Purchasing a GPU that’s worth its salt nowadays will also bring a backplate with it. If you’re wondering what these things are and if they’re worth it, you’re come to the right place.
If you bought a graphics card within the last five years, you’ve likely been met with a backplate, but thought nothing of it. The reason for this is likely that its function simply hasn’t been explained properly.
So, what is a backplate?
In short, it’s a plate (duh) that goes to the back of your graphics card. Its purpose is mostly to keep the graphics card in shape, as modern GPUs tend to come with large PCBs and even larger coolers. It’s worth pointing out that medium-range and budget cards still aren’t at the level of massive 3-fan enthusiast-grade cards in terms of the size of their coolers.
Even for those cards that don’t exactly need a backplate, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have it. Of course, if your graphics card didn’t come with it, then there isn’t actually a need to get one. Your GPU will function just fine without it.
However, this isn’t the only function of a backplate. The most obvious use and probably the most important one is its ability to display RGB lighting. This is picture-perfect for people who like to tinker with these things and color the inside of their PC case.
In fact, one might argue that the RGB lighting is the biggest selling point of a backplate and we certainly couldn’t agree more. It’s fair to say that, if you’re an RGB enthusiast, then a GPU backplate is certainly worth it. Its large surface will definitely allow you to light the inside of your PC case exactly the way you want it.
There is another key point in the debate on whether GPU backplates are actually worth it: the supposed cooling benefit.
Ever since backplates first appeared, many wondered if they would help cool the graphics card or only heat it up. The answer is sort of murky, but basically it largely depends on what material the backplate is made out of.
As you could’ve assumed, some plastic backplates aren’t really that good at heat dissipation. On the other side of the spectrum, we have metal backplates. Now, common sense might make you think that this is a good cooling solution, but you’d be surprised to know that it actually isn’t.
There are also backplates made out of other materials like graphene, but they all generally produce the same results.
As this is a highly debated topic, there have been numerous tests over the years and, unfortunately, we have to report that they have been rather inconclusive. Despite some backplates coming with large contact areas and thermal pads that function as heat spreaders, the answer is still neither here nor there.
Finally, and this is very important to point out, both cooling and heating brought on by the backplate will only lead to a decrease or an increase of the temperature by a few fractions of a degree. Basically, what this means is that, whether for better or for worse, the backplate won’t be much of a factor in your GPU’s temperature.
So, is a GPU backplate worth it?
Yes, you’ve guessed it: much like with anything else, this comes down to personal preference. You won’t be able to avoid it anyway if you have a modern graphics card; unless you’re planing on removing it manually, which is pretty meaningless.
If you’re an RGB enthusiast then you will likely find the backplate worth the money and will be able to customize it to your heart’s content. Also, if you’re buying a high-end graphics card, then the backplate is highly recommended.