The majority of people that buy dedicated graphics cards, also known as video cards, do so to play the latest and greatest games. They want the fastest card with the most memory to get the best frame-rate and no delay or blocking when they are getting stuck into Batman: Arkham Knight.
Many internet comments-section arguments will continue about the pros and cons of whether a card should be AMD and Nvidia, with the comments nearly reaching iOS vs Android levels of commitment form both sides, but in reality there is little reason to pick one over the other at this stage. Both produce fantastic graphics cards at a variety of price points, and while how they get the performance out varies a lot, that performance is relatively similar.
If you can’t pick the best video card by manufacturer alone, what should you look for to find the best graphics card for you?
A video card’s graphics processing unit (GPU) is what determines its video capabilities, and the higher the number the better is a good general rule of thumb
Memory and Clock Speed
Graphics cards are essentially very specialised CPUs, and the ideas about how to choose the best CPUs hold firm. Faster is generally better, and more memory is better. Some graphics cards use different types of DDR memory as well, and here the more modern and faster type the better.
Most monitors will be linked up to your graphics card through a DVI port, but other options such as HDMI can be useful if you are also using your PC to link up to a TV.
TDP and Power connectors
Modern graphics cards are powerful beasts, and power hungry. This means that all the top-end cards require dedicated connections to your system’s power supply – so make sure your power supply can handle the card.
Also make sure that your system’s Thermal Design Power (TDP) can handle the extra watts being used by your graphics card, which may suck up more than 400 watts.
This seems simple, but make sure that the graphics card you buy will fit into the case of your PC. Computers come in all shapes and sizes these days – make sure you know the what your can fit!
So now you know what to look for, Tom’s Hardware is a great place to find out some in depth information on each of the top cards at each price point, so you can choose the right one for you.