When building a PC rig from scratch, you would sometimes get advice to skip on graphics card to save on budget. While integrated graphics have come a long way in terms of performance, so are games and apps pushing for more heavy requirements. Eventually, you’ll find the need for discrete graphics to satisfy your performance craving especially when gaming.
According to a US survey back in 2010, two out of three owners of PCs with integrated graphics are unsatisfied with its performance. A year after, a new study in China reveals the same level of dissatisfaction. It just shows that the level of graphics performance would always outpace the advancement in integrated graphics.
So what sort of performance upgrade can you get from a discrete graphics card? With a GPU, you will often get a gig or 2 of memory dedicated for graphics computing compared to integrated graphics which has to share the same memory of the system.
Having a dedicated memory will keep your system responsive especially while multitasking. A GeForce GT graphics card with just 1GB of memory can help alleviate memory bottle-necks when a lot of apps or even browser tabs are open.
If you want to speed up your digital life, go with a discrete graphics card.
You can play games 5 times faster and with better quality. You’ll get faster frame rate while not getting stuck with low and boring settings which you usually get when playing on integrated graphics. For example, in the game of StarCraft II, an integrated HD 2500 graphics will only get 9 fps when on high settings whereas the GeForce GT 630 gets 45 fps. Of course you can use low settings to play but you’ll miss out on the beautiful imagery the game was made to play on.
Photo and video processing is also way faster allowing you to save on time. Using vReveal video editor, a system with integrated HD 2500 graphics will process a Full HD video in 12 minutes whereas a GeForce GT 630 can do it in less than 2 minutes.
Even simply browsing the web is faster and smoother when running on discrete graphics. If you try to visit the WebGL-experiment Google Bookcase on a PC with integrated graphics, you’ll experience a bit of stuttering when doing those fast scrolls on it. Not so with a discrete graphics-powered PC.
When it comes to discrete graphics, NVIDIA still remains as the popular choice. A lot of brands carry it so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from depending on your budget. It’s known for its unrivaled driver quality and support with having the longest driver support lifecycle in the industry. You’ll surely get the most out of your card even when new graphics technology comes out.
To get you started with your graphics card hunt, here are a few choices you can look into. The GeForce GT 420 is a nice start and can give you a nice performance boost without hurting your wallet. It’s not the latest entry-level card out there but it can still run top title games like Borderlands 2, Dirt 3, and Bad Company 2.
The GeForce GT 630 should be able to deliver a premium multimedia experience even on an entry-level PC with relative ease.
If you want to max out your settings when gaming, the Kepler-architecture based GeForce GT 640 should be your minimum choice. It uses NVIDIA’s latest and most advanced GPU architecture yet and is the NVIDIA’s entry-level gaming GPU.
Below are some benchmark results of the GeForce GT 640 when used in some popular game titles at Full HD high settings.
GeForce GT 640 in 1920 x 1080 resolution and high settings
What you want to see is an average of 30fps to play the game smoothly and the GeForce GT 640 was able to handle these games well. Still, it’s a small sampling for this entry-level GPU for gaming enthusiasts and if you want to achieve a more breathtaking gaming experience, I would suggest going to the next level which is the GeForce GTX series.
Do yourself a favor if you want to give your system a performance boost, go get an NVIDIA discrete graphics.