The 5 Top Strategies for Buying a Graphics Card in 2021 (Without Getting Gouged). How to know which gpu to buy

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

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 and 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.

Used Graphics Cards: How To Buy

The above problems may seem scary, but with the right practices, they can be easily avoided! Here are the three most important rules for buying used graphics processors.

1. Only Buy From Trusted Sellers

There are many real places to look for used graphics processors. As with many products, you can check out eBay or the Facebook Marketplace, but make sure you buy from a trusted seller. No matter how tempting the price may be, if a seller has a rating of less than ~ 95% percent, you probably shouldn’t buy anything from them.

While there are honest sellers who are just starting out, you don’t need to wager hundreds of dollars on them. Be smart and stick with sellers who have consistently high ratings.

2. Thoroughly Research Pricing

It may be obvious, but don’t catch the first great opportunity you see! Look around for alternative options and also make sure that the “great deal” you’ve noticed is actually a great deal. Later in this article, we’ll provide up-to-date examples of GPUs to buy and expected price ranges, which should be a great starting point.

3. Never Buy MSRP or Full Price

Honestly, this is true for whatever has been used. If you’re going to pay full price for something, just buy it new from Amazon. If it’s used and comes close to the MSRP, don’t worry! Either look for a better deal or find another card with a similar level of performance. The GPU shortage is over a long time ago, so there’s no longer any reason to buy used cards at the suggested retail price.

Generally speaking, the more memory a GPU has, the more detail it can process, but that doesn’t directly affect its performance. For general use, a 2GB GPU is more than adequate, but gamers and creative professionals should aim for at least 4GB of GPU RAM.

What to Look for When Buying a Graphics Card

As mentioned earlier, there are many manufacturers on the market today – such as Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, and many others – that make their own brands of graphics cards. All of these cards are powered by Nvidia or AMD GPUs.

However, they differ in the type of memory, the heat sink used, speed, throughput and more. Knowing how each of these elements works can help you choose the perfect card for you. Below you will find information that you should pay attention to when purchasing your graphics card.

1. Compatibility

Nothing could be more frustrating than the excitement of opening the case to install a new graphics card, only to realize it’s an inch too long. Before you decide to buy, do your homework and find out how much physical space your suitcase can offer.

Also pay attention to the power supply. How many amps can it deliver on 12v rails? How many watts is it rated and how many six- and eight-pin PCIe connectors are there? Combine this information with the graphics card you want to buy. If your computer can’t handle it, look for a graphics card that will require less power, or consider increasing your power.


Finally, check the ports. Some monitors use DisplayPort, others have HDMI, and some older units only use DVI. Make sure the card you want to buy has the connectors you need for your monitors. If you buy a card with ports other than those on your monitor, you may need to purchase an adapter for an additional fee.

2. Platform

Your system dictates the type of graphics card you should buy. Knowing your system limitations can save you money and headaches. For example, if you’re using an older dual-core CPU like Pentium or Celeron, it won’t keep up with high-end graphics cards. In these cases, choose mid-range cards and save your hard-earned money.

Your display is also an important factor to consider as 1440p (2560 x 1440) is a popular resolution for a gaming monitor. If you’re going to run three 1080p monitors in surround mode, a mid-range card won’t get you a decent frame rate for modern 3D games.

3. Memory and Bandwidth

Many will say that the larger the memory of a video card, the better the performance, but this is not always the case. Unless you’re using it with ultra-high resolutions like 4K or multi-monitor surround mode, the amount of RAM won’t make a big difference. In addition, most, if not all, high-end graphics cards have a large amount of memory by default.

What you need to pay more attention to is bandwidth. GPU-ready data is usually stored on a dedicated card memory called GDDR3, GDDR5, or (more recently) GDDR6. Remember that GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth of a GDDR3 clocked at the same frequency.


As memory bandwidth is an important determinant of performance, GDDR5 should always be selected for better performance. In fact, 1 GB of GDDR5 memory is more preferable than 4 GB of GDDR3 memory when it comes to performance.

4. CUDA Cores (Nvidia) or Stream Processors (AMD)

While CUDA cores don’t say much about performance, they’re very important, especially in gaming. CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is Nvidia’s proprietary parallel computing language that uses the graphics processor in a specific way to perform tasks with greater accuracy. The CUDA core is the equivalent of AMD’s stream processors.

One comment

In fact, some games run above 50fps at their highest settings at 1440p. The 5600XT is even more powerful (comparable or better than the RTX 2060). The 5700XT can easily play 1440p games at the highest settings, which translates to 4k at the lower settings. I’m now watching a video of someone testing 10 AAA games in 4K at medium, high and ultra with this GPU and it’s doing great. It works very smoothly on an average level with a few games above 60fps, and in Red Dead Redemption 2 on average in 4k it even reaches almost 50fps! We all know how strenuous RDR2 is on computers, so that is saying something. You can update this guide as I can do better. How would you write such an article if you do not know what you are talking about. This is ridiculous. SMH. You can update this guide as I can do better. How would you write such an article if you do not know what you are talking about. This is ridiculous. SMH.

The ability to add comments is not available.

How to find your computer’s maximum RAM capacity

UEFI vs BIOS differences and which one should you use?

How to cool the high temperature of the processor

What is a GaN charger? 5 best GaN chargers you can buy

What is VRAM, how to check it and can it be increased?

Is it worth buying a 4K TV in 2021?

top 6 Super Portable USB Flash Drives

Jailbreak and Amazon Fire TV Stick: everything you need to know

Amazon Fire Stick not working? Here’s how to troubleshoot

Which Roku streaming device should I buy?

Disclosure of Affiliate Information: Make Tech Easier can earn a commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

However, there are many different types of games out there, and not all of them require the most powerful GPU on the market. Therefore, it is important to review the required, recommended, and optimal game specs to ensure you are getting the right graphics card.

Nvidia vs. AMD

Now let’s talk about the two biggest players in the gaming GPU industry (at least for now): Nvidia and AMD.

When you buy a graphics processor, you choose between graphics cards that contain all the components necessary to render an image on screen. These cards include cooling solutions, necessary connections and most importantly the graphics processor itself. This processor is an incredibly complex chip developed over decades of research and experimentation. Since the entry barrier to creating these processors is so high, it is likely that any graphics processor you purchase will be from one of two companies: Nvidia or AMD.

In the past, these two companies have struggled to lead the GPU market, constantly forcing themselves to innovate for the benefit of consumers. Both have strengths and both offer solid options. Whichever you choose, you will be able to find a card geared towards your gaming needs.

When you buy a graphics card, you will most likely choose from models from companies other than Nvidia and AMD, such as ASUS, GIGABYTE, and MSI. These companies take chips designed by AMD or Nvidia and create their own graphics card using this technology.

Think of it like a car; the engine is made by AMD or Nvidia, but the rest of the car, including the body and cooling, are designed by the company that makes the card itself. In other words, if you buy an ASUS GPU, it’s still an Nvidia or AMD chip in an ASUS designed chassis. Each GPU manufacturer brings their own unique design options and technologies to the table, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

The GPU model (such as the Nvidia RTX 3080) refers to the CPU itself, and this is where the GPU falls out in the overall performance spectrum. There are other considerations as well, such as cooling, clock speeds, and aesthetic design that can impact performance, but when you buy an RTX 3080, you know the basic capabilities of the card regardless of the manufacturer.

This is probably the most important factor to consider when making your choice.


The latest series of Nvidia gaming GPUs is based on the Ampere architecture. The most popular and powerful GPUs are those of the 30 series (RTX 3070, 3080 or 3090), and their performance increases with their number. The RTX 20 series is still a very viable option if you don’t need the absolute state-of-the-art as well, and still allows you to take advantage of newer technologies such as ray tracing.

Nvidia offers a wide range of GPUs, ranging from the lowermost to the very high end of the consumer GPU market, not just flagship products.

There are many factors that determine GPU performance, but it’s easy to start with how many processing cores, called “CUDA cores” or “RTX cores,” an Nvidia GPU offers. This is usually a good indicator of its performance capabilities. However, as with most computer hardware, there are many metrics that affect performance, and “better” can mean different things to different people.

Here are some of the most suitable Nvidia GPUs for gaming in late 2020:

GPU CUDA cores RT cores Tensor Cores Base GPU clock (MHz) Increase GPU clock (MHz) RAM type Standard RAM configuration (GB) RAM bandwidth (GB / s) RAM width TDP (watt)
GeForce GTX 1080 2560 Not applicable Not applicable 1607 1733 GDDR5X 8 352 256-bit 180
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 3584 Not applicable Not applicable 1480 1582 GDDR5X 11 484 352-bit 250
GTX 1660 Ti 1536 Not applicable Not applicable 1500 1770 GDDR6 6 GB 288 192-bit 120
RTX 2060 1920 thirty 240 1365 1680 GDDR6 6 GB 336 192-bit 160
RTX 2060 SUPER 2176 34 272 1470 1650 GDDR6 8 GB 448 256-bit 160
RTX 2070 2304 36 288 1410 1620 GDDR6 8 GB 448 256-bit 175
RTX 2070 SUPER 2560 40 320 1605 1770 GDDR6 8 GB 448 256-bit 215
RTX 2080 2944 46 368 1515 1710 GDDR6 8 GB 448 256-bit 215
RTX 2080 SUPER 3072 48 384 1650 1815 GDDR6 8 GB 495.9 256-bit 215
RTX 2080 Ti 4352 68 544 1350 1545 GDDR6 11 GB 616 352-bit 250
RTX 3070 5888 46 184 1500 1725 GDDR6 8 GB 448 256-bit 220
RTX 3080 8704 68 272 1440 1710 GDDR6X 10 GB 760.3 320-bit 320
RTX 3090 10496 82 328 1395 1695 GDDR6X 24 GB 936.2 384 bit 350

Buy the GPU that’s right for you

asus-1080-ti graphics card

Hope you have a better feel for what to look for in the GPU. Now that you know the basics, it’s a good idea to visit the GPU section in Newegg for even more information. You can use the Newegg Compare Tool to get a side by side list of different graphics card comparisons, which can help you determine the right card for your system.

Another resource to help you choose your GPU and graphics card is the games and applications you want to run. Most of them list the required, recommended, and optimal specifications, which often include the recommended CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage.

Analyze the games and applications that matter most to you and make sure you choose a graphics card that meets at least the recommended specifications.

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?).


Choosing a graphics card is one of the hardest parts of buying a new computer, primarily because it’s one of the most important components, so you want to get it right. Plus, if you’re new to GPUs, you’ll need to unpack a lot of terminology.

Overall, you should update your graphics card every 4 to 5 years, although an extremely high-end GPU may last a bit longer. While price is a major factor in your decision making, performance and memory needed should also be considered. And be aware of your computer’s CPU as it may need updating as well. After all, the best GPU is only as efficient as its companion processor.

About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is the co-author of HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author who has written for USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.

Also visit

Article archives

Disclosure: Our site may earn a share of the revenue from the sale of the products featured on this site.

Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers are subject to change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to intraday offers, daily offers or limited duration promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted items and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of products may contain pricing, typographic or photographic errors. Valid prices and promotions are approved at the time of ordering. These terms only apply to products sold by; sellers’ offers may vary. Items sold by are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with’s terms, conditions, and limitations may be canceled.Contract customers and volume customers are not eligible.

The HP MSRP is subject to a discount. The HP suggested HP suggested price is displayed either as a standalone price or as a crossed out price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Reduced or promotional prices are indicated by the presence of an additional higher price crossed out as suggested by the manufacturer

The following information applies to HP systems with Intel 6th generation and other next generation processors on systems shipped with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 Pro downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version System Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information on Microsoft support, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle FAQ at

Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, Xeon Inside, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and / or other countries.

The in-home warranty is only available on select customizable HP desktops. The need for in-home service is determined by the HP support representative. The customer may be asked to run system self-test programs or repair reported faults by following the advice given over the phone. On-site services are provided only if the problem cannot be resolved remotely. The service is not available on holidays and weekends.

HP will provide your name and address details, IP address, products ordered and associated costs and other personal information related to the processing of your request to Bill Me Later®. Bill Me Later will use this data in accordance with its privacy policy.

Microsoft Windows 10: Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows 10. Systems may require updated and / or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software, or a BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows 10 features. Windows 10 is updated automatically, which is always on. ISP fees may apply and additional upgrade requirements may apply over time. See

Eligible and eligible HP Rewards products / purchases are defined as falling under the following categories: Printers, Business PCs (Elite, Pro, and Workstation brands), select Business Accessories, and select Ink, Toner & Paper.

Rate article