Graphics cards these days typically associate with video games due to the high demand for power that games ask. But there are other uses for having a better graphics cards; spending around $200, upwards of $400, for a new card does not just yield you better game performance.
What else does a better video card get me?
Other than video games, what other uses can you get out of a more expensive card? Well, for starters you can produce media much easier. Because your video card has better overall performance, anything to do with images are boosted in rendering. Such examples include Photoshop (higher resolution editing and rendering), video editing, and animation production. This is why people do not create their media on an old laptop and rather recommend you complete tasks on beefy computers, since those actually have graphics cards that can render all the images or animations in an efficient manner. If you have ever made a quick edited video, you know the struggles of rendering. Even 2 minutes of 720p or 1080p footage would take several minutes, even up to hours, to render on any old computer. Provided you have a decent CPU as well as enough random access memory, with a graphics card rendering would only take a couple minutes, not to mention the much more fluid workspace when dealing with separate digital images.
Multiple monitor work area
A card is not just useful for gaming or media rendering. If you use your computer for work, investing in a decent video card may be really useful for you as it grants you the ability to use multiple monitors. Now the requirement to actually get a dual-monitor setup is not extensive for graphics cards, but you do need at least a dedicated one (an old GTX 660 would work in this scenario).
Having multiple monitors is extremely useful for multitasking. Ever since I upgraded mine from a singular deskspace to a twin-monitor, I have noticed much better productivity on my end while handling work that needs to be done. This is, of course, without mentioning that it looks really sweet and complements a good-looking PC as well.
Other polygon-intensive software
Basically any program that has to do with processing polygons and translating them to images on the screen for you to see deals with the video card. A better card will lead to better performance in these programs.
I was going to include this in the “media production” section since technically it does translate to video rendering of some sort. But a lot of people do not know that and assume that any desktop would be able to stream video right off the bat. For live video streaming, you would need a handful of things:
- A decent processor, enough RAM (recommend at least 8 GB), and disk space
- High-speed internet
- A dedicated video card
The processor and other PC components are important, but only for your computer to actually run the programs being streamed. The internet obviously is for your PC to upload and download data quick enough so viewers can watch without lag. The video card is probably the most important. You need a card that will be able to run the software with ease, whether it be an animation software for tutorial streaming or a video game. On top of that, the card needs performance room to actually process that information in real-time so your connection can send it to the web. Streaming is not as easy as it seems and it will take some real hardware to do it. That is why many companies like AverMedia make a living off their video capture cards, because people do not want to muster up the hundreds it costs for a new card altogether.