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Graphics Cards

Desktop PC Graphics Cards @ Matrix Warehouse

The graphics card is the most important component in a gaming PC. But buying a GPU can be a challenging task because there is so much to consider, from the type of monitor you’re using to the size of your chassis and more. However, they differ from each other in terms of memory type, heatsink used, speed, bandwidth, and more. Knowing how each of these components works can help you choose the perfect card for you. Below you’ll find the things to look for when buying a graphics card.

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Things to consider when choosing a graphics card

Compatibility
Nothing can be more frustrating than excitedly opening your case to install your new graphics card, only to realize it’s an inch too long. Before you commit to buy, do your homework and find out how much physical space your case can offer.

Take note of the power supply as well. How many amps can it supply on the 12v rails?

How many watts is it rated for, and how many six- and eight-pin PCIe connectors does it have? Cross-reference this information with the graphics card you want to buy. If your computer can’t handle it, you’ll want to look for a graphics card that will require less power or consider a power upgrade.

Check the ports. Some monitors use DisplayPort, others have HDMI, and some older units only use DVI. Ensure the card you want to buy has the connectors you need for your monitors. If you buy a card with different ports from the ones on your monitor, you may have to buy an adapter at an extra cost.

Platform
Your system dictates the kind of graphics card you should buy. Knowing your system’s limitations can save you money and headaches. For example, if you’re running an older dual-core CPU like Pentium or Celeron, it won’t keep up with high-end graphics cards. In such cases, go for mid-range cards and save your hard-earned money.

Your display is also an important factor to consider, with 1440p (2560 x 1440) being a popular go-to resolution for a gaming monitor. If you intend to run three 1080p monitors in surround, a mid-range card will not get you decent framerates in modern 3D games.

Memory and Bandwidth
Many will tell you that the bigger the graphics card memory, the better the performance, but that’s not always the case. Unless you’re using it with ultra-high resolutions, like 4K or with multiple monitors in surround, the quantity of RAM won’t make much difference. Also, most if not all high-end graphics cards come with high memory by default.

What you need to pay more attention to is bandwidth. Data ready to be processed by the GPU is usually stored on the card’s own dedicated memory called GDDR3, GDDR5, or (more recently) GDDR6. Note that GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth of GDDR3 clocked at the same rate.

Since memory bandwidth is an important performance determinant, you should always choose GDDR5 for better performance. In fact, 1 GB of GDDR5 is more preferable to 4 GB of GDDR3, as far as performance is concerned.

CUDA Cores (Nvidia) or Stream Processors (AMD)
While CUDA cores don’t tell you much about performance, they are very important, especially in gaming. CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is Nvidia’s proprietary parallel computing language that works to leverage the GPU in specific ways to perform tasks with greater accuracy. A CUDA core is Nvidia’s equivalent to AMD’s stream processors.The more CUDA cores or Stream Processors, the better the GPU is at rendering outstanding visuals. This is very important for handling intensive graphics work or in gaming, where frame rates are paramount.

TDP Values
Just like a CPU, the GPU produces heat for all the processing work it does, which is shown by its TDP value. TDP values indicate the amount of power required to keep the GPU at an acceptable temperature. The more power the GPU requires, the more heat it will produce. As such, always go for the GPU with the smallest TDP value.

Investing in a capable GPU will not only get you a capable PC for graphics-intensive work but will also give you a more fluid and immersive gaming experience.