GUIDE: Should you get a GPU upgrade right now?

Looking to get GPU upgrade for your computer? Here’s a Variable guide on what to consider before you decide

Getting a GPU upgrade has been a futile exercise as of late. The one-two-punch of a global chip shortage and a crypto boom has driven their prices through the roof—if you can even find them. Now, news of future GPUs, such as the leaked AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT, may have you asking should you even upgrade at this point?

The question of whether or not you should upgrade is a complicated one. There are arguments on both sides on the fence. In addition, these arguments can change depending on your own personal preferences.

Despite how difficult it can be, we’re going to try our best to break these down so that you can make an informed choice as to whether or not you should upgrade.

Why you shouldn’t get a GPU upgrade right now

If you’re leaning towards not upgrading, then there are a number of compelling reasons that will back up your decision.

The most obvious reason is the price. Once you do find a video card of your choice, whether that’s an AMD RX 6000 series or Nvidia RTX 30, you’ll find that you have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Popping over to Shopee and Lazada, a GeForce RTX 3060—Nvidia’s cheapest RTX 30 card—can go for as high as Php 40,000. This is over twice its suggested retail price (SRP) of US$ 329, or Php 16,000.

RTX 3060
Even Nvidia’s “entry-level” RTX 30 card is overpriced at the moment

In addition, there’s also the reason why you would want to upgrade in the first place: the games. Very few games actually require the latest GPUs. Aside from outliers, such as Cyberpunk 2077, most big games released in the past year will run fine on older graphics cards. At the same time, few games take advantage of main selling point of the new GPUs: real-time ray tracing.

This is because developers know that not every game has access to the latest hardware. In fact, as of March 2021, the most common GPU on the Steam hardware survey is the Nvidia GTX 1060. That’s a video card from 2016—half a decade ago!

With these numbers, it’s easy to see why developers aren’t targeting the latest hardware (again, with some exceptions).

This is especially true for esports games such as League of LegendsValorant and Tekken 7. As these games thrive on having large player bases, their developers make sure that they can run on the widest range of hardware.

Then there’s the fact that both AMD and Nvidia are working on new cards. We’ve already mentioned the Radeon 7900 XT, which was leaked back in February. At the same time, Nvidia is also not resting on their laurels and is rumored to be working on their RTX 40 line of cards.

Why it’s okay to get a GPU upgrade now

While you may be thinking of just skipping buying a new GPU for now, there are still a number of compelling reasons for you to buy one.

Shopping GPU may look expensive at first. But some smart searching online can bring you some bargains. One of the biggest is that Nvidia’s RTX 3060ti can go for much cheaper than its newer but less powerful brother. Online, it can go as low as Php 30,000 from some retailers and even lower from some smaller sellers.

A more powerful card being cheaper is a strange situation. While we don’t know exactly why this is the case, we’re chalking it up to two things. First, the RTX 3060 is newer than the RTX 3060ti, this may make it seem like the hotter product, driving up both demand and price.

Second, for some reason we’re not privy to, Nvidia has decided to give the RTX 3060 more VRAM than the RTX 3060ti. This can make the former seem better, despite the fact that the Ti is the faster card.

As for games, having the extra performance from a newer GPU can’t hurt. This is especially true if you have an older GPU, such as the aforementioned GTX 1060. An upgrade will not only let you play older games on higher graphic settings, but it will also help future proof your computer.

Meanwhile, esports games will also benefit as a newer GPU will provide higher framerates. A higher framerate actually does translate into better performance in these games.

You’ll do much better at Valorant if you have higher frame rates

A GPU upgrade will affect more than just games. If your work involves computer-aided design (CAD), 3D rendering or video editing, then you will benefit from an upgrade. In fact, an increase in your productivity may mean that a GPU upgrade will eventually pay for itself.

Finally, if you opt to wait for a future GPU, then you may be doing so for a while. Both Nvidia and AMD just released their current lineup last year. It’ll take at least a couple of more years before you can realistically expect their successors to come out.

Should you get GPU upgrade?

At the end of the day, the decision to upgrade is yours alone. While there are some compelling arguments on both sides of the fence, you still have your own personal circumstances to consider.

Maybe you can afford to buy a new GPU, or have found one that’s being sold at a reasonable price. Maybe you just really need an upgrade right now, whether it’s because your current GPU is too old or the game or productivity application you need to run needs a better card

The important point is to make sure to that you consider all these and more when making your decision. This way, you don’t make a purchase that you end up regretting.

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Franz Co

managing editor | addicted to RGB | plays too many fighting games

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