Putting together a new rig or upgrading an old one? Well, the most obvious area of focus for a lot of people is the graphical prowess of a great gaming PC. It’s basically most people’s first priority to get an upgrade in the graphics department, along with having a decent processor to avoid bottlenecks.
These days, you can get a lot of performance for not much money. Thanks to the stiff competition between AMD and Nvidia, especially in the budget and mid-range department, we have a lot of options to choose from. Ultimately this is good for consumers, as we are the ones who get better products at the end of it.
But you can’t just buy the latest and greatest graphics card, plug it in the motherboard and call it a day. Oh no, there are a lot of things to consider before buying a new GPU. We’ve narrowed down the list to 5 essential things you should know before you buy.
How Much Power Do You Actually Need?
You know, we wish we could actually give you an objective answer to this question. But it’s been said many times before and we’ll say it once again. There is no right answer. How much performance or power you require out of your GPU entirely depends on your situation.
Are you just trying to get into gaming with the standard 1080p resolution? Well, most graphics cards in the $150-$250 range can handle that with ease. If you’re going for higher refresh rates at 1080p, you’ll obviously need some more power.
While 4K is still not that common among the average audience, 1440p is thriving quite well. If you want to handle some high refresh 1440p gaming, you want a good amount of VRAM and more power obviously.
But it’s not all about gaming though, as a powerful graphics card can help out in content creation a lot as well. You most likely don’t need a ridiculously priced Nvidia Quadro RTX card, as the “professionals” will tell you. But more VRAM and a higher core clock and memory clock will definitely help out with rendering in the long run.
There’s no denying it, your PC can get quite toasty when its under full load. Thankfully, most newer GPUs with refined cooling are quite efficient and handle this quite well. You definitely don’t want your graphics card running at 85-90 degrees most of the time, because it absolutely kills the lifespan of the card.
You also have to decide if you want a reference design or a non-reference design. Most reference design cards have a blower-style fan attached to them. This might be good for smaller cases, but most people tend to prefer third-party designs. Obviously, aesthetics also play a large part in this decision.
You also want to look out for how much power the GPU needs. This is denoted by a TDP value most of the time. You don’t want to pair a power-hungry GPU with a lower watt PSU.
Aesthetics and Design
Most people will tell you to get a powerful card either way and ignore aesthetics altogether. But what’s the point of putting together a baller high-end gaming PC and then your GPU looks out of place. Some people might not like to admit it, but aesthetics do matter to a lot of people.
Thankfully, we have a tonne of design choices to pick from, thanks to third party manufacturers. Non-reference cards tend to have great cooling most of the time, and you can find a design that is to your liking. Apart from that, some of these also have higher core clocks out of the box, which is always a good thing.
This is perhaps the most obvious one so far, your budget matters a lot when you are buying a GPU. For example, if you want a lot of power, you’re going to be shelling out a decent amount of money.
But there is a time when the cost just isn’t worth it. If you absolutely need performance, but can’t shell out money for features such as Ray Tracing, performance should matter more to you.
There’s also the issue of futureproofing. Do you want a budget GPU right now just to play some games, or do you want to buy a high-end one and save yourself the hassle for a few years? Obviously, this answer lies in how much you are willing to spend.
Buying a new graphics card can be confusing for a lot of people. But these are basically the main things you should be looking out for. Look out for compatibility and thermals, and don’t end up paying for more power than you need, hopefully, you will be good to go. Lastly, if you’re looking for a balance GPU category then head over to this buying guide published by PCGuide.com. In case if you’re on a budget then we’ve got you covered with this budget GPU buying guide below as well.