When Should You Update Your Video Card

When your gaming computer can no longer run the latest games, it’s only natural that you would assume your video card or processor is to blame. If you’re like many gamers, you would handle the issue by purchasing a new video card and upgrading your computer. The trouble is that performance would only be improved slightly. What gives?

As you probably know, the graphics card is the biggest factor in game performance and it can turn an amazing game into something out of this world. Unfortunately, you can’t just replace the video card to keep seeing the high-end results you want. If the rest of the parts in your gaming PC are old or outdated, they can act as a bottleneck, which causes performance loss. Basically, if you purchase a new video card and leave everything else the same, you can’t expect to see great results because the rest of the system is a bottleneck.

So what options do you have? If you buy a video card without upgrading the other parts in your gaming workstation PC, you’re essentially wasting money. The better option is to purchase a lower-end video card that will make the games you want to purchase playable, but you’re not spending money on something that can’t deliver. If you plan on upgrading the other parts in the near future, you can purchase a new video card to keep things futureproof.

Bottom line: If your current video card is running the games smoothly, you should probably leave it alone. Otherwise, be prepared to replace many parts in order to see the performance you want from a new video card.

If you do decide that a new video card is the way to go, especially if the latest games aren’t playable anymore, be sure to follow smart buying practices such as setting a budget, researching GPUs and onboard memory and brand consideration. Video cards range in cost from $200 to $600, so it’s definitely an investment that deserves careful consideration.

While there are still a few AGP graphics cards on the market, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a PCI Express, which offers twice the data transfer rate of AGP. If your motherboard doesn’t have a PCI Express expansion slot, you’ll have to upgrade the motherboard (and probably the CPU and memory, too).

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