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Video Cards; all the questions on the technical aspects

Discussion in 'PC hardware help' started by armenix, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. armenix

    armenix Member

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    Ok Guys, this post will be FULL of any q's i can think of. I'm looking to get a new video card...peferably for less than 100 bucks, but of course, it all depends on whats out there...and i can't know if something else is worthy of the few extra bucks if i dont know a thing about video cards =(

    So it begins: (and feel free to skip questions if you dont wanna answer all of them)


    1. Chipset Manufacturers
    The Big Guys.

    A. Whats the advantages/strengths/weaknesses of ATI and/or Nvidia?
    B. Are there usually compatibility issues associated with them (i.e., if i have AMD dual-core or Intel dual-core, will either one work better or worse with ATI/Nvidia?)
    C. With similar performance, how does each of Nvidia/ATI's products price match repsectively to their competitor?


    2. Manufacturers
    The ones who make your cards.

    A. We all know the big guns ATI and Nvidia...but what about the manufacturer...does the manufacturer really make a difference in the big picture?


    3. Slots
    Determines what type of video card you must buy for it to fit.

    A. What's the typical slot type for the latest computers?
    B. AGP vs. PCI-Express...sure, if you already have your computer, you can't really choose between them, but...besides being different forms of slots, what the advantages and disadvantages of each?
    C. How big is the difference between AGP's 4X/8X/PRO4X/PRO8X? PCI-E x1/x16/x2.0? Is it major enough to consider upgrading to the next step? When does the upgrading factor begin to depreciate?


    3. The Specifications
    We all know the more powerful the GPU the better, or the higher the memory, the better, but how about the specifics...

    A. THE GPU
    The Core clock
    1a. At what point does the increased performance begin to depreciate with the highly increasing prices?
    2a. How big of a difference does a higher core-clock make? (ie, 500 Mhz to 600 Mhz)
    3a. How important is this compared to the other technical aspects of a video card?

    B. Memory Size
    1b. What is the typical minimal memory size needed today for a video card to run some modern to new games at with a fairly good FPS and/or for casual gaming?
    2b. How much of a difference will upgrading to the next level up make (ie 64 to 128 MB), disregarding the obvious fact that it depends on the graphic intensity of the game
    3b. At what memory level does the memory start to not make any real noticable difference?
    4b. Whats the minimal that you should get for any hope of playing some somewhat modern games?
    5b. How important is this compared to the other technical aspects of a video card

    C. Bus Size
    1c. What is it?
    2c. What's the standard for somewhat-modern gameplay?
    3c. At what level does bus size start to not make any sort of noticable difference?

    D. Pixel Pipelines
    1d. What are they?
    2d. What's the ammount i should shoot for with for casual gaming with modern to newer games?
    3d. How important to this comapred to the other technical aspects of a video card?


    4. DirectX

    A. Should i go with a DirectX 9 or 10 if i have an XP Pro system?

    5. DVI

    A. What is it?
    B. How Essential is it?


    Ok, thats all i can think of. Sorry if some things are the same and are simply interchangable terms...i am learning, and i'm sure this info could be of a lot of help to many newbs like myself. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

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    There's a really short answer to that post, and that's this:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102700
    On a more helpful note, however:

    1A: ATi are known for slightly better image quality, nvidia for slightly better performance
    1B: No problems, last time I checked there were no incompatibilities as long as the PSU is powerful enough and the slot correct.
    1C: Depends which market, in the $100 region, they tie up quite close. As you go further up nvidia become slightly more expensive, but that can also vary from store to store (it's much more pronounced in countries other than the US)

    2:
    A: often yes. Go with decent brands like Sapphire/HIS for ATI or EVGA/XFX/BFG for nvidia. I happen to have a decent Powercolor radeon card at the moment, but their products in the past haven't been as good as this one.

    3A: PCI express 16x
    3B: PCIe - it's newer, you'll only find old, slow and inefficient cards for AGP nowadays.
    3c: Not a lot, but since all the newer stuff is PCIe16x only, technically it's huge. Architecturally though the difference is relatively slight

    3 again (lol, check your sums!)
    try not to think of the individual specs as defining how fast the GPU is. It ultimately comes down to how the card is designed underneath, and that varies by product name far more than specs. The 8800GT may have a lower clock speed than the 3870 for example, but it's faster.

    As for memory, 256MB is minimum for good performance, 512MB minimum for running recent games at really high settings.

    4: XP can only use DX9, but DX10 cards will work fine anyway, and also be faster.
    5: it's a newer method of getting a signal to a monitor. Last time I checked you can't not have it!
     
  3. redZoneOS

    redZoneOS Regular member

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    sorry for the double post, i replied to my previous thread, and only then did I notice this one...Sorry but here it is...

    Since we're asking questions here about video cards... I understand the basics that were described by sammorris, but I am confused about crossfire and SLI...

    If I have a crossfire supported chipset such as an X38 by gigabyte, can I still use 2 nvidia 8800 gts video cards? what about vice versa? Can I use an nforce 680i or 780i motherboard, and use 2 ATI hd 3850 video cards with their SLI set up??? with no compatibility issues?

    PS: Thanks to sammorris... I finally got the parts and built the previous system you helped me with! I ended up deviating from a couple of your recommendations but nonetheless, I appreciate the help! It is AMAZING compared to my previous Pentium 4 set up! and the HD3850 works beautifully.
     
  4. armenix

    armenix Member

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    Thanks for the answers sammorris! All were quite help helpful =)

    Would anyone else like to add to some of the ones he skipped? The more i know the better =) I'll probably update this post with a few more questions in the future. Also, if i get enough answers, i'll organise it into a QnA format. Thanks in advance everyone!
     
  5. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

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    redzone: Not to my knowledge. Intel chipsets could potentially be hacked to run SLI but only if they do not already support crossfire I think. nvidia chipsets I believe are SLI or single card only, and the same goes for ATI/AMD ones that support Crossfire.
     
  6. redZoneOS

    redZoneOS Regular member

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    well that sux... i guess my future upgrades will probably be limited to ATI since I already have one HD3850... I also have a PSU question kinda related to this... I have the cooler master real power pro 650W PSU thats "SLI" ready... I can still use CROSSFIRE with this PSU right????? I really hope so! I got a sweet deal on it so I would hate to have to buy a new one!
     
  7. sammorris

    sammorris Senior member

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    That's right. Just because a PSU is certified for one tech doesn't mean it has to be exclusively used for that tech, it just means it's powerful enough to handle one, so it'll be powerful enough to handle the other, up to a point. With 3850s it should be easy.
     

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