How To Know If My PC Is Low End Or High End

Shopping for a new PC is both super exciting and super stressful. When you think you finally found a high-end gaming setup at a great price, your friend looks at the specs and says, “You can’t game on that.” If you want to know if your PC is high-end or low-end, we show you what to look at to assess it.

1. Check the graphics card model

A graphics card is synonymous with gaming, video rendering, and other graphical processing tasks. People often refer to it as the GPU (graphics processing unit). But that’s only the processor chip part of the graphics card.

Whatever you call it, it’s the most important part of your computer for gaming. You can often tell if it’s a high-end or low-end graphics card from the price alone.

But familiarizing yourself with AMD’s and NVIDIA’s nomenclature helps, too. For example, NVIDIA has the “RTX” and “GTX” lineups. RTX cards support ray tracing technology, so they tend to be higher-end.

The first two numbers in the model name indicate the generation. Newer graphics cards are always significantly more powerful.

The last two digits tell you how powerful the graphics card is within the generation. Here’s what they roughly mean:

  • 30, 40, 50: Low-end
  • 60, 70: Mid-range
  • 80, 90, Titan: High-end

Note: the “Ti” suffix indicates a more powerful version of the same card.

AMD uses similar names for their Radeon graphics cards. The first number is for the generation, and the last three digits indicate its power. Here’s a quick rundown (focussing only on the last three digits):

  • 300, 400, 500: Low-end
  • 600, 700: Mid-range
  • 800, 900: High-end

Note: Like with “Ti,” the “XT” suffix means it’s more powerful than the standard version. When comparing graphics card models, check online benchmarks. It’s a good way to check the performance.

Although a powerful graphics card alone isn’t a clear indicator of a high-end PC, it often is. Many people cram powerful, expensive graphics cards into their 5-year-old systems. 

However, this doesn’t transform that old machine into a brand-new high-end PC. We’ll talk about why that is later (Hint: It’s because of the CPU bottleneck).

2. Look at the CPU model

The processor, central processing unit, or CPU, is also very important for gaming and productivity performance. 

A low-end CPU can’t keep up with a high-end GPU. This is known as a “CPU bottleneck.” A weak CPU can’t send data fast enough to the graphics card for rendering.

Be wary of this because some PC stores combine powerful graphics cards with old and weak CPUs to trick their customers. You can’t have a high-end PC with a cheap CPU. Thankfully, you can easily tell the difference between CPUs. They use simpler names compared to graphics cards.

Both Intel and AMD use similar nomenclatures. AMD uses “Ryzen” and Intel “i” to indicate the model:

  • Ryzen 3, i3: Low-end
  • Ryzen 5, i5: Mid-range
  • Ryzen 7, i7: High-end
  • Ryzen 9, i9: Enthusiast

The numbers and letters that come after the model are easy to understand. 

The first number is the generation. A newer version of a less powerful model roughly matches the older, more powerful one (e.g., a new Ryzen 5 is similar to a previous-gen Ryzen 7).

The last three numbers tell you how powerful the CPU is within the generation and model. If there’s an “X,” “XT” (AMD only), or “K” (Intel only) at the end of the name, it’s a slightly more powerful version. Benchmarks on YouTube can help you when comparing two CPUs.

3. Review the capacity, speed, and latency of the RAM

After the graphics card and CPU, RAM has the biggest effect on your computer’s performance. Although there are dozens of RAM models, they’re all very similar. Stuff like RGB and heatsinks improve the aesthetics but do nothing for performance.

Instead, look at things like capacity, frequency, and latency.

Let’s first go over the size of RAM sticks. More is always better. Here’s a quick and easy way to tell what RAM size means for the PC:

  • <16 GB: Low-end
  • 16-32 GB: Mid-range
  • 32+ GB: High-end

A computer might have a mid-range CPU and graphics card. But if it doesn’t have at least 16 GB of RAM, you’ll experience a lot of stutter in games.

To get more technical, look at the RAM frequency and CAS latency. RAM frequency is expressed in MHz and describes how many commands the stick processes in a second. The higher the number, the better.

CAS latency, CL, or ram timings indicate the delay between clock cycles to access data. A lower CL latency means the RAM is better.

Both RAM frequency and CAS latency affect the performance of your RAM. You can expect a 2-10 FPS difference in games with AMD processors. The difference is less clear with Intel CPUs.

Lastly, there’s a difference between DDR versions. DDR5 is faster than DDR4, which is faster than DDR3, etc. Each new generation roughly doubles the bandwidth and RAM frequency. If you want a high-end PC, always get the latest generation.

4. Inspect the storage device types, speed, and capacity

There are two main storage device types: solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). 

NVMe is a type of ultra-fast memory that uses the motherboard’s PCIe M.2 slot for faster bandwidth. Note that an SSD can use the M.2 slot without being NVMe.

If you find a high-capacity NVMe drive with a large hard drive, it is a good sign that a PC is on the higher end of the spectrum.

SSDs are often 10 to 15 times faster than HDDs if not more. A high-end PC should have at least one high-capacity SSD. To be more specific, it should be an NVMe M.2 SSD, especially for the primary drive, which will have the operating system installed on it.

Other components to mention

The motherboard, power supply, and case itself are also indicators to a certain degree. Usually, the motherboard reflects its worth in the price. Proven brands like Asus, Gigabyte, Gigabyte Aorus, MSI, and more is a good place to start, thereafter, look at the amount of connectivity the board offers like PCIe slots, USB, and RAM slots.

A power supply like Seasonic, Corsair, and a few more make power supplies held to a high standard. Check the Wattage to get a feel for the level of PSU. It will most likely indicate that the PC is more high-end if it’s over a thousand Watts.