when it is worthwhile and which model to choose

When should I upgrade my graphics card? This is one of the things I am asked most frequently, and the truth is that it is totally normal because deep down it’s a more complicated issue than it seems. Before making this decision we have to take many things into account, and we are not always really aware of it.

That is why I have decided that it would be a good idea to give shape to this guide in which I am going to review with you all those keys that we must take into account, although with special emphasis on one of the most important, which is. to achieve a sufficiently marked generational leap to make the investment we are making really worthwhile.

upgrade graphics cards

I will adopt the same approach in other guides to make this one easy for you to understand and read. As always, if you still have any questions or concerns you can leave them in the comments and I will be happy to help you solve them. Without further ado I invite you to make yourselves comfortable, because we are going to start right now.

Previous considerations that are key when upgrading your graphics card.

Before taking the plunge, you should take into account a number of very important things that will affect your experience of use, since can influence the stability and performance of your new graphics card. Don’t overlook any of this, because if you do you may end up with a very unpleasant surprise, or find that your graphics card simply doesn’t work with your computer.

The processor you have

From this component performance will depend to a large extent on this component that your new graphics card will be able to develop, especially if you play at resolutions below 2160p, or if you plan to use technologies such as NVIDIA DLSS, AMD FSR or Intel XeSS, which reduce the base rendering resolution and then reconstruct and rescale the image to reach the target resolution.

On this topic I already shared with you a very complete guide where we saw which processor we need for each graphics card, so I will not extend, since. you can find all the information you need in this guide. However, as a general summary, I leave you the following script to serve as a rough reference:

  • With extremely powerful graphics cards, such as the GeForce RTX 4090, RTX 4080, RTX 4070 Ti, Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT and equivalents we will need to have a very powerful processor, even if we are going to play in 2160p. The minimum would be a Ryzen 5 5600X or an Intel Core i5-11600K, but the ideal would be to get to at least a Ryzen 5 7600X or a Core i5-13600K.
  • With powerful graphics cards such as the Radeon RX 6950 XT, RX 6800 XT, RX 6800, GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 4070, RTX 3070 Ti and previous generation equivalents the minimum would be a Ryzen 5 5500 or Intel Core i5-10400, but the ideal level would be at a Ryzen 5 5600 or Intel Core i5-11600K.
  • With all other models, such as the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti, Radeon RX 6700 XT and equivalents.If you are using a Ryzen 5 3600 or an Intel Core i5-10400, you will already have a good experience, although it is clear that having more powerful processors can give you a little extra performance that you will notice especially in 1080p.

The power supply you are going to use

upgrade graphics card

This is a very important issue because the compatibility and stability of the graphics card will depend on it. For example, if you have a 500 watt power supply and you are going to upgrade to a graphics card that requires a 650 watt power supply. you should upgrade to a more powerful power supplyOtherwise, you expose yourself to a possible overload that will kill the power supply, and you run the risk of it taking other components with it.

On this subject we also have an updated guide that I invite you to see if you have any doubts. In it you will find a complete description indicating what power supply you need for each graphics cardas well as the number of connectors of the reference models. Note that custom models may be overclocked, and in these cases may require a more powerful power supply or other connectors. As in the previous point, I leave you a basic script for reference:

  • Inexpensive mid-range graphics cards, such as the Radeon RX 6600, generally work well with. 500 watt power supplies in most cases, and only require an additional 6- or 8-pin power connector.
  • More powerful mid-range graphics cards, such as the Radeon RX 6700 XT and GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, may require. power supplies between 550 and 600 wattsand two additional power connectors.
  • High-end graphics cards, such as the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti and Radeon RX 7900 XT, already typically require. 600 to 700 watt power supplies, and also require two additional 8-pin power connectors.
  • More powerful graphics cards, such as the GeForce RTX 4080, RTX 4090 and Radeon RX 7900 XTX need. power supplies between 750 watts and 850 watts.and up to four additional 8-pin power connectors.

The graphics card you have and the limitations of your equipment.

This is important because depending on the model you have you will have to opt for a particular model or another if you really want to make a good purchase and properly amortize your investment. For example, if you have an 8GB Radeon RX 580 and you decide to buy a Radeon RX 6500 XT you will have made a terribly bad purchaseyou will actually lose performance if you connect it to a PCIe Gen3 limited motherboard.

Be clear about what the graphics card you have is capable of delivering in terms of performance, what limitations your computer may impose on you, and what models you can buy with the money you are willing to invest. Generally speaking, to make a good buy, you should get a graphics card that is that improves the performance of your current graphics card by at least 50%.but the higher the better.

About the limitations imposed by your equipment I am referring to two very specific ones, the PCIe standard supported and the space in your chassis. If your equipment is only PCIe Gen3 compatible, it is clear that with graphics cards limited to PCIe Gen4 x8 or x4 you will end up losing performancebecause this standard has a lower bandwidth per lane. As for chassis space there is no mystery, make sure that new graphics card you are going to buy fits in your computer.

When is it worth upgrading my graphics card

upgrade graphics card

Before you take the next step, and with all of the above clear, you have to ask yourself one question, when is it worth upgrading my graphics card? The answer is simpler than it seems, when the one you are using no longer meets your needs. partially or totally, and when you can afford to purchase a model that is far superior.

Think if you are going to invest money in buying a graphics card that will only improve the performance of the model you have by 10% to 20%. you will be making a bad purchase, because in practice the difference you are going to notice will be very small, and this will be reduced even more if you play in high resolutions. For example, a 20% of 50 FPS in 1080p will mean an increase of 10 FPS, but if we play in 4K at 30 FPS the improvement will be just 6 FPS.

Beyond raw performance there are other values that we should also take into account, such as the improvement represented by technologies like. NVIDIA DLSS, Intel XeSS, AMD FSR and NVIDIA frame generation.However, this should not lead us to make the mistake of downplaying the importance of raw power improvement when upgrading, we should simply give it the value it deserves when choosing between two graphics cards with similar raw performance.

Let me give you an example. Imagine that you have doubts between buying a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti for 350 euros or getting a GeForce RTX 4060 Ti for 399 euros.. The difference is €49, but the latter only performs 10% to 15% better than the former on average at 1080p. This would tip the scales in favor of the former, but in reality. the second would be a better buy because it has much lower power consumption, and because it supports DLSS 3 (frame generation), a technology that greatly increases the frame rate per second in compatible games.

Which graphics card to choose to upgrade my computer

graphics cards to upgrade PC

We are at the peak of the guide. To make this decision you must be clear what performance your current graphics card offers and look for a model that outperforms it by at least 50%.although as I said the higher this value the better, as long as the price is not too high.

Don’t forget about those value technologies, and remember that both rescaling technologies and frame generation can greatly improve the level of fluidity in games. You know that you shouldn’t give up a good raw power upgrade. in exchange for access to those technologies, but you have to give them the importance they deserve when choosing between compatible or non-compatible models that have a similar level of raw performance.

I can give you another good example in this regard. Imagine that a user hesitates between upgrading to a second-hand Radeon RX 5700 XT or buying a GeForce RTX 2060 Super, also second-hand. In this case the GeForce RTX 2060 Super would be a better choice. because it performs virtually the same as the Radeon RX 5700 XT, and has in its favor DLSS 2 (Super Resolution) support, a technology far superior to AMD’s FSR2.

Specific recommendations for upgrading from different ranges

Upgrading from low-end

If you have a Radeon RX 580, GeForce GTX 1060 or lower you have it pretty easy to get it right, as these are graphics cards that are already a few years old and have been largely outgrown.

Recommended minimum upgrade level

  • GeForce RTX 2060.
  • Radeon RX 6600.

Upgrade level to avoid because it would not be optimal.

  • Radeon RX 590.
  • Radeon R9 Fury and Fury X.
  • GeForce GTX 1660.
  • GeForce GTX 1070.

In this case, moving from a Radeon RX 580 to a Radeon RX 6600 will give us an average performance improvement of approx. between 60% and 70%. This means that if we move a game at 40 FPS with the former, by switching to the latter we will be able to move it at 68 FPS thanks to that performance improvement.

Upgrading from low-mid range

upgrade graphics card

In case you have a graphics card GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, Radeon RX Vega 56 or equivalent, the situation is still quite simple, because although they are graphics cards that still maintain a good level of performance with the latest generational renewals have come very powerful and affordable options.

Recommended minimum upgrade level

  • GeForce RTX 4060 or equivalent.
  • Radeon RX 7600 or equivalent.

Upgrade level to avoid because it would not be optimal.

  • Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT.
  • Radeon RX 6600.
  • GeForce RTX 2060 and 2060 Super.
  • GeForce RTX 3050.

By moving from a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti to a GeForce RTX 4060 we would have a. average raw performance improvement of 60%.but we would also have access to DLSS Super Resolution technology and DLSS 3 frame generation. In games compatible with both technologies we could reach three times the frame rate per second.

Upgrading from mid-range

upgrade graphics card

If you have a graphics card GeForce RTX 3060, Radeon RX 6600 XT or equivalent you will already have to make a considerable investment, and you will have to set your sights on the high end if you want to get a significant jump in terms of performance and return on your investment properly.

Recommended minimum upgrade level

  • GeForce RTX 4070 or equivalent.
  • Radeon RX 6800 XT or equivalent.

Upgrade level to avoid because it would not be optimal.

  • Radeon RX 6650 XT.
  • Radeon RX 6700 and RX 6700 XT.
  • GeForce RTX 2070 Super, 2080 and 2080 Super.
  • GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and 3070.

In this case if we went from a Radeon RX 6600 XT to a GeForce RTX 4070 the performance improvement would be 70% on average, and we would have access to higher ray tracing performance, as well as DLSS 2 Super Resolution and DLSS 3, which triggers frame generation. It would be a huge leap, of that you can be sure.

Upgrading from the high end

For those who have a high-end graphics card such as a GeForce RTX 3080, a Radeon RX 6800 XT or similar upgrading the graphics card is only really interesting if we jump to a GeForce RTX 4080 or a Radeon RX 7900 XTX, as they are the only ones that achieve that minimum 50% improvement we have referred to.

If you have doubts about the equivalences do not worry, you can consult our guide dedicated to graphics card equivalences. An update is pending which, in principle, I hope to be able to give you by the end of this year, when the new generation models that AMD and NVIDIA have pending arrive.

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