When buying a graphics card for your gaming PC, besides comparing specs like core counts and memory size of different cards, you might also have noticed the fact that there are multiple companies offering the same card? Why doesn’t only the original manufacturer make them? Why are there so many brands? Does it matter from which brand you are buying your graphics card? Are there any differences among them? Do these differences even matter? You probably have a lot of questions like these on your mind right now. In this guide, we will let you know everything you need to know to wisely choose a graphics card brand that meets your requirements.
Yes, graphics card brand does matter. First you have to decide among the main brands that manufacture the graphics card chips. Nvidia and AMD, that is. Once you make that choice, you have to look at the aftermarket manufacturers like ZOTAC and MSI that actually make these cards. At the hardware level, the differences mainly arise in the form of overclocking, aesthetics, memory size and cooler size. However, the critically important but often overlooked differences include customer support and warranty length. These differences then dictate the price that these aftermarket brands set for their graphics cards.
Main brands: AMD and Nvidia
While Intel has been trying to tiptoe its way into the discrete graphics cards market for some time now, the dominant players in the arena of gaming cards are still AMD and Nvidia. Both these companies are competitive in their respective price and gaming segment. AMD graphics cards generally offer more competitive pricing for 1080p gaming. In contrast, Nvidia offers better features than comparable AMD cards for higher end gaming. For example, in games that support ray tracing, Nvidia is quite ahead of AMD. Once you have decided the model of your card, you
Why do aftermarket brands exist?
There is no clear answer to this question. However, there are some plausible reasons for their presence. One reason that comes to mind is that these companies, AMD and Nvidia, only want to concern themselves with designing the chip part to make each new design more efficient. Creating coolers for each of these chips takes money away that could have been spent on producing a better chip. So, Nvidia, or AMD for that matter, delegates this part to other companies.
Another possible reason is that this scheme provides a lot of variety to customers from which to pick their graphics card. For example, if someone wants their gaming rig to have a particular aesthetic appeal, a custom card would help them achieve this.
How does graphics card brand matter?
Graphics card brand matters in the sense that cards made by different manufacturers have different strengths and you want to choose a card that best meets your particular needs. Below we discuss the main ways in which cards made by manufacturers differ from each other.
There are a number of differences in the design of the cards made by aftermarket manufacturers at the hardware level. These differences include the amount of overclocking, cooling method, RAM, aesthetics and physical size.
Although brands heavily advertise the overclocking part, the fact is that this is done only a few percent. For most users, the performance differences are going to be barely noticeable.
As far as the cooling method is concerned, most cards use simple fans that use air to carry heat away from the card. However, there are some brands that provide the option of water cooling your graphics card. Water cooling allows the card to operate at a higher power without crossing safe zones of operating temperature. This is a feature that can actually come in handy for those who are interested in seriously overclocking their graphics card.
Some graphics cards allow expansion of video memory by installation of an extra module. A brand that does add extra RAM to your graphics card will charge a premium for it. More RAM won’t make your card faster, however. It will only increase the number of stored textures. As a result, games would look more detailed.
While overclocking and water cooling is all fine and dandy, ultimately, you want your graphics card to give you the least amount of trouble in doing what it is supposed to do. However, there is always going to be at least one or more unlucky instances where you will either get a defective product or one that is a little too difficult to get up and running. In this respect, it is important that your graphics card brand offers the best warranty and customer support service.
How to choose a brand?
Most of the popular graphics cards brands in the market are also pretty reliable. You can look for the model that best meets your needs at the lowest price. In general, cards manufactured by ASUS, MSI and ZOTAC are pretty reliable. The main highlights of these brands are that ASUS offers better cooling performance, ZOTAC offers more compact cards, while MSI has one of the best priced cards. Therefore, choose one that best meets your needs at the lowest price.
Which brands should be avoided?
Following are some brands that you might want to avoid buying your graphics card from:
Gigabyte: Although their cards generally perform as they should, Gigabyte is known to have one of the worst customer support service and warranty conditions.
PowerColor and VisionTek: Chances are you haven’t heard of them in the first place, which is probably a good thing because cards made by these brands are known to have stability issues.
In this article, we explored the question “does graphics card brand matter” in considerable detail. We highlighted the main differences among aftermarket cards and lastly, we made some comments on which brands to avoid. We hope you found this guide insightful.