How to Choose the Best Gaming Video Card for Your PC 


(& the Best Value Graphics Cards for 2016)


Learn how to choose the best gaming video card when upgrading or building a new computer. When it comes to building PC for gaming, the video card (also known as the graphics card, or GPU which is short for Graphics Processing Unit) is THE single most crucial component of all in regards to direct gaming performance.

Choosing the right one for your budget isn't always an easy task, especially as a newbie, as like most computer parts there are tons of differing models with various specs and features that can make your head spin.

We're here to make things as easy as possible and help you to understand the current world of GPUs and how to navigate the current market so you can easily pick the right card for you.

At the end of this guide on how to choose the best gaming video card, we'll also throw in our current top recommendations for the best bang for your buck graphics cards in different price ranges.


GPU Wars: AMD vs NVIDIA

Just like when choosing the best CPU, you've basically got two main company choices when picking the best gaming video card. You've got NVIDIA, who basically dominate the high-end GPU market (but also provide great budget cards), and then you have AMD (formerly ATI, but AMD bought them out) who cater more for the budget conscious gamers though still have their fair share of high-end cards.

Keep in mind that whilst there are only two players in the GPU game, you actually buy your card from companies who re-sell either NVIDIA or AMD cards under their own brand. Some of the more popular and trusted sellers are EVGA, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, XFX, Sapphire and Zotac.

So which is better, NVIDIA graphics cards or AMD cards? Well, that's a heated debate that's been on for centuries (ok, maybe not centuries hehe). At this point in time (2016), the general consensus is that if you're going high-end then you really should lean towards NVIDIA as their current top-tier GPUs in the 1070 and 1080 are currently unmatched by AMD (things could change though).

But in the budget to mid-range tier, both NVIDIA and AMD have great offerings so the choice is less clear and depends on your exact budget and current pricing of the specific GPUs in question. Anyway, we'll get to our current top recommended AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards at the end of this guide.


GPU Features to Consider

GPUs contain a host of different features, options, connections, etc. Here are the main ones you should keep in mind when choosing the best gaming video card for your PC:


  • Video Memory: The video memory (VRAM) is the amount of memory your video card holds on-board for processing 3D images, and the more the better. The minimum for modern gaming these days would be 2GB, with 3-4GB being ideal for a fairly future-proof system. Anything more is a luxury, really.
  • DirectX Support: You'll want to make sure your gaming video card supports the latest DirectX technology to be future-proof for years to come. It's not the end of the world if you don't support the latest version though, especially for a budget system.
  • SLI and CrossFire: SLI and CrossFire are technologies that allow you to pair up either two or more NVIDIA or AMD video cards for extreme system performance. Only suggested for the advanced and experienced, if you'll be using either technology then you'll need to ensure both your GPU and your motherboard supports it.
  • DVI: This is a higher-definition output used with newer monitors and some high-end TVs. Connecting to your monitor via DVI offers better image quality than the standard VGA connection. If you want to take advantage of DVI, buy a graphics card and monitor that supports it.
  • HDMI Connection: HDMI is the default connection on new HDTVs, Blu-ray players, Apple TV, many new computers and graphics cards, and a range of other video devices. If you need to connect your video card to a TV via HDMI, then obviously make sure to check that your video card has this feature.
  • Dual Monitor Support: If you want to split your video output across two monitors, you will need dual monitor support on your graphics card. This feature is useful for developers, engineers, designers, and multi-taskers who wish to view many different windows on their desktop at once. Sometimes, one output will be VGA and the other DVI. Learn more about dual monitor video card setups here.
  • Power Usage: The more powerful a card is, the more power it will require so you should keep this in mind and make sure your gaming computer's power supply will be good enough to handle your card/s.
  • Size: The size of your video card may also be an issue, especially if it's a large monstrous card and you have a smaller case. Make sure your case will fit your new beast, and also consider space if you plan on adding a second (or more) card later down the track.


4 of the Best NVIDIA GPUs for 2016

4 of the Best AMD GPUs for 2016

Wrapping Up

If you've read up until this point, you should know exactly how to choose the best gaming video card for your hard-earned money and be able to more confidently wade through the market.

It pays to do you homework on choosing a great GPU and making sure it's a good fit for your build and your current and future wants/needs. As a PC gamer it's the single most important part of all, so choose wisely. Good luck.


Related Articles

NVIDIA SLI Quick-Guide

ATI CrossFire Quick-Guide

Installing A Graphics Card






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