A quick guide to GPU model names

SimonKJones Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast

(Reposted from the old blog, because it's really useful)

Updated: July 2014

Graphics cards. Hands up who understands the naming policies?

You at the back, put that hand down.


If there's one subject we've seen come up again and again, it's that of choosing the right graphics card. They come in all shapes and sizes and go from budget models all the way up to crazy cards which cost the same as an entire laptop.

Picking the right card for your budget isn't easy when they all have obtuse code numbers and every single one is marketed as being THE MOST POWERFUL CARD EVER. As HitFilm likes to have a decent GPU, I sat down with our resident tech expert Ady and asked him to explain to me the various graphics card naming policies, in an attempt to try to unravel them and make it easier for you guys when you're looking to get the best performance from HitFilm.

The brands 

There are two big manufacturers of graphics cards - AMD and NVIDIA. Branded versions of their cards are sold by a myriad of other companies who will sometimes bundle them in with games and other goodies, so it's worth shopping around for a good deal even once you know what base model you want. 

There's also Intel's HD integrated cards, included with many of their current processors. Integrated cards used to be bad news but Intel HD cards are surprisingly capable. You're not going to see top performance, but HitFilm will work on HD 4000 and above. 


AMD usefully changed their entire naming policy in 2013. Presumably they thought that people were becoming too comfortable and decided to confuse everybody all over again. 

Here's how it works, taking an older AMD card as an example, the AMD R9 280Y:

The letter R just means it's a Radeon card. In other words, it doesn't really mean anything.

The first number tells you where the card sits in the market. The higher the number, the more powerful the card. Therefore R7 cards are mainstream, while R9s are high powered. 

Both R7 and R9 cards will work with HitFilm but, if your budget allows, aim for an R9. 

The second number (the '2' in the example above) tells you the generation of card. So higher numbers are newer cards. Remember that newer doesn't necessarily mean more powerful.

The last two numbers tell you how powerful the card is within that particular generation. Therefore an AMD R9 290 is more powerful than an AMD R9 280. 

Finally, the optional letter 'X' on the end denotes that the card is the most powerful card in that particular generation. 

To summarise, you want a 2 generation or newer, with at least a power rating of 50. So the AMD R7 260X will run HitHlm nicely, while the AMD R9 280X or better will be entirely awesome. 


Moving on to NVIDIA cards. The good thing here is that they've gone for the same naming system as AMD - oh, no, sorry, my mistake, they haven't. They've done something completely different. Of course they have, bless them. 

So, there's a few things to look out for here. Firstly look for the letters GTS or GTX in the name. GTS cards are designed for gaming and GTX cards are NVIDIA's high end cards, so both are great for HitFilm.

After that you'll find three numbers. The first number represents the series. So the higher the number, the newer the card. You want to make sure you're getting a series 4 or newer card. 

The last 2 numbers represent the power of the card, with higher numbers meaning more grunt. Therefore the GTX 690 is more powerful than the GTX 680. 

A note about mobile

In case the above was clarifying things a little too effectively, let's throw a wrench in it. If you see the letter 'M' included as part of the model name, be aware that you're looking at the mobile version of the graphics card. These are special versions created for use in laptops. 

The 'M' version of cards can be surprisingly different. Due to the compromises made to keep heat and size compatible with the laptop's small form factor, 'M' cards are often far less powerful than their similarly-named desktop counterparts. Don't assume the same power and ability from an 'M' card, even if it has exactly the same model number as a non-'M'. card. 

Hopefully this has helped clarify the arcane naming policies of the GPU manufacturers. Or it might have just given you a headache. Eiter way, let us know if you've got any questions.


  • Just_Mitty
    Just_Mitty Posts: 1
    edited September 2016

    Hey Simon,

    First, thank you for the well written guide, but the Intel HD Graphics (you know, the ones used in cheap notebooks where a real GPU isn't affordable) aren't mentioned.

    So here is my question: Is it possible that my Hitfilm 4 Express crashes as soon as I want to start a new project, because it uses a Intel i3 CPU with Intel HD 3000 ?

    Greetings, Moritz Mittermayr.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador

    @Just_Mitty The Intel HD3000 is under minimum specs for Hitfilm. The minimum Intel integrated GPU supported is the Intel HD4000. Yes, running an Intel HD3000 can crash Hitfilm as soon as you start a new project.

  • Andy001z
    Andy001z Posts: 3,152 Ambassador

    Then you have all the manufacture models of the cards and these can be confusing specs and perfomance as well. Oh boy, its a mine field out there, tread careful.

  • What about GeForce GTS 250 - 256 bits with 2GB of memory? Should it work fine?

  • nathnlbr
    nathnlbr Posts: 1
    edited May 2017

    Should an Intel Pentium B950 2.1 GHz be able to run it? All my other specs check out


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador

    @nathnlbr Hitfilm requires an i3 or higher. A Pentium is below minimum spec. 

  • Hi!  If I understand correctly, my GT 750M is not sufficient for HitFilm Express 2017? Is that possible to use HitFilm Express V4, instead? If yes, is it possible to download it? Thanks for your help.


  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 1,995 Just Starting Out

    @RichardFR while not super powerful, it's above minimum specs to run HitFilm 2017 Express.

    It's no longer possible to download HitFilm 4 Express if you don't already have it registered on your account.

  • Thanks for your answer, @CNK. As my PC has the latest drivers and Hit Film Express 2017 crashes at startup, I was thinking it could a spec problem. I guess I have to contact the support.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador

    @RichardFR double check your GPU drivers. Some Windows updates roll GPU drivers back. What Antivirus are you running. Some Antivirus doesn't play well with Hitfilm (support has more information on that). Is your machine a Dell or Alienware?

    There's a known issue on Dell/Alienware with a FAQ here:


    If those thoughts aren't the issue, then contact support. 


    Provide your CPU, GPU, OS, RAM and Storage, along with the Hitfilm version (clicking the Hitfilm logo in the top left of the Hitfilm interface will give you the full version number) and, hopefully the revision number of your GPU drivers. Also, what Antivirus you might run, if that's the issue. 

  • Hi and thanks for your help, @Triem23. .

    I have the latest GU drivers. I use AVG Driver updater, for that, and I checked on the Nvidia site, the driver is the last one.

    I use Malwarebytes Premium. I disabled all his protection features, but the problem persists.

    My PC is an Asus laptop.

    I’ll contact the support, thank you :) !


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador

    @RichardFR ok. Was hoping it was one of the easy fixes. Support will do what they do. :) 

  • theextremefilmmaker
    theextremefilmmaker Posts: 26 Just Starting Out

    I recently got the newest acer aspire e15 with the i5-8250u and NVIDIA Mx150.

    Is that good enough for some light 1080p editing on the go.


    P.S. It also has 8 GB RAM and 256 GB ssd

  • Hictor
    Hictor Posts: 377 Enthusiast
    edited December 2018


    The fact that you have your main storage as an SSD will make Hitfilm boot buttery smooth, but of course, when you slap on some effects and do complex composites, things could change depending on how good you are with optimizing your project for performance on the go. 

    You need to seriously consider what you'll do for storage management,though. Videos (espicially if they pop out of a camera) aren't exactly known for being light.

    If you can spare a 150 dollars, I recommend a Sandisk 1TB SSD to buy from Amazon and have it replacing your current SSD (assuming there's no room for a second hard drive).

    If not,you're going to have to rely on disciplined file & storage management and having an external to help with that after you're done with the projects.

    If you decide you'd like to go back to those projects later and need to put them together in such a way that you can revisit them, incidentally, I did make a tutorial that helps with that yesterday. Skip to 1:35 when the vid talks about "Project Directories"

  • Palacono
    Palacono Posts: 3,423 Enthusiast

    @Hictor No need to shout.   :)

  • Hictor
    Hictor Posts: 377 Enthusiast
    edited December 2018


    I was looking for caps when I realised all my words were formatted as H1


  • DaZoneman
    DaZoneman Posts: 1
    edited December 2018

    Hey I just installed the Free Hitfilm  Express version on my new computer , but it is displaying formatting issues, requiring the Premium Format  When I click on the Premium Format  Buy Add button it does not display the Premium Format option only the Format Starter Pack . It says activated but still some  of the Formats are not working, is there a difference between the Premium Format and the Starter Format? and if so why did it not give me the option for the Premium  Format? I had the add on my other computer and it work just fine, any idea what's going on?    Thank you so much. 

  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Posts: 3,316 Ambassador

    @DaZoneman This really should be a new topic, not tagged onto another one that's unrelated to your issue. Tagging @Triem23 to possibly split this into a new thread, and move it to a more proper category as well.

    You say you installed HitFilm Express on a new computer, but you're having issues with some add-ons. Did you deactivate your registration tied to your old computer? HitFilm Express can only be registered to be used on one machine at a time, and while I'm not 100% certain if this rule applies to add-ons as well, that may be the issue. To see what activations are still live, go to your Account page, scroll to the Software section, find the relevant line for your version of Express, and click "View Activations."  If your old system is still listed, click the "Deactivate" link.

This discussion has been closed.