What is a GPU and Why is it Important?

edited May 5 in Acer Corner

If you have been looking for a gaming computer, you have no doubt come across some information about a graphics processing unit or GPU. Having a quality GPU is critical for gaming and is an essential part of the decision-making process when making a purchase. So, what is a GPU, and why is it so important?

What is a GPU? 

A GPU is a specialized processor that helps speed up the rendering of graphics and images on a computer or some other device. GPU acceleration is used in a variety of applications, such as gaming, video editing, 3D rendering, cryptocurrency mining, and more. GPU acceleration can offer several benefits, including improved performance, improved graphics quality, reduced time to complete tasks, reduced power consumption, and parallel computing.

What are the differences between GPU types? 

There are a few different companies offering GPUs on the market, but the two major competitors are AMD and Nvidia. There are three main types of GPUs: 

  • Gaming GPU for maximum performance and better gaming experiences. 
  • Workstation GPU for professional graphics applications, such as CAD or 3D modeling.  
  • Server GPU for high-performance computing (HPC) applications. 

How does a GPU help improve performance and graphics quality in games? 

A gaming GPU helps improve performance and graphics quality by offloading some graphical processing from the central processing unit (CPU). This allows the CPU to focus on other tasks, such as controlling character movements and game logic. GPUs are specifically designed for graphical processing, so they can handle the large number of calculations that need to be completed to generate realistic images, video, and animations. In addition, many GPUs include additional features that can improve gaming performance, such as support for multiple monitors and faster video rendering. While gaming GPUs are not essential for gaming, they can provide a significant advantage over laptops or PCs without one. The Predator and Nitro series, for example, both offer a variety of gaming hardware, all of which offer a range of GPUs at different price points.

How do I choose a GPU for my needs? 

Before choosing a GPU, you should ask yourself a few questions: 

  • What is my budget? 
  • What is the purpose of the GPU? 
  • What is the resolution/refresh rate of my monitor? 
  • How much power and space do I have in my computer case? 
  • Does my computer have enough expansion slots? 
  • Do I have the appropriate amount of power connectors?  
  • Are you looking for the ability to support virtual reality (VR), 4K resolution, or artificial intelligence (AI)? 

Now that you have thought about the basics and the purpose, you should look for a graphics card that matches the specifications you are looking for. Some important factors to consider are: 

  • The size and expansion slots required. 
  • The amount of virtual RAM in the graphics card. 
  • The thermal design power (TDP) for power supply unit (PSU) compatibility. 
  • The available ports on both the card and your monitor. 
  • The clock speed and processing cores. 
  • The maximum theoretical performance by considering the trillions of floating-point operations per second (TFLOPS/GFLOPS). 
  • The required memory speed/bandwidth for your setup. 
  • Type of cooling system. 
  • Preferred backlight capabilities. 

If you don't want to deal with the hassle of researching and installing a GPU, you can always purchase a pre-built computer or laptop that contains your desired GPU. This method is more expensive albeit a bit safer and easier for the buyer. However, this does not mean you should forgo GPU research, you should always do your due diligence. If you're looking to purchase a GPU for gaming, consider what games you want to play. If you’re looking to play the latest AAA titles (high-profile games) on max settings, then you’re going to need a GPU that can handle them. 

Some of Acer’s laptops use the NVIDIA GeForce RTX ™ 30 series, which can easily handle the workload. If you’re not focused on playing the latest games at the highest settings, then a laptop with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 might be more suitable. It all comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what you want to get out of your experience. 

Note: Do not try to upgrade the GPU in your laptop, they cannot be replaced. Attempting to do so will most likely void your device’s warranty.

Average lifespan of a GPU 

GPUs play an important role in your device, but how long do they last? What factors influence their lifespan? There is no definitive answer to this question. However, some GPUs can last for years while others may only last a few months.  

The most critical factor is quality. A high-quality GPU is likely to last longer. The quality of a GPU is determined by several factors, including the type of materials used, the construction quality, and the manufacturer's reputation. 

Another important factor is usage. A GPU that is used heavily may not last as long as one that is used sparingly. This is because GPUs wear out over time and heavy usage can accelerate this process. 

Finally, the environment in which a GPU is used can also influence its lifespan. If a GPU is used in a dusty or hot environment, it may not last as long as one that is used in a clean and cool environment. 

Consider changing your GPU when it can no longer keep up with the demands of your applications. For example, if you are using a GPU for graphics-intensive tasks, such as 3D rendering or gaming, and it starts to struggle, then you should consider upgrading. You may also want to upgrade if you’re playing games that take advantage of the latest advances in GPU technology.

What are some other applications that use GPU acceleration? 

A variety of other applications use GPU acceleration, including artificial intelligence (AI), video editing, and cryptocurrency mining. GPUs can help improve performance and graphics quality in these applications. 

GPUs for AI 

The quality and performance of GPUs have made them a popular choice for AI development. GPUs can handle the large number of calculations required for training deep neural networks. They can also process data in parallel, which is important for the execution of AI algorithms. Finally, GPUs are well-suited for machine learning applications because they provide superior performance and quality compared to CPUs.

GPUs for video editing 

GPUs also offer more flexibility than CPUs for video editing software. Many video editing applications are now designed to take advantage of the parallel processing capabilities of GPUs, which results in faster performance and improved quality. This means that GPUs can provide faster rendering speeds and higher quality results.

GPUs for crypto mining 

Cryptocurrency mining is a process that helps secure a blockchain and add new transactions to it. Miners are rewarded with crypto tokens for their work. To mine crypto tokens, miners need powerful hardware. GPUs are well-suited for mining because they can hash data quickly and efficiently. In addition, GPUs can be used to mine multiple cryptocurrencies at the same time. Thus, GPUs offer a high return on investment which​​ make them popular with miners.

Finding a GPU that upgrades your experience

GPUs are critical for users expecting high workloads. Acceleration is important for gaming, as it can help improve performance and graphics quality. Which GPU is right for you depends on your needs and budget. If you require the best performance possible, then a gaming GPU is the best option. Acer’s Predator series is a great place to start looking. If you are looking for a good balance of performance and affordability, then you might consider the Nitro series. Either way, if you’re looking for a way to improve your graphics-intensive activities, a GPU is a great option to consider.

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