This week, Avram Piltch discusses whether or not it is worth upgrading your video card. Sure, your existing computer might have the ability to take the newest and most exciting video card, but is it worth the upgrade cost?
Tom's Hardware recently released a video card lookup to help you determine what video cards are compatible with your system. However, the most important question to ask yourself when considering a video card upgrade is, "What are your goals with the upgrade?" For example, if your goal is to play games in 4K, you video card might not be your limiting factor.
If your system is a few years old, your system processor might not be able to keep up with the requirements of 4K gaming. It's also possible that your motherboard might not support the latest and greatest cards. Or, your power supply might not have the 8-pin or 8+6-pin setup for the really powerful cards. These other limitations could possibly mean a bigger upgrade might be required to accomplish anything noticeable.
This is not to say that a video card upgrade is not a viable project. With a more modern setup, upgrading your video card could have a profound effect on your system's performance. This is especially true if you're going from an on-board card to a full graphics card. You might be upgrading from an older card that you kept from a previous system to something more modern.
However, it is important to remember that, in most system upgrades, the only part that is easily retained is the case. To get a lot out of your upgrade, it will usually require replacing the processor, motherboard, and RAM, on top of the video card. Plus, if it's a big upgrade, you'll possibly need a new power supply and, for speed, you might even consider an upgraded SSD.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLuGHiTz Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the DDR community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bar Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and judging engineering notebooks at competitions. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.