What do you as a gamer play most of your games on? A tablet, smartphone, console or just on a traditional PC? Does your choice also fall on the classic desktop? Then you need a good graphics card. We have found out for you which graphics card is the best to purchase at the moment.
If you are going to buy a new graphics card, first look at your budget. In this article we assume three different types of gamers with corresponding budget. The first is the budget gamer, this target group does not spend more than 200 euros on a graphics card. Of course it can be even cheaper, but we require that you can enjoy gaming on Full HD. The normal gamer is the second group, who wants to be able to game in Full HD without making any compromises. The budget is between 350 and 400 euros. Number three is the hardcore gamer with a budget of 600 to 800 euros, who places very high demands on the graphics card. Also read: How to turn your PC into a retro game emulator.
Once you have determined your budget, the choice is made which GPU is the best. In practice, you can choose between AMD or NVIDIA in every budget. Both make interesting graphics cards with many features. Which features suit you best?
AMD and NVIDIA have not been sitting still in recent years. Both have developed specific features. For example, AMD has equipped the latest top models – the R9 Fury and Fury X – with a new type of graphics memory: HBM. This stands for 'High Bandwidth Memory', as the name suggests, this type of memory has more memory bandwidth than GDDR5 memory. Memory bandwidth is very important for graphics cards. This allows the GPU to send and receive large amounts of data faster to and from the memory. This is advantageous at high resolutions such as UHD 4K. The disadvantage of the first generation HBM is that it cannot yet be used to make large chips. The graphics cards with this memory therefore have no more than 4 GB on board. It is expected that both NVIDIA and AMD will provide their graphics cards with the second generation HBM: HBM2 in 2017.
In addition to being fast enough, games must also be displayed smoothly, so that you do not suffer from tearing. You could already prevent this thanks to V-Sync, but that has performance disadvantages. AMD and NVIDIA have each developed their own technology that prevents tearing without losing performance. AMD graphics cards support FreeSync. With this technique, the frames rendered by the graphics card are synchronized with the refresh rate of the monitor. This eliminates the need for V-sync. If you have a screen that supports FreeSync, then choosing an AMD graphics card is a logical step. NVIDIA has a similar feature, G-SYNC. Basically, this technique does the same as FreeSync. To support G-SYNC, a display needs a special hardware module. As a result, the screens are often a lot more expensive than the screens with FreeSync support. On the other hand, G-SYNC works just a bit better. So if you have or plan to purchase a display with G-SYNC, a graphics card with an NVIDIA GPU is a logical choice.
Virtual reality is currently in the spotlight. NVIDIA recently released the GeForce GTX 1070 and 1080. These cards, with the new Pascal architecture, have optimizations for virtual reality. If you are going to buy a VR set, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, these cards are very interesting.
Integrated graphics card
Can you also play games with an integrated graphics card? The fastest integrated GPUs from Intel are in the Skylake CPUs. This is the HD Graphic 530 and 540 GPU. AMD calls its CPUs with integrated GPUs an APU: Accelerated Processing Unit. An example is the AMD A10-78xx, these CPUs are equipped with the Radeon R7 GPU. Barring exceptions, you can forget about gaming at a Full HD resolution. Gaming at lower resolutions, such as 1280 x 720 or 1024 x 768, is possible. But even then the performance varies considerably from game to game. You shouldn't start modern shooters unless you set the detail to a low level. A somewhat older game, such as World of Warcraft, can be played fine at this resolution. Intel's HD Graphics 530/540 and AMD's A10-7870K are already a lot better than previous generations. If you have an older generation integrated GPU, such as the Intel HD 4400 or AMD A8-3850, the gaming becomes really hopeless. Do you occasionally play a game at a low resolution or with low detail? Then you can work fine with the latest generation of AMD or Intel CPUs with integrated GPUs. If you want to play a bit more serious on Full HD, then you will really have to buy a graphics card.