This article was not written by me but was in fact written by one of the Buttonsmashers Family members, my bro Mario Hickson. All credit for this article goes to him.
Mario, thank you for allowing me to use your writing on the site. Hopefully I have not butchered it to much during my editing.
Till this day many video gamers have been auguring over which gaming platform is better. More people are leaning toward gaming console rather than PC gaming. The average players who play games on PC usually play on a low-end to mid-ranged PC and they’re not happy with their gaming experience due to poor hardware performance and very low frames per second (FPS). The main issue why player are having poor FPS is because they are playing on an integrated video chip.
Integrated video chip are not design to handle extreme imaging processing they are design for basic usage, for example surfing the web, Word, Power Point, and watching YouTube videos. Integrated can play some video games depending on how intense the software is, but it will force you to play on low graphic settings. With low graphic selected you are going to miss out on all the finer detail that comes along with the game. These finer details include; lighting effects, bloom effects, anti-aliasing, buffering, and other drawing technique used. Next generation games are now using physics in their programs which may kill an integrated video chip or cause it to overheat and it could force shutdown the program/system.
In order to gain a little more performance from integrated video chip you make a lot sacrifices. You have to stop running program that you are using and only run the game that you want to play. You also have to go into the Windows settings and change your performance options to “adjust for best performance.” Once you select the “Adjust for best performance” option, it will make your Windows desktop look like you are running Windows 95. Sometime you might have to shut down your anti-virus because it uses a lot of resource, but that’s not a good ideal. There is a lot of software out there to support integrated video gaming. These software programs will look for unnecessary background processing and stop them temporarily. By doing this, it will free up hardware resources and can slightly increase FPS and the control response will be a little better. Last but not lease, you will have to lower your resolution to see a big change in performance, but your game will look horrible. In the long run, you might barely be able to run your game on medium settings.
Dedicated video card(s) is the answer to player’s need for extreme imaging processing. They can handle today’s demanding software and give higher FPS which is needed for PC gaming. Also, dedicated video cards have their own GPU and memory to take some stress off the CPU. They allow the CPU to more productive in other task in the background. Images look very sharp and animations move much fluidly compared to integrated video chipsets. Video Cards also come with their own software which allows the user to tweaks their graphic settings and add game profiles which will set themselves when a game is launched from their desktop. When new games come out the video card manufactures will release updates to ensure quality and performance for the newly released games. There are a lot of video cards you can choose from the main two companies are Nvidia and AMD Radeon. When it comes to those two manufacturers its a matter of preference, price and realtime physics engine (PhysX, TressFX.
I’ve owned numerous cards from each manufacture over my years as a PC gamer and to be honest I have found that the Nvidia cards I’ve owned tend to be better with the games I play than the AMD cards. This may have to do with my system configurations and a few other factors because FPS don’t only rely on your graphics card. A graphics card is a part of a system we call the computer and when its about FPS it’s best to have the components in your PC that work well together. What this means is that when you choose a GPU make sure you choose memory with a clock speed that is equivalent to it and a processor that is sufficient. With word of Direct X 12 coming out later this year and its potential for a boost of current and future graphics cards I’d say make sure you card is at least Direct X 11 or 11.1 so that when it releases you will have support. Microsoft have stated at GDC that this new Direct X update should allow for better control over visuals, with more complex scenes than are currently available. Microsoft wants DirectX 12 to exist as a “console-like” API, making it easier for developers to work with higher consistency and predictability. Direct3D 12 will apparently spread performance across multiple cores, lowering overall strain on hardware, and creating an environment where your rig–or PC rig–will have more headroom for running high-end graphics. Microsoft says 40 percent of all DirectX 11 hardware will be ready for DirectX 12 on day one.
There are some drawbacks when it comes to these dedicated video cards depending on the computer’s current hardware. Dedicated cards can become very costly depending on which card want to buy. They have system requirements in order for the card to work properly. This is the part what makes people change their minds and go running back to their consoles. High-end and some mid-ranged card have 1 or 2 6/8-pins power connectors build on to the card. So mostly likely, you will have to upgrade your power supply unit, as all dedicated cards have a power requirement it must meet or you will burn out your card or worst your motherboard. Please go to your card manufacture’s website to find which power supply unit is recommended for you card. Some sites like PCPartPicker all for you to choose the parts you want and sort of build a virtual version of yout potential rig to help you make the best matches. A good mid range rig with parts that work well together can out perform a rig with the best graphics card out but other components that hold it back. Another bad thing about having these wonderful cards they produce a lot of heat when playing your games in the highest graphic settings (in-game options). Therefore, you must also invest in proper cooling. Believe me you don’t want to kill your hardware after you paid a decent amount of money for your card.
There are plenty of ways to keep your hardware cooled, liquid cooling is one of the best ways to keep your hardware cool and it will increase your hardware performance. With liquid cooling you can overclock your hardware to get better performance without burning out your card. You can get higher FPS and faster hardware response. You will be very pleased taking the liquid cooling route. Liquid cooling can be very expansive and depending on the parts and brand name the price can range up to 500-1000 dollars or even more. Note: Liquid cooling comes with the risk of leakage which if it happens will damage your components. If you decide to go this route it is best to do proper research on the brand of liquid cooler you choose and get a professional to install it properly for you. Another way to keep your hardware cooled is fans and heat stinks this is the cheaper route, if you can’t shell out the extra cash for liquid cooling. Keeping your hardware cooled by maintaining airflow can be done by upgrading to a bigger chassis if you have a small chassis. Also, wire management is necessary you don’t what to leave a ball a wire inside of your chassis as it will build up unwanted heat.
Depending on which brand video card you use you can go to all out with SLI (Nvidia) or CrossFire (AMD Radeon). In other words, you can use more than one video card to get some serious horse power. Before doing this you need to plan ahead and do research on which video card brand you want to go with. Once you decided, you might have to upgrade your motherboard to a new one depending on, if you current motherboard support either SLI and/or CrossFire and total amount of video cards are going to be used. Each card must be exactly the same, so they can sync correctly. There are some boards that support a mixture of the two and can be used with both CrossFire and SLI even at the same time. These are pricey however and should only be considered by the biggest tech enthusiast among us. It should also be noted that SLI/ CrossFire is not necessary if you are just using one 19″ monitor and a decent card. This would be a waste as your card would most likely be able to get 60 FPS in most games and anything over that is not noticed by the human eye. If you plan to use multiple monitors for gaming or maybe a large one then SLI/Crossfire could be the option for you. As a technician I will however advise against this option for most as it is quite expensive and a lot of the newer cards can run multi-monitors over 60 FPS comfortably. This will of course be cheaper than SLI or CrossFire so you best tool when choosing your Graphics card should be planning, not “more is better”. Make sure your power supply can support amount of watts needed and if its SLI or CrossFire certified if you choose that route. If you are using 3 or more cards you will need a bigger chassis as well.
Once everything is seated and secured, connect your monitor to the primary graphics card — typically the card installed in the PCI Express ×16 slot closest to the processor on the motherboard. Then power up the machine, let the operating system boot, and install the latest drivers for the graphics cards. You may receive a notification that the system is SLI or CrossFire-capable, and see a prompt to enable the feature. If not, simply open your graphics control panel by right-clicking a blank section of your desktop and selecting either Catalyst Control Center for AMD Radeon cards or Nvidia Control Panel for GeForce cards, and navigate to the necessary menu to enable CrossFire or SLI.
Using SLI and CrossFire will require some serious cooling and depending on how many video cards you are using. Having high performance hardware will heat up very quickly and it needs to be addressed. If not cooled properly you will lose performance and put you your hardware at risk of overheating. Liquid cooling is considered best option when it comes to SLI and CrossFire with 2 or more cards. Not only does it do the best job at keeping your hardware cool it will increase your performance too.
Another great reason to use dedicated video is because both Nivdia and AMD Radeon support overclocking and will provide you with the software on their website at your own risk. Overclocking will push your video cards over the max per-set factory settings will give you greater performance boost that is out of this world. Overclocking does have a few drawbacks; it will shorten the life span of your video card. Also, overclocking will cause your video card to heat up very quickly compared to normal use and factory settings. If your card has been damaged from overclocking the manufactory will not cover the damage and you will be stuck with a burnt out card.
So now you have the Basic knowledge and a bit extra of why and how you should get a dedicated GPU. IF you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below. Also if you play on PC remember to join the Butonsmashers Family on steam (it is a requirement to getting our free steam giveaways.)