GPU Cores Explained: 8 Things You Should Know About Your GPU!

Your GPU is one of the most essential components in your PC that you can upgrade to improve your gaming performance.

A higher-end graphics card is a must if you want to play games at high resolutions, but there are many other factors to consider when shopping for a new GPU.

This blog post will cover 8 things you should know about your GPU cores before buying a new graphics card!

What are GPU Cores?

Let’s start with this question:

Does GPU have cores?

I saw this question on gaming forums lately, so I thought it would be an excellent place to start this post.

The answer is yes! A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) does actually have cores. 

However, the way they are organized and how they work on your computer can be a little confusing for those who are not well-versed in computers.

GPU cores are the actual hardware that performs the calculations in your GPU.

Just like in a CPU, the core is like the brain of the GPU.

It makes all of the decisions and processes all of the information.

A GPU with a higher core count will be able to make more calculations simultaneously, which means it can do things like rendering graphics and compute physics faster than a lower core-count GPU.

You may have heard of CUDA cores or Stream Processors, which are effectively the same as GPU Cores.

This is just the term that AMD and NVidia use to identify their GPU cores technology.

What does GPU Cores do?

GPU cores are responsible for performing the computations that make all of your PC’s graphics possible. 

You can think about them as being similar to the central processing unit (CPU) in a computer. 

A CPU does things like add numbers together or retrieve information from memory; so too do GPU cores handle computation and data retrieval.

Another big difference between a GPU core and a CPU is that the GPU houses many specialized hardware for specific tasks that your CPU won’t have. 

This makes it possible to get higher performance out of your computer’s GPU without upgrading your entire computer!

How are GPU Cores used?

The primary function of graphics cards today is to render images, videos, and games on your screen. 

A game or program will send out a bunch of data to your GPU, which then performs hundreds of billions of calculations to render all the graphics in real-time.

So, not only do these calculations need to be done extremely quickly, but they also need to be done in parallel. 

This means that each GPU core should be able to work independently of the other cores at any given time.

If you’re still lost on what a GPU does, here’s one use case: 

Think about all of the tiny dots on an image that make up a picture. 

Your computer’s GPU cores will go through each dot individually.

Then your GPU will perform the calculation(s) to determine how much light should be given off by that individual dot or what colour it should be.

As a result, some form of parallel computing is required to process each dot in the image.

Since a typical computer monitor deals with many thousand dots per inch, a GPU core needs to be able to deal with every dot individually and not have to rely on other cores.

So, the more independent cores your GPU has, the better it will handle rendering images for you!

Also read: Are Curved Monitors Good for Gaming? Here is an Easy Guide for You in 2021!

How Many Cores are there in a GPU?

GPUs don’t necessarily all come with the same number of cores. 

Some GPU’s will be made solely for gaming. 

In contrast, others might have many more cores to handle computing workloads like video editing or rendering.

A typical core-count range for graphics cards in 2021 is anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 cores! 

For example, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is a high-end gaming GPU with more than 8,000 cores. 

In contrast, a more lower-end GPU like the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super only has around 1,000 GPU cores.

If you’re buying a GPU for gaming, make sure to look at the core count before deciding on which card to buy!

In general, though, the more cores your GPU has, the better it will be at rendering graphics and computing physics in games.

The higher the number of cores, the faster it can perform those tasks.

Why does GPU Have More Cores than a CPU?

In CPUs and graphics cards, processing “cores” provide the same functions. 

Still, because of the different purposes they perform, their number varies.

GPUs are meant to execute a large number of simple calculations simultaneously. 

At the same time, CPUs must be capable of doing general computation.

There are generally a few cores when it comes to CPUs, whereas GPUs typically have hundreds or thousands of cores.

To put it simply: 

GPU cores are designed to handle thousands of requests in parallel, while a CPU core focuses on completing one request at a time.

The keyword here is a simple calculation.

I’ll explain:

The CPU is capable of performing a variety of operations.

A CPU, for example, can execute addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division.

As a result, a CPU can do a wide range of activities but not very quickly.

On the other hand, GPUs can only perform a few operations: let’s say addition and subtraction.

But GPUs can do this extremely fast. 

This is because they have hundreds of tiny cores that can only perform addition and subtraction.

You know that your GPU is responsible for processing the pixels you see, and a screen contains millions of them.

Since your GPU need to process a million pixel simultaneously, hundreds of little cores should be required to handle so many operations at once.

This is precisely why GPU has more cores than a CPU; they both have different purposes, and GPUs are designed to handle thousands of requests at once.

How to Check GPU Cores?

GPU cores are a big deal these days. 

You want to know how many you have, but it’s not always easy to find out. 

In fact, we receive this question a lot:

“How many GPU cores do I have?”

This is a problem that affects all of us at some point or another. 

For me, it started when someone asked how many cores I had (it was a great question because it showed they were thinking about their hardware).

Here’s the truth about GPU cores:

It’s almost impossible to find out how many cores your card has just by looking at it or from the driver’s details. so you have to go online for this one.

To check how many GPU cores does a GPU have, you must do this:

First, identify your graphics card model number.

Your graphics card model number can be found on the sticker on the back of your GPU box or through Windows Device Manager. 

Next, go to TechPowerUp’s online database of graphics cards and enter your GPU model number.

From the database, you want to focus on the number of shaders – basically, that’s what the GPU cores are.

Other than that, you can also install GPU-Z on your computer and view the exact number of cores, but it’s an extra step, and I like to keep things simple.

GPU-Z is a little system application that is designed to provide important information about your GPU.

It shows the GPU name, BIOS version, DirectX support, and plenty of other useful details.

But the most important part is under the “shaders” section, which tells you exactly how many GPU cores your graphics card has.

GPU-Z provides access to additional information about your graphics card, such as the maximum temperature limit of your GPU, allowing you to decide how hot is too hot for your GPU.

In short:

You can determine how many GPU cores you have by using the TechPowerUp database or a system application like GPU-Z.

How Many GPU Cores do I Need for Gaming?

Different game will require different GPU core count for decent frame rate. 

So there’s no one-click solution.

What you can do is to check the minimum GPU requirement on steam or google.

Some games are CPU bound, some GPU bound.

This is why it is vital to address what games you want to play.

To find out how many cores you need to play the game, look at the performance benchmarks for the game. 

You can do this by looking at performance benchmarks of the game average frame rate per graphics card.

It will tell you how beefy your graphics card needs to be to play it. 

This will help you determine how many cores are needed for decent frames in that particular game.

There are many benchmarks on popular gaming sites to get an idea of what the average FPS is.

But here’s the bottom line:

More core is always better for gaming, but it is crucial to consider the other aspects that influence this.

The clock speed of a card with a few fewer cores can be higher than a card with more cores.

GPU cores are just one piece of the puzzle in getting a smooth gaming experience at your desired resolution (720p, 1080p or 4K) on different games with detail setting that you enjoy.

Other factors to consider: memory clock speed, memory bandwidth and computer power will also impact frame rate.

For example, running a game on ultra setting at 1080p might demand more power than your gaming rig can produce.

You may need to tweak the detail settings on different games with different resolutions to get a playable frame rate but not sacrifice too much of the visual quality.

As a result, you may have to compromise on some settings.

In conclusion, the number of cores on GPU is just one determining factor in getting a reasonable frame rate.

Other factors will also come into play, such as clock speed and other specifications that are not discussed here.

That is why comparisons between specific graphics cards and head-to-head reviews are critical in determining whether a graphics card is right for you.

A gamer with knowledge of all these facts will be in the best position to decide which graphics card suits their needs.

Also read: How Many FPS is Good for Gaming? [Ultimate Guide for New Gamers]

What is GPU CUDA Cores?

Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) is an abbreviation for one of Nvidia’s proprietary technologies.

Essentially, it is a GPU core for an Nvidia graphics card.

A single CUDA core is similar to a GPU core but only offer basic computational capabilities.

Modern GPUs usually include hundreds of CUDA cores to make a GAMING PC.

While Nvidia called its GPU cores CUDA cores, AMD uses Stream Processors as a label to identify its GPU cores.

What is GPU Tensor Cores?

Tensor cores are basically GPU cores that have better and faster performance in deep learning and AI tasks.

Tensor cores are faster and better than regular GPU cores because they use a different way of computing.

It is a technology created by Nvidia for its high-end consumer and professional GPUs.

You can watch this video by Nvidia explaining what a tensor core in a nutshell is.

Just know that Tensor cores are presently available on a small number of GPUs, including those from the GeForce RTX, Quadro RTX, and Titan families.

Small companies, engineers, and students may begin studying and experimenting with machine learning with these GPUs featuring tensor cores.

It has the potential to improve AI, gaming, and content production capabilities.

Final Words

If you want to build a gaming PC, or if you’re already building one and need help deciding what kind of GPU is best for your specific needs, this article should be handy.

Our goal was to provide new gamers with an overview of how GPU cores work and why they are essential in gaming and modern computing in general. 

When the time comes to buy, the right decision can be made.

By reading this article, we hope that you have gained enough knowledge about how GPUs work and why they matter to make an informed decision about your next computer upgrade!

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media platform, and if you have any questions about GPUs or their importance in computing, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

About the Author
Hi, I'm Steve. I'm a proud gamer. I have been active within the gaming sphere for 30+ years. As gaming is something I enjoy very much, I want other people to enjoy it also. That is exactly why I started this blog.

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