The Video Card Thread
If you play games, you need a video card. A real video card. Not an integrated intel card, a real video card.
No, not that one. We talk about cards like this:
You can spend as little as $100 on a video card for gaming, or as much as $texas. The options are limitless. Right now there are two main players in the Video card space.AMD/ATI
ATI has gone through some troubled times. They got bought by AMD and were floundering. the 9800 cards were fantastic, the X800 cards were well done as well. then it went downhill from there. the 2900XT cards were pretty much a disaster, and the 3870 were okay, but could not compete with nVidia's offerings. The 4870 changes that. It is the first card from ATI in a long time that is really worth the money you spend on it. the 4870 is a $300 card that performs about 85% as well as a $500 card. ATI's current lineup consist of:
ATI Radeon HD 3870 - $150
This is the last gen card which you can still buy. It never competed at the high end, but was a capable card in the mid-range space.
ATI Radeon HD 4850 - $200
The 4850 is a really good card for the value. it's about $200, and performs better than the 8800GT, has DX10.1. it's also a single slot cooler, a rarity in cards that perform this well
ATI Radeon HD 4870 - $300
This is the flagship card. $300 card, perofrms 85% as well as the nVidia flagship card for 60% of the price. It is quite simply the best bang for your buck today. If you are looking for a $300 card right now, and you are not one of those people that absolutely *has* to buy nVidia, this is the card to buy, without a second thought.
ATI will also be releasing soon the Radeon HD 4870 X2. This card is basically two 4870 chips on one card, but not running in SLI like the nVidia equivalent. This card will be the high end card from ATI, and early benchmarks of engineering models show this thing could very well be the force to be rekoned with when it comes out.nVidia
Ah, nVidia, nVidia has traditionally controlled the high end of the market, and produced some really good bang for your buck cards. While they still today do control the high end of the market, they seem to be falling a bit more on hard times. These are the current nVidia cards that matter.
9600GT - average price $150
the 9600GT is probably the best card in it's price range. This card is a capable performer, and will allow you to get yoru game on on a budget.
8800GT prices vary from $150-$200
the 8800GT was the best bang for your buck card in the last generation. a $200 card that performed almost as well as cards that cost twice as much. Today, you can find this card for as little as $110 on sale, or pay $150 for one and you will have a good video card that will run pretty much everything you can throw at it.
9800GTX(and GTX+) - $200
This card used to cost $500. This card now costs $200. the 9800GTX was a flagship card. it was a minor improvement to the 8800GTX, but still an improvement. Today this card is actually still a good value for $200. However this card is a beast, and the ATI 4850 performs about the same as it, so it is not the best buy today. the GTX+ is a card coming out soon that is basically a GTX card that shrinks from 65nm to 55nm, which reduces power consumption.
9800GX2 - average $450ish
The 9800GX2 is an interesting card. It is basically two 9800 cards that connect through a single PCI-e connector. This card is faster than the 9800GTX most of the time. The downfall with this card is that it is SLI though a single connector, so games that don't scale well with SLI won't get as much performance, and games that don't support SLI at all will only use a single 9800 chip, which is slower than the GTX. you can SLI two of these together to get a 4 GPU SLI though, which is always good for the e-peen.
This card at launch was probably the worst placed card in this list. It launched at $400, and was about 10% slower than the $300 ATI 4870. It is almost as big as the GTX 280, just not as powerful. With the price reduction down to $300, it's a much better competitor to the 4870, and a lot easier to recommend to people who want a good, new nVidia card.
This card is a monster. There is no other way to say it. It's the biggest, heaviest, and baddest card on the market. It also costs $500, after launching at a stupid price of $650. If you want to play Crysis at 1920x1200, or just have to have the most powerful single graphics card on the market, you need to buy this card. you can do dual or Triple SLI with it, and as an added bonus with three of things, you won't need a furnace anymore.
Section coming soon.
I'm going to list a buying guide here based on price range. It's going to be based on cards in this post, and broken into price ranges. These are a bit of personal prefrence, but should be fairly accurate.
Best $150 card - 8800GT
Best $200 card - Radeon HD 4850
Best $250 card - 9800GTX+(at $220-$230)
Best $300 card - Radeon HD 4870
Best $400 card - 9800GX2(around $450)
Best $500 card - GTX 280
Best value for your money: $300 for the Radeon HD 4870
Okay, so now that the 4870 is out, there are some huge price drops, and that has pretty much fucked me up on what video card to buy. There are some awesome cards for really good prices.
I can get:
8800GT for $109
4850 for $164
8800GTS 512 for $170
9800GTX for $200
4870 for $305
I really want the 4870, and it is the top performing card of that bunch, but ya, the 4850 for $164 looks like a really good deal. I'm not sure what card to get out of this. I'd prefer one of the new generation ATI cards out of that bunch, but ya........tough choice.
Also, while I can do SLI, I'd prefer not to, so the two 8800GT's is kinda out of the question, and my mobo cant' do Crossfire, so single card only please.
What card should I pick, PA?
XBL: thewunderbar PSN: thewunderbar NNID: thewunderbar Steam: wunderbar87 Twitter: wunderbar
haha, ya, when I first learned about computers, the first thign I did for my dad was upgrade his machine from a FX 5600 to an 9800XT. Then I bought a 7800GT, and now likely back to ATI with the 4870.
What an odd world we live in.
ya, I went with it, the place I buy from is usually pretty good, and they say it'll ship within 2-5 days. they have an order coming in from the manufacturer, and they're sending it off to me as soon as they get it. I was one of the first to order it from this site so I should get one of the first shipment
ya, I'm not that way at all. This is actually the first upgrade to my computer in 2.5 years. I built a high end machine at the time, one that is still acceptable today. the 7800GT was just getting a little too long in the tooth, especially since I also ordered a 22" LCD to replace my 17" one.
At $220, the 8800s are a good value, but SLI can be a pain in the ass.
If you don't want to go that expensive, just go with a 4850 instead of an 8800 GT. It is an extra $30 but well worth it.
The computer hardware market works like that. Back in the day, it felt weird to buy a Geforce 7 because nVidia had been getting curbstomped by ATi since the Radeon 9700 (and when that came out, ATi had been previously getting beaten by nVidia in all categories since the Geforce 256). Then the tables turned, and now they turned again.
wait, did you just order a card that needs a pci-express x16 slot?
if so... haha
Will any video card work with PCIe 1x? Hopefully he is confused and meant PCIe 1.0.
The only time ATi has held the performance crown was with the 9xxx series and that was way back in 2002. Nvidia then released the much maligned GeForce 5 series, which suffered because many of their best engineers were working on the Xbox team, and because of a related dispute regarding the Xbox GPU, Microsoft didn't talk to Nvidia about Direct X 9.0 during development and the Radeon 9700 was used as the base card for Microsoft's shader compiler, making the 5 series look even worse. Since then (including the GeForce 6 series), Nvidia has held the lead in every generation. The difference this generation is that ATi is pricing extremely aggressively and until Nvidia adjusts the suggested retail price for the 260 and 280, ATi will obviously be the better value - but not the performance leader. The 4870 still cannot consistently match or outperform the 280 or even the 9800 GX2, so while it is competitive, it's greatest strength is in it's bang for the buck. ATi may take the performance crown when the R700 is released, effectively a dual chip 4870, but presumably Nvidia is working on the same thing with the GTX 280, or even a true successor to the GTX 200 series. I don't doubt that ATi will pick up much of the market share that it has lost over the last few years with the 4xxx series, but it needs to be said that the GPU market does not experience leap frogging or "table turning" the way other markets do. Nvidia has been the performance leader in the discrete GPU market for nearly a decade now and ATi is not in a position to change that any time soon barring a reversal of fortune for AMD or being sold to a company that does have sufficient capital to invest in R&D on the scale that Nvidia does.
Nobody but graphics reviewers give the slightest fraction of a shit about who has the "performance crown". Hey, if you throw enough transistors and a large enough cooler at a card, of course it wins in performance, but real people don't spend $699 US DOLLARS on graphics cards in large enough quantities for it to really matter, and price/performance is the only metric that really counts.
The cards are incredibly efficient. Instead of just cramming existing tech and making a huge card, they are putting newer/next-gen tech (like GDDR5) on the cards and making them small and very efficient.
nVidia seems like they will always have the "fastest" card, but I'm happy to see that ATI can claim the most "efficient, cost:performance" card.
Now, if ATi had allowed themselves the same die space as nVidia, could they have produced a card at least as fast as the GTX280? Sure they could have, but it would have been too expensive to sell any significant number of units. You know, like the GTX280 is, and the 8800Ultra was, and so forth.
With that said my 8800GTX *knock on wood* seems to have some serious staying power considering I got it a year and a half ago and I'm still able to play Age of Conan at 1680x1050 high without any serious framerate issues or dips. IMO the 9 series was a flop and outside of Crysis the performance boost in the new monster cards isn't worth the money to upgrade and I doubt we will see anything else till the next gen that will need more than a 8800 series card.
Yes, that must be why ATi is going to put TWO GPUs on one card. Surely they won't charge $600 for that...
And how much silicon is needed for a 4870x2? More than a single GTX 280's worth.
Your logic is flawed.
Erm, his point seems to be that the best performer for cost is usually a lot more valuable to the market than the best performer. That logic seems pretty dead on. Given two choices at 300$, are you going to pick the slower card because it's manufacturer's top of the line is the fastest card on the market?
You generally get a lot more performance out of buying a 300$ card and upgrading it with another 300$ card a year and a half later than you do with buying a 600$ card and sticking with it for three years. If you've got money burning a hole in your pocket, more power to you, but a lot more people are enthusiastic about what offers you the most bang-for-the-buck.
What is wrong with ATI's drivers? I've never had a single driver problem while using my x850xt (doesn't mean that you didn't but...). Updating is easy and problem free when properly uninstalling and using good driver cleaners. No problem at all when I switched to the 8800GT on the same setup.
Sticking your gun with all the time with either ATI or Nvidia is a really bad idea. I'm glad that ATI finally made a good comeback, it's good to have some competitive pricing between the two giants. Now lets see if AMD can do the same for their processors.
actually, it's pretty well known now that ATI's drivers are generally more stable than nVidia ones, especially under Vista. ATI really really worked on making their drivers really good when they were lagging pretty far behind in performance to squeeze everything they could out of their 2x00 and 38x0 cards.
I've never really had any troubles with nVidia drivers or ATI drivers.
I have to say, I had a 6800 Ultra for a few years, then switched to 1950 Pro (AGP mobo ...) with a new PSU, and I like ATI's better. Although it has been a while since I've had an nVidia card, especially since I just ordered a new build based off of the 4870 ...
Actually, integrated chipsets and budget cards are Intel's, Nvidia's and ATi's bread and butter when it comes to GPU sales. High performance discrete GPUs are just a way to subsidize their development. Also consider that Nvidia has dropped the price on the 9800GTX and GX2 (dual GPU 9800) to directly compete with the new Radeon cards, so it's not as if the "tables turned" (his words) on Nvidia for marketshare in the midrange to highend discrete GPU market. And you discount the importance of market perception. The company that offers the best performance at any price generally holds the majority of marketshare due to perception of superiority, whether their midrange and lowend cards are a better value or not.
What will hurt Nvidia more financially is the trouble they're having with their notebook GPUs, which is where the marketshare balance shifts frequently.
Until my recent purchase of a 4850, I'd sworn off ATI. I tried to use a... 9800 XT or something back in the day and it was one of the most horrible hardware/driver experiences I'd ever had.
Everything I've found now seems to indicate this is not a problem, and considering Nvidia's shit handling of Vista drivers for the first year (Vista is *finally* outperforming XP GPU performance), ATI seems like a strong buy now. Drivers no longer appear to be an issue in the least.
Maybe I'll make the switch for DX11.