- 2D or 3D: that is the question
- PCIe or AGP
- Graphics card models
- ATI cards
- ATI variations
- Nvidia cards
- Nvidia variations
- What the specs mean
- Other features
- Other components
- Power usage
- Integrated graphics
- Getting the most from your card
Getting the most from your card
Another element that may be important to some buyers is the overclockability of the graphics card. Overclocking refers to pushing a particular piece of hardware, be it RAM, CPU or Graphics card, past the clock speeds available out of the box. Most hardware can be overclocked to some degree, with the limiting factor being the temperature of the item.
Depending on the brand of card you buy, the cooling you have in place and the quality of the memory it uses, you may be able to push the card well beyond its standard specifications, with some cards overclocking to speeds past that of the next tier up. Several companies even guarantee their cards to overclock to a certain level, so if you are interested in pushing your PC that little bit further, and can afford to spend a small amount more, be sure to look out for those. You can also shell out a bit of extra money and buy some third party cooling devices for your card, including fans and heatsinks, which may increase the level to which you can overclock, but this will obviously cost more, and may also be louder than any out of the box cooling available.
It is important to be aware that overclocking can damage your hardware, and many manufacturers will not honour the warranty if it is damaged in this way, so overclock at your own risk.
If you're serious about getting the best graphics cards, benchmarks usually provide a better indication of performance than the specifications ever will. There are a number of sites that regularly run reviews of graphics cards, including comprehensive performance benchmarks. We recommend: