To buy a video card you have to know that video card can hold your PC knowing the processor you have, how much memory you have, which is the model of your motherboard, which monitor you have, among other important things. Also to choose the appropriate graphics card you have to know what you want. Whether to play very heavy games like Battlefield 1, GTA V or Starcraft 2 or to play light games or just to run programs that consume video resources on your computer.
You also have to know what budget you have to buy a video card since I can not recommend a graphic card of 500 dollars if you only have 150 dollars. So explaining which video card to choose could be tricky, however, I will try to explain the most important factors.
Earlier we had made an article on this subject, however, it was too short and not too detailed. That is why I will talk about this topic again, trying to cover the most important points to take into account.
It is important to be informed when buying a video card
When people are going to buy a graphics card they mostly do not know what is essential and so they often make poor choices and sometimes end up cheated by the seller making them buy a video card that is not worth for the amount of money that you are paying or for the little capacity that they have.
For example, I once went to buy a graphics card to a local store and they wanted to sell me a Zotac ZT-60604-10L in 250 dollars, a graphics card that is worth less than 90 dollars and is quite old and inefficient for what I wanted to.
That is why you have to know well what factors to take into account when buying this component, which will explain below.
Think for what you will need
If it is to play a specific game you can look at the system requirements of that game and so you buy an equal, equivalent or superior (Which is preferable) that they recommend. For example, if I want it to play League of Legends then I first investigate Google and Youtube that graphics card run said a game with good performance. With that information, I will know which one may be the ideal to buy.
If it is to play games that require lots of resources or to play and record the game. So here you may need a medium or high, which could cost from 180 to 300 dollars.
If it is simply to watch movies and do college homework you would only need a low-end card which can cost from 40 to 80 dollars.
The amount of memory in the graph is not the only thing counting
People usually only look at the amount of memory of the video card, for example, look at two graphics at the same price, one is the AMD Radeon R7 240 4GB and the other is the ATI RADEON HD 5750 1GB, people often believe that the First is better because they see that it has 4GB and the other 1GB and it is not, since the second has many better factors that make it offer higher quality and performance than the other.
Another important point to know is that neither the generation nor the year of manufacture of the equipment indicates that one graph is better than another. A clear example in relation to the two graphs mentioned above is that the second is older than the first and the second is better.
Exact specifications to take into account
Graphics Card Memory Technology
It can, for example, be GDDR2, GDDR3 or GDDR5, it is always best to be GDDR5 which indicates that the graphics card can offer high performance.
This is a value comprised in bits, which can be 32 bits, 64 bits, 128 bits, 192 bits, 256 bits, 384 bits, 512 bits, 768 bits, ect.
This is one of the most important data to take into account since the difference performance is usually abysmal, for example, one of the 192bits will yield much more than one of the 128bits and the difference can be very large. 32bit and 64bit are typically low-end graphics cards, 128bit, 192bit, and 256bit are typically mid-range graphics cards, from 384bits and upwards are usually high- and mid-range video cards, which are usually much more expensive.
To get a better idea this factor greatly influences the game FPS you are going to play. Since this factor the older the better the data transfer has.
Bandwidth of the graphics card memory
This factor goes hand in hand with the bits of the graphics card, this higher the more fluid will go the games, because it determines the transfer of the exact data that you will have at most games, for example, mid-range is usually Greater than 150 GB / s.
It is the speed at which it will work the processor of the graphic card which is also called GPU and is included in MHZ. This value is usually increased by doing what they call Overclock in order to improve the performance of the graphics card which is very risky and is something that is usually done with great care. Since this could burn the video card because doing this process the power consumption of the GPU increases and therefore the heat generated as well. A mid-range graphics card usually has a GPU Clock from 700 MHz to 950 MHz.
It is the speed of memory of the graphics card. It is measured in MHZ and this parameter can also be overclocked.
This is a floating point comma value which you can easily identify if one graphic is better than another, which you can consult in this database of graphic cards.
Stream Processors or CUDA COLORS
These are small cores that have the graphics cards, the more they have, more information they can process at the same time. In graphics cards, AMD is known as Stream Processors and in nVIDIA is known as CUDA COLORS.
Ranges, low, medium or high. How to know?
With AMD graphics cards you can realize the range of a graphics card in two ways, one is with the name in which the series of graphics is mentioned first and then the range of the same, for example, AMD RADEON RX 480 is the name of a graphics card, where AMD is the brand, RADEON RX is the series, 4 is the generation and 80 is the range. The higher the number the better the capacity the graph will have, for example, the RX 470 is of a lower range than the RX 480 and the R9 290 is a lower generation than the R9 390.
With NVIDIA graphics cards is also very similar, for example if we have the NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 video card, we can understand that NVIDIA is the brand, Geforce GTX series, 10 generation and 80 range. So if we compare two graphics NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 and NVIDIA Geforce GTX 950, we can know that the second is from a previous generation and a lower range.
It should be noted that a card is from a previous generation does not mean that it is worse, because you also have to look at the range, for example, the R9 380 is of the current generation and the R9 290 is from the last generation, however the R9 290 is better than the R9 380 because it is of a higher range.
Power consumption that will do the same
Everything you connect to your computer has an electrical consumption and this limit will depend on the Power Supply you have, with this I mean that you have to calculate if the Power Supply you have is going to be able to support the graphics card, since these usually consume more Watts than the other components of the computer.
For example, if you have a Power Supply of 600Watts with a Case of 4 120mm fans, an Intel Core i7-6700 3400 MHz Skylake-S processor, two 4GB DDR3 RAM, a 7200RPM SATA hard drive, a DVD ROM, A mouse and a gaming keyboard and want to install a graphic R9 295x for example will not work or you will burn your Power Supply because they exceed the maximum capacity of your power source, since with the example components mentioned you consume more than 800Watts And your power source is only 600Watts.
Then depending on the components, you have installed you will have a consumption. You can calculate this in this website, you will know if you need another powerful power source.
This is when you limit the capacity of the graphics card because your processor is not suitable for that video card. For example, if you are playing a game it will consume resources of your processor and your graphics card. If the resources of your processor are being used 100% and that of the graph is only 60%. Then you are limiting the capacity of the same to 60% and from there it will not happen because your processor has already reached 100% of its capacity.
You can read that it is bottleneck on PC in another article that we have specifically explained that and with more details.
With this, it is clear that your processor must also be very superior or equivalent to your graphics card to ensure that it can give its best performance. You can check if your processor is a bottleneck with a graphics card determined in this link.