Last updated on January 1st, 2023 at 01:10 pm
With the rise of 3D gaming and crypto mining, “graphics card” has become the new buzzword in town. Even non-gamers benefit from the boost of speed after installing a dedicated graphics card. But how does a graphics card improve performance?
Dedicated graphics cards have their own memory, so they don’t need to use the computer’s internal RAM. Freeing up that memory allows the computer to do other tasks without being burdened by heavy graphics usage, giving it a good dose of performance boost.
We’re sure you still have a lot of questions. Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about graphics cards in this article.
What Does a Graphics Card Do?
A graphics card, also called a video card, is like a miniature version of a computer but dedicated to the task of graphic processing. It’s tasked with figuring out how to put images on the screen, especially those representing a 3D world.
Like the CPU, it has its own processor called the graphic processing unit (GPU). The GPU works the same as the CPU, but it’s for the sole use of the graphics card.
To better understand what graphics cards are for, we need to see how CPUs and GPUs work.
CPU cores are powerful and can do complicated tasks. But each one can only do a single task at a time. The tasks required for graphic rendering aren’t all that complicated.
But there are a lot of them. So if your computer has eight cores, it can only process eight tasks simultaneously. So you end up with all the tasks waiting in line and being rendered slowly.
GPU cores, on the other hand, aren’t all that powerful. But there are a lot of them. They’re capable of doing thousands of simple things at once, making them perfect for graphic processing.
So imagine how much faster your computer will be if it doesn’t have to use its own memory and CPU to render graphics.
Aside from the dedicated processor, video cards also come with their own memory called Video RAM (VRAM). The GPU stores rendered images in the VRAM in the right order. So when called upon, they’ll be displayed faster and in the correct order.
Integrated Versus Dedicated Graphics: Which is Better?
Since everything needs to be displayed on the monitor, a computer simply won’t work without a GPU. Now, the question is, do you need an integrated or dedicated graphics card?
If you’re mostly going to use your computer for simple tasks like web browsing and running simple software applications, then you can make do with an integrated card. But as technology improves, modern CPUs can now handle casual gaming and even play 4k videos.
But they still need more power for video editing, crypto mining, and playing graphic-intensive games. You can maybe squeeze a couple more frames out of them if you play with the absolute lowest settings. But would you enjoy playing with pixelated blobs on your screen?
Graphic cards are essential in rendering 3D worlds in modern video games where shadow and lighting effects have become more realistic. So you’ll have to stick with a dedicated graphics card if you want to play the latest games, such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.
You should check out: “Do All CPUs Have Integrated Graphics” To learn more.
Will Upgrading Graphics Cards Improve Performance?
It should. But, really, it depends. As cliche as that sound, if you install a GPU that’s too powerful for your old rig, you will cause a bottleneck. You can’t just drop the latest video card on a six-year-old rig and expect it to perform well.
But if you do notice these things, there’s no doubt it’s time to upgrade your video card.
- Your graphics card is bottlenecking or dying.
- The latest games are no longer playable.
- You want to use multiple monitors.
- Blue screen of death errors plagues you all the time.
How to Choose a Graphics Card
Your favorite brand just released a new model? Whew! That’s really hard to resist. But before you do anything, make sure to consider these factors before making that purchase.
Computers running at optimal temperatures work at their maximum level of performance. So the number and size of the case fans play a big role when choosing a video card. The more popular ones are 120 mm and 140 mm in size, as they fit in most cases. Plus, they provide a good balance between static pressure and airflow.
When buying a video card, ensure compatibility with the other components in your computer. This includes the motherboard, power source, and CPU. Technically speaking, any CPU will work with any graphics card. But the CPU and GPU need at least equal power to avoid bottlenecking the computer.
You should also measure the video card case to ensure it’ll fit inside your computer tower. Imagine buying your dream video card, and it doesn’t fit. That would be a nightmare.
The graphics card memory directly affects the GPU’s overall performance. Not having enough VRAM can seriously limit the textures, resolution size, and other graphics settings. If you want a smoother experience playing games at high settings, you’ll naturally need more VRAM. We recommend you get a card with at least 6GB to 8GB memory.
Think of the GPU as a car, and the bandwidth is the fastest speed it can go. The higher the speed, the faster the info can be transferred from/to the shader cores.
Having low bandwidth can compromise the overall performance of your computer. After all, it’s not good for the GPU to wait all the time before it can do its work. This will only create a bottleneck in the system.
Shader cores, called stream processors by AMD and CUDA cores by Nvidia, directly affect bandwidth. In most cases, the more shader cores a graphics card has, the faster and better rendering it gives.
5 Tips to Improve Graphics Card Performance Without Upgrading
Sure. Buying a new graphics card is the best way to boost GPU speed. But did you know you can squeeze more performance from your video card without buying a new one? Here are six easy ways you can do it.
Update your software and drivers
Keeping your video card’s drivers updated will make your GPU run more smoothly. Of course, not every update will improve performance. But developers are often quick to fix bugs. You can read the release notes from the manufacturer if you’re wary of installing an update.
Overclock your GPU
Overclocking isn’t just for the CPU. You can also overclock your GPU to force it to run faster than its stock settings. Unlike with the CPU, you’re much less likely to damage your GPU permanently. But it could still shorten the card’s lifespan. So that’s something to consider.
Keep it clean
Dirty video cards heat faster. And when they reach their limit, they will shut down. Regularly cleaning your graphics card will not only prolong its life. It’ll also make it run more efficiently. You don’t even need to take out the card from the tower to clean it. You can simply blow away the dust using a compressed air spray.
You should check out “How Often Should You Clean Your Computer” to learn more.
Upgrade your cooling system
If cleaning your video card isn’t doing much to cool it down, you can upgrade your case fans. Installing a water-cooling loop is another option. You can also change your computer tower with a new one that has vents for better airflow.
When graphics processing starts to slow down, it isn’t always the video card’s fault. Sometimes other components are the ones pulling down the GPU.
When the CPU starts to struggle to work with the GPU, you’ll see a significant drop in your computer’s performance. Upgrading your CPU and RAM may just be what you need to boost your GPU’s performance.
Installing a dedicated graphics card on your computer can significantly boost your overall computing experience. But it has to work well with the other components of your computer. Or else it’ll do the exact opposite. Keep that in mind when upgrading your rig.