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How do I Choose the Best Gaming Video Card?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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One of the easiest ways to choose the best gaming video card is to simply look for the card with the highest numbers regarding graphics processing unit (GPU) speed and the memory on the card. By comparing multiple cards to find the highest values of those numbers, you can usually find the most cutting edge and state of the art card on the market. You may also want to consult some technology websites for reviews on the latest graphics cards hitting the market, and to find benchmark numbers when such cards have been tested. It is also a good idea to know what kinds of connectors and power supply you have available in your computer, so you choose a gaming video card that you can actually use.

A gaming video card is typically a device that processes graphics, especially modern three-dimensional (3D) graphics, and displays the images on a monitor or similar display device. Video cards generally have a few important aspects that should be understood when choosing a card. The GPU on the video card is the actual processor that provides dedicated processing for graphical images generated by a personal computer (PC) game. A gaming video card with higher GPU speeds can usually take more stress off of the central processing unit (CPU) in your computer.

This allows the CPU to focus on properly running the game, while the GPU deals with rendering the graphics. You should also be aware of the number of pipelines used by the GPU of a gaming video card you may want to purchase. There are some cards with very fast GPUs, but with few pipelines, which can mean your computer may not actually be able to take full advantage of the speed of the card. The easiest way to find out about this type of information is to look for reviews of any gaming video card you are interested in purchasing.

Such reviews will often have information regarding the speed of the GPU, the benchmarks or performance of the card in dealing with 3D gaming, and the memory on the card. A gaming video card will usually have dedicated memory on the card, just as your computer has random access memory (RAM), which is used to run 3D games. Again, you typically want higher numbers for the memory on the card, to increase performance while playing PC games.

Beyond these technical specifications, you should also be sure any gaming video card you are interested in can actually run on your computer. You should determine what type of video card interface your motherboard has, such as a peripheral component interconnect (PCI), an accelerated graphics port (AGP), or PCI express (PCIe), and be sure to choose a card that can connect to your board. It is also a good idea to be sure your power supply can handle the power requirements of newer, cutting edge graphics cards, as they can be quite demanding.

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Discussion Comments
By excom — On May 24, 2011

Is the ATI 5650 1 GB graphic that can run all games going to be released in 2011 and 2012?

By wiesen — On May 24, 2011

All other aspects of the two cards being equal, the 1 GB card basically has double the memory for graphics processing that the 512 card has. This memory is very much like RAM, but is used exclusively for processing graphics.

In general, higher amounts of memory in a graphics card relieves "stress" on the computer's overall RAM allowing games to run smoother.

By excom — On May 24, 2011

what is the difference between ATI 512 MB and ATI 1 GB graphic card with the same serial and model numbers? How is the gaming performance in ATI 5650 1 GB graphic?

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