General questions about video cards.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    General questions about video cards.

    Hi. I'm currently in the process of upgrading several components of my computer, including my video card. I know very little about video cards, but I've found this very nice chart which compares what are hopefully the most important qualities of video cards. I have a few questions still, though.

    1. First of all, I noticed the chart doesn't mention the amount of memory any of the cards have. Is memory not as important as I may have thought it was before, and only secondary to the qualities actually listed here, or is it just as important? I've noticed some versions of even the higher end cards have only 128MB, while some cards below them have 256MB (ie. Radeon 9800 Pro has 128, while 9600 XT has 256.) What exactly makes these higher end ones better despite having less memory?

    2. Second: How important are each of these qualities relative to each-other?

    3. More importantly, for each one of them, what are the minimum specs I'll need to run games like halflife 2, lineage 2, shadowbane, etc without sacrificing any quality, and to at least make something like battlefield 2 playable (ie. very little or virtually no lag when the quality settings are at a minimum.)

    4. How do these cards differ when made by people other than nVidia and ATI? eg, is a sapphire radeon inferior to an ati radeon, and is an xfx geforce inferior to an nVidia geforce? If so, in what ways? Which of these other manufacturers are good, and which should I watch out for?

    5. AGP vs PCI-E. Is it worth it to pay extra for a card that has the same specs but is PCI-E (rather than spending the extra money on a better AGP card)? If so, why? Are all PCI-E cards SLI ready (in case I want to use it in the future, it'll be easier to upgrade) and if not, which ones are? Is there anything else I should know about AGP and PCI-E?

    Thank you very much for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Those are some good (and not quickly answered) questions. For starters, I'd read:

    http://graphics.tomshardware.com/gra...004/index.html

    and

    http://graphics.tomshardware.com/gra...302/index.html

    To sort of quickly pick through your questions:

    1&2) Memory IS very important, especially at high resolutions with high quality settings. However, a newer generation of cards, even with smaller memory, will usually outperform older cards with more memory. Again, the kinds of applications, and the quality and resolution settings (as well as the applications in question) change how important Memory is in relation to other features.

    3) See the articles. Some people consider 20 FPS "running" others don't settle for less than 60 FPS if they can help it. For a nice comparison of some modern mid range cards:

    http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2540&p=1

    4) Generally the only differences are features, memory sizes, and the like. Generally Saphire, Asus, and other quality 3rd-party makers (there are no nVidia branded PCBs, only ATi) consistantly deliver very good products. Some of the lower end makers (PNY, etc.) can have some less desirable releases from time to time.

    5) In the mid-range (which seems like what you're looking at) AGP is still more than fast enough. However, I think people tend to favor PCIe boards because they feel that it will give them more upgrade potential in the long run. It's probably better to invest in PCIe, at this point.
    We all Think Different too.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2005
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    Alright, thanks a lot for the help so far.
    I didn't really want to spend more than $150 or so, and I was getting ready to buy an x700Pro, but now that I've noticed the x800GTO2 has come out, I'm not entirely sure spending that $219 would be such a bad idea.
    If I were To buy the x800GTO2, how long could I expect it to last before having to upgrade it? And what about if I bought an x700Pro instead? (which from newegg is $129)
    Also, could anyone give me some kind of performance comparison between the x700Pro, x800Pro, x800GTO2 and Geforce 6600?

    Again, thanks a lot for the help

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uniqueuponhim
    Also, could anyone give me some kind of performance comparison between the x700Pro, x800Pro, x800GTO2 and Geforce 6600?
    Answered by Hoyle. The Anand article covered your question explicidly. Just follow the link and read the Final Words page.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2005
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    It sort of does, but it doesn't mention the x800GTO2 at all, or the x700Pro (or the x800Pro for that matter.)

  6. #6
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    You are right. It doesnt mention the GTO2 but alludes to a variety of different specs for the GTO cards. Be carefull in chosing the card.
    From Page 11 of the AnandTech Article.
    If you're still looking for options, ATI has another new release that may surpass the performance of even the 6800 and X800 at a lower price. We're talking about the X800 GTO. What's the big difference between the GT and the GTO? Simply put, the GTO has 12 pixel pipelines instead of 8, which increases pixel processing power. While it comes with lower core speeds, the net result is still more fillrate. Mathematically: 475 * 8 = 3800; 400 * 12 = 4800. That means a 26% performance increase. The only problem is that core and memory clock speeds on both the GT and GTO are not always the same, so make sure that you get the higher clocked models if you want top performance. The GTO is available already, starting at $190, which should at least put it ahead of the X800 and 6800 cards. The only fly in the ointment is the pending launch of the RV530 parts….

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