What is a GPU?
The GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit and relates to the display controls for the computer. It can be an onboard GPU, which is when the computer uses the chip that is built onto the motherboard, or it can be a dedicated GPU, which is when you add a graphics card to the computer to override the onboard graphics.
GPU’s – What you need to know.
There are a number of factors that affect GPU performance - core speed of the GPU, the number of cores it has in total (Cuda or Stream), ROP’s (Render Output Unit), amount of VRAM (see below) and the speed at which it runs etc. There are other factors too, but the total raw performance of the card is usually measured in Tflops (Trillion’s of floating point operations per second).
A typical entry level card such as an AMD Radeon RX 550 offering 1.2tflops, and a top of the range card such as the nVidia GTX 1080 ti offering over 11.3Tflops.
GT1030 2GB: Entry level card, general use, very light gaming.
GTX 1050 / 1050 TI 4GB: Value for money gaming card/s, solid gaming at up to 1080p.
GTX 1060 3GB / 6GB: Value based gaming card available in two flavours (3GB and 6GB), gaming at 1080p 60fps.
GTX 1070 8GB: Great performance, high detail and high frame rates at 1080 – 1440p.
GTX 1080 8GB: Brilliant gaming card, able to cope with AAA, max detail settings and high frame rates up to 1440p.
GTX 1080 Ti 11GB: The current gaming champion for 1440p - 4K displays.
Titan XP 12GB: Not strictly a “gaming card” but more a jack of all trades. Gives a level of gaming performance similar to the 1080 ti, but is also able to cope with professional work loads too. It is expensive however, and only worth the outlay if you have a specific job for it to do.
RX 550 2GB: General use card, daily tasks.
RX560 2-4GB: General used card, some very light gaming.
RX 570 4GB: Value for money gaming card/s, gaming at up to 1080p.
RX580 4-8GB: Value based gaming card for gaming at 1080p 60fps.
RX Vega 56 8GB: Great performance, high details, and high frame rates at 1080 – 1440p.
RX Vega 64 8GB: Great gaming card, able to cope with AAA games, max detail settings and high frame rates up to 1440p.
How much VRAM (graphic memory do I need?)
VRAM or Video RAM is a type of memory that is used in computer display. When images are sent to the display, they are first read by the CPU as data and then written to VRAM. From here the data is sent as a digital signal.
How much VRAM you need will depend, but as a general rule of thumb, the higher the resolution you game at, the more extra VRAM will help performance. At the moment for gaming at 1080p, 4GB is more than enough, 8GB is good for up to 4K gaming. This may change however, as games get more and more VRAM hungry by the year.
What’s coming in 2018:
nVidia: The Volta architecture is nVidia’s next generation GPU technology, promising more performance, less power usage and an optimised direct x 12 feature set. It is due to land in first quarter 2018 for main stream, though the Titan V Prosumer / workstation car has already been announced.
AMD: Navi is AMD’s next gen GPU technology, not too much is currently known but much like Volta is should bring power and performance benefits. It is rumoured to arrive later on in 2018.