Even if you’re a well-seasoned computer builder, it’s always worth brushing up on the basics of what you need to think about before buying a new graphics card, or indeed any other piece of kit. Below we’ve listed some of the most important considerations you must factor into your purchasing decision to ensure what you buy is actually right for your specific needs.
Whilst many AIBs fall under a similar price range, that isn’t always the case for the same GPU. Take the RTX 3080Ti as a prime example. Whilst there might not be a huge difference between our ‘value pick’ and ‘runner up’ in terms of performance, pricing varies dramatically. This often comes down to what I like to call ‘brand premium’ – where more established brands can naturally charge more as they offer reliability and credibility.
Generally speaking though, the price variation between cards of the same VRAM that separates the ‘premium’ selections from the more budget offerings, does typically represent a fair value of the card. That is the extra $30+ or whatever extra you might pay, will usually ensure the card has more efficient cooling, better out the box clock speeds, and better overall build quality and is therefore usually worth it – especially if you’re spending this much on the component anyway.
One of the most important features of a high-end graphics card is the cooling solution it comes equipped with. Cooling affects everything from performance to price – it even changes the way a GPU looks and has a large impact on the internal temperature of your PC.
If a GPU comes with poor cooling, it can not only lead to poor gaming and general-use performance, but it could also see your hardware degenerate faster than it would otherwise.
Furthermore, seeing as though the GPU is the largest thermal generating hardware component in your build, it naturally has a knock-on effect on the rest of the PC’s performance. For example, if your CPU starts to increase in thermals because the GPU is generating a lot of internal heat, you may start to see thermal throttling across the board.
Ultimately, the cooling solution of the RTX 3070Ti you choose should never be overlooked. With a GPU of this power, the triple-fan setup seems to be fairly standard. This should provide enough airflow to keep temps down and allow your GPU to operate at its full potential.
Over the last decade, as GPUs have increased in power, so have they increased in size. The latest graphics cards from both Nvidia and AMD are some of the biggest ever made; this of course means more restrictions on space within your case.
Most AIBs are, however, sized fairly similarly: cooling solutions are the main factor that increases card sizes overall and the number of cores is usually the biggest factor that influences cooling. So, on the same card model, there shouldn’t be too much variation. However, there are still differences and you should always double-check that the PC case you plan to use can actually accommodate the GPU you’re thinking of getting. Most smaller mid-tower won’t easily fit the latest 30-series graphics cards from Nvidia or AMD’s latest series.