I looked at the Tom's Hardware: Graphics Beginner's Guide and it was pretty cool! I looked through it and it opened up another question. Can I run a GDDR3 graphics card on a system that runs on DDR RAM? I heard somewere that the two are completly unrelated to each other (I think that was kinda what you were saying), but Best Buy said you can't. So which is right?
The Best Buy sales person is wrong. Again, although both GDDR and DDR are types of memory and very similar, the "G" in GDDR refers to "graphics," and GDDR is specific to the graphics card, being specifically designed to be used on and with the graphics card. You can't buy GDDR type memory and install it in the RAM slots on your motherboard. GDDR comes into play when running graphics or video intensive operations and applications such as modern games. DDR, on the other hand, is RAM designed for the motherboard and comes into play in virtually everything your computer does. Most of the latest motherboards for laptops and desktop computers are designed for DDR2 and DDR3 SDRAM. If your are curious, for both GDDR and DDR, the "DDR" stands for "double data rate," and "SDRAM" stands for "synchronous dynamic random access memory."
As far as answering your question about compatibility, I am running a graphics card that has GDDR3 memory in my rig that is using DDR memory on the motherboard with no problems: an 512 MB AGP keyed HIS Radeon X1650 Turbo on a socket 754 Asus K8V-SE Deluxe motherboard that currently has 1 GB of DDR-400 memory installed. What you want to be concerned with in purchasing a graphics card for your computer when it comes to compatiblity is: one, making sure the graphics card is supported by the motherboard you are considering for your build and two, buying one that fits your needs.
In a nutshell, just remember that GDDR memory, whether it is GDDR, GDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR4, or GDDR5, is designed to be used on graphics cards while DDR, DDR2, DDR3 SDRAM are designed for to be used on the motherboard, and you don't have to match the memory on the graphics card to the memory on the motherboard. If that was the case, no one would be able to use graphics cards that use GDDR4 and GDDR5 memory.
edit: corrected some typos....doh!!!
Edited by MedStudent.003Hz, 12 July 2010 - 12:35 PM.