I picked up the motherboard and placed it on its assigned slot in the computer case. My computer was now nearly completed, I had my processor, case, motherboard, hard drive, power supply, and all that. But I was still missing a video card. I had left this part for last because I thought that it must be a simple choice. I was mistaken. As I went on the internet and googled up “Best video cards,” hundreds of search results appeared. There were websites ranking performance, articles about different budgets, people expressing their opinions, etc. After researching many different approaches and looking at many different websites, I have created this guide so you don’t have to waste your precious time as I did.
Before you begin reading, there are a few things you should know. First of all, this guide is best used for a desktop computer. The reason why is because other electronics like laptops usually don’t have enough space for installing nor upgrading the GPU (this has the same meaning as video card and graphics card). Second of all, the type of video card you choose should be consistent with your computer processor. For example, if you bought a low-end processor and allocated a large sum of money for a high-end video card, you likely will not have a great experience doing daily tasks on your computer, let alone heavy-usage. A third idea I’d like to get across is that you should take note of the space you have left in your computer to place your video card in, this was not included as a step because it isn’t significant or time-consuming and so was left out as a side note.
The first step to picking the right video card is to decide what you’re going to use the PC for. Are you a hardcore gamer? If so, what type of games do you play, triple-A games or simple two-dimensional graphics games? Do you intend to use your computer for video editing? If you do, then do you edit 4k or 1080p video? Answering these questions is essential to deciding what video card is best for your computer. Once you have decided then you can proceed to the second step.
After contemplating on the purpose of your PC, you can now determine your budget range. If you have a set amount of money that you would like to spend on a video card, then you can continue on to the next step, otherwise, continue reading. If you are a hardcore gamer who plays the newest AAA games or you are a 4k video editor, then your budget range will likely be around four hundred dollars and above. If you are a 1080p video editor or you play some older yet still demanding games, then you should be spending between two and three hundred dollars on your video card. If all you do is play 2D games, then you’re better off saving money and sticking with the integrated graphics on your processor, which defeats the purpose of searching for a GPU.
The next step is to choose which GPU brand you’d like to use. Although there are many different manufacturers, Nvidia Geforce and AMD Radeon are the most prominent ones and are the best to get for your computer. While many people may have different opinions, it really just depends on what you decided in the previous procedures. Nvidia makes high-end GPUs while AMD makes best-value GPUs, so if you have a low budget but want good performance then go with AMD and vice versa. Personally, I prefer Nvidia, as it is better known and delivers fast speeds.
Now that you have narrowed down your options, you can actually start deciding between specific video cards. Before I mention those, there are two exceptions I’d like you to know. I am not including the newest turing nor the maxwell video cards from Nvidia, as the Turing class is too expensive and the Maxwell architecture is much older and slower than the Pascal architecture. I’m also leaving out the GTX 1030 and its Radeon counterpart as they are too slow and not worth buying at this point in time. Starting out with Nvidia, they have several video card choices: The GTX 1050, 1060, 1070, and 1080 iterations, almost all of which have a “ti” version which I will discuss later. To get the idea of what those numbers mean is quite simple, the higher numbers represent a faster GPU. The attachment of the “ti” also signifies a faster GPU. The GTX 1050 and 1050 ti start at around a hundred fifty and go up to around two hundred dollars. It is best to buy these only if you play some older games at 1080p resolution, it is possible to use them with some newer games at the cost of a lower frame rate. The GTX 1060 has two options, three or six gigabytes of RAM, but I would recommend buying the latter as it only costs a little more. This is the graphics card best used by the average gamer or a 1080p video editor, and costs between two and three hundred USD. The GTX 1070 and 1070 ti are both very fast cards and can handle some 4k video editing or almost all AAA games at high frame rates. These are the best cards if you are a heavy gamer and start at four hundred dollars, going up to a little less than five hundred dollars. Lastly, there are the GTX 1080 and 1080 ti video cards, these are two of the fastest graphics processors you can get on the market today and are, of course, two of the most expensive. Starting at around five hundred fifty and even going up to almost a thousand dollars for the 1080 ti overclocked version, I would only recommend these to streamers who play games at 4k or heavy 4k video editors.
Now moving over to the Radeon GPUs, there are also several choices from this manufacturer: The Radeon RX 560, 570, 580, Vega 56, and Vega 64 card iterations. These cards are also quite simple to understand, with the RX 560 being the slowest of the group and the Vega 64 being the fastest. Starting with the RX 560, this card can be compared to the GTX 1050 offered by Nvidia and fulfills the same needs at around a hundred forty dollars. The RX 570 is the counterpart of the 1050 ti, though much faster in most cases, and costs about two hundred dollars. The RX 580 is similar to the GTX 1060, except being somewhat faster and costing a little less. The RX Vega 56 and Vega 64 can both be compared to the GTX 1070 and 1080, except this time the Nvidia GPUs are better to buy.
After deciding between all of the above graphics processors there is still one more recommendation: Wait until they are discounted. On days like black Friday or cyber Monday GPUs can get discounted as much as a hundred fifty dollars! So if you want to save a lot of money then wait until those days come up to get the best value for your money.
What I ended up buying is the GTX 1060 with six gigabytes of RAM because I see that this is the best for my gaming needs. When it came in through the mail I was as happy as ever, and the card fit perfectly within the computer case that I bought. I set it up and opened a game to test it out, its speed was surprising even for a person who knows a lot about video cards. As you finish reading this guide, I’d like you to ponder on the following question, why would you buy a fast card if you’ll never use its full capability?