Building A Reliable And Practical Desktop Computer System (part 4)
Your Eyes Are Like Videos Into Your Soul
Actually, your eyes are the windows to your soul. I stand corrected.
Video cards are a lot like that. They are the link between you and the soul of your machine.
Humans are very visual by nature. This fact makes video cards a very essential element to the overall system you are building. People rather spend the big bucks on the best video card they can afford and mostly neglect sound cards.
I remember playing games with just the system speaker making those ridiculous blip sounds, but I never wanted to compromise on the graphics.
Graphics cards have come a long way since then. In fact, one can get really good video cards at relatively low prices. I can’t say the same for premium gaming graphics cards. Those cards are still expensive and not for the faint of heart.
Luckily, this computer building guide focuses on building a mainstream computer system for average users. We are looking for the most simple and budget-conscious way to get the best graphics performance for our money. What this means is that you are using your computer for business and daily use with the occasional game here and there. This is good news.
Because your demand for top-notch graphics is not a requirement ( you are just looking for sufficiently good video quality for daily use), you should know that you don’t even need to buy a graphics card.
That’s right. The CPUs that you purchase today starting from the i-Core series from Intel or the AMD CPUs with the APU designation all have INTEGRATED graphics. If you are an AMD Ryzen CPU fan, you should know that Ryzen CPU has built-in graphics for the laptop version of the Ryzen CPU. The next generation Ryzen CPU for desktops will have built-in graphics, but not for now.
Basically, a CPU with built-in graphics just has video features wired (inside) with the CPU. It is both a video card and CPU all-in-one and a very cost-effective solution. This built-in graphics card comes with basic 3D graphics support that allows you to play 3D games. It will let you play a number of 3D games but performance will vary.
For the CPUs that don’t have integrated graphics support, the motherboard will come equipped with some default onboard graphics chipset to get you started with video output without the purchase of an additional video card. The performance and features are not stellar but will be enough to get you started. For everyday graphics display, movie, and even the occasional graphics application will do quite decently. This is a lot of value for a CPU, isn’t it?
Am I just saying this from CPU specs? No sir. I am actually using my computer these days without a discrete graphics card (a technical term used to refer to a separate add-on graphics card).
Why would I do that? Here are the reasons.
A built-in graphics card will almost always perform just as good if not better than the most low-end entry-level add-on graphics card. Reason?
The built-in graphics unit in the CPU is wired and designed to work very closely and efficiently with the CPU. It will also be much more energy efficient and will generate A LOT less heat.
I used to have an AMD Radeon HD79xx series. If you know the video cards (most enthusiast would know), this monster of a video card generates a lot of heat in exchange for a lot of superb graphics performance.
One day, I switched my system from that big performance monster video card to use the built-in graphics in the CPU. Since I decided that my gaming days were over, the switch was incredibly satisfying. I still get very decent performance for my occasional gaming and really good performance for all my other daily computer applications.
In summary, unless you are an extreme gamer or a professional graphics designer or you do professional video editing, the built-in graphics unit from the CPU should be more than enough for your video needs. It is energy efficient, generates little to almost no heat, and is very cost efficient. You basically get a fairly efficient video capability with your CPU already. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised.
For those die-hard people that still need a graphics card for more high-end use or to power more than 2 monitors, then a separate video card or “discrete graphics card” should be considered.
For those of you that are considering the purchase of a discrete graphics card (a complicated term for an add-on video card), the next section will be of interest to you.
Below are some graphics video cards listed to help you with your next purchase.
The products are listed by the chip used, manufacturer, and listed from entry level and up.
Entry level (for the occasional gamer, somewhat at the lower-high end). This is a budget card with great performance. Good for the average user that wants more performance than the average mainstream system. You will notice that I have listed only Nvidia cards. There is a good reason. I have nothing against AMD graphics cards. AMD provides incredible value. You will not find a better card for the price. However, they really suck when it comes to the support for the Linux O.S.
If you only use Windows as your O.S, then AMD graphics cards will be perfectly fine to use. When it comes to having a system that will run both Linux and Windows (as it is in my case), then support for the Linux O.S is going to be very important.
Nvidia has done a great job supporting the Linux community with drivers and is probably the company with the best commitment to the support of the open source Linux O.S. Nvidia also provides a much longer support cycle for legacy products compared to AMD.
GTX 1050 Ti series (Nvidia) from different manufacturers
If you prefer dual fan (slightly higher performance than the ones above)
Mid-level Intermediate performance NVIDIA video cards (GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 series) These cards truly offer great performance with no compromise. Hardcore gamers high performance at a reasonable price can take a look at cards in this range.
High-end NVIDIA video cards (GTX 1080 series) These cards are for the hardcore gamers that want nothing but the best performance.
The final part of this multi-part blog, which is all about disk drives, is right here (just click). (soon to be published)