Theoretically, a modern computer can exist without a video card – it’s not for nothing that motherboards are endowed with one or even two connectors used to connect a monitor. Owners of processors with an integrated graphics core have absolutely no problems with this. But even they buy a video card if they want to play modern games. Only a video adapter is capable of providing a decent level of graphics. And it helps even more in the case of video editing or work on visual special effects. But how do you choose the right model?
DEPENDENCE OF THE VIDEO ADAPTER ON OTHER COMPONENTS
We warn you right away, first of all, you should focus on the already existing computer components! Imagine that you have purchased the most powerful NVIDIA TITAN while a modest dual-core processor is housed in your system unit. He simply will not be able to process all the information that comes to him from the video card. In this regard, your TITAN will use only half or even a quarter of its capabilities.
In short, pick up components of approximately the same class. If you’re buying a powerful gaming graphics card, then the processor and motherboard shouldn’t be cheap either. There are no problems only with budget video adapters designed to handle office graphics. As a rule, any “motherboards” and processors can squeeze the most out of such a device, unless we are talking about a ten-year-old single-core chipset.
MAIN SELECTION CRITERIA
As you know, video adapters are inserted into the PCI-Express slot. It is found in almost every motherboard, with the exception of the smallest models. But the version of this interface may be different! If you are assembling a computer right now, you will definitely get a motherboard with a PCI-Express 3.0 slot. But if you are choosing a video card for the existing “mother”, then it will not be superfluous to get acquainted with which version of the interface it uses. It is quite possible that this is outdated PCI-Express 2.0.
There is nothing wrong with installing a video card on a previous generation interface. You just won’t be able to use all of its features, since it will work in compatibility mode. The difference in interfaces lies only in the bandwidth – you can forget about the high level of graphics in modern games. This is also true in the opposite direction. Video adapters designed for PCI-Express 2.0 will work in the new slot. But it is better to look for a newer video card in order to unleash the potential of the motherboard.
Long gone are the days when a video accelerator did not require additional power. Now the only difference is the number of connectors used to connect the power supply. The most powerful models require power supply through two 8PIN connectors – if your power supply does not have such cables, then you will have to attend to the purchase of adapters that use MOLEX. Slightly less powerful graphics cards can use a single 8PIN or even 6PIN connector.
Of course, video adapters also differ in the level of power consumption. The technical specifications usually indicate how much electricity the video card requires in idle mode and under load. Usually, this parameter ranges from 50 to 350 watts. If you are not going to change the power supply, then select a video card for it. For example, GeForce 770 with a cooling system from GIGABYTE consumes up to 220 watts in games. Add to that the power consumption of your existing hard drives, CD drive, sound card, and motherboard. As a result, you get that such a video card requires a power supply of at least 600 watts. If your power supply is not capable of delivering this amount of electricity, then a simpler video adapter should be considered. Or NVIDIA GeForce 970, built with sophisticated process technology and consuming less power.
Video memory size and bus:
It seems to many that the more video memory a video card has, the better. However, in reality, this is not always the case. The point is that video memory is consumed through a special bus. And if its bandwidth is too low, then in a rare game you can use up the entire supply of available video memory. In particular, for a volume of 1 GB, a 128-bit bus is sufficient. And for a volume of 2-4 GB, a 256-bit bus is needed. For even more volume, an even wider tire is required. For different needs, video adapters with the following parameters may be required:
- Office work – in this case, you can be satisfied with the simplest video card, onboard which there is 512 MB of video memory with a not very wide bus;
- Watching the video and playing games of past generations – to solve such tasks, you will need a video card with 1 GB of video memory (the GDDR5 standard is desirable) and a 128-bit bus.
- Modern games with medium graphics settings – it all depends on the screen resolution. Full HD picture output will require 2 GB of video memory and a 256-bit bus.
- Modern games with maximum graphics settings require at least 4 GB of video memory and a bus from 256 bits (the wider, the faster the graphics will load).
- A backlog for the future and professional editing of video materials – you will need a model equipped with 6 GB of video memory (or better – even more) and the widest possible bus. If high power consumption does not scare you, then you can consider a dual-processor video card or a bunch of two video adapters.
VIDEO MEMORY AND PROCESSOR FREQUENCY
Any video card consists of a processor and video memory. Both of these components are characterized by frequency – in this regard, they do not differ from the processor and RAM connected to the motherboard – only the numbers are completely different. In particular, the frequency of the video memory is usually increased to several thousand MHz – this is done in order to exchange data as quickly as possible. As for the processor, its clock frequency varies from 600 to 1300 MHz. The higher all these parameters are, the higher the level of graphics the video adapter can provide.
We draw your attention to the fact that modern video cards, the cost of which starts from 15 thousand rubles, can be overclocked! In the BIOS, you can try to increase the processor frequency with a slightly more interesting result.
THE NUMBER OF UNIVERSAL PROCESSORS
This is also a very interesting parameter. For gamers, it is not so important, since universal processors are not always used in games. They are primarily designed to handle the video stream, not 3D graphics. In particular, they are used to render video and convert one format to another. The more processors there are, the faster this process will end. Top-end video cards can have up to a couple of thousand universal processors. In budget models, only 300-500 of them can be built. By the way, NVIDIA called this technology CUDA – you must have heard about it.
Speaking about NVIDIA video cards, it is worth talking about their main advantage. When you install such a device, you get the NVIDIA Experience program at your disposal. Initially, it was intended only to automatically update drivers and optimize existing games. But now this application has a more interesting item – NVIDIA Shadow Play. If you enable it, the video card will record your gameplay in the background (from the last five to twenty minutes). Pressing a specific key combination allows you to save the video to your hard drive.
It should be noted that this function is available only to owners of NVIDIA GeForce 600 series and higher graphics cards. Its main difference from Fraps, Bandcamp, and other similar programs is the absence of any additional load on the system, and therefore the FPS (frame rate) in games does not sag.