Which Graphics Card?
Author: Computer Town Australia Date Posted:13 September 2019
This is probably the most common question that we get asked when people are looking to build their brand new Gaming PC or upgrade their existing hardware, and there’s is never a simple answer. Sometimes, hardware might limit the performance of the graphics card (a term referred to as BOTTLENECKING) and sometimes, achieving 4k @ 200FPS might not always be a realistic goal on people budgets. We aim to break down the nitty gritty and help explain some of the back end factors to consider when purchasing your new graphics card.
The Bracket Breakdown
To simplify the process, the easy way to assess cards is a breakdown into 1 of 3 categories. Entry Level or LOW level cards. MID range cards, and HIGH end cards.
These cards are usually the bare minimum required to play games. We generally consider this bracket to include:
These are the entry level cards, that you can likely expect a low to medium setting out of the card @ 1920x1080 Resolution. These cards will generally also run on entry level hardware without too much issues, meaning that generally, bottlenecking is not something you have to worry about with these entry level cards.
These cards are usually the sweet spot for people looking to build amazing rigs, but are doing so on a budget. We generally consider the following to fall into the Mid Range category:
It should be noted that there is still a significant price gap between the top and bottom cards in this bracket, but these cards generally handle all the latest and greatest titles on Medium to High settings with the possibility of ultra. Again, a resolution of 1920x1080 is recommended for these cards, although the upper end could also achieve decent results at a 2K(1440p) resolution as well.
At this point, it should be noted that hardware DOES need to be considered, especially when selecting the upper end of the mid range cards. For example, an i3 CPU running a 2060 will produce a bottle neck of around 42%
An entry level i5 however, brings this bottle neck down to the just over recommended 10% mark at 12% bottleneck
AS A RESULT, WE RECOMMEND AT LEAST AN i5 OR AMD EQUIVALENT WITH THE MID RANGE GPUS
The final tier is of course, our High End cards. We generally classify the following as the High End Cards:
Given that the 2060 bottlenecks on an i5, if you’re going to have one of these cards, an i7 or AMD equivalent CPU is a must. These cards of course, will handle 1920x1080p at the highest graphics settings for most games. These cards are also recommended if you’re looking to push into the 1440p screen resolution space, high refresh rate 144Hz monitors, and even the 4K gaming realm. For the price point, we find the RTX 2070 Super to probably be the best bang for buck in this range, but obviously depending on you’re budget, this may be flexible.
Budgeting for your Graphics Card.
So how much should I be spending on my graphics card? Well as a general rule of thumb, we adobt the principle of HALF YOUR BUDGET for your total upgrade/build should be spend on your graphics card. That is, if you’re budget is $2000 for a new gaming system, Budget about $1000 of that for your graphics card. This general rule works out giving you the best performance you can for the rest of the hardware around it.
So this is all great… but how much is spending that extra $500 on a card actually going to give you. Well… the answer is there is no set in stone answer. Different games respond to different cards and manufacturers due to a number of factors, such as the engine the game is using, and how the game was written and coded, but as a generalized figure, the following shows the differences in benchmarks between the cards.
This graph doesn’t include anything below the 1060, as really, its just not worth having an entry level card as a gamer. Save up those extra pennies, mow a few extra lawns, and invest in at least a 1660 if you really want to have a good time.