Hey guys, today, we are going to focus on choosing a graphics card as a new one of these babies pop up every other week, head on over to the first post for building a computer if you are lost.
I have had to push back these posts to every two weeks, so I can have more data and info for you. Last week we discussed choosing a motherboard so now you should have knowledge of two components so far. Remember, we are here to learn the concepts of how to build a computer, so you can continually reuse the information you have learned here to build away because technology constantly changes.
Key Factors in Choosing a Graphics Card
Graphics cards are my favorite part of a computer and are so crucial to your system. The graphics card does what it says, generates graphics and is extremely important in your build.
The ultimate performance indicator of any graphics card is its model number, which represents a combination of graphics processor (GPU), clock rates, and memory bandwidth. The format is brand name + model number = GeForce GTX 970. I am only reviewing the NVidia series style and not AMD as I have never purchased one and have been an NVidia fanboy forever.
The first number is the generation of the graphics card. The last two numbers are pretty much how powerful the card is. A 960 is less powerful than a 780, as we see here on UserBenchmark.
Therefore, when you want gaming to be your number one goal, keep graphics cards in mind. One note to remember is that you can have bottlenecks and we will discuss this later.
Selecting a graphics card because it has more memory is a terrible idea. RAM in a graphics card is NOT the most important component because the RAM is only a little piece of the puzzle.
What you need to pay attention to is the bandwidth of the card. While bandwidth expectations will vary depending on a graphics card’s price and performance, always remember this: GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth of DDR3 at the same clock rate. Just look at the last number and think, the higher the better. So which is better, DDR3 or DDR5? Simple.
Be careful when selecting your graphics card and processor. These two can bottleneck each other by not giving you all they have to offer.
If you are using an extremely powerful graphics card and have a terrible CPU, you will see performance issues because yes, you DO have crazy power to process those graphics, but you DO NOT have the ability to handle all the units, events, and physics going on in the background. We will discuss CPUs more in depth later.
Know your goals, consider what type of use this computer has for you, align them with the rest of the setup, and consider your monitor resolution size.
SLI – Running Multiple Graphics cards at once
NVidia offers this neat ability to link multiple graphics cards and use them at the same time called SLI.
It sounds like a great idea, but why not buy a better card? When choosing a graphics card, you only need one. When you buy a second graphics card, you’d think there would be double the performance boost, but instead, you are left with maybe 25% to 50%. You are paying full price for half the product at this point. Multi-card setups can suffer from inconsistency, incompatibilities, and micro-stuttering.
When using a single monitor, this is pure overkill. However, if you are using triple monitors or higher resolutions such as 4K, this would give you a boost.
The best advice I can give you on this portion is to measure the size of the card and make sure your case can fit it. My graphics card is massive and extends from my hips to my knee.
You will also want to make sure your power supply can handle all the wattage you are throwing at it. I recommend pc part picker when all of this becomes too much for you. There is A LOT of research that goes into building a computer but there are tools such as this to help.
Graphics cards are hot, power hogs. There are generally fans on your GPU(Graphics processing unit/graphics card) but you will need a great cooling system throughout your computer as well so nothing overheats. A lot of the bigger cases come with fans but the smaller cases generally don’t.
My Graphics Card Selection
In today’s market, I would have to choose an Asus – GeForce GTX 1080 8GB ROG STRIX Video Card. Yes, this is pricey, but I am just having fun with my build and don’t want it to be realistic.
Why do you ask? Because I want you to learn how to build your own. You don’t need a thousand-dollar graphics card to be successful. Use the tools I gave you and do some research. Go find the best card out there for the price and according to your needs.
Check out our next article for the partner of the GPU, the CPU! Please let me know what you think in the comments below!!