A complete explanation with tools to help you choose the best graphics card for your build, including helpful tips.
Episode #4-36 released on May 24, 2014
I've recently talked about the process in determining if you need a dedicated graphics card, and today I will be talking about the process of determining which graphics card, or cards, you should purchase, and to help put you at ease in the end that your final purchase is the right one, for you.
Let's ignore price for a moment, because we need to know what you intend to do with the graphics card. Are you a gamer, a cryptographic currency miner, intend to use multiple displays, or want to view higher end multimedia? The answer to this question which define what kinds of cards you may need, and that will better help you determine what you budget should be.
Now, for the most part, we have two different types of cards, GPU computational cards, and gaming grade graphics cards, most 4K ready.
If you are cryptographic currency miner, you can be looking at cards like Nvidia's GTX Titan cards, which are approximately $1100 dollars a piece, and having only one may not yield the performance you want, so you may use as many as 4 GTX Titans in your computer for the not so simple but rewarding tasks of mining digital cryptographic currency.
If you looking at supporting multiple displays, playing high end games, or want to watch 4K video, you will be looking at the gaming grade graphics cards. You have a choice between Nvidia and ATI.
Now, let's figure out how to find out which card will do the best job for any game you want to play. The key is to figure out which games you intend to play, and figure which ones demand the most performance out of your card. We can then use those games to determine which cards you want to consider purchasing, whether an ATI or Nvidia card.
If you prefer to use Nvidia cards for your build, you may want to use Help Me Choose Tool from Nvidia, if you prefer ATI then you may want to refer to their Graphics Card Solutions page, where you can define what you need in an ATI card. If you are feeling adventurous, you can select one from each side, and use a neat tool used to compare graphics cards from GPU Boss. Of course, all links available in the show notes.
Once you have determined which cards interest you, you must, also, determine if the given card fits in your computer chassis. Computer stores use tape measures, something simpler than that is just to look up your computer chassis's specifications, it is usually indicated. Provided the card fits, is within your budget, works with your video games, or multimedia choices, what else is left to be determined? Power supply wattage. Each component within a computer, or connected to a computer draws a specific amount of power. Graphics cards tend to write how much power is required, as well, as mainboard manufactures. This is a case where reading both the specifications of the graphics card, and mainboard are important. But which information should you take? The highest one indicated. A standard build with a single modern dedicated GPU, mainboard, optical drive, and a standard HDD could use a power supply as low as 600 watts, however I seriously suggest a buffer, so most builds I suggest have a 750 watt power supply, which is also 80+ rated.
If you wish to add more cards to your computer to either have a crossfire or SLI build, you must consider the fact that not all games support both, or either. For this purpose, before you ever consider building a SLI or Crossfire build, please visit the ATI or GTX web-site and see if your game is listed as being supported. If it is, then have fun. However, some may ask if such a build is necessarily worth it. Given the choice of having a simpler time with compatibility and not having the hassle of buying more expensive power supplies, getting a single better graphics card is usually better, however, for those looking for higher frame rates, and crisper images, you may want to have a multi-card build. Please bare in mind that most of the time you can't just put to cards into the box and link them together. They must be the same card, or have the same architecture.
If you have any further questions on this topic, feel free to comment on the show notes page, below this episode's show notes.
Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions