What does a GPU do for gaming? Explained!

What does a GPU do for gaming? Explained!

The GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, has become a fundamental computing technology for both consumer and business applications. As we examine the contemporary computer landscape, we find that the majority of mid-tier to top-tier PCs incorporate GPUs in various forms and sizes. This is due to the GPU’s growing importance as a key component for several reasons, which I will elaborate on shortly. GPUs are used chiefly to manage and enhance video and graphics performance, making them the standalone component responsible for processing images onto your computer screen. They are dedicated to performing the often-intensive calculations that are required to render images and animations on your computer.

Although GPUs are best known for their role in gaming, they are increasingly being utilized in creative pursuits, artificial intelligence, 3D rendering, video editing, and other demanding tasks. Their essential role in gaming allows players to enjoy the latest gaming titles with high-quality visuals and performance. GPUs directly affect frame rates (fps) by calculating and displaying graphics, thus ensuring a smooth gaming experience.

In addition to standalone graphics cards, some GPUs are built into your PC’s motherboard, offering a more integrated solution for graphics processing. Given the extensive use of graphics cards in video games, one might ask, “What does a GPU do to gaming?” Furthermore, what makes it so popular among gaming enthusiasts? If you are considering building a custom PC or simply seeking a graphics card that will elevate your gaming experience, it is vital to grasp the fundamentals of graphics cards, their purposes, significance, and more. For those who are intrigued, this article is tailored to your needs. In the following sections, we will discuss the impact of GPUs on frame rates, graphics resolution, and other key aspects of gaming performance.

What is a GPU?

No doubt, most of you would know about a GPU. But still, it’s necessary to understand things from the basics to dive deep into the actual query of this post. So, what is a GPU? As per the definition, a graphics card is an expansion card that is used to transmit images or graphics-related output feed to monitors or other display devices. A GPU, or graphics processing unit, is like a processing device inside a graphics card that performs all the graphics computations. On the flip side, the term, GPU, is often referred to the graphics card as a whole, so both are considered the same. 

Graphics Card
Graphics Card

If we look at the historical point of view, GPUs were predominantly employed two decades ago to speed up real-time 3D graphics applications. As the twenty-first century began, however, computer scientists understood that GPUs had the ability to tackle some of the world’s most complex computing challenges. This understanding ushered in the age of general-purpose GPUs, which correspondingly tells us what the purpose of GPUs is. Today’s GPUs are more programmable than ever, allowing them to accelerate a wide range of applications.

What does a GPU do for gaming?

As you know, a CPU, or processor, is like a brain for a computer that handles everything in and out of it. But it can’t solely compute the hefty graphics-related instruction or data of heavy-duty games due to their complex nature. This is where a GPU, or graphics processing unit, comes into action. It takes those complex data sets from the processors and processes those without taking much time under the CPU’s supervision. In this way, a processor saves itself from getting under such an intensive load. Now you know the basic GPU cruciality for gaming, it’s time to explain deeper concepts.

If we look at the general GPU perspective, GPUs are the hardware that enables computers to run specific software that produces more realistic visuals, enhancing the enjoyment of gaming. Games rely on the GPU for performance in general, but at lower-quality settings, when the GPU can render more frames, the CPU has to work harder transferring data around and attempting to stay up. A GPU can help here, but only at better resolution or better quality. When some heavy-duty games replace the lightweight load, a graphics card handles it. 

The vast majority of gaming GPUs on the market are integrated graphics. With highly detailed visuals and enormous, sophisticated in-game environments, video games are becoming more and more computationally demanding. With enhanced display technologies like 4K panels, high refresh rates, and the emergence of virtual reality games, graphics processing needs are increasing rapidly. GPUs can produce visuals in both 2D and 3D modes. Games may be played at larger resolutions, smoother picture quality, or both with an improved visual performance.

How much GPU memory is required for gaming?

GPU RAM, or VRAM, is a word that is frequently used to describe the amount of memory that a graphics card uses to run games. This is significant since it may affect a game’s performance and the time it takes to start up. Most of the time, the overall graphics performance or capabilities are directly proportional to the GPU’s memory size. But how much GPU memory is required for gaming? This is one of our most-asked questions, especially from the new PC builders. Well, its answer totally depends upon your usage. Let’s check the table below for more information!

Graphics memoryGaming Resolution
2-4GB GDDR6720p
4-8GB GDDR61080p
8-10GB GDDR61440p
10-12GB GDDR61920p
12+ GB GDDR64k

How to purchase a pre-built PC?

Gaming PCs are available in a range of sizes and graphic styles. Many of these distinctions are useful, such as space or cooling requirements, while others are completely optional. Unless you have specific size requirements, mid-tower/ATX cases are frequently the best all-around solution for a gaming system. They are the most common pre-built gaming PC design that may accommodate various components, such as bigger graphics cards or cooling systems. Aside from the size of the case, the following design considerations should influence your purchase decision:

  • Connectivity: Ensure that the front panel includes a sufficient number of quick-access USB or audio ports for attaching peripherals and devices that must be disconnected often, such as controllers, phones, headsets, and external storage. Otherwise, you may have to link them to the system’s back end, which, depending on your arrangement, may be more challenging to access.
  • Check the PC’s backside: Similarly, the back side should have enough connections for the equipment that will be hooked in for an extended period of time, such as your monitor, Ethernet connection, mouse, and keyboard.
  • Warranty: Not all pre-built systems are meant to be opened, so check any applicable warranties before attempting to operate a system for the first time.
  • Cooling system: A pre-built system will most likely include a sufficient cooling system for the components within. This implies it shouldn’t be a big deal unless you intend to update later. Check out our guide on the significance of keeping your PC cool for more information on system cooling, or learn about liquid and air CPU coolers.
  • Case material: Transparent side panels on gaming desktops allow a window of your system’s inner workings. The materials required in these panels have benefits and drawbacks. Tempered glass panels are simpler to clean and more scratch-resistant, while acrylic panels are lighter and more durable.

Conclusion

This post is all about understanding the basic concepts regarding a graphics card, or GPU, like its operations, benefits, and other aspects. The primary focus of this article was understanding the usage and utilities of a graphics card in the gaming field. Concluding the whole post, a card shares graphics-related load with the CPU and executes graphics instructions to showcase visuals on the monitor. Since the games put a significant load on the computer, the graphics card is the only component that is made to deal with those hefty computations and data processing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does GPU affect FPS?

The short answer is yes. If we look at the GPU’s utility, it processes the graphics-related instructions and drives the gaming visuals. The overall graphics quality or in-game resolution totally depends upon the card, and FPS is one of the aspects when we refer to the terms graphics quality. Moreover, the GPU’s VRAM, or graphics memory, directly impacts the graphics resolution and fps, or frames per second.

Is 8GB GPU overkill?

No, an 8GB graphics memory size isn’t overkill for gaming. Instead, it’s a perfect combination of 1080p to 1440p graphics resolution and 50-70 fps depending on the other in-game setting. In addition, 8GB provides you with an ideal middle-ground for graphics and is known for impressive performance along with excellent value for the money. If you’re building a custom PC for the first time, just go for this sweet spot.

Is a 4GB graphics card enough for gaming?

Well, the answer to this question totally depends upon your usage, expected graphics resolution, and budget. If you’re happy with the 1080p graphics resolution, a 4GB GPU memory is a good-to-go option. In contrast, if you’re looking for FHD or 4k graphics resolution, this isn’t for you—you need a card with at least 10GB or 12+ GB graphics memory.

Sajid Ali
Sajid Ali is a tech enthusiast and gamer who loves to write reviews about gaming hardware. He has a passion for staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and loves sharing his knowledge with others. Sajid studied Intermediate Computer Science at Degree College and went on to earn his Bachelor's in Computer Science from GSC. In his free time, you can find him testing out new hardware and software, or playing the latest video games. Sajid's in-depth understanding of computers and his love for gaming make him the perfect author to turn to for all things tech and gaming.