Knowing why you need a GPU

Knowing why you need a GPU
Photo by Andrey Matveev / Unsplash

What is a GPU?

A GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, commonly referred to as a graphics card, is a specialized piece of hardware designed to render images and video efficiently. Unlike a CPU (Central Processing Unit), which excels at handling general-purpose tasks such as running Excel or Word documents, GPUs are tailored for more complex computations required for rendering graphics.

Think of a GPU as a complete computer on a card. It contains both a processing unit and its own dedicated RAM. These components enable GPUs to deliver significant power and performance, making them essential for tasks like gaming, video editing, and running complex simulations.

Why would I need a GPU?

Investing in a dedicated GPU for your custom build is a fantastic idea, regardless of the type and power of the GPU. In most cases, even a modest GPU can significantly outperform your CPU’s integrated graphics (iGPU). A dedicated GPU allows you to:

  • Play Games at Higher Quality: Enjoy better resolution and higher frame rates (FPS) for a smoother, more immersive gaming experience.
  • Enhance Productivity: Perform heavy tasks such as rendering images from Blender or other 3D software with greater efficiency.
  • Future-Proof Your System: Stay ready for new software and games that demand more graphics power.

How to choose the right GPU?

Getting a GPU is a great idea, but getting a powerful GPU is even better. When choosing a GPU, it's important to consider more than just the amount of RAM (GB) it has. The RAM determines how many assets the GPU can hold at one time, but it doesn't directly correlate to overall power. A more powerful graphical chip is usually a better indicator of performance.

Key Factors to Consider:
  1. Performance: Look at benchmarks and performance reviews to understand how well a GPU handles the tasks you need it for, whether it's gaming, video editing, or 3D rendering.
  2. GPU Chip: The graphical chip’s architecture and capabilities are crucial. For example, Nvidia's RTX series is known for its ray tracing capabilities and overall performance.
Nvidia vs. Radeon

While both Nvidia and Radeon offer great GPUs, I prefer Nvidia due to its performance and features. Let's focus on Nvidia GPUs for now:

  • RTX Series: Starting from the RTX 2060 and upwards, these GPUs provide excellent performance, allowing you to play any game at high graphics settings with a decent frame rate. The RTX series also supports ray tracing, which enhances lighting and reflections in games.
  • GTX Series: Some GTX GPUs, like the GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti, can outperform lower-end RTX GPUs such as the RTX 2060. However, they lack ray tracing capabilities. Other great options in the GTX series include the GTX 1660, 1660 Ti, and 1660 Super, which offer solid performance for their price.
Additional Recommendation

Before making a final decision, I recommend checking YouTube videos about the cards you're considering. These videos often provide real-world performance benchmarks and gameplay footage, giving you a better idea of how the GPU will perform in various scenarios.

When choosing a GPU, consider your specific needs and budget. Higher-end GPUs will future-proof your system and ensure you can handle the latest software and games.

By Yamen Atassi - Modified by AI