Are GPUs Only for Gaming?

The entire world of gaming revolves around one key component; a graphics card. They’re the most important and most expensive piece of hardware in any gamer’s arsenal is the GPU. They’re necessary, and that’s the reason the price for these GPUs in 2021 is skyrocketing to the point that they’re pricier than the rest of your PC combined. But, what exactly are GPUs, and what can they be used for? We all know their role in gaming, but what else can we do with them?

In this blog, we’re going to go over all the things that you can utilize your hefty GPU for. Let’s jump right into it. But, before we get into it, let’s go back to the basics and talk about what a GPU is and why it’s such an important piece of hardware.

The Basics

Most of the calculations and computations are done in a computer are completed with two components, the CPU and GPU. The CPU, or the Central Processing Unit, is a bit linear when it comes to functionality. It’s only capable of processing a single piece of information at one time. Back in the day, CPUs were given the task of handling all your graphics as well. But because they were so basic, it was never really much of a challenge. These are called integrated graphics cards, and a lot of modern CPUs still have them. They’ve gotten a lot more powerful, though. Integrated graphics cards went from barely running 720p videos to now smoothly functioning even 4K resolutions videos.

But, how are GPUs different? Consider CPUs to be a one-person bicycle traveling on a single-lane road. According to this analogy, GPUs are also traveling on a single lane. However, instead of being a bicycle, think of a bus that can transport hundreds of people simultaneously. GPUs can perform complex calculations pretty quickly, which opens up room for a ton more possibilities.

Mining Cryptocurrencies

One of the most popular applications of cryptocurrencies, only second to gaming, as a matter of fact, is mining cryptocurrency. You’d be surprised at the disdain that gamers have for miners, especially in the current market. We’re living at a time when gamers are having trouble getting their hands on modern GPUs while miners somehow manage to get several of them with the intention to push them to their limits and mine. If you want some passive income or have a high-end GPU, it could generate a fair bit of money. Let’s talk a bit more about mining.

Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies work around a concept called a blockchain. Blockchains are a digital ‘bookkeeping’ platform that requires validation for every single transaction made on the platform. This authentication is done through a long list of complex mathematical equations that require GPU power to compute. That’s where you and your mining rig come into play. You offer your computational power as a resource and receive a fraction of the transaction. This amount isn’t significant, but if you keep your systems running and calculating, you’re able to generate quite a bit of profit. However, the amount won’t be that much. If you really want to get a profit out of it, it’s recommended to have at least 2-8 GPUs running in your mining rig. This will be relatively cheap and will pay for the electricity costs as well.

Some of the most common cryptocurrencies that can be mined are Ethereum, Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin, Dash, etc.

However, it’s not all fine and dandy. Mining does reduce the overall life of your GPU. If you don’t take care of your hardware and do not adequately cool your hardware, you’ll definitely risk burning out your GPU. The temperatures have to be below 80 degrees. But, if you are careful with your configurations and don’t push your GPUs to the maximum, you can squeeze a few extra years out of the GPUs. This will take a bit of tweaking and trial and error. You’ll have to play around with your mining operating system and mess around with custom configurations on MSI Afterburner.

Multiple Displays

Multiple displays are an extremely attractive feature for a lot of individuals these days. Personally, I like to have a Twitch stream running casually on one screen while I’m typing content on the other one. It’s how I like to work most of the time. Plus, the multitasking you can do with two screens is pretty much unparalleled. A lot of programmers also use a dual-screen to better manage their environments. It definitely speeds up your efficiency a fair bit.

If you want to run multiple screens, especially at high resolutions, it’s not possible without a GPU. Multiple screens have a certain demand when it comes to video memory that you’ll have to fulfill with a graphics card. For most people, multiple screens are completely unnecessary, but once you get fluent in working with the dual monitor setup, you won’t be able to live without it.

Game Development

Whether or not you need a GPU depends completely on the type of game development you’re going to be doing. If you’re going for basic 2D stuff, you can do it easily on an integrated GPU without any difficulty. Since there’s not much real-time processing to be done, it’s not a problem for your handy CPU graphics.

Let’s crank things up a notch and go for 3D games like most AAA titles. This is where things go a bit out of the domain for an innocent integrated GPU. You don’t necessarily need something too powerful. Just a simple 2GB GPU will do the trick fairly well. However, if you’re dealing with complex lighting and dynamic scenes, they’ll have to be reloaded constantly, which does require a bit more power. A 2GB GPU will have you staring at the screen for a few minutes every now and then before you can continue working. Compiling shaders is difficult for a GPU of this level, and it will need a bit of time to do so.

If we go further up and move on to VR gaming, this is where you’re going to need a lot more processing power. A GPU with 4GB or 8GB VRAM is recommended for VR gaming since there’s a lot happening around the scenes.

Rendering Animations and Video Editing

If you’re a graphics designer or animator, your GPU is your bread and butter. Without a GPU, you’re going to be staring at a loading screen for hours on end. If something happens during rendering, your software crashes, your PC goes to sleep, the PC crashes, you’re going to have to start the rendering from the beginning. It’s the worst nightmare for a designer with a low-budget GPU.

With a decent GPU, you’re able to seamlessly render and edit high-resolution videos. The rendering times are cut significantly, and your editing will become way more convenient. However, as the resolution of your video goes up, so will your demand for video memory.

So, if you do have a hefty GPU sitting around, considering utilizing it for a career in animations and video editing. You could earn a fair bit of cash from it.

Virtual Events

This is one very specific way to use your GPU, and it pretty much came up last year in 2020 because of the pandemic. Since most of the global events had to be postponed, companies instead went for an alternative route and decided to host those events virtually. If you wanted to join those events and feel fully immersed in the 3D, virtual world, you’d need two things; a GPU and a VR Headset. Last year really showed us what life would be like in the movie “Ready Player One” and because of that, a lot of non-gamers started investing in expensive, high-end GPUs.

Closing Thoughts

With that said, GPUs are a much precious commodity that people give them credit for. It can either be a hardware that brings you endless hours of joy, or thousands of dollars, or both! The main takeaway from this article is that you can use your GPU in more than one way. Be creative and you could do a lot of cool stuff with your gaming rig.

Omer Nadeem Awan

A university student that makes games during the day and plays them during the night. I've been a gamer from the day I got a PS2 and have stayed loyal to the habit ever since.

Recent Posts