Nvidia and AMD are the two major GPU manufacturers but there are many add-in-board partners (AIB) or third party manufacturers that makes graphics cards using their GPUs. Some of the reputable and top graphics card brands are Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI etc. Graphics cards from well known brands do cost a bit more than the less popular brands like Galax, Zotac etc. which are generally Chinese graphics card brands. There are different levels of Chinese graphics cards, one are the Chinese graphics cards from well known brands and other ones are from brands that are mostly unheard of. You can also find unbranded Chinese graphics cards on sites like ebay, Alibaba, AliExpress or some other online shopping sites of Chinese origin.
Not all Chinese graphics cards or brands are bad and here I am going to list down all the Chinese graphics cards brands and will tell you on how to spot a fake Chinese graphics card, and how to get a good one at a great price for your gaming PC. The main advantage of Chinese graphics cards is that they are relatively cheaper than the popular brands and deliver almost the same performance compared to the graphics cards from popular or global brands. The disadvantages of Chinese graphics cards is mainly associated with warranty and RMA. Let us now get started with some good Chinese graphics card brands.
Legit or Trusted Chinese Graphics Card Brands
These are reliable and legit Chinese graphics card brands that offers some of the best Nvidia or AMD graphics cards.
Zotac – Zotac is one of the most popular brands for Nvidia graphics cards. They offer Nvidia based gaming graphics cards at affordable price but does not compromise on performance. They include all Nvidia graphics cards range starting from budget to high-end ones. I personally use and have used many Zotac graphics cards before and never have been disappointed with their quality and performance. It is very popular for its compact small form factor graphics cards for use in mini-ITX or SFF PCs. Zotac is also known for its Mini PCs and they also make SSDs, motherboards and other computer accessories. This is unarguably the most trusted Chinese graphics card brand and its availability is very good worldwide.
Colorful – Colorful is a Chinese manufacturer of Nvidia GPU based graphics cards. It is one of the biggest suppliers of graphics cards worldwide. Their graphics cards dominate the Chinese market but it is expanding their products to other countries as well. iGame is the graphics card brand of Colorful and you can see it written on all their graphics cards e.g. iGame GeForce GTX1050 Vulcan U 2G or Colorful GeForce iGame GTX1050Ti U-4G. It includes all graphics card range from budget, mid-range to high-end ones. It also manufactures motherboards and SSDs. Its availability is not good to other regions compared to Zotac.
Inno3D – A Chinese graphics card brand that makes Nvidia graphics cards. Inno3D is known for offering graphics cards at affordable prices. It manufactures budget as well as high-end Nvidia graphics cards and their graphics cards are divided into three classes or variants i.e. Inno3D, iChill and Gaming OC. You can surely trust this graphics card brand because they are very legit and makes some very good video cards for gaming.
Galax / KFA2 – Galax is Chinese graphics card brand that is previously known as Galaxy. I have used a Galaxy graphics card before and it worked out very well. Galax and KFA2 are same brands or the company. They sell their graphics cards in Europe using KFA2 brand name and in other parts of the world they are sold under the brand name Galax. They make Nvidia graphics cards and their HOF or Hall of Fame top-end graphics card series is quite popular and offers amazing performance in games. They also make solid state drives and gaming memory.
Website: www.galax.com, www.kfa2.com
Sapphire – Sapphire is pretty well known for its AMD Radeon graphics cards. It includes all AMD graphics cards range from bottom to the top ones. Also, the availability of Sapphire graphics cards is pretty good compared to other lesser known Chinese graphics card brands. It is a very reliable graphics card brand that makes high performance AMD graphics cards for gaming.
HIS – HIS (Hightech Information System Ltd.) is a Chinese brand that makes AMD graphics cards. HIS AMD Radeon graphics cards are quite popular and they are one of the preferred board partners of AMD for making video cards. They are in the market from a very long time and is a very reliable graphics card brand that offers great products. You can check their complete AMD video card range by going to their website mentioned below.
Yeston – This is mostly an unheard graphics card brand and is not popular. Yeston offer both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards and they do have a website too. They are a legit graphics card brand and their cards are cheaper compared to other Chinese brands. The performance of their graphics cards are comparable to graphics cards from other brands. You may check their graphics cards range by going to their website.
ViewMax – I should say that they are amongst the least popular of all legit Chinese graphics card brands. They offer only selected budget and mid-range Nvidia based graphics cards and you can find some of their graphics cards on amazon too. They also have their website on which you can check their entire graphics card range. They offer legit graphics cards with quality electronic components including memory but their build quality (cooler) may not be as good compared to the popular Chinese graphics card brands like Zotac, Galax, Colorful.
Maxsun – Maxsun is a Chinese manufacturer of both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. This brand can be trusted and it makes all the Nvidia and AMD graphics cards from entry-level to higher-end ones. You can check their complete graphics card range from its website mentioned below.
Onda – It is Chinese brand that offers both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. They only make budget and mid-range graphics card models, and not the higher ones. You can check their complete range from their website.
Manli – A Chinese legit graphics card brand that offers Nvidia based graphics cards. Their collection includes high-end, mid-range and budget Nvidia graphics cards. They do have their website and you can checkout their complete graphics card product range by going to their site mentioned below.
Dataland – It makes AMD Radeon graphics cards and offers complete range starting from entry level ones to higher end models. You can check their graphics card range from their website mentioned below.
Important Note: Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, PowerColor, ASRock are Taiwanese brands and I personally do not count them as Chinese brands because they are more of Global brands.
Suspicious Chinese Graphics Card Brands
Here are some of the suspicious Chinese graphics card brands that seem doubtful and it is better to avoid them. They have almost no good reviews and most of them do not have their own website. They look quite shady and fake, so avoid these china-based GPU brands at any cost.
Generic / Unbranded Chinese Graphics Cards
You should completely avoid generic and unbranded graphics cards that are sold on online shopping sites, because almost all the time they are fake graphics cards and you do not want to waste your money and get cheated.
What are Fake Graphics Cards
Fake graphics cards are lower model graphics cards that are disguised as higher model graphics cards and are sold at a higher price. This means a GeForce GTS 450 graphics card can be sold as GTX 970 at a price that is much higher than that of GTS 450 in current scenario. Scammers generally change the name of the graphics card by modifying the GPU BIOS so that the card is identified as higher-model one in the Windows or in system information tools.
How to Spot Fake Chinese Graphics Card Online
Fake Chinese graphics cards are becoming a widespread problem and due to their ultra-cheap prices, many people get scammed into this. So, here I am going to tell you on how you can detect a fake graphics card or a knock-off graphics card that are sold on various online shopping sites.
Check GPU Specifications
First and foremost, is to check the specifications of the listed graphics card or GPU and compare it with the specifications on the official website of GPU manufacturer. If the specifications of the graphics card do not match with the ones listed on the GPU manufacturer website then the graphics listed on the website is completely fake. The main things to check is the number of CUDA Cores / Stream processors, Memory Type, Memory Size and GPU Code Name.
Must Read: CUDA Cores and Stream Processors Explained
Check Graphics Card Photos
Check the pictures / photos of the graphics card carefully and If you notice something strange about it then it might be a fake one. You may also try and search the photo of the specified graphics card on internet and if they differ or you can’t find any then it is a red alert.
Look for Display Connectors / Ports
Look for the display connectors or ports on back side of the suspicious graphics card because some of these fake graphics cards may have an odd display connector which is not supported by that graphics card model. For example, I have seen some GTX 1050 graphics cards on ebay and on other online shopping sites that have VGA connector on the back, and this is a confirmed red flag because GTX 1050 does not come with VGA port or connector. So, this is also a great way to confirm or check whether the card is genuine or not.
Brand / Website
Inquire more about the brand of the graphics card online and see if it has its own website or not. If the brand has its own website then check out their profile, address and the range of graphics cards they offer. You may also contact them via contact form or email to know more about them. Another thing that you can do is to check whether the brand or manufacturer is listed as AIB or Add-in-board Partner on the GPU manufacturers website. If the brand has no website then it is a matter of concern and you should stay away from them. Also, do not ever think of buying an unbranded or generic graphics card online.
Reviews / Mentions
You can also try and search about the reviews of the listed Chinese graphics card online on forums, blogs, youtube etc. If the reviews of the card or brand are satisfactory then you may go and purchase that graphics card but if they are mostly negative then don’t think about buying that graphics card and wasting your hard-earned money.
Contact Seller / Seller Feedback
You may also contact seller and can ask for more information and photos of the listed graphics card. If the card looks suspicious and the seller does not reply back with substantial proof then it is better to avoid that graphics card. Also, it is always recommended to buy graphics card from a trusted seller with high positive feedback and reviews.
Too Cheap to be True
If the card listed is too cheap then it is warning sign that it might be a fake one and you must stay away from it at all costs.
Important Tip: Avoid buying graphics card from miners because these graphics cards are used extensively to the core and they may have high chance of failure rate and performance issues. Some of the mining graphics cards do not even have display connectors.
How to Detect Fake Chinese Graphics Card Offline
If you have bought or borrowed a suspicious Chinese graphics card then you can follow the below mentioned steps to find out whether the graphics card is fake or not.
Check Specifications using System Info Tools
Check specifications of the graphics card using some good GPU info tools like GPU-Z. Match these specifications of your graphics card with that of the GPU or graphics card on the official website of the GPU manufacturer. If the major specifications (Shaders / CUDA Cores / Stream Processors, memory type, GPU/memory clock) found in the GPU info tool is different from the ones listed on the GPU manufacturer website then you have a fake and deceptive graphics card and you should return it to the seller if you can. They can change the name of the graphics card (including GPU code name) in the GPU BIOS by reflashing it with Fake BIOS info, but they cannot change its major specifications that include numbers of shaders (CUDA Cores/ Stream Processors, Memory Type & Size), which can help in identifying a fake graphics card. Below you can see a Fake GeForce GTX 970 graphics card that is in reality a GeForce GTS450 graphics card. GTX 970 comes with 1664 CUDA Cores and 4GB GDDR5 memory and you can check this information on the Nvidia’s official website.
Here you can see the Real Specs of GeForce GTX 970 GPU on Nvidia’s Official Website.
P.S. – You can change or modify GPU BIOS information using tools like NiBiTor which is also known as Nvidia BIOS Editor. The latest versions of GPU-Z [v.2.12.0] can now detect some of the fake graphics cards based on old relabeled Nvidia GPUs (G84, G86, G92, G94, G96, GT215, GT216, GT218, GF108, GF106, GF114, GF116, GF119, GK106).
Check the graphics car performance in games and if it does not perform to the levels that it would have been then you might have a fake graphics card with you. You can check the performance by running some demanding and popular games like GTA 5, Battlefield 1 etc and compare your FPS results with that of benchmarks of similar graphics card online. You can use FPS measuring softwares to benchmark your graphics card in games.
Checking the GPU Chip Physically
You may also check the GPU chip physically by taking out the cooler installed on it. This is one of the best ways to detect a fake graphics card. Just take out the graphics card cooler, clean the thermal paste on the GPU chip and check the GPU code name on it. If the GPU code name matches to the GPU on the graphics card that you have been sold then you have the right GPU or graphics card otherwise you have been tricked by the scammers. For example, the code name of the GPU in the below mentioned pic is GM206 that corresponds to a GTX 950 or GTX 960 graphics card from Nvidia.
At the end I would like to say that not all Chinese graphics cards or brands are bad. There are some very good and reputable Chinese graphics card manufacturers that makes some high-performance graphics cards, and they are also cheaper than the more popular brands like Asus, EVGA, MSI etc. However, you should also be aware of the fake graphics cards and the unbranded Chinese graphics cards that are circulating on various online shopping sites. Also, always buy a branded graphics card from a reliable eCommerce online shopping website. You should also check out more about the card in detail if you find anything suspicious about it. If you have any doubts or questions regarding graphics cards or its brands then please ask me your queries by leaving a comment below.