10+ In stock
9 In stock
6 In stock
4 In stock
9 In stock
Was: £749.99 £709.99
2 In stock
4 In stock
Built To Order
Built To Order
" if you want an Nvidia card that is well rounded offering that is easier to live with and looks gorgeous in your case, then the MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming X is a stonking little card and wins our OC3D ...
A graphics card - or GPU - is an indispensable component of any PC system. Generally, computer graphics cards fall into one of two categories; at the lower end of the scale, integrated graphics cards are found on your motherboard or CPU and appropriate some of your computer’s RAM to process video data. Recently, major advances have been made with APU technology, particularly in games consoles, however, modern Accelerated Processing Units currently occupy the budget end of the PC graphics industry.
For serious PC gamers, a dedicated graphics card remains the go-to option; bringing increased processing power, faster framerates, and better resolution whilst decreasing the load on your computer’s RAM and/or processor. In most cases, a dedicated graphics card interfaces with your motherboard through an expansion slot such as PCI Express or AGP. In some cases it is possible to implement scaling and process graphics over multiple cards using the PCIe bus on the motherboard or through a data bridge.
All graphic cards for PCs utilise two main components: the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and the VRAM (Video RAM). However, within high-end graphics cards these elements are vastly superior to their integrated counterparts. Gaming enthusiasts have long required this additional power to keep up with developers, as advances in both hardware and software have grown exponentially. In addition to the processing backbone of your graphics card, you will also find a heat sink and/or cooling modules for dissipating heat, a RAMDAC (Random Access Memory Digital-to-Analogue Converter), a variety of output interfaces, the motherboard interfaces and the video BIOS firmware.
In essence, PC graphics cards render raw video data which is subsequently output to your monitor or other screens through a variety of interfaces. These connect directly to your choice of monitor, so choosing the correct interface will depend on the type of display you want to use and the quality of the graphics displayed. Some graphics cards also allow you to connect multiple monitors. The most commonly found interfaces currently available are:
- Video Graphics Array (VGA) (DE-15) Technology that dates back to the 1980s but allows high-definition 1080p pictures. However, quality can degrade quickly due to a variety of reasons, including cable length and cable quality. Electrical noise, image distortion, and sampling error may also be present.
- Digital Visual Interface (DVI) Used for flat panel displays such as LCDs, plasma screens, wide high-definition displays, and video projectors. DVI avoids digital distortion and electrical noise by using native resolution to display pixels from the computer directly to the screen.
- Video In Video Out (VIVO) for S-Video, Composite video and Component video Often present as two 10-pin mini DIN connectors that allow televisions, DVD players, video recorders and games consoles to be connected.
- High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) A compact video/audio interface that transfers video data to any HDMI compliant device. This can be in uncompressed or compressed/uncompressed formats and has become the commonly used digital replacement for older analogue standards.
- DisplayPort The DisplayPort was developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) and is used primarily for computer monitor connections. Although designed to replace VGA, DVI and LVDS it is fully backward compatible through adapters.
Over many years, the connections between motherboard and graphics card have varied significantly. The first industry standard bus designed in 1974 was the S-100. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of the PCI bus in 1993 that performance improved significantly, helping to pave the way for graphics cards as we know them today. Other important developments included the graphics dedicated AGP, and later incarnations of the PCI card including PCI-X and PCI express—a standard that most contemporary graphics cards currently rely upon.
A Brief History of Graphics Cards
Before 1995, the consumer graphics industry was largely dominated by unsophisticated 2D graphics processors. With the introduction of 32-bit operating systems, manufacturers were able to explore advanced 3D technologies that had previously been the preserve of more professional applications. During these early years, and with the advent of colour monitors, the Video Electronics Standard Association was created in order to consolidate the many different competing technologies into a universal industry standard. This period also saw the rise and fall of many manufacturers as two true leaders began to emerge.
3Dfx and ATI
1996 saw the landscape of consumer graphics change drastically, beginning with 3Dfx’s Voodoo series—a 3D accelerator that relied on the use of the integrated 2D graphics card on a computer’s motherboard. This was quickly followed by another game-changer in the form of the ATI Rage. This period saw competition from a variety of manufacturers including Intel, Video Logic, Rendition and many more. However, by 1999 many of these manufacturers had failed to keep up with the competition from the big two. In fact, as the decade developed, ATI were acquired by AMD and 3Dfx were taken over by NVIDIA, paving the way for the industry we know today.
NVIDIA vs. AMD
A healthy rivalry between graphic processor developers NVIDIA and AMD remains today, underpinned by numerous high-profile manufacturers basing their own cards on the reference GPUs offered from both. Some of the most celebrated manufactures include Gigabyte, Sapphire, PNY and Inno3D; with each offering numerous advantages and cutting-edge technologies aimed at a variety of applications. This can make choosing your perfect graphics card slightly problematic, however OCUK are here to help and we offer the latest possible GPU technologies such as the likes of the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 / GeForce GTX 1070 and the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X / R9 Nano which bring all of the latest features such as DirectX 12, NVIDIA Ansel, NVIDIA Vulkan API, AMD Mantle, AMD VR Ready Premium, and so much more.
The Right Graphics Cards for You
Selecting the right kind of graphics card that is both within your budget and suitable for your chosen application can sometimes seem a little overwhelming. Simply put, comparing card specifications like-for-like is not always the most reliable method, and whilst the GPU and VRAM specs may give you some indication, they can also be misleading. It may also be said that brand preferences are also extremely subjective and not necessarily a reliable indicator of how any particular graphics card may perform. So, try not to be too influenced by the continuing NVIDIA versus AMD debate and consider these few pointers when you are ready to make a purchase.
- Budget to Power Ratio Naturally, the most powerful graphics card based on the latest GPU will give you the most flexibility when it comes to gaming. However, if you are only playing games with low graphical demands, such as Minecraft, then the expense of newly released cards is both prohibitive and unnecessary. Balance your budget and power requirements against your gaming needs and you’ll end up with a card that fulfils all criteria.
- Overclocking and Water Cooling If you really want to push the envelope of your PCs capabilities, then you should consider your chosen graphics card’s ability to be overclocked and/or water cooled. Most reference cards, i.e. those directly from the factories of NVIDIA or AMD, offer this capability. This stands in contrast to many aftermarket cards that include their own proprietary hardware and cooling systems.
- Size and Power Consumption Whether you are upgrading an existing PC system or beginning an entirely new build, ensuring you choose a graphics card that fits your case and doesn’t overwhelm your PSU may seem obvious. However, it’s always worth measuring twice and double checking both dimensions and power consumption before you purchase your graphics card.
- Stability and Compatibility The stability of your card is dependent on many factors and may also be linked to the software you are using. Different generations of video cards will support different versions of DirectX. This means that if you plan to run the latest games on an older card, your graphics will always be limited, and in some cases, the games will not work at all.
- Interfaces and Display Connectivity Choosing a graphics card to match your display capabilities should be simple. However, technology moves quickly and with the advent of 3D, 4K and Virtual Reality displays and devices it is sometimes useful to plan for the future. Additionally, some graphics cards support multiple monitors for truly elite gaming.
- Non-Gaming Applications Most of the major manufacturers offer support for non-gaming applications such as CAD, video editing, or graphic design. These cards are usually specialised for each application and choosing one will depend on the kind of functionality you require.