Every gamer knows that a decent dedicated graphics card is required to enjoy your favourite AAA gaming titles on your desktop PC. While some motherboards feature AMD Radeon or Intel HD Graphics chips, they are all very underpowered and are in no way intended for hardcore gaming. Sure, you will be able to play some classic titles such as Age of Empires II, World of Warcraft and Sims 3 with decent frame rates, but for newer AAA gaming titles you will need some power under the hood. While the top end cards will set you back over $1000, there are some more affordable options on the market that offer great performance.
How to choose the right graphics card:
The first question you need to ask yourself is if you really need a top of the line card. If you only intend on playing Flash based games or the odd bit of Candy Crush, then don’t even bother wasting your money. These basic games will easily run off of the onboard graphics that most PCs offer.
If you are more of the casual gamer who enjoys decent graphics then an entry-level or budget friendly card will be just right for you. These can be purchased fairly cheaply, but stay away from the complete entry-level cards as their benchmark scores are not far off from most onboard graphics cards.
If you are more of an avid gamer who wants a bit more power under the hood, then have a look at the mid-range cards found on most middle of the range gaming PCs. These will offer better performance than most of the budget cards, but you will pay a tiny bit more to own one of these. These cards also generally feature a 256-bit Memory Bus, compared to the budget cards 128-bit.
Finally, if you are a true hardcore gamer and want only the best possible gaming experience, then the only category for you is the high-end graphics card category. Here you will find the most powerful cards on the market and you will easily be able to enjoy any current gaming title on the highest of settings and in brilliant 4K.
Best Budget cards for the novice and casual gamer:
As mentioned, stay clear of cards such as the NVIDIA GeForce GT 730, they will offer relatively poor overall gaming performance. Instead, have a look at cards such as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, AMD Radeon RX 460 and the newly released NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. All of these cards retail for under S$300, however have a look at the required wattage as you might have to upgrade your power supply in order to run these cards, which will be an additional cost.
Best Mid-range cards for the avid gamer:
The jump from a budget card to a mid-level card is only really required if you are an avid gamer who enjoys the finer graphics settings. These cards will require more powerful power supply units, so make sure that you are at least running a 500W PSU. There are quite a few good deals on the AMD Radeon RX 470 and the newer NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 at the moment. There is even a 3GB version of the GTX 1060 that is currently on sale for under S$300. You can also have a look at the NVIDIA GTX 960, but honestly for the price, it makes a lot more sense to just purchase the GTX 1060 instead.
Best High-end cards for the hardcore gamer:
These are the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the gaming world, these are the graphics cards that define the terminology of hardcore gaming. If you will not compromise on your graphics settings and want to fully enjoy 4K, then this is the category for you. These cards will offer you the best possible frame rates when it comes to AAA gaming titles and are what most eSport’s superstars will use. Have a look at the AMD R9 Fury X or the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. Both these cards offer superior performance and can both be run as dual cards. Just make sure that your power supply can handle these cards. We recommend nothing less than a 750W while running a single card and nothing less than 1000W when running a dual card setup. If you really want to push the envelope, then have a look at the insanely powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X or the AMD Radeon Pro Duo. Both these cards will set you back a small fortune though.
If you are not really a gamer and are after a graphics card for rendering and image processing, then have a look at the Quadro cards from NVIDIA. These are purpose built cards and are designed for the professional work environment. Be warned, these cards can get rather pricey.
No matter if you are just stepping into the world of PC gaming or if you have been gaming for a while, there is a graphics card that is just right for you. But don’t forget to check that your power supply can handle the required wattage for each card. Check the individual brands websites for further details, as the wattage requirements set out by AMD and NVIDIA are more of a guide line. Once you find the perfect card for your needs and budget, then there is only one thing left to do, enjoy your favorite games.