At hardwareDB, we've tested thousands of real systems using the hardwareDB Benchmark. Using this info, you can quickly compare CPUs and GPUs for your next system. But with so many options to choose from, how can you narrow down a choice of hardware. This is our guide to comparing hardware based on their specs and benchmark numbers.
GPUs are responsible for displaying everything that you see on your screen from the operating system, web pages and of course games. In most systems, the graphics chip has no issue displaying those first two items, but games can be a different story.
When looking for the best gaming GPU, you need to compare graphics cards based on their raw specs and gaming numbers. Here are the most important points that you should be aware of.
GPUs have onboard memory that is used for storing the pixels that will be display on the screen, textures, 3D models and shaders. The higher the resolution and texture quality, the more memory you will need. If you run out of memory, the graphics chip will need to swap assets in and out in order to make them fit which will severely reduce performance. If you plan on playing games are 4K resolutions, make sure you have plenty of VRAM available.
Clock speed and boost clock speed
Every chip has a frequency at which it operates, this runs all the steps in the graphics pipeline ultimately leading to pixels on the screen. In theory, the higher the clock speed, the higher the frame-rate. But not so fast! The actual performance of the GPU will depend on many other factors, such as the number of shading cores. It can be useful when comparing GPUs of a similar generation or different designs of a single chip.
If you have a gaming laptop or a PC case with little airflow. A high TDP (Thermal Design Power) is your enemy. This is a measure of the amount of heat generated by the chip at 100% load, expressed in Watts. The higher the number, the more heat will be produced. In the case of thermally constrained systems, a lower TDP can be beneficial, providing a cooler and longer gaming experience.
Using the GPU compare utility, you can easily compare two GPUs, no matter the manufacturer or generation. You can compare them spec for spec and benchmark for benchmark. It also contains the results of real users in the hardwareDB Benchmark with the results of each test shown.
Our GPU comparison tool, shows the strengths and weaknesses of both GPUs in our gaming tests.
CPUs can be compared based on a multitude of factors such as the manufacturer (Intel vs AMD), the generation, architecture, etc… Here are the most important things to consider when choosing a CPU.
Cores and threads
Depending on your use case, cores and threads can be the sole most determining variable in the overall performance. Threads allow the CPU to perform many calculations and operations in parallel, improving efficiency and performance. Often there are an equal number of threads and cores, but not always. In fact, some processors make use of hyper-threading technology, which allows a single core to work as multiple virtual cores.
In the case of gaming, fewer faster cores are preferable, as many games are not developed with many cores in mind. When doing intensive tasks such as 3D rendering and video editing, more cores are always beneficial.
Keep in mind, just because a processor has more cores, it doesn't mean that it will be faster than a CPU with fewer cores in all cases. There are many other factors to consider.
Clock speed and turbo speed
Each one of these aforementioned cores run at a specific frequency: aka, the number of "clocks" or updates per second. In modern processors, these are generally expressed in billions per second or GHz.
When a processor has enough power and thermal headroom, it can ramp up to a higher speed called a turbo clock speed. This allows short bursts of high performance calculations to occur. On the other hand, if your CPU is overheating, it will dip below the clock speed of the chip to prevent damage.
A higher clock speed is more useful in tasks that require a few cores, as many high core count chips will not be able to sustain a high clock speed across all cores.
CPUs contain small amounts of embedded memory called caches. These are labelled L1, L2 and L3 based on the speed at which they can be accessed, with L1 being the fastest. Despite system memory being blazing fast in computers nowadays, caches are needed due to the sheer speed of modern chips.
Higher amounts of cache are useful in optimised workloads that can take advantage of it, but may not translate to improved performance in every scenario.
Using the CPU compare utility, you can quickly put two CPUs face to face and compare their specs and benchmark numbers.
Each CPU has different ratings: an overall rating, a gaming rating, and two special ratings for multitasking and heavy workloads. The differences of each are expressed, and you can make a decision based on the model that best matches your use case. You can also compare any of the previously mentioned specs.