Buying a graphics card is an important decision because, in the end, our choice will depend not only on the experience we will be able to enjoy in games, but also on the will influence the lifespan of our equipmentthe decision about which technologies to use at any given time is a very complicated one. However, it is also a very complicated decision.
We may, for example, think that buying a graphics card from two generations ago is a good choice because it still performs well, and because its price is cheaper, but it is likely that, in the end, we will realize that it was not a good choice because such a graphics card does not support technologies that are nowadays basic in games, nor does it work with others that will become the medium-term future of the industry.
Â We may also believe that buying the latest and greatest in the industry is the smart thing to do, but nothing could be further from the truth. If we combine these two simple examples with the current situation in the graphics industry, and with the enormous amount of options we have in the second hand market, where prices are finally starting to normalize, it is very easy to understand why we have said that buying a graphics card can end up being a real headache.
The concurrence of different generations that has occurred doesn’t help either, and the impact of ray tracing and technologies such as DLSS and the support for PCIE Gen3 and Gen4 standards with different lines has sown such a chaos that it can lead you, without any doubt, to make a bad purchase even though a priori you think you are doing the opposite. I donâ¤?t want this to happen to you, I donâ¤?t want you to make bad purchases, and that is why I have prepared this guide, where you will find five serious mistakes when buying a graphics card, and where I will tell you how to avoid them.
1.-Buying a powerful but too old graphics card
I know that the desperation caused by the inflation that the graphic sector has experienced has caused more than one person to look far back, and that they have not hesitated to to buy GTX 600 or GTX 700 generation graphics cards. It is true that, in many games, especially those developed under DirectX 11, these generations offer good performance, but with current games they have been heavily degraded, and have long since become unsupported at the driver level.
Buy a graphics card from the GTX 600 or GTX 700 series, including the GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti, is a real mistake because:
- You are buying products that have a long time on them, and that probably need a deep maintenance (change of thermal paste and pads).
- They are no longer supported at the driver level, which means that their performance with new games will get worse and worse.
- They do not get along well with key APIs as of today, such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan.
- They do not support features that are necessary to run specific games. For example, Elden Ring needs DirectX 12_0 feature set support, which means it does not work with the GTX 600 and GTX 700, and unfortunately the GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti are included, because they use the first-generation Maxwell architecture, while the GTX 900 uses the second-generation Maxwell architecture.
Obviously, the same applies to those AMD cards that are no longer supported at the driver leveli.e. all cards prior to the Radeon RX 400 series, based on the Polaris architecture, in fact models that were top of the range at the time, such as the Radeon R9 Fury X, have aged terribly poorly.
How can I avoid this mistake?
First of all, you must be clear which graphics cards are already too old and lack driver support. This makes them no longer worthwhile, directly. If you nevertheless want to give them a try, keep in mind that you may end up buying a model that does not have a good level of DirectX 12 support, and in that case you will have a “totally dead” graphics card on your hands. As of today, you should look for models models that support at least DirectX 12 at level 12_0.
2.-Buying a model that seems more powerful than another, but really is not
This has become a very common mistake because, in the end, many users believe that new generation models are always more powerful than previous generations. There is still a strong confusion with the issue of nomenclatures and generational differencesand this can end up leading you to make a bad purchase.
For example, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was NVIDIA’s most powerful thing back in 2017. Â It is true that an RTX 2060 is a much more advanced solution, from a technical point of view, and much more efficient, but this does not mean that it is more powerful in the strict sense. If we want to play in 4K and we do not care about ray tracing, the GeForce RTX 1080 Ti would be a better choicehowever, if we were targeting that technology, the RTX 2060 would be ahead of it, as it has specialized hardware to accelerate the workload involved.
The same can happen the other way around, and let’s understand it with another very simple example. Think of the Radeon RX 6500 XTa graphics card that, due to its nomenclature and the generation in which it fits, suggests that it is more powerful than the Radeon RX 5500 XTand in fact it is, a priori, more attractive because it can accelerate ray tracing. However, the reality is quite different, as the 4GB Radeon RX 5500 XT is more powerful than the Radeon RX 6500 XT, and the difference between the two grows (in favor of the former) as the resolution increases.
I understand that you will feel overwhelmed, but don’t worry, it is normal, the sector is so complicated by this huge concurrence of generations that prevails right now. I have no problem with this issue because I know off the top of my head the keys to almost all the graphics generations released in the last 20 years, and because I keep myself updated by reviewing performance and price tests. It is part of my job, and my passion for technology, and I will help you.
How can I avoid this mistake?
Very easy, don’t buy anything without being sure of the performance it offers what you are buying. You can find numerous guides that will help you assess what improvement one graphics card offers over another, as well as how models of different generations compare. Consult these guides and then make your decision, but remember to look only for trusted sources. At MuyComputer you can refer to this updated guide to graphics equivalents.
3.-Buying more than you need, or less than you wanted
In the world of technology there is a certain tendency to always buy more than we really need. We think that, since we are going to spend money, it is better to buy something that exceeds our needs because, in the end, it will last longer, and because it will be an investment that we will amortize better. This is, however, a half-truth.
It is true that in some cases this idea can be very wise, but only when it is really going to make a real difference in the short or, at most, in the medium term. For example, if we want to game in 1080p and we plan to buy a Radeon RX 6500 XT it would be better to invest more money and go for a Radeon RX 6600 XTthe difference in performance that we are going to notice is going to be very big, this will be evident from the first moment and will also offer a longer life, both for its power and for its greater amount of graphics memory.
However, and following the previous example, it would not make sense to go for a Radeon RX 6800 XT thinking that we will be able to play well in 1080p for longer, since we will have made an investment that we will not really manage to amortize properly. The price difference between the two graphics cards is huge, and by the time we need a Radeon RX 6800 XT to run 1080p games well, we will probably have made an investment that will not really pay off three or four new generations will have already hit the market, which will have devalued it to obscene levels.
In short, buying a little more than is strictly necessary is a good thing, but only if it is done with common sense, and in moderation. Similarly, buying less than we need is a serious mistake for obvious reasons. We may, a priori, think it is a good idea because we save money, But what is the point of saving money if we are not going to enjoy the experience we wanted? I think the question answers itself, and don’t forget the graphic memory.
To play in 1080p it is recommended to have at least 6 GBwhile to play at higher resolutions it is essential to have 8 GB (some titles need even more, especially in 4K, but this is not the norm). Having more graphics memory than we need is not a bad idea, but it is not worth paying extra if we have already reached the recommended level. By this I mean that, to play in 4K, you don’t need 16 GB of graphics memory.
How can I avoid this error?
First think about your needs, what you want and what you can afford. If you are going to play in 1080p and you have little budget, the ideal would be to look for cheap graphics cards on the second hand market, such as an 8GB RX 580 or a 6GB GTX 1060. If you have a good budget and want to play games with more guarantees, the RX 6600 and 8GB RTX 3050 are very good choices. The former performs better in rasterization, while the latter wins in ray tracing, and has the value of DLSS. To play at 1440p and 2160p optimally, the ideal would be to have a Radeon RX 6700 XT-GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and with a RTX 3080-Radeon RX 6800 XT.
4.-Buying without thinking about the shortcomings of our equipment, or of the graphics card itself
This is very easy to explain. Imagine you buy a powerful GeForce RTX 3080, but you are going to mount it in a PC that uses a Core i7-6700K with DDR4 memory at 2666 MHz, and you want to play in 1080p That configuration has two huge bottlenecks that will prevent the graphics card from reaching its full potential, and you will encounter low GPU utilization rates in many games.
CPU-level bottlenecks are not the only mistake that often occurs when buying a new graphics card that is generally too powerful for the processor that will accompany it. AMD’s tendency to use PCIE Gen4 connections limited to x8 or even x4 has introduced another bottleneck and we have to be very careful with it, as we may end up with a big disappointment in the end.
Think, for example, of what happens when you install a graphics card such as the Radeon RX 6500 XT in a PCIE Gen3 slotthe graphics card can only work in x4 mode, and therefore ends up losing quite a bit of performance. The average loss at 1080p is 13%, but this figure increases with resolution.
Don’t forget about other important issues such as the internal space and the power supply. I’m sure you don’t want to find yourself in the position of coming home with your new graphics card and finding that it doesn’t fit in the chassis, or that your power supply doesn’t have enough power, or amperage, to run it stably.
How can I avoid this error?
You must be aware of the limitations of your PCor of the equipment in which you are going to mount your new graphics card, and evaluate all the points we have indicated. To do this, it is recommended that you know the basic specifications of your computer, and also the features and requirements of the graphics card you are going to buy, especially the power supply it needs.
So, for example, if you are thinking of buying a top-of-the-line graphics card that requires a 750-watt power supply but you have a 500-watt power supply you will be aware, before you buy it, that your power supply is not up to the task. As far as the CPU is concerned, keep in mind that the most powerful models need a 6-core, 12-thread CPU with a high IPC in order not to suffer a big bottleneck in games.
5.-Valuing only the raw power of a graphics card
With the specialization that has occurred in the graphics card industry, this has been shown to be one of the most frequent, and most serious, errors. The power of a graphics card matters, but if you are going to play mostly titles where you want to enable ray tracing, or that support DLSS, you need to consider many other things beyond raster performance.
DLSS is an intelligent image reconstruction and rescaling technology that can dramatically improve performance, and that makes graphics cards that were not intended for 4K, such as the GeForce RTX 2060, for example, are able to move like a fish in water in that resolution. On the other hand, although AMD has made a huge performance leap in rasterization with the Radeon RX 6000, it has fallen behind in ray tracing.
In the end, you need to be able to think and see beyond, because if you don’t you may find that you have purchased a graphics card that delivers the performance you expected in rasterization, but falls far short of your expectations when you turn on ray tracing. The Radeon RX 6900 XT is a good example, as it is a beast capable of chewing through anything in 4K, but when ray tracing is turned on it sinks in an exaggerated way.
To better understand what I just said a simple example will suffice. In Cyberpunk 2077, set to 4K and ray traced in ultra, the Radeon RX 6900 XT achieves an average of 11 FPS, while the RTX 3080 Ti achieves 21 FPS on average. These are not playable rates, but the difference in performance is almost double, and with DLSS in quality mode the NVIDIA solution goes up to 39 FPS on average.
How can I avoid this error?
The world of graphics cards has evolved a lot, and this has meant that it no longer makes sense to limit ourselves to raw raster performance when choosing our new graphics card. Ray tracing is no longer the future, it is the present, and the value that DLSS represents is undeniable. Before you buy your new graphics card think about how much both technologies matter to you, and be clear about the performance difference between NVIDIA and AMD when we introduce ray tracing into the equation. This guide we published at the time will be of great help to you.