Whether you’re building a system from scratch, or simply upgrading your old machine, a powerful graphics card is a vital component of a capable gaming computer. There are a great many factors involved in determining the quality and performance of a GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, and it can be difficult to parse them all to decide if a certain unit is worth the cost. While factors like VRAM and clock speed are important, they don’t really matter if your system can’t power the card you choose. Graphics cards are likely to be the most power hungry component in a given build, with some of the more powerful cards drawing close to 300 watts all on their own.
If you need a graphics card that can run off of a 300W power supply, you’ll want to aim a bit lower than the high end. Nvidia has a reputation for producing energy efficient cards, so if you’re looking for a low power, 300W graphics card they’re more likely to have a card to fit your needs than AMD, which has a reputation for producing more power hungry cards. The GTX 750 is a mid range card from 2014 that can handle most current games at medium to high settings in 1080p. This card draws very little power, 55W at most, which leaves plenty of power for the other components of your system.
The GTX 950, a mid range card from Nvidia released just this year, is close to the 750, but has a stated minimum power supply of 350W, just missing the 300W graphics card mark. Carefully selecting low power components throughout the rest of the build might allow you to eke by with only 300W, but it could be risky. Considering how capable the 750 is, it’s probably not worth the risk for a slight increase in performance.