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Default What graphics card to buy list

June 12th, 2007, 12:31
While I generally do not like the site Tom's hardware as I find their reviews are often biased or they are testing on a platform that is not suitable for the test, I do like the summaries they do called "Best gaming video cards for the money".

If you intend to buy a graphics card it is certainly worth reading.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/06/…for_the_money/

This page has a nice clean summary of where all the various graphics cards (there is a lot of them) sit when compared to their brethren.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/06/…ney/page6.html

Personally, I would recommend buying in the X1950 PRO/ 7950GT range. You can pick these up for around 150 dollars, sometimes less, and they represent the best value for money. It is simply not worth it to purchase bleeding edge technology as it's value deprecates the most overtime.

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June 12th, 2007, 14:47
The 8800GTS/320 MB is in the sweet spot too, if you have a big screen.

It's very very close to bleeding edge technology at a price only a little above midrange. Despite what THG says, mine runs everything I've thrown at it at 1920 x 1200 with no problems. ("Everything" includes the big O, Rome: Total War, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as well as a bunch of older, less hardware-crazy games.)

(If you have a somewhat more mundane 1280x1024 screen, though, it's wild overkill; the 7950 or X1950 will work exactly as well.)
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June 12th, 2007, 15:31
It depends on how long you expect your new hardware to last. My primary concern with those cards you've mentioned is the amount of memory. Cards with 256mb has been out for quite a long time and I think it won't be that long before games comes out that uses more than that - and one of the most serious slow-downs in graphics hardware occurs when they have to swap geometry or textures between system memory and graphics card memory. I would try to get a card with 512mb or more.

Personally I have the 8800GTX/768MB, but I know that card is very expensive and that I pay a lot to be on the bleeding edge. I bought that one because I'm a game programmer and if I'm to develop graphics features that'll look impressive in a finished product I need to be on the absolute bleeding edge now
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June 12th, 2007, 16:47
Kasper, I'm not quite sure about your prognosis re the memory requirements. Thing is, almost all engines nowadays are cross-platform. That means that the hardware baseline is set by consoles. The beefiest of the bunch is the PS3, and it only has 256 MB of video RAM.

Second, the cheapest strategy to stay ahead of the game (as it were) is to buy in the midrange and upgrade frequently. You're typically around 10-20% behind the bleeding edge in performance but at around 30-50% of the cost; if you upgrade once a year, you can still get a decent price for your old card when you jump up a notch. This way your graphics performance will always be comfortably above the current state of the game and you're not paying yourself silly with the early-adopter stuff.

Of course, there is a certain appeal in having the fastest and the greatest. ;-)
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June 12th, 2007, 18:06
Originally Posted by KasperFauerby View Post
It depends on how long you expect your new hardware to last. My primary concern with those cards you've mentioned is the amount of memory.
That is not really a valid concern though. The cards he mentioned are all available as both, 256MB and 512MB models and the 512MB models are most of the time just $20 more expensive due to pretty low memory prices at the moment. I would not even consider a 256MB 1950Pro or 7950GT card. The 512MB models currently offer the much better price/performance ratio with the little added bonus of slightly increased "future-proofness" .
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June 12th, 2007, 18:35
Well, true enough about the PS3 - but the X360 actually have 512MB shared memory, so some devs might want to spend more than 256MB on graphics on that platform. Also the PC has always been driving the hardware development, so I think we'll soon see titles that looks better on PC than on the new consoles. In any case, I think you're right that 256MB will be "enough" for most titles for quite a while - I just personally find it annoying if I buy new hardware and then soon after have to turn the graphics options down to medium again for the new games

As Moriendor said you can often get a 512mb version of the card for just slightly more than the 256mb version, and there is also a 8800GTS/640mb that I would go for, if I had to buy the GTS version of that card.

Regarding getting the most "bang for the buck" I completely agree that one shouldn't buy the top model. I always buy the next-best (or so) CPU when building a new machine for example, because the step up to the newest CPU is completely silly regarding price/performance
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