Why graphics cards matter and how to pick the right one for your needs

(Image credit: Christian Wiediger on Unsplash)

GPUs were initially developed to manipulate the data in the computer’s frame buffer and present it as pixels on screen, a task that CPUs weren’t suited to. It required processors that could do lots of relatively simple calculations, but very quickly and all at the same time.

The advent of polygonal 3D graphics led to programmable pixel and vertex shaders, which in turn led to the GPGPU – or general purpose graphics processing unit – which first began to appear in the early 2000s. Basically it means that the processors in a GPU can be called upon to take some of the heavy lifting away from the CPU. They’re ideal for repetitive tasks like raytracing a 3D render or performing complex simulations.

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Steve has been interested in CG for many years. He’s a regular contributor to 3D World and edited the magazine for two years, and has worked for other magazines including Edge, T3, Official UK PlayStation magazine, Laptop magazine and Windows Visa: The Official Magazine. For Creative Bloq, he mainly contributes tutorials and reviews creative kit.