PC Building Beginners Guide: Graphics Cards

This PC Building Beginners Guide aims to offer core information regarding motherboards, Intel CPUs, memory, graphics cards, power supplies and solid state drives. It will hopefully become a growing archive of everything you need to know if you are new to PC building – especially if you are looking to build your very first gaming PC!

PC Building Beginners Guide: Graphics Cards

The most important thing to understand about graphics cards is that they are responsible for the vast majority of performance when it comes to gaming (some might even say as much as 90%). A high-end graphics card is therefore one of the most important pieces of hardware to consider when building a gaming PC.

The two major players that produce GPUs are Nvidia (GeForce) and AMD (Radeon). Again, your own research and budget are important factors to consider here. Personally, I’m most familiar with Nvidia graphics cards and recommend the GTX variety for gaming. Like processors, the higher the clock speed, the faster the card. A GTX 780 for example will be significantly faster than a GTX 740.

PC Building Beginners Guide

PC Building Beginners Guide GeForce GTX 780 Ti

The juicy GeForce GTX 780 Ti (image: www.geforce.com)

A couple of things to bare in mind when it comes to graphics cards is how much power they draw and how hot they get. If you plan to run two GTX 780 Ti’s using SLI, for example, you are going to need some serious cooling and loads of power. A great resource to use here is PC Part Picker. This will allow you to choose all the PC components you wish to install and give you an estimated power usage in watts.

Some useful things to know about graphics cards:

  • Not all games can take advantage of multiple graphics cards.
  • SLI is the naming convention for combining more than 1 Nvidia graphics card.
  • CrossFire is the naming convention for combining more than 1 AMD graphics card.
  • Note that some of the newer graphics cards already have multiple GPUs built-in.
  • Two of the same GPU (2-way configuration) will not necessarily give 2X the performance.
  • Graphics cards with HDMI ports (that allow for video and audio) means that the card also has a built-in sound chip.
  • An overclocked (OC) graphics card will automatically overclock itself when given a more intensive task and then ramp itself back down afterwards to save power.

PC Building Beginners Guide: What is a Video Card?

This PC Building Beginners Guide continues in 3 parts below. I hope you found this particular one useful and I welcome any questions!


Galen (name), meaning: "Curious One". A lover of language, human ingenuity and the forces of the universe. Hugely drawn towards the mysterious and unknown. Regular laughter and escapism essential.

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