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Best Graphics Card For Graphic Design

By February 24, 2020June 9th, 2020No Comments

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What Is The Best Graphics Card For Graphic Design?

A buying guide to the best graphics cards (GPU) for Graphic Designers on all budgets.

Best Graphics Card For Graphic Design

Table Of Contents

Here are a few Graphics Cards I recommend for Graphic Designers on three different budgets.

  1. Geforce GTX 1050 Ti (Budget Build)
  2. GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Mid Range)
  3. GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB (Mid Range)
  4. PNY GeForce RTX 2080 Super (High End)
  5. Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 (Pro High End)

Here is more information to help you understand what should be considered when choosing a GPU for graphic design.

How To Choose A GPU For Graphic Design PC Computers – The Intro

If you are a building a PC for Graphic Design, choosing the right graphics cards can be a key component to help your workflow.

The GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, also known as the Graphics Card, translates the tasks your PC is computing into images and sends them to the monitor.

The good thing for Graphic Designers is that the majority, if not all, of their tasks, are not GPU intensive. Most Graphic Design tasks are handled by CPU, RAM, and Graphics Card Video RAM. As a result, this is one area you don’t have to break the bank over.

If you do any 3D, video editing, motion design, or play games in your spare time, you should consider a more powerful GPU. Even if you don’t partake in the aforementioned, you still want a competent GPU that will render visuals smoothly on your display.

In this article, most of the GPU’s we recommend are designed for computer gaming. However, the technical features in gaming graphics cards are excellent for design PCs. And with so much demand in both gaming and design markets, you can get a solid GPU for a relatively low cost.

Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB

For budget builds, good for 2D design work

REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent Price
  • Quiet and Power Efficient
  • 4GB VRAM
  • DisplayPort, 1 HDMI, 1 DVI port

GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 192-bit HDMI/DP 6GB

For intermidate builds, Great for 2D design work, some 3D work, and gaming

REASONS TO BUY

  • Good Value For Money
  • Dual Slot Design Runs Cool
  • Ruduced Noise
  • 6GB VRAM
  • DisplayPort, 3 HDMI

GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB

(BEST VALUE!) For intermidate builds, Great for 2D design work, some 3D work, and gaming

REASONS TO BUY

  • Good Value For Money
  • Dual Slot Design Runs Cool
  • Ruduced Noise
  • 6GB VRAM
  • DisplayPort, 3 HDMI

PNY GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB

For professional builds, Great for 2D design work, some 3D work, and gaming

REASONS TO BUY

  • Cheaper Than regular RTX 2080
  • Great 4K Performance (For 3D Design Work & Video Editing)
  • Quiet Dispite Increased Power Consumption
  • 8GB VRAM
  • DisplayPort x3, HDMI
  • Real-Time Ray Tracing

Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000

For high-end professional builds, motion graphics, 3D work, and gaming

REASONS TO BUY

  • Massive Performance Levels
  • CUDA Cores: 3072
  • 16 GB GDDR6 with ECC
  • DisplayPort x4, VirtualLink x1
  • Real-Time Ray Tracing

Understanding GPU Specs & Features

Knowing what makes up a graphics card will put you in a better position to choose what is right for your PC. Both from a compatibility and features perspective.

Power:
GPU’s use power and generate heat. This is referred to as “Thermal Design Power” (TDP), which is measured in watts. You want to make sure that your power supply can handle the number of watts the GPU requires. In addition, you should calculate how much power the other components use.

Memory:
Memory is GPU’s are referred to as vRAM. This memory is used to store data needed to render information on the display. You will likely see GPU vRAM options ranging from 2Gb, 4Gb, 6Gb, 8Gb, and even higher.

How much vRAM do you need for Graphic Design? If really depends on what programs you work in, and your monitor(s) resolution. If you are working in 3D or Motion Graphics, your GPU will need to store more complex data, in order to render it on screen.

If you are running one or two 4k resolution monitors, I would go with 8Gb. On the other hand, 4Gb is fine for monitors under 4k resolution.

Connections:
Most GPU’s feature the following ports. DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort. How many of each will depend on the specific model. Knowing what connections you need on your graphics card will depend on your monitor set-up. 

Not only should you think of your current monitor set-up. You might want to add a display, as Designers often run two or even three monitors for better multitasking.

Interface:
Modern graphics cards pug into the motherboard using PCIe slots (peripheral component interconnect express). PCIe slots come in the following configurations: x1, x4, x8, x16, and x32. Most GPUs need a PCIe x16 slot to run at their full potential.

Overall, there are two main considerations when it comes to the interface. You will have to assess your motherboards for slot compatibility with the GPU. Second, is that surrounding components provide enough space for your chosen graphics card.

How To Choose A GPU For Graphic Design – Quick Tips

  • What kind of screen(s) do you have? Simply put, monitors range in size, resolution, and quality. If you have a 4K screen or multiple screens, a more powerful GPU with more vRAM is preferred.
  • Do you work in 3D, Motion Graphics, or Video Editing? If yes, your GPU will need the capacity to process more complex data. In this case, I recommend a card with 8Gb (GeForce RTX 2080, or NVIDIA Quadro P4000).
  • Do you have enough power? You will need to look at how much watts your power supply has. Then add up all the other components with your desired GPU.
  • Do you have enough space? Look up specs on your case to find graphics card compatibility. Then look up your graphics card length. Only super compact cases have issues. Most mid-tower cases can fit most GPUs.
  • How many expansion slots does your case have? Some GPUs are thicker than others and take up more slots. You need to look up how many expansion slots the case has, and how many the GPU takes up. Often GPUs take up multiple slot spaces and half slot spaces. For example, if your GPU takes up 1.5 slots, this means your case would need 2 slot spaces (you round up).
  • Save money for the CPU and RAM. Graphic Design PC builds need powerful processors and memory to store lots of data. How that data is rendered on screen is important, no doubt. But for designers that mainly design in 2D, your money is better spent on a CPU and RAM.

What Is The Best Graphics Card Brand? Nvidia vs AMD

I’m going to sit on the fence with this. There is no best brand for GPUs. What is best will always depend on your needs, use case and budget. Either way, let’s review some of the key differences between Nvidia and AMD.

Both Nvidia and AMD provide a line of graphic cards for two markets: gaming and design. Nvidia has GeForce for gaming and Quadro for design/professional use. AMD has Radeon for gaming and Radion Pro for design/professional use. The main difference between these product lines is that professional cards cost more.

Are Quadro and Radeon Pro cards worth the extra money for graphic design workstations? In my opinion, it is hard to justify the extra spend, considering they are built on the same architecture and have similar specs. But if you look a little deeper, there are key differences for those who are serious about their PC build.

Why are professional graphics cards better than gaming cards? First, Quadro and Radeon GPUs have certified drivers that have been optimized to work with some of the most popular design software. These drivers are generally looked at as more reliable. 

Second, professional cards use ECC memory (error-correcting code), which allows the system to detect when memory errors occur. Another difference is how professional cards often run on slower clock speeds, resulting in better thermal efficiency.

Perhaps the most notable difference is how these two lines of GPUs are manufactured. For gaming GPUs, Nvidia and AMD sell hardware licenses to other companies such as MSI, Asus, EVGA, and Zotac. These companies make tweaks to some components like cooling and clock speeds. In contrast, Nvidia Quadro cards are produced by one specific manufacturer, PNY.

Based on all my research online, Nvidia is generally regarded as a better value for top tier cards. Reason being, Nvidia is known for slightly better performance and reliability on professional workloads.

AMD, on the other hand, offers great value for gaming and graphic design users in the mid-range price tier. Either way, having such a rivalry will only lead to further innovation in graphic cards. This is good news for designers and gamers alike.

What Graphics Card Do I Need For Photoshop?

There is a wide variety of GPUs that will work for Photoshop. You can find a list of GPUs that Adobe has tested here. But what GPU is best for Photoshop?

For most Graphic Design tasks in Photoshop, you don’t need a powerful GPU. But there are benefits in Photoshop by having a decent GPU. With a better GPU in Photoshop, you will see subtle differences in how on-screen movements are rendered smoother (such as zoom, pan, and drag). Let’s look further at how Photoshop uses a GPU.

How Does Adobe Photoshop Leverage Graphics Cards?

With a compatible GPU, Photoshop will make use of more features. Here is a list of features that will and won’t work without a GPU.

If you have an unsupported GPU, or it’s disabled you won’t be able to use the following features.

  • Perspective Warp
  • Oil Paint
  • Render – Flame, Picture Frame and Tree
  • Scrubby Zoom
  • Birds Eye View
  • Flick Panning
  • Smooth Brush Resizing

Features that require a graphics card for acceleration:

  • Artboards
  • Camera Raw
  • Image Focus – Preserve Details
  • Select Focus
  • Blur Galler – Field Blur, Iris Blur, Path Blur, Spin Blur
  • Smart Sharpen
  • Select and Mask

Useful Guides For Building Graphic Design PCs

Camden Taylor

Author Camden Taylor

Camden is Arturth's founder. A Senior Graphic Designer from the Pacific Northwest, he has a passion for art, design, and bringing people together through the creative process.

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