While even most AAA games released on the PC will support onboard graphics, you’ll need a dedicated graphics card if you want to experience the game as the developers truly intended it. The discrete GPUs available on the market range wildly from surprisingly inexpensive to I need a second job. Of course, the more you pay the better the card you get for the most part, and here we’ll look at three key reasons. why you should invest in the best graphics card that you can afford.
- Frames Per Second and Refresh Rate
Frames per second or FPS is a measure of how many images your graphics card can prepare and present each second. Perhaps one of the more frustrating myths perpetuated among casual gamers is that the human eye cannot register more than 30 FPS or that 24 FPS—the standard framerate for movies—delivers a more cinematic experience. These assertions are, however, very much untrue.
As a general rule, the more frames the better. There is some truth to the idea that there is no ideal number and that the best framerate is the one that looks best to you, but you’ll never be in a scenario in which there are too many frames that somehow degrade your experience. It is very possible not to have enough frames and thus have bad experiences. Gamers often experience this on consoles like the PlayStation where developers emphasize image quality over framerate.
There are many advantages to higher framerates. These include:
- Less to no input lag
- Faster reaction times
- Smoother movement
Something else to consider is refresh rate, which is the rate at which your monitor updates your screen. If your framerate is higher than your refresh rate, there are still advantages: reduced input lag as well as reduced tearing and stuttering. If the FPS is lower than the refresh rate, you either have to limit this with vertical sync—which introduces input lag—or deal with screen tearing and other defects.
Although it was once standard for gaming monitors to support up to 60 FPS, this is changing with the advent of G-Sync and FreeSync. Many gaming monitors have refresh rates of 144 Hz or even higher, and being able to support them is an excellent reason to invest in a good graphics card.
- High Resolutions
There is something to be said for image quality as well. Gorgeous vistas are part of the joy of gaming. There was a time when 1920 by 1080 was the gaming standard, but that has changed as well. Manufacturers are making ultra-widescreen monitors that push the horizontal resolution to 2560 or even wider. Now that 4K television resolutions are in, we’re also seeing a push to 4K among gaming monitors, and 8K and perhaps even denser resolutions are on the horizon. You’ll definitely need a good card if you want to push a high resolution while maintaining a high framerate.
The last but certainly not least reason is overclocking, which was once the domain of the most high-tech nerds but is now accessible to most gamers. The better the card, the higher and more stable the overclock. An overlock is a great way to squeeze even more frames, which makes it one of those hidden values of a good card. In addition, overclocking helps with future-proofing since it gives you some extra time to update your card for those transitional periods when your budget just won’t support an upgrade.
There are certain aspects of a desktop computer that serious gamers should never skimp on. Your choice of graphics card is at or near the top of this list. You’ll at least want to ensure that the card you choose maximizes your components and that those choices don’t hold your GPU back.