A GPU, or graphics processing unit, is the piece of gear in your computer that helps with your computer’s performance. What are the different GPUs available for your desktop and mobile systems? In this video, authors Richard Harrington and Robbie Carman discuss the GPUs that are available for your desktop and laptop computers.
- If you're out there shopping for a GPU or you're putting together a new system, it's really important that you get the latest information. There's a lot of misinformation out there about GPUs. For example, I remember people taking about, oh, you can't get that one, Premiere Pro doesn't support it, and then they pretty much opened it up and supported everything. - Yeah, I mean, the thing about a lot of times, when you look at creative software applications in general, they'll say, hey, these are the supported cards. What that really means is that these are cards that have brought into the lab of the company making the software, plugged into a computer and tested and verified that yes, this works, but that doesn't mean that's your only, you know, the only card that will work.
For a lot of people, if you're a big facility or you know, a corporate environment and you need sort of that seal of approval, totally get it. Go with what the company is recommending that you use. - And if you're going to be working in an environment like a post-production facility where maybe an edit suite is going with two or threes shifts, it's going to be constantly on, well, trying to cut corners and use a more consumer grade card could lead to issues. It could start to overheat; there can be problems. - Now, there's a few different specs that I want you to pay attention, especially when it comes to a desktop card.
As we mentioned, with a mobile card, not a whole lot you can do with that. You're kind of limited to what the design of the computer's like, right? - The short version is buy the best one you can at the time when you make the purchase 'cause you're probably not upgrading it. - But there are some specs that carry over and I'll mention those in just a second. But when it comes to a desktop card, the first thing you want to consider is that all modern desktop class parts are going to have PCI3 connectivity. PCI3 is the latest and greatest version of the PCI interface and this is going to allow for the most throughput, so if for some reason, you have a PCI3 card, yeah, that can run on an older PCI2 system.
Just be aware that if you have an older PCI2 system, it's not going to run at full speed. - And so, I mean, to a certain extent, we have seen, and I've read reports of people taking old Mac Pro towers, the cheese grater style ones and stuffing 'em with RAM, stuffing 'em with a new video card and getting performance as good or better than the new Mac Pro. - Listen, I have a business partner that is still running a 2012 Mac Pro with TITAN cards and a GPU expander and I mean, it still screams, right? Because he's using these new GPUs.
The other thing to consider is obviously connectivity. Most modern GPUs are going to give you a combination of DisplayPort. On this TITAN X, for example, I have four DisplayPorts but I also have HDMI. If you haven't used DisplayPort before, it's easily adaptable to pretty much anything, as well as HDMI, right? I also have DVI. To be honest with you, DVI is kind of a standard that's going a little out of fashion. It's also a big connector, so I would imagine it's only another couple years before GPU manufacturers just go, yeah, no, we don't want to deal with DVI, but you can get adapters. You can go DisplayPort to DVI, piece of cake.
The other physical thing to consider is the type of cooling that the unit has. Now this card, the TITAN X, this is the Pascal version, this is made and manufactured by Nvidia, and it has there what they call reference cooler on it. This is the fan, or otherwise known as the cooler. On enthusiast level cards, right, for example, Nvidia lets companies like Asus and MSI and other companies make their own cards based on the reference design. You will find beefier coolers, right? And that's something to consider. If you have a small case or something like that, you're going to want to try to look for the card that has the most built in cooling available.
- And that does bring some noise considerations, so many of these cards make a lot of noise. Some folks will keep their system in a case, so not just the case of the computer but an actual case to cut down on noise if it's stored in the edit suite. Rob, I believe you runs yours to a machine room. - I do. - Cables? - Yep, I do. - This sounds like a helicopter taking off. - Right, I have a lot of GPUs in my system. It does make a lot of noise sometimes. The other thing to consider and I already mentioned is power that the card needs. For example, this is a pretty beefy card that needs both an eight pin and a six pin power connector.
If you power supply cannot handle what the card can do, well, you know what's going to happen? Your computer's just going to shut down, right? And things are not going to work. You might have to adapt power or at worst case, you might have to think about getting a beefier power supply. - Well, and on that front, it's not just the computer. I remember for a certain time period here when we moved into the new office, whenever somebody took one of our big work station class computers and launched Adobe Media Encoder and it fired up every core and hit the GPU, we'd blow a fuse. - Yeah, it's definitely a consideration.
And then the last few things that I would consider is on the Nvidia side, what we're going to call core count, right? CUDA cores; on the AMD side, you'll see this expressed as something like shaders. Essentially, just like a CPU has cores, the more cores or shaders or whatever that are available on the GPU, generally speaking, that means more overall processing capability, so you want to look for a higher core count if you can. And then lastly, it's VRAM or video RAM. Just like your computer has RAM, system memory that it uses, the video card also does this, and this is becoming increasingly important in this day and age of 4K and UHD and, hey, 8K and VR.
All these things, you're going to need to have a healthy amount of VRAM. I generally tell people these days, don't look at a card with less than four gigs of RAM because these apps are using every single bit of that VRAM to help the card process faster. - Well, this is going to help, particularly if you're doing things that are graphic intensive. If you are color correcting, this is going to really kick in. Lots of different apps will have GPU accelerated features or different plug-ins that are GPU accelerated.
Actually, some third party plug-ins are GPU accelerated. Even apps like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom these days are starting to see acceleration being added in. Now, one last thing I think that's important, Rob, is that this performance is really a delicate balance. What I mean by that is your operating system, your graphics card driver and your software applications all have to be using the right versions so they work together. - Absolutely. You know, oftentimes, people are like, well, this card's not working up to snuff. Well, are you on the latest drivers? Drivers get updated a lot for these cards.
So do the applications that utilize those, so that's a really big concern. - Yeah, and one thing I like. We use the HP Performance Advisor software here at the office. It scans the certain graphics card, it looks for the right version of Windows, it checks Adobe and Avid apps and says these are the changes, how things should be configured, but it's very easy to get things out of sync. I've seen, for example, my MacBook Pro, I had an older MacBook Pro with a Nvidia graphics card. It works great, but if I update the operating system and the Nvidia driver isn't up to date, all of a sudden, new issues start appearing. - It's true.
Now, the last thing we should mention is just about how all this pertains to mobile or sort of all-in-one solutions. As I mentioned, in general, you're going to be considering about the same specs, the number of cores, the amount of VRAM, that kind of stuff. You don't really have the connectivity issue to deal with directly on the card, 'cause that's going to kind of be dictated by what the manufacturer wants to put on their case, but the same specs matter, but just keep in mind that as a general rule of thumb, performance is going to be a little less as for the reasons that we mentioned on a mobile or all-in-one solution because of heat, power, all of those things we're concerned about.
But these days, on a gaming laptop, you can get, you know, Nvidia 1080 mobile solution, that's killer You know, eight gigs of RAM in it. I mean, it's really, really, really fast. - But one gotcha. Most laptops are set that if you're not plugged into the wall and you're running off of batteries, they'll automatically downgrade the performance unless you've tweaked that, so making sure you're plugged in ensures that the computer is going to have all the power it needs to run at full performance. - So hopefully, all of this helps you kind of demystify the wild world of GPUs.
To sum it up, GPUs are a central component in any modern system, especially if you're using a lot of creative apps. Creative apps take advantage of GPUs for all sorts of things from effects and noise reduction to, you know, 3D rendering. - Encoding. - Encoding, all of that kind of stuff, so they can drastically speed up your workflow. You're going to find desktop and mobile versions and then you're going to find sort of enthusiast class versus work station class, and all of these are going to provide some pluses and some minuses but now hopefully you're armed with some of the things to look out for so when you're ready to buy your next machine and your next GPU, you can do so a little bit more intelligently.
Rich and Robbie explore the latest in video technologies, compatible gear, and how to adjust camera settings to capture images using new perspectives, new resolutions, and new speeds. They provide gear suggestions, with options that meet different budget ranges, and they demonstrate how to implement techniques to solve problems.
- Capturing point-of-view shots
- Broadcasting video online
- Recording in higher resolutions
- Capturing super slow-motion video
- Selecting equipment