Graphic Card Comparison


R

Richard Brooks

Hello.

I'm spec'ing a system and trying to get my head around the multiplicity of
graphic cards as to which delivers the best bang for a sensible amount of
money - say a budget of up to about £100. I don't plan on doing anything
exotic like running multiple monitors. Good games performance is required
and analogue video capture would be a nice to have, but it's not essential.
It will be running on a PCI Express equipped motherboard and needs a DVI
connection for a TFT monitor with a resolution of 1280 x 1024.

Tomshardware has an interactive graphic card comparison, but unfortunately
it doesn't seem to include most of the cards that the various companies I'm
looking at are offering.

For example is a Geforce 6600 GT 256 Mb better value than a Geforce 6800
256MB, 6800XT 256Mb or a 6800XT 512Mb? Or even an ATI Radeon X800GTO PCI-E
512MB?

Any tips of websites to look at for reviews or performance comparisons or
simple answers about which card to go for would be great, especially if
there is a bargain out there.

Or are the cards all pretty similar at this price point?

Thank you in advance.
 
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D

Dave

Richard Brooks said:
Hello.

I'm spec'ing a system and trying to get my head around the multiplicity of
graphic cards as to which delivers the best bang for a sensible amount of
money - say a budget of up to about £100. I don't plan on doing anything
exotic like running multiple monitors. Good games performance is required
and analogue video capture would be a nice to have, but it's not
essential. It will be running on a PCI Express equipped motherboard and
needs a DVI connection for a TFT monitor with a resolution of 1280 x 1024.

Tomshardware has an interactive graphic card comparison, but unfortunately
it doesn't seem to include most of the cards that the various companies
I'm looking at are offering.

For example is a Geforce 6600 GT 256 Mb better value than a Geforce 6800
256MB, 6800XT 256Mb or a 6800XT 512Mb? Or even an ATI Radeon X800GTO PCI-E
512MB?

Any tips of websites to look at for reviews or performance comparisons or
simple answers about which card to go for would be great, especially if
there is a bargain out there.

Or are the cards all pretty similar at this price point?

Thank you in advance.

OK, with Vista coming out, you should be aiming for 256MB. You need at
least 256MB. But I'd advise you AGAINST going with 512MB of video RAM. The
reason is simple . . . you also need a fast GPU. Money spent on 512MB could
be spent on a faster GPU. A 6600GT would probably be the best bang/buck of
the cards you listed. If I were you, I would try to save up a little more
and go for a 7600GT though. Think Vista. Think power hungry. You can't
possibly spend too much on a graphics card if you are buying it now. -Dave
 
R

Richard Brooks

Dave said:
OK, with Vista coming out, you should be aiming for 256MB. You need at
least 256MB. But I'd advise you AGAINST going with 512MB of video RAM.
The reason is simple . . . you also need a fast GPU. Money spent on 512MB
could be spent on a faster GPU. A 6600GT would probably be the best
bang/buck of the cards you listed. If I were you, I would try to save up
a little more and go for a 7600GT though. Think Vista. Think power
hungry. You can't possibly spend too much on a graphics card if you are
buying it now. -Dave

Thank you Dave.

I think I've grasped the bit that higher series model numbers are better (!)
but I'm not really clear how a 7800 compares to a 7600 or what the letter
codes mean. FX appears to be bad and GT appears to be good, but then there's
GU, XT etc.

Taking your recommendation for the 6600 GT here's a system spec that I'm
considering that is just about within my budget:

Motherboard: GA-K8N-SLI
Processor: AMD64 Athlon X2 3800+ 1Mb cache
Memory: 1.0GB DDR 400mhz
Hard Disk Drive: 250GB S-ATA2 3.0Gb/s 16MB buffer
Optical Drive: 16x Sony Double-Layer DVD+/-RW and 16x DVD-ROM
SLI PCI-Express Graphics card: NVidia 6600GT PCI-E 256MB DDR3 TV/DVI
Case: Thermaltake Soprano
PSU: 550W EZCool PSU

Got any comments?
 
D

Dave

Taking your recommendation for the 6600 GT here's a system spec that I'm
considering that is just about within my budget:

Motherboard: GA-K8N-SLI
Processor: AMD64 Athlon X2 3800+ 1Mb cache
Memory: 1.0GB DDR 400mhz
Hard Disk Drive: 250GB S-ATA2 3.0Gb/s 16MB buffer
Optical Drive: 16x Sony Double-Layer DVD+/-RW and 16x DVD-ROM
SLI PCI-Express Graphics card: NVidia 6600GT PCI-E 256MB DDR3 TV/DVI
Case: Thermaltake Soprano
PSU: 550W EZCool PSU

Got any comments?

Yeah, that's a great system for someone who loves to play Russian Roulette.
That power supply is likely to destroy the rest of your hardware. (Really!,
I'm not kidding) Get an Enermax or Seasonic brand of about 450W or better.
If you can't afford it, downgrade your processor, to maybe an Athlon 64 (not
X2).

The single biggest mistake most builders make is that they skimp on the
power supply. The power supply runs EVERYTHING, though. It is the LAST
component you want to skimp on. -Dave
 
F

Fitz

Dave's absolutely correct about power supplies. You may be able to save
yourself some money with an Antec case w/power supply. Take a look at
something like the Antec Performance TX TX1050B. 500W PSU included.

Fitz
 
R

Richard Brooks

Fitz said:
Dave's absolutely correct about power supplies. You may be able to save
yourself some money with an Antec case w/power supply. Take a look at
something like the Antec Performance TX TX1050B. 500W PSU included.

Fitz

OK guys.

I agree with you that it's important to have a good power supply and I've
previously replaced one that failed on my current PC. I was getting all
sorts of problems with the computer crashing until I found out that it was
caused by a slight drop in the voltage from the PSU. The replacement (Q Tec)
seems to have worked fine ever since.

The 550W EZCool PSU sounds sufficient at 550W. Is that not the real power
rating wrong or is the issue that it's prone to failure? And how can you
resist the slogan "Be cool and quiet"? :)

The supplier I'm looking at doesn't list the ones suggested - how about the
600W HiPoint PSU? Failing that I suppose I could stretch to the 580W Hiper
Modular Silent PSU. A bit of googling reveals that this one seems to have a
few fans (pardon the pun). Sound good enough?

Cheers
 
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F

Fitz

A quick search of the Hiper Modular came up with this from Overclockers Pro:

"Conclusion

Overall, this PSU performed fantastically, with some of the tightest rails I
have ever seen, even though it was powering a heavy overclocked system and
several aftermarket cooling parts and a temperature monitor. Looks wise it
is absolutely stunning. The chromed fans along with the mirror finished case
go brilliantly with the eye catching blue led glow that emits from this
beast. One of the most impressive parts of this product are the modular
cables, which have stayed secure since this PSU entered my case, and to be
honest I can’t see it leaving it for quite some time.

Pros:
Fantastic Looking
Rock stable rails
Quiet
Well cooled
Clever Modular cable connections

Cons:
None"

More than adequate!

Fitz
 
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D

Dave

Richard Brooks said:
OK guys.

I agree with you that it's important to have a good power supply and I've
previously replaced one that failed on my current PC. I was getting all
sorts of problems with the computer crashing until I found out that it was
caused by a slight drop in the voltage from the PSU. The replacement (Q
Tec) seems to have worked fine ever since.

The 550W EZCool PSU sounds sufficient at 550W. Is that not the real power
rating wrong or is the issue that it's prone to failure?

Oh boy. Where to begin. Ummmmmm . . . 550W would be more than sufficient,
but the number listed on the box is often greatly exaggerated. I wouldn't
be surprised to see any decent 350W power supply easily outperform the 550W
"EZCool", in terms of peak power output. Another thing you need to consider
is, how stable is it? Many instability problems that will cause computer
users headaches for MONTHS are eventually traced to a poor quality (by
design, cough, EZCool, cough) power supply, or one that has a defect which
is getting gradually worse.

Also, there is much more to a power supply than how much peak power it can
supply, and how stable are the voltages at those power ratings. Cheaper
power supplies are more prone to failure. This wouldn't be a problem, as
they are CHEAP to replace. But the bigger problem is, when power supplies
fail, they often DESTROY connected components. You know . . . things like
MOTHERBOARDS, HARD DRIVES, VIDEO CARDS, etc. Think of a really expensive
vase balanced precariously on the top of a really tall ladder. Remember
that cheaper ladders can be a bit wobbly, even if they don't fall over.

All power supplies WILL FAIL eventually. What you get for your extra money
when you buy a good name brand power supply is:
- Greater MTBF (translation: less likely to fail while you are still using
it)
- Greater built in protection for connected components (translation: less
likely to FRY the rest of your system WHEN it fails)

It's your choice. If you are the type to ride a motorcycle in heavy traffic
at 85MPH with no helmet, buy your EZCool 550W PSU. If you prefer a little
bit more peace of mind, buy just about any Seasonic or Enermax unit. The
power supply is the one component given the least amount of attention when
people are researching a new build. But you should spend at least as much
time finding a good power supply as you do picking out other components such
as video cards and motherboards. -Dave
 

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