A decent graphics card is essential for every streamer's setup. It ensures a lag-free, HD streaming experience that can handle even the most strenuous games. Wonder how a GPU affects your broadcasting experience? Besides answering this question, in this article, we'll explain the utility of a graphic card, outline the main qualities to look for in a GPU, and recommend the finest GPUs available. Let's jump in!
What is a Graphics Card?
A graphics card is a computer hardware component that processes and provides all visual content onto the screen. A graphics adapter, graphics controller, graphics accelerator card, or graphics board are all of the other names for a graphics card.
There are two types of GPU:
Integrated graphics is a GPU incorporated into the CPU. Integrated graphics hardware doesn't use a separate memory bank for graphics/video. Instead, the GPU uses system memory that is shared with the processor.
Dedicated graphic cards are entirely distinct from the CPU and have dedicated memory. They provide faster performance but consume more power and are more expensive. They're also known as discrete graphics or video cards.
Does GPU Improve Gaming Experience?
A better graphics card can substantially increase a computer's capacity to perform in games. Furthermore, by adding a newer graphics card, an older computer may play games virtually as effectively as a modern PC. Therefore, GPU speed is critical for processing 2D and 3D graphics, rendering polygons, mapping textures, etc. As a result, a good GPU can give you a better fps rate.
Will Better GPU Improve Your Stream?
While streaming is primarily a CPU-intensive activity, the GPU indirectly impacts the overall experience. Although the CPU is the computer's brain, GPU boosts the CPU's productivity, doing repetitive tasks and freeing memory usage. Speaking of streaming — the CPU processes the data and transmits it to the streaming services, and the GPU generates a higher quality image of a game and improves the quality of streaming.
Advantages of having a dedicated graphics card
Improved Video Performance. A decent graphics card helps a computer process and compress video quicker while improving video playing quality.
Smoother Streaming Experience. GPUs are capable of simultaneous encoding, decoding, computation, and rendering. If you have active scenes or are streaming at greater fps or resolution, the viewer will have a smoother experience.
Free Up Memory. A graphics card frees up RAM that the computer uses for its built-in graphics card.
Is a dedicated GPU required for streaming? It is unnecessary in most cases, but having one will be quite beneficial even if it is cheap.
What to Consider Before Buying a GPU?
To get the most out of your next graphics card purchase, you must first learn about its tech specifics.
Memory bandwidth is required for data access and refers to the transmission rate between a GPU and the rest of the system. Essentially, it lets everything you see load and show faster, resulting in more frames being created. So the higher the memory bandwidth, the more data the GPU can send in less time. In addition, memory bandwidth rises with each GDDR generation. For example, a graphics card with at least GDDR5 VRAM is always preferable for a gaming PC. The GDDR5X, GDDR6, and GDDR6X are the most recent ones.
VRAM stands for Video RAM, and it relates to the amount of memory provided on a graphics card. The VRAM stores the frame's textures, models, geometries, and lighting maps that the graphics processor will render. After the rendering, the graphics card saves the result in the VRAM and transmits it as a final image to a display. So the VRAM is essentially data storage of GPU. Therefore, you need at least 6 GB of VRAM for the modern games. 4 GB may be the absolute minimum since it is demanded for most games released in the last years.
GPU clock speed, also known as engine clock, determines how quick a graphics processing unit's cores are. This is the actual speed of the graphics card's GPU chip, measured in megahertz (MHz). Because it increases linearly with the FPS, the core clock speed makes the largest impact in gaming, so even a 100MHz boost may have a significant effect. Therefore, we recommend buying a graphics card with the highest possible clock speed to get the most out of gaming.
Air cooling is the most widely used method of graphics card cooling. It has two types. The more prevalent is Open-air. Multiple fans are put on the GPU to take in cold air and circulate it around the heatsink. After the cold air has passed through the heatsink, the warm air spreads throughout the case.
A Blower is the second type of air cooler. The graphics card is cooled by a fan, similar to the air cooler, but blowers have a plastic shell covering the GPU, unlike open-air coolers. The heated air is then expelled from the GPU's back and out of the case, preventing heated air from passing inside. Blower coolers are usually louder, which can be unpleasant for streaming without correct microphone adjustments. Check our guide on the best microphones for streaming to learn more about it.
When you buy a GPU, it will state the recommended minimum power is in watts. Your power supply unit must meet this minimal requirement, especially since it powers your GPU and the rest of your PC and its components.
Ray tracing is a lighting enhancement technology for video games. It's employed in everything from reflections to shadows, both in and out of the game environment. Examples are atmospheric effects, reflections on surfaces (water, metal, glass), and even diffused illumination. It's a new technique for improving game images, resulting in a far more immersive, eye-catching, and visually impressive gaming experience. Some latest games that support ray tracing are Battlefield 2042, Cyberpunk 2077, Valorant, Fortnite, Watch Dogs, Minecraft RTX, and Call of Duty. GPUs that support ray tracing are among the finest graphics cards available.
You don't want to get a graphics card that requires power connections that your power supply lacks. So pay attention to these specifications before purchasing. The most common power connectors are 6-pin or 8-pin types. Models with low power consumption often have only one 6-pin or 8-pin connection, if any at all. Multiple 6-pins or perhaps multiple 8-pins, or a mix of the two, would be required for high-power ones.
Thermal Design Power (TDP) is also known as a thermal design point. It is the highest possible amount of heat generated by the GPU (measured in watts). It also provides you an estimate of how much power the card consumes at default settings. Better performance comes with more watts, but it also comes with greater temperatures and more power consumption. TDP is an essential requirement since it determines whether or not your power supply can provide enough power. You must also consider how much energy your CPU, RAM, and storage devices consume.
The size, shape, and other physical parameters of GPU are defined by its form factor. Check the card's official spec sheet for its length, height, and thickness. Compare those dimensions to your case's supported graphics card size to make sure it fits.
CUDA Cores/Stream Processors
These terms can be understood as the brains of a graphics processing unit (GPU). The main distinction is that CUDA is an NVIDIA trademark, whereas Stream Processors are an AMD trademark. In general, the more CUDA Cores/SPs a GPU has, the quicker it is. However, it is only relevant when comparing two graphics cards from the same series (say, an RTX 3070 and an RTX 3080, both from the Turing architecture). Comparing a model with a higher CUDA Core from an older generation and a lower CUDA Core from the most recent generation makes no sense because the architecture is entirely different. And, of course, the same principle applies to AMD SPs.
Gaming and editing require a graphics processing unit — a graphic card. When you're streaming high-resolution content, GPU takes off a huge load from your CPU, improves video performance, and makes the streaming experience more decent and smooth. The big decision you must make is a choice between an integrated and a dedicated graphics card. Whatever you choose, you need to look at the vital specs: GPU memory bandwidth, VRAM, TDP, clock speed, form factor, power connectors and power consumption, cooling method, and ray-tracing features.
Building and improving your streaming PC in 2022 demands time and careful research. But keep in mind that hardware isn't the only method to enhance your stream! Check out our guide on how to start streaming for more ways to grow as a broadcaster. Kudos!