In our purchase advice on graphics cards, we first want to clarify some general points about graphics cards, which may not be new to old hardware bunnies, but may be very informative for some gamers who only deal with upgrading or buying a PC with graphics cards . For example, what is a graphics card series? What are custom models? Can you classify a graphics card based on technical data such as the clock? Of course, at the end we also offer purchase advice with the graphics cards relevant for modern games, which you can find in stores. In addition to a classification of the graphics card series – we will clarify what that is next – we also selected 20 recommended models that currently offer a good price-performance ratio.
Graphics cards: series and models
In principle, we later talk about graphics cards in our buying advice, but we mean entire series of graphics cards that represent many different individual models.
Because AMD and Nvidia always bring new GPUs (the GPU is the actual graphics chip and thus the heart of a graphics card) and based on it new graphics cards on the market, in the form of a reference model with cooling from AMD and Nvidia, respectively. The so-called partner manufacturers of AMD and Nvidia then take these reference cards and use them to make their own graphics card models, so that in the end the many different individual models appear in retail. The partner manufacturers such as Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, Gainward, XFX or Zotac and many more then either use the reference design from AMD or Nvidia and "paste" their own label on the graphics card, or they use a completely custom heat sink. One speaks of custom models with one's own cooling solutions. In some cases, the partner manufacturers change the design of the board – purely in terms of performance, it remains a graphics card from the respective series. So if Asus takes a reference model of the AMD Radeon RX 5700, provides it with its own cooler and arranges some of the chips somewhat differently because this fits better with the Asus cooler, the Asus model remains a Radeon RX 5700.
However, there are performance differences between the individual graphics card models, because graphics cards are often overclocked ex works, especially when a partner manufacturer uses their own, strong cooler. An overclocked Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super remains "a GeForce RTX 2060 Super", just one that conjures up a few FPS on the screen as a model with the standard clock. The additional FPS correspond approximately to the relative overclock. For example, if a graphics card from the same graphics card series is clocked at 1050 MHz instead of just 1000 MHz, that's five percent more – it can bring up to five percent more FPS, even though it belongs to the same model series as the slower graphics card. In this way, a weaker series of graphics cards can also approach a stronger one – let's take the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super as an example. The latter is about five percent faster if you take a model from both graphics cards with the standard clock provided by AMD and Nvidia. A five percent overclocked model of the RX 5700 is then just as fast as a non-overclocked GeForce RTX 2060 Super.