- Your home theater PC is basically useless if it doesn’t have a decent GPU. After all, home theaters are supposed to reproduce theater-level graphics performance and anything less than that may come across as a disappointment. For those who don’t know, “GPU” stands for Graphics Processing Unit and is the main component managing graphics-related tasks like videos and images.
People use home theater PCs (HTPCs) for various reasons. Some buy them to perform gaming, others use them purely for watching videos and movies for entertainment. For gamers, GPUs are probably the most important component of the entire system.
Whether you’re a gamer or not, a decent GPU is extremely important for your home theater PC. Even if you use your HTPC for something as simple as video streaming, a decent GPU can make a big difference. Better GPUs help in faster processing of codecs and overall smoother streaming of videos without loss of frame rates.
It’s difficult to buy a decent GPU in the market without burning a hole in your pocket. On the other hand, a lot of people are willing to buy the best of the best, no matter how expensive they are. Depending on your needs, the kind of GPU that would be the best may vary. Before we go into selecting the best GPUs for you, there are a few terms you should be familiar with, along with their importance.
Integrated vs Dedicated Graphics Cards
Integrated GPUs (or graphics cards) don’t have a separate RAM for their own usage. Integrated GPUs are integrated with the CPU, in the sense that they share the same RAM. Integrated graphics cards need to transfer information to the CPU for using its RAM (system memory). Dedicated graphics cards, on the other hand, have a separate RAM for the GPU. Dedicated graphics cards are generally much faster than integrated ones because they don’t have to pass the information over to the CPU to access the system memory.
GDDR is a type of RAM. Dedicated graphics cards use GDDR RAMs, which are specifically designed for graphics performance. There are several versions of GDDR, and the newer ones are better than the previous. At the time of writing, GDDR6X is the latest version. If you’re looking for heavy-load gaming, you shouldn’t buy anything less than a GDDR6. For most average users, a GDDR5 memory will work just fine. However, for those who don’t plan to use their HTPC for anything more than watching movies/videos and basic browsing, even a GDDR3 might work.
Ray tracing is a particularly important feature for gamers. It helps the GPU