The right computer can completely transform your gaming experience. Custom-built computers, in particular, are uniquely tailored to the needs of dedicated gamers – and can be constructed for a fraction of the price.
Whether you already use a custom computer or are hoping to add one to your gaming arsenal, you’ll want to think carefully about the specific components that can take it to the next level. Perhaps the most important among these is the graphics processing unit (GPU). This key improvement can have a dramatic impact on both visuals and general PC performance.
What Is a Graphics Processing Unit and What Role Does It Play for Gaming Computers?
GPUs are a critical element in gaming PCs and consist of single-chip processors intended to manipulate memory to render images. GPUs often use special techniques to add textures, patterns, colors, and shading. They may be located in chipsets situated on the motherboard, mounted alongside the central processing unit (CPU), or even kept on separate plug-in cards. Although typically associated with desktop PCs, GPUs can also improve graphics on mobile phones, workstations, and gaming consoles.
The Difference Between GPU and CPU
The acronyms GPU and CPU are commonly confused. While the GPU (graphics processing unit) handles rendering, the CPU (central processing unit) plays a critical role in the functioning of the entire computer. For this reason, the CPU is regularly referred to as the brain or heart of the device. It completes input/output operations to fulfill the computer’s instructions and is generally responsible for receiving and directing data.
Beyond general function, GPUs and CPUs can be distinguished by the number and size of their cores. Traditionally, each CPU consisted of a single core, designed to focus on a specific task. Today, however, nearly all CPUs possess multiple cores, with some reaching as many as 28. Each additional core delivers greater efficiency. Conversely, a single GPU may contain thousands of small cores specifically designed for multitasking.
While both GPUs and CPUs are essential components of custom-built PCs, dedicated gamers almost universally agree that GPUs can have a stronger and more immediate impact on game quality. If you’re really looking to up the ante, you can benefit from upgrading both elements – but if you’re currently only able to handle one side of the equation, plan to focus on the GPU for now.
The Importance of Choosing the Right GPU
As mentioned above, the right GPU can significantly improve both efficiency and image quality. Other benefits include:
- Helping the CPU run more efficiently and effectively.
- Higher frame rates for a smoother gaming experience, which is critical in competitive online games.
- Making the most of upscale monitors, which may deliver low-quality images when paired with an outdated GPU.
While quality GPUs are essential for gamers, they can also benefit a variety of other computer users. Beyond speeding up games, they can streamline everything from rendering videos to applying photo filters. In the workplace, high-quality GPUs can benefit graphic designers, marketing executives, and a variety of other professionals reliant on lightning-speed software. Furthermore, employees will appreciate the improved page rendering that GPUs deliver for Chrome, Firefox, and other internet browsers.
Integrated Versus Discrete GPUs
GPUs fall under one of two main categories: integrated and discrete. Embedded within the CPU, integrated GPUs provide an affordable solution for gamers seeking modest upgrades. Discrete GPUs, however, consist of separate chips that use their own video RAM (VRAM) instead of relying on system random access memory (RAM). Many gamers favor discrete GPUs, as they can free up a considerable amount of RAM while also providing exceptional driver support and even allowing the use of multiple monitors.
AMD vs. Nvidia and Intel GPUs: Which Option Is Better for Your Computer?
As you examine the various GPU options available for your device, you’ll likely focus on a handful of competitors: AMD, Nvidia, or Intel. PC gamers tend to be loyal to one brand – much as console players strongly favor either Xbox or PlayStation. As with consoles, however, each GPU model holds its own distinctive advantages and downsides.
As a cost-conscious gamer, your best bet may be one of today’s many excellent AMD options, which often deliver better performance for the money. AMD largely dominates the mid-range market, providing graphics cards that significantly enhance gaming quality without forcing gamers to shell out over $1,000. Likewise, AMD is a top option for CPUs, with the AMD Ryzen, in particular, providing exceptional performance at a reasonable cost.
Intel, although previously dedicated to CPUs, is poised to enter the graphics market with the Intel Xe. Gamers have yet to determine whether this will prove to be a true competitor, or just a repeat of Intel’s previous failed foray into graphics.
When selecting a GPU, you’ll want to consider not only the cost but also your unique needs as a gamer. Not all games require state-of-the-art GPUs. Look closely at the specifications of your favorites to determine which one fits your personal priorities. And don’t forget to weigh in possible benefits related to non-gaming functions such as video rendering.
Ready to Design a Custom Gaming PC? Seek Help from NerdsToGo
While a new GPU can quickly amp up your gaming experience, it may not do the trick on its own. Ideally, multiple elements will come together to form a seamless experience. The combination of a quality GPU and CPU can prove especially transformative. Monitor selection also matters, as high-end graphics cards that pump out stunning 4K visuals are best utilized on monitors capable of displaying those high resolutions. With so much to consider, you’ll likely require guidance from a computer building service.
Whether you’re looking to build the ultimate gaming computer or could use help with repairs, you’ll be glad to have the NerdsToGo team on your side. We’re thrilled to offer custom computer builds. Contact us today to learn about our computer building and repair services.