How to Select A Video Card

steve Building a Computer , , , ,

Whether you’re building a new computer, upgrading your existing rig, trying to get into crypto mining,  or replacing a broken there a few things you need to understand in order to know how to select a video card.

Some CPUs come with an integrated video card. If you don’t know much about which motherboard and CPU you have, then you can get an idea by looking at the ports on the back of the computer.

If you have a display port at the top near all the USB ports, then it probably has an integrated graphics card. If you do more than surf the web on one screen, you’ll may need to get a discrete video card.

Checking Compatibility

When it comes to building a computer you always need to check compatibility. You’ll need to make sure your motherboard and video card require the same kind of expansion slot PCIe 2.0 or PCIe 3.0. If your motherboard has a PCIe 3.0 then it is backward compatible with the PCIe 2.0. The reverse, however, isn’t true.

If you make this mistake, then your computer just won’t know what you’ve plugged in. As long as you don’t use excessive force, then it’s unlikely that you’ll have caused any damage to either part, but it’s best to make sure things are compatible so you don’t find your self in this kind of mess.

This isn’t the only thing you need to check when it comes to compatibility. You’ll also need to make sure your mother board slot is wide enough. In the specs for the motherboard it’ll list the expansion slot as something like PCIe 3.0 x16.

The “x16” is directly related to the width of the slot. It might have a “x8” or a “x4” by it instead. If you mess this one up, it definitely won’t take a rocket scientist to determine that it just won’t fit.


The video card has to draw everything you see on each of your screens up to 60 times per second. This can be a lot of work for the graphics card. When you give the GPU it’s own RAM, it doesn’t have to re-draw everything.

The RAM on the video card works just like normal RAM. It can use DDR3, DDR4, and DDR5. It doesn’t really matter how much the video card has, unless you want resolutions in 4k. You can still do 4k with a smaller amount of RAM, but you’ll see a performance drop on your frames per


You can imagine that the video card can put out quite a bit of heat. You don’t want to get any electronics too hot. If you do, you run the risk of melting the solder on everything. If you keep getting it hotter after that, you could burn the solder out.

If you aren’t going to get liquid cooling, you’ll want to make sure you get a video card with a fan on it. This will force a convective cooling on the GPU of the video card.

Bench mark test

You should already know that different video cards have different performance marks, but just because one card costs more money doesn’t necessarily mean that it will perform better. Prices can vary widely between manufacturers. To really know if the card you are about to select is a good value you need to look at benchmarks.

I’m not talking about the kind of benchmarks the jock’s in high school left either. These benchmarks are a collection of data that ranks video cards by their performance. They also include the current estimated price for each card. The benchmarks I like to use are here.

If you don’t really understand what these charts are showing and feel a little intimidated by it, then no worries. I’ve gone a head and selected a few video cards are currently an excellent buy.

For a high end card, check out the Zotac GeForce 1050 Ti.

This card will be able to handle the latest video games, and it hasn’t spiked in price as much as some of the other video cards. The downside is it’s still $70 more than what it was a year ago.

A budget card at a good price is a lot harder to find right now (3/12/18). With the recent crypto-craze that happened at the end of 2017 there was a large influx in the demand for video cards. This caused the price of a lot of video cards to spiral out of control. The Geforce GTX 660 should sell for around half the price of the Geforce GTX 1050, but instead it’s all over the place. Check out the price trend below.


The market for video cards is unstable at the moment. It’s still possible to find a good deal on a video card, but be prepared to watch the markets for a few months. You’ll also need o be flexible. If a card slightly better or slight worse than the one you wanted goes on sale.

Make sure you get a video card that is suited for what you want to do and check the benchmarks to make sure you are getting something worth the cost.





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  1. Hi Steve, Thank you for all this valuable information about selecting a video card and also computer advice. All the best, Jill

  2. This has helped me a lot and now I feel more confident when talking about video cards. I have purchased one before but I totally relied on the sales person to assist me. With this knowledge I know better now what to look and ask for.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. When I started looking at my first video card I was doing the same thing, relying on others to tell me what was good. It’s always better if we can make an informed decision about what we are doing.

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