11 Signs I Need A New Graphics Card (Do You Need a New GPU?)

As a gamer, upgrading your graphics card is an exciting feeling. It’s common practice to upgrade one’s computer hardware every year or so or whenever a better-performing model becomes available for those who can afford it, at the very least. However, for most gamers, who are unable to replace their GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) for a variety of reasons, the timing of the upgrade is critical.

When it comes to PC upgrades, it’s best to wait until GPU prices have gone down before deciding whether or not you actually need a new GPU.

Before upgrading a GPU, you must first see the signs that your PC would actually need an upgrade. Otherwise, it will be like throwing money.

A clear sign that you need a GPU upgrade is when your graphics card can no longer keep up with the current games you play. In addition to this, we’ll go through several other signs indicating it’s about time for an upgrade.

Signs I Need a New Graphics Card – How to Tell if You Need a New GPU

1. The Latest Games Are Becoming Unplayable

One of the biggest signs that you need an upgrade is when the latest games become unplayable. This is due to the addition of new features by the developers, which requires an increase in hardware requirements.

When you still experience severe drops in framerates even at the lowest settings, this might be the time for investing in a new card.

2. Your Graphics Card is Dying

A dying GPU is another reason for you to upgrade. A dying GPU can be easily noticed, with common signs including overheating, screen glitches, Blue Screens of Death, system crashes when playing games, and loud fans.

Playing on a faulty GPU is almost impossible, as you would experience random crashes while running a game, especially the heavy ones. So if you think that your card is about to fail, you should start saving for a new one.

For information on how to spot if a GPU is dying follow the link.

3. Frequent Blue Screen of Deaths (BSODs)

A Blue Screen of Death can be one of the most frustrating experiences when using your PC. This happens for a lot of reasons. One of the causes can be a faulty GPU. However, a defective GPU is not always the cause when you experience BSODs. It could also be corrupted driver installation or from conflicts caused by older versions.

To determine whether your GPU is the one causing those BSODs, try observing what happens when you do a clean driver installation. If you’re still experiencing crashes or artifacting even after a fresh install of new drivers, then your GPU is likely the cause.

4. Cannot Run Games at High Settings

When asking yourself “what are the signs I need a new graphics card?” One of the biggest signs is not being able to run newer games at an acceptable framerate on higher settings.

When playing games on high settings, GPU power is crucial as it is responsible for all frames to feed on the CPU. So if you notice that your PC is struggling when running at the highest settings, it might be best to consider an upgrade. Additionally, if your PC is slowing down even on older games when set to high settings, this would give you more reason to invest in a new and faster GPU.

5. Computer is Out of Date

If your computer is old, it is a no-brainer to upgrade some parts, including the GPU. Since the it is old, it is most likely that some other components like the GPU are already old too. So an upgrade is a must. This way, you can keep your PC updated and perform better, especially in games.

Also, aside from the hardware upgrade, upgrading some of the software, such as your operating system, might be sensible. Since most modern games require the latest version of operating systems, you would not want to keep your PC left behind because of outdated software.

6. Games With Low Frame Rates

Low or high FPS can be subjective depending on each gamer and which type of screen you play. Having below 60 fps is unacceptable for some gamers, while others are satisfied as long as it won’t go down under 30 fps. But regardless, playing games at high FPS is every gamer’s dream.

So if you think you have low framerates, consider an upgrade. A general rule of thumb is that 60fps is the minimum target you should be aiming for. It’s a good balance point between slow-paced visually-driven games and fast-paced genres like first-person shooter games. But if you want to achieve framerates above 60, why not? If you own a 144Hz monitor and you just can’t hit the ~120-140 fps spot, it might be time to consider a GPU upgrade.

7. Lacking Features

Each time chip manufacturers release a new GPU line, additional advanced features are added. Today, some of the most popular features are Ray Tracing, Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), and FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). Other technologies like RTX Voice and NVENC are also compelling features to consider a graphics card upgrade.

RTX 3080 Founder's Edition

Additionally, most modern cards come with GDDR6 memory, larger amounts of VRAM, sophisticated cooling solutions, and even RGB. So if you want to fully enjoy the features that come with modern GPUs, you better start saving up.

8. Loud Fans

Noisy fans can be an annoying issue for most gamers, especially when playing in the middle of the night, where the sound can really be irritating. You might get used to it after a while, but a noisy fan can be a sign of some problems with the GPU.

There are several reasons why GPU fans can get loud. This may include dusty fans or heatsink, poor airflow, abnormal temperatures, or poor heatsink design.

If you can live with the noise, then perhaps you can put off an upgrade. But if the noise starts to bother you, having your card checked, cleaned, or even upgrading to a card with a quieter cooling solution might not be a bad idea.

9. The Performance of Your Computer Has Slowed

There are several things you can upgrade if your PC is getting slower. One of these choices is your GPU. Upgrading the GPU will generally give you better FPS in most games. You should be able to immediately tell a difference with a newer GPU.

10. You Want to Play with Multiple Monitors

Upgrading your GPU card does not only equate to better gaming performance, but it also allows you to use multiple displays at once. The most popular GPUs today can support up to 4 monitors.

5 monitor setup

Having multiple monitors allows for flexibility. You can have them set up so that one of the screens can be used for gaming, while the other can stream media or allow you to monitor temps and performance.

11. You Want to Edit High-Resolution Videos

Editing high-resolution videos would take a lot of resources, in addition to needing a strong CPU, your GPU can help speed up the process through the utilization of hardware acceleration.

While a gaming-oriented GPU will get the job done for most, you may want to go for a workstation GPU if you have heavy workloads. Examples are Nvidia’s Quadro or AMD’s Radeon Pro GPUs. These graphics cards are designed to handle extreme productivity workloads, like high-resolution videos, CAD, Rendering, or scientific simulation.

Things to Consider Before Upgrading Your Graphics Card

Upgrading a graphics card can be enjoyable. But sometimes, we often to overlook other factors when shopping for a new GPU, which we regret later for not doing further research. Here are some things worthy of putting on your checklist to avoid this from happening.

1. Make Sure the GPU has Enough Power

Getting a new GPU that falls short in terms of processing power is a common rookie mistake. This happens mainly because of a lack of technical knowledge regarding computer components. Users who are not familiar with hardware can be easy victims of marketing strategies in buying a weak card, thinking that it would suffice their needs. So before you even plan on going on a market or buying a graphics card online, make sure to do your research first on which GPU would best suit your needs.

2. Make Sure it Fits inside the Computer Case

Another rookie mistake is buying a graphics card that won’t even fit in your case. If this is the case, a quick solution would be to upgrade to a bigger chassis. Besides, tight computer chassis tend to have poor airflow than the spacier ones in most cases. But to keep yourself away from such inconvenience, better research first about the specs of your desired GPU if it would even fit inside your PC case.

3. Check Your Power Supply Rating

When upgrading a GPU, make sure that your current power supply meets the power requirements of your desired GPU. You can do it by going to the manufacturer’s website and checking the spec sheet.

Power Supply Unit

Also, make sure that your power supply unit has an 80 PLUS certification, at least Bronze if possible, and from a reputable brand. Otherwise, just get a new one as well if you don’t want to see your components burn, as this is the one that will supply power not only to the GPU but to the entire system itself.

4. AMD or Nvidia

Choosing between AMD and Nvidia is a dilemma that each gamer and PC builders face at some point in time. AMD usually has the better offerings for the budget range when they released the RX 570 and 580, which were countered by Nvidia with their GTX 1650 Super.

For the midrange and high-end categories, there are several options available for both manufacturers. In the end, it’s just really a matter of choosing the GPU that would suit your needs and budget, regardless of the brand.

What are the Best Practices When Upgrading a GPU?

1. How Often Should I Upgrade My Video Card?

When you are on a budget, always remember to only upgrade your graphics card if your current one can no longer keep up with your needs. After all, we do not want to just burn our hard-earned money.

But if the budget permits, it would be safe to upgrade your graphics card 2 or 3 years after your purchase. This is usually the time when GPU manufacturers release a new line of cards that is worthy of an upgrade.

2. How Powerful Would My Next Upgrade Be?

When upgrading a graphics card, don’t just settle with a minimal performance gain against your old GPU. Make sure that it is at least 30%-50% faster to make sure you have a noticeable upgrade. In a popular GPU hierarchy list from Tom’s Hardware, they have listed every graphics card and arranged them in the fastest to lowest order. If you use this guide, make sure it is at least 3-5 tiers higher than your current GPU.

If you are in the market for a new card, check out these reviews of the most powerful GPUs under 300 dollars.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I get more performance out of my graphics card?

To get the most performance out of your graphics card, make sure each piece of hardware has a balance among other components to avoid bottlenecking. You can also overclock your GPU to squeeze more performance out of it, although this method is not recommended for beginners, as it may cause harm to the card itself.

How do I know if my card needs to be upgraded?

A clear indicator that a card needs to be upgraded is if it shows any signs of slowing down when playing games. Basically, when a graphics card can no longer keep up with modern games, it is your card’s way of telling you that you might need to upgrade it already.

Is upgrading my computer’s GPU difficult?

If you have technical know-how about graphics cards and other components, such as the hardware requirements and compatibilities, upgrading a GPU should be easy. The best way is to do some quick research on which GPU to get to avoid having any issues.

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