Finding the Right Graphics Card
Graphics cards – you’ve probably heard a lot about them if you are a gamer of any sort, and perhaps if you are a casual computer user then you might not even be aware of their existence. Graphics cards, of course, generate the graphical content you see displayed before you on the computer screen, making them one of the most important factors of a computer system. As it is, most cards come integrated in with the motherboard of a computer – such as Intel HD Graphics – and do a great job for normal tasks such as surfing the web or Youtube-ing. However, if you play graphics-intense games or do professional video editing or 3D Modeling, you will need to upgrade to a stand-alone graphics card, and a good one at that. This guide will show you how to choose the right card.
Memory Vs. Bandwidth
The biggest mistake most people make when selecting a video card is assuming that the quantity of memory a card has is the deciding factor in its performance. For example, below is a GeForce GTX Titan 6144MB DDR5 graphics card. The model name won’t tell you many things until you go the video card maker’s website, in this case Nvidia’s site, but what’s important is the numbers. The amount of memory is only important if you are setting up multiple screens, or using a screen with an extremely high resolution. Otherwise, what truly decides how the card will perform is the TYPE of memory, or bandwidth. DDR5 is currently the fastest out there, so think of it this way: 1GB of DDR5 > 5GB of DDR3. It’s all about bandwidth.
Another rule of thumb – always go for the highest model number. Companies will always try to sell off their old models by adverting them as “over-clocked” and such, but even the most over-clocked will be easily out-done by its plain, higher end model brethren.
The GTX Ttian is a high end graphics card with DDR5 memory.
The Rest of Your Setup
Don’t forget about the rest of your computer! If your processor is outdated, it won’t be able to handle a high end graphics card. You also need to have a lot of RAM, and having a SSD is always a priority if you’re looking for high performance. Last but not least, make sure to measure your computer’s case – the graphics card might be too big to fit into your computer!
SLI: Is it worth it?
The anwser is probably not. SLI, or Crossfire as AMD motherboards will have you say it, allows you to combine the power of two graphics into one. While this may sound awesome, you are only going to get a 50% boost in performance at most, and it complicates things more than just buying single high end card that can handle your needs. Now, if you are setting up a triple monitor surround system, SLI will be a necessity, but otherwise just spend the extra cash on higher-end model.
SLI is more so for using multiple screens rather than ramping up your graphics performance.
Keep these things in mind when shopping for a graphics card, because as usual, not much is self explanatory in the world of custom PC building.
(IT Consulting Denver)