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Video Cards


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#1
W-Unit

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Could someone please tell me how to compare video cards and what the numbers and letters mean? It would be greatly appreciated, as I am now royally confused.

In searching the Internet, all websites I've found that discuss or compare video cards assume that either you (a) already know what the numbers and letters mean or (b) aren't interested in learning what they mean.

I always assumed that higher numbers on the graphics card = higher processing speed, but I just read an article talking about how an 8800 GT is better than a 9600 GT. Why is this? What do the numbers mean, if not processing speed? What's the difference between an 8800GT and an 8800GTX or GTS or Ultra?

Thanks!
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#2
Granz00

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I'm not exactly completely knowledgeable in video cards. However, I can help you out a little with nVidia cards real quick. Lets take the nVidia GeForce 8800GT as an example. Take the number 8800 and look at it as xy00. X is 8, and Y is also 8. X stands for the generation, so for example, this card is in the "8th generation". Y pretty much stands for how high in the generation it is. In the 8th generation you have 8400, 8500, 8600, and the 8800. The 4 and 5 are usually low end graphics cards, 6 is middle, and 8 is high end.

So in that example, you are comparing 9600 with 8800. So in other words you are comparing a middle tier, 9th generation card to a high end, 8th generation card. Comparing cards in this fashion is hard to do on their number alone. That is when these comparisons, that other people have done, come in handy.

ATI works in a similar fashion, but it has its differences.
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#3
W-Unit

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Thanks for the reply! Very helpful information.

One thing though, most of the high-end GeForce (NVidia) cards I'm looking at, besides the 8800 and 9800, have names like "GTX 260" or "GTX 280". Is this a similar naming system, with 2 representing the generation (I assume it's such a low number because they started over somewhere along the line using 3-digit naming instead of 4 digits) and 6 or 8 representing the "tier"?

And I'm still a bit puzzled as to what the letters mean (GT, GTX, GTS)...

The only Radeon card I'm seriously considering right now is the HD 4850, mostly because it has 1GB RAM as opposed to 896MB found on NVidia cards in the same price range. How does the HD 4850 card compare to a GTX 260 or GTX 280?

Thanks again!

Edited by W-Unit, 29 October 2008 - 03:28 PM.

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#4
Granz00

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I'm not entirely sure what GT, GTX, and GTS stand for. Also, the answer is yes, you are pretty much right about the 200's as far as I know.

And this is the order that the cards compare from best to worst;

GTX 280
HD 4870
GTX 260
HD 4850

The bottom 3 are pretty close in performance, so the best deciding factor would be the prices you can find on these.
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#5
stettybet0

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In general, with the NVIDIA naming scheme, GTX>GTS>GT. However, this is not always the case. For example, the 512MB 8800GT performs better than the 640MB 8800GTS. But then again, the 512MB 8800GTS performs better than the 8800GT.

As for the original question of why is the 8800GT better than the 9600GT... Well, a high-end card from a previous generation is not always better than a mid-range card from the next generation. For example, the 7600GT outperforms the 6800GT. However, the 7600GT was built on a whole new microarchitecture than the 6800GT. In comparison, the 9600GT was built on a similar, but crippled version of the 8800GT architecture, so it has less performance. So, whether or not the the next generation will significantly outperform the previous generation (as the 7th did to the 6th, but the 9th didn't do to the 8th) depends on how big the changes in the generations were. For example, there is no difference between the 8800GT and the 9800GT other than the 9800GT has Tri-SLI support. In contrast, the 8800GT absolutely demolishes the 7800GT. But how can you know all these little facts about each card? Well, you don't need to; that's where benchmarks come in. :)

As for what card you should get, while video RAM should not be the deciding factor (as noted above, the 512MB 8800GT and the 512MB 8800GTS both outperform the 640MB 8800GTS), the HD4850 is the sweet spot for performance for the price right now. Oh, and the HD4850, at least by reference design, only has 512MB of video RAM. But again, don't base your decision solely on the amount of video RAM.
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#6
W-Unit

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Thanks for the replies guys! Very informative.

So I don't really know very much at all about running more than one card via SLI or CrossFire... would two 4850's connected via CrossFire outperform a 4870?
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#7
iammykyl

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Hi.

Had the same problem choosing a card. Recomend you buy PC Athority as they do good reviews, benchmarks and recomendations on most computer componants plus there website where you can look at post reviews and aricales. You would still have to make your own decision but should be more informed.
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#8
stettybet0

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W-Unit,

Yes, two HD4850s in CrossFire would outperform an HD4870 by a pretty big margin. However, if you are thinking of using CrossFire, you must make sure your motherboard and power supply are capable of doing so. We could let you know if they are if you can give us some information about them.
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