive to the NVIDIA range, such as:
- SLI – this technology allows you to install up to three, compatible GPUs in your PC and harness the power of all them for a radically improved performance and higher image quality.
- G-Sync – this visual technology helps you immerse yourself in smooth, tear-free gaming at up to 240Hz. To enjoy this feature look for G-Sync enabled GPUs, monitors and laptops.
- DSR (Dynamic Super Resolution) – this technology renders games at a higher resolution before shrinking the results to suit you monitor so you can enjoy a 4K experience on a Full HD screen.
Enjoy performance to the max with a new desktop computer. Full-size components mean powerful processors, large memory and vast storage capacity so you can work or game without limits.
Work, game and enjoy hi-res media any and everywhere with a new laptop. Shop gaming laptops, lightweight laptops and everything in between for first-rate computing on-the-go.
Shop the latest titles and take your gaming experience to the next level. Choose from a range that stretches from sports sims to FPS and put your new computer through its paces.