How to Choose the Best Gaming Graphics Card

Choosing the best gaming graphics card is no easy task. There are so many graphics card out there, how do you know which one is the best for you?

Most of the time, people are confused over the technical jargon (such as pixel pipeline, bus interface, SLI, memory bandwidth etc.) that comes with specification. This article will explain the technical terms in the simplest way and guide you through the process of choosing the best gaming graphics card.

The role of Graphics Card

The graphics card plays an important role in gaming. For clear and sharp display of 3D images, you need to have a graphics card that has great processing power. Unless you are willing to compromise on your gaming quality, the graphics card is something that you should not scrimp on.

GPU (Graphical Processing Unit)

When choosing a gaming graphics card, the first thing to look at will be the GPU. This is the chip on the graphics card that is in charge of all the image processing. It’s the single most important component on the graphics card.

Most of the graphics cards in the market are built with nVidia or ATI’s GPU. They are the two main players and have spilt the market between themselves.

Bus Interface

gaming computer graphics card

Bus interface refers to the bus (or slot) that connects the graphics card to the motherboard.

There are two types of graphics card slots: AGP and PCI Express. AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) is the older and slower of the two slots (AGP 8x offers maximum bandwidth of 2.1GB/s, compared to 8GB/s for a 16-lane PCI Express).

For best gaming performance, it is best to use graphics card with the PCI Express slot. The reason is simple; PCI Express is much faster than AGP.

Video Memory Size

The amount of video memory on a graphics card determines the maximum resolution the card is capable of displaying. Most of the gaming graphics cards are equipped with at least 128MB of memory while some high-end cards are offering 784MB.

Getting a graphics card with 512MB of memory is not really necessary as it is very expensive and most of the time, the utilization rate is low. Unless you are playing game such as Half-life 2, which demands a lot of processing power, else a 256MB graphics card will be sufficient to meet your gaming needs.

Memory Type

The memory on the graphics card comes in different types. DDR RAM is the most common of all. This type of memory is capable of transferring data on both the rising and falling edge of the clock signal. The later DDR2 and DDR3 version work on the same principle, but they are capable of achieving higher clock speed. The latest GDDR3 RAM is a different memory type from DDR RAM. It is a memory specifically for graphics processing and it requires less power and generates less heat than DDR RAM.

Pixel Pipeline

Graphics card creates images by processing pixels in parallel pipelines. The more pipelines it has, the faster it will be capable of rendering an image. An average graphics card should come with at least 8 pipes while the more advanced one can have up to 48 pipes.

Display Interface

This refers to the ways that the graphics card output images to the monitor. There are several connectors for connecting a display: VGA, DVI, Dual channel DVI and TV-Out/S-Video

VGA – This is the connector used to connect a CRT monitor to the graphics card. It’s meant for analog signal. This type of connector has been the standard for display video output, but it’s slowly phasing out in the market, giving way to digital connection.

DVI – The standard for connecting digital signal to a digital display, such as the LCD monitor.

Dual Channel DVI – Some graphics cards have a pair of DVI port that allows you to connect to two LCD monitors. This is useful for developers or web designers who want to have different views simultaneously.

TV-Out/S-Video – This port is meant to connect the video signal to a TV. If you own a HDTV, you can connect to it through the S-Video port. For older TV using RCA input, you will have to get an S-Video/RCA adaptor.

Choosing the best gaming graphics card

Getting a gaming graphics card is based entirely on one’s preference. It’s definitely not an easy task. A good graphics card will not come cheap. Plan your budget wisely and go for the one that you can afford.

If you are intending to get an ATI graphics card, be sure to get the Raedon X1600 series and above. If you can afford it, the Raedon X1950 series is the best.

For nVidia lovers, getting the GeForce 7 series should be the minimum. I would strongly recommend EVGA 8800 GTX 768MB PCIe. This card is one of the best sellers due to its great performance. It comes with 768MB GDDR3 and produces extremely good 3D performance. In many benchmark tests, this card consistently emerges in the top three. This card will allow you to play all type of 3D game without any glitches.

Hope that this article has given you an insight to the world of graphics card. Use this guide as a reference and you’ll be able to find the best gaming graphics card for your computer very easily.

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