Graphics cards convert numbers into images. Today, most processors (CPUs) have a graphics card (GPU) integrated into the system. These GPUs are great for displaying text, 2D graphics, and windows, but they’re not ideal for gaming or other visually intensive operations.
- 5 Things You Have to Know Before Buying a Graphics Card
- Performance Is Expensive
- Use Restock Notification Tools for Online Storefronts
- Discord and Telegram
- YouTube and Twitch
- Dedicated Inventory Trackers
- Keep Track of Inventory at Local Retailers
- Severe Problems With Used Graphics Cards
- Problem: Damaged Card/PCB
- Problem: Fake GPUs
5 Things You Have to Know Before Buying a Graphics Card
Here are five key points to keep in mind before purchasing your next graphics card, otherwise you may regret your purchase.
When it comes to upgrading your PC, there are a few investments you can make that are better than a dedicated graphics card – especially when you’re playing demanding games or editing videos. Unfortunately, realistic 3D graphics and advanced video rendering do not come cheap.
But purchasing a new graphics card is not a simple process. However, if you know these five things before you start shopping, you have a much better chance of purchasing a graphics card that suits you.
Performance Is Expensive
The hard truth about graphics cards is that if you want the best performance, you’ll have to pay the highest price. And the highest performance cards are very expensive. You can easily pay up to $ 600, $ 800, or even $ 400,000 to get a world-class graphics setup.
Take the RTX 3070 for example. The Nvidia RTX 3070 has an MSRP of $ 500, but trades hands more than double. The same is happening with other Nvidia 3000 series GPUs, and things are not much better with AMD 6000 series GPUs.
Before the last generation of Nvidia and AMD GPUs (RTX 2000 and AMD 5000 series), development was not noticeable for some time, which led to marginal increases. Then, with the advent of ray tracing and other advanced GPU features, it was suddenly worth reaching for a new GPU. Their latest GPUs, the RTX 3000 and AMD 6000 series, are the cream of the cut for GPUs and games right now – if you can get them at a reasonable price.
So the original statement remains true: top-notch gaming performance is expensive, global supply shortages or not.
Finally, let’s move on to the graphics cards you should buy and the price range you expect to buy them in! If you’re unfamiliar with the modern graphics card landscape, check out our GPU hierarchy or guide to the best graphics cards.
Use Restock Notification Tools for Online Storefronts
You can’t buy a graphics card if you don’t know when it’s replenished, and some tools and channels can help you with that. It is easier for digital sellers to track inventory than in stationary stores, which we will get to in a moment. But actually, purchasing a new GPU using this method will require quite a bit of luck.
Of course, you can park on the product page of the graphics card at your favorite retailer and keep pressing F5 all day to refresh the browser. But it’s boring and ineffective. After all, each tab shows up on a separate page of the site, and you can’t keep track of, say, all the GeForce RTX 3070-based cards that a vendor has in their database all the time. These are some of the easiest ways to track an online retailer’s inventory without manually refreshing the website until you end up earning points (or snoring).
Discord and Telegram
Perhaps the easiest and least engaging way to monitor your online resources is to use Discord and Telegram. (For anyone who doesn’t know: Discord is basically Slack for gamers, and Telegram is a highly automated messaging service.) Fearless users of both services have set up various bots and communities with the goal of letting people know when a website seller finally has a card in stock graphic.
This method has several advantages: it is mostly passive, free, and completely legal. But there are also some downsides, the most important of which is the fact that any other person who uses these bots or joins these communities will also be looking for a new graphics card. Anyone who shop on Black Friday knows how quickly neighbors can become deadly rivals when the most coveted items are missing. (Our reporter Michael Kan, who experimented with bots and tried his best to buy an AMD Radeon card via conventional retailer stalking, ended up getting aces with a Discord Fixitfixitfixit Drops & Tech warning.)
YouTube and Twitch
The lack of graphics cards has led to the emergence of a new category of streamers: the supplement monitor. Several channels on YouTube and Twitch have started monitoring different websites to see when they are getting a new supply of GPUs. When they do, they play a sound so people who leave the channels running in the background know it’s time to switch cards and race other viewers through the erase process. Continue playing!
This method is fairly unobtrusive – all you have to do is listen for the replenishment chime – but it’s also less effective than using Discord or Telegram. These services can notify you on any device about GPU restocking; YouTube and Twitch channels are only useful on the device used to stream them. Anyone with a connection to metering should also be careful about the data that will be used to stream these videos around the clock.
Dedicated Inventory Trackers
Of course, you can always turn to the old reliable one instead of relying on those newfangled bots and servers and streaming channels. That’s right – it’s time to flash your email.
Services like CamelCamelCamel can automatically send you emails when the price of your graphics card drops (which is a core feature of the service) or reappears. People have been using these services for years to track items they want to buy online.
Unfortunately, this could be the worst way to try to find out about your new GPU’s inventory. CamelCamelCamel, in particular, is limited to Amazon, where replenished graphics cards sell out almost instantly, and you need to set up alerts on a per-product basis rather than checking for any modern graphics card. Other services such as HotStock.io and NowInStock.net may host more storefronts or aggregate multiple versions of a given GPU on a single page, but restriction to a specific product is still fairly common.
Keep Track of Inventory at Local Retailers
Physical storefronts have several advantages over their digital counterparts when it comes to finding an available graphics card. The basic one is limited competition. Anyone can shop on Amazon; not everyone can visit the local microcenter. (Pro tip: Micro Center, if you live where the chain has stores, is better than most retailers when it comes to nailing your GPU in person.) Why compete with cryptocurrency miners, scalpers, bots, and anyone else looking to buy a new one graphics card online can you find the same product on the store shelf?
Here are some tips for purchasing a new graphics card from your local electronics store:
Sometimes it works “nice”. Be polite to the store staff. They are not responsible for the chip shortage, they do not decide to replenish graphics cards, and in many cases have limited opportunities to help people get the products they want. But they will be more likely to use what they have to move around if you are kind to them than if you are rude. Practice the golden rule.
Please call to ask on which days of the week certain products are usually refilled. Stores often receive new shipments of certain types of equipment or equipment according to a predictable schedule. (Or at least as predictable as possible in the face of today’s global sourcing problems.) Picking up the phone, politely requesting a restocking of graphics cards, and scheduling a visit to that schedule can maximize your chances of getting your new GPU as-is it is on the shelves.
Use online tools to monitor your in-store inventory. Retailers often say they have the product in stock at a local store on their websites, and even if they don’t, services like BrickSeek can often find this information for you. These methods aren’t foolproof – we don’t think of any store whose inventory systems offer the latest updates – but they can be useful.
There is always a risk of compatibility issues with any graphics card. Common problems include things like the power source (input type, power requirement, etc.) and the size of the card itself (can it fit in the computer case?).
In addition to considering the TDP value for space reasons, you also need to consider whether your power supply has enough 8-pin or 6-pin connectors for your graphics card. You can easily ensure that this will happen by purchasing a decent PSU worth at least 80 Plus Bronze.
Most graphics cards have 2 to 12 gigabytes of video RAM. However, there is a lot of debate about how much is needed for optimal computer performance. Some forums claim that the amount of memory does not matter, while others note that this is a very important consideration when purchasing a graphics card.
Since the graphics card memory contains anti-aliasing operations (which remove jagged edges from objects), textures, and other elements used to make images come alive, we say this is important. Video memory plays a very important role in picture quality as it allows you to play games at higher resolutions.
Therefore, you should divide the system memory by two and use that number as a guide when deciding how much memory is needed for your graphics card. For example, if you have 8 GB of system memory, you will need at least 4 GB of graphics card for optimal performance.
The importance of GPU memory is debatable to some, but bandwidth is of paramount importance to everyone. Bandwidth is the amount of memory that the GPU can access at any given time.
When the GPU has more bandwidth, data is transferred faster to the shader cores. The result is games and video graphics that run with fluid clarity.
To understand bandwidth, you must first understand how it works. Throughput is determined by the combination of memory speed and bus width.
1) Graphics Card Clock Speed
Clock speed is measured in MHz and affects input lag, frame rate, and latency. By default, graphics processors can read 64 bits of information simultaneously. To speed things up a bit, however, multiple GPUs read more than one chip at a time.
2) Graphics Card Bus Width
For example, if the GPU can read two 64-bit chips simultaneously, it reads 128 bits instead of just 64. This makes the bus width 64 x 2.
This is the most common of them: an old GPU that just has a lot of dust in it. This usually does not cause severe overheating, but it can raise the temperature noticeably. Most often it is located in the heat sink behind the fans and can be difficult to remove during routine computer maintenance.
Severe Problems With Used Graphics Cards
These problems are much more serious and possibly completely beyond repair. The only “fix” you have here is returns and refunds. However, these are relatively rare, and if you follow best practices, you shouldn’t usually come across them.
Problem: Damaged Card/PCB
By “damage” we mean damage. Dust build-up and expired thermal paste will negatively affect your card, but they don’t necessarily mean damage. If your card is damaged, the most likely part is the circuit board, usually with small parts scraped or fired.
A common reason for this is using an air compressor instead of compressed air to clean the GPU. While the compressor is working, if it is too powerful it can shoot out parts of the circuit board.
Symptoms of damaged graphics cards include:
- Frequent instability and crashes in games
- Blue screens of death
- Incorrect temperature readings
Make sure your graphics card is not overclocked. If you still encounter any of these issues, especially the first two, chances are your GPU is damaged and should be returned.
While used GPUs are usually not covered under the warranty, some manufacturers may wish to repair or replace the card at a reasonable cost. However, this will vary from case to case, and it is usually better to get your money back.
Problem: Fake GPUs
Fake GPUs are especially malicious as only the most careful shoppers will be able to catch the trick. If you do not know what performance to expect from the graphics card you are purchasing, you may never know that the “GTX 1060” you are using is the rebranded GTX 960.
To detect this problem, your best bet is to use GPU-Z, which will take advanced reads from your graphics card and warn you if you are using a counterfeit. If you learn that you have been sold a fake GPU, please report the problem to eBay and try to get your money back. However, if you bought it directly… you might be out of luck.