Who makes a good video card?

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Norm35
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Who makes a good video card?

Postby Norm35 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:14 pm

I had a recommendation of an nVidia video card of a certain type. nVidia makes the chips and in addition to fabricating boards also sells their chips to other board manufacturers.

When I looked at what was for sale, I found boards having the same chip set, selling new, but with prices varying over a 3:1 range. Obviously, there was a big difference in the quality of board manufacture.

Therefor, my next question is who manufactures a good board? I am not looking for an ultimate, price is no object, gold plated board that I can brag to my friends about. Neither am I looking for the rock bottom price. Who makes a good quality, reliable product, without sacrificing performance to keep the price down? Regardless of the chip set, what are a few names that I should limit myself to for the board manufacturer?

PantherX
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Postby PantherX » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:56 pm

Everything is really a cost/feature/performance balancing act.

I like to use pricewatch.com to check price ranges. If you start with price range you will not need to spend a lot of time on something your not willing to pay for anyways. As you read more and more about specific cards in your price range you will learn the language. Within a few hours research you should have a clear winner based on your own expectations for the cost/feature/performance triangle. I think you will find specific brand names that are always higher costs, sometimes they will usually have the better bundled games/apps but, not always. :(

Make sure you select the correct bus type AGP/PCIe.

I as a hard core gamer my machine has Nvidia. My media machine has ATI for the TV out features, while my Karaoke machine has Intel Graphics for excellent multiple monitor support. Oh the dell laptop again has Intel for dual monitor support.

I am not a geek, I am not a geek, I am not a geek... ;)

:cool:
:cool:

thechris
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Postby thechris » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:56 am

you can get brand new Nvidea cards for about $40 after rebate, which is really good, mine lasted me 4 years so far and its getting outdated but besides that i runz just fine

so what if i play games and im under the min. reqrements

Norm35
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Postby Norm35 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:02 am

"thechris" wrote:you can get brand new Nvidea cards for about $40 after rebate, which is really good, mine lasted me 4 years so far and its getting outdated but besides that i runz just fine

so what if i play games and im under the min. reqrements



What models do you recommend?

thechris
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Postby thechris » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:05 am

dependz on what your motherboard allows do some reserch

Keith
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Postby Keith » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:34 am

Since my first computer that I put a VGA card in I've always had ATI, but just over a year ago my last ATI card died suddenly and it was replaced by Dell with a nVidia based card. Both ATI and nVidia make some excellent cards and they are probably the two best known and most owned video cards on the market.

ATI was recently bought out by AMD, the makers of the competing CPU chip to the Intel CPUs.

When I bought this computer 5 years ago I bought the topend ATI card at that time, which was a Radeon 9800 Pro w/128MB. I had an extended warranty for 4 years on my system from Dell and when my ATI died they replaced it with a EVGA brand nVidia Geforce 7600 GS w/256MB. 5 years makes a difference, the 7600 being newer technology is definitely more powerful than my trusty old 9800.

The 7 series nVidia cards are a few years old now, and have been superceded by the 8 series and the latest X series. For older computers it may not make sense or be possible to put in some of the latest models of video cards because of cost and system power limitations.

For a older machine such as mine a Geforce 7600 GS with at least 256MB or more would be a good cost effective choice. It has been a solid performer for me and has allowed me to run all my games some with the highest graphics settings and some of the most graphic intensive games (World in Conflict) at medium settings. You can still find some 3rd party OEM cards like mine available at places like www.newegg.com, www.tigerdirect.com, etc. I know for certain that newegg has a BFG 7600 GS w/512MB AGP type video card available. Most of the 7600s I've seen range in price between $50-$100 now.

If you have an old system you probably have a AGP video slot, if you have a system made in the last two or three years it mayhave a PCI-e (PCI-express) video slot. PCI-e is the new typ and there are more models of cards being made for that type of video slot now. AGP cards are becoming harder to find.

As I've mentioned many times before, it is important to know what your systems internal power supply can provide in wattage. You don't want to buy a card that requires 400 watts if you only have a 350 watt power supply.

If you have a new computer that runs Vista, you may want to get a card that is DX10 compliant. That would leave out the nVidia 7 series, which would run under Vista as a DX9 compliant card. Some new games have special graphic features that can only be seen with a DX10 grphics card, such as my World in Conflict game, but it still looks good on my DX9 7600.

Note: I helped alpha and beta test World in Conflict when it was still Sierra game project. The rights are now owned by UBISoft.

Check out the varoius ATIs and nVidias and let us know what you are considering before you decide to buy. Stay away from the cheapest models though, they generally don't fare well in performance. My 7600 was a high-middle-end model in the 7 series product line which went up to the 7950 model.

Czech Centurian
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Postby Czech Centurian » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:18 pm

Also note that ATI have release their DX11 cards recently. But that may be pricey.

Norm35
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Postby Norm35 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:22 pm

So far, nVidia and ATI are the only manufacturers who have been recommended. I assume they make the cards as well as the chips.

Czech Centurian
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Postby Czech Centurian » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:42 pm

Well I think ATI and nVidia design the cards. Then other manufacturers come into the picture. Check out the link, there is Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Saphire.

http://www.prophecy.co.za/-c-37_52_58_1073.html

Norm35
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Postby Norm35 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:57 pm

Using NewEgg as a reference, I found the following video card manufacturers.
I suspect they are ordered by price but maybe not.

Gigabyte
XFX
Saphire
HIS
ASUS
BFG
MSI
EVGA
PNY
Zotac
PowerColor
Sparkle
VisionTek
BioStar
EliteGroup
Jaton

I found no boards fabricated by either NVidia or ATI.

I recognize some of the names from seeing their advertisements but know very little about any of them.

Can I get some feedback (good or bad) from anyone familiar with any of them?

I would like to narrow the above list down to a few that I can feel confident put out a good quality product without paying too much premium for the name alone.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:36 pm

nVidia and ATI tend to sell their cards directly through their webstores and through computer makers as part of the systems original equipment.

If you go to their websites you'll find their cards available. Most online stores like newegg and tigerdirect tend to carry OEM or 3rd party versions of the cards. The third party manufacturers design their own cards based on the nVidia and ATI chips and technology.

My 9800 Pro was a original ATI card, because it came with the computer from Dell when I had it made. My replacement card is a EVGA based on the nVidia 7600 GS.

Read the various reviews customers have posted about each makers card to decide if it is one you want to get.

The following makers on your list are "new" to me, so I don't know how they stack up:

Zotac
PowerColor
Sparkle
BioStar
EliteGroup

That doens't mean that there is anything wrong with them. I'm just not that familiar with any of them. The rest on the list have been around for a number of years.

Karter
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Postby Karter » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:02 pm

Like you, I always wonder, who is who and what is best for the money
so I let the pro's do the leg work for me

Tom's hardware is an excellent site (IMHO) for good solid advice

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,2404.html

they have never let me down...

of course, this only refers to type of card NOT Manufacuturer
my understanding is ATI and nVidia design the technology and farm out the manufacturing

personally i am partial to BFG
they use quality parts, have had good support for drivers, stand behind their product and reasonably priced

your top 9 are all worthy, as Keith stated, I am not familiar with the ones he mentioned
I think it is really more of a preference thing companies do change with time.


one note, some of the newer cards require an adequate power supply, keep that in mind

good luck
:)
Last edited by Karter on Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:31 pm, edited 4 times in total.

mouse
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Postby mouse » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:44 pm

AMD/Ati have a good selection of cards at a variety of price points including their newest cards. Personally I have a Visiontek which I'm very happy with and they have a good warrenty. Since I build my own systems I use Tom's Hardware website for reviews of cards. make sure you check the power requirements because a power supply that won't support your card will cause systems parts to fail.

Norm35
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Postby Norm35 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:13 am

"Keith" wrote: ... when my ATI died they replaced it with a EVGA brand nVidia Geforce 7600 GS w/256MB. 5 years makes a difference, the 7600 being newer technology is definitely more powerful than my trusty old 9800.

The 7 series nVidia cards are a few years old now, and have been superceded by the 8 series and the latest X series. For older computers it may not make sense or be possible to put in some of the latest models of video cards because of cost and system power limitations.

For a older machine such as mine a Geforce 7600 GS with at least 256MB or more would be a good cost effective choice. It has been a solid performer for me and has allowed me to run all my games some with the highest graphics settings and some of the most graphic intensive games ...

I know for certain that newegg has a BFG 7600 GS w/512MB AGP type video card available. Most of the 7600s I've seen range in price between $50-$100 now.

If you have an old system you probably have a AGP video slot, if you have a system made in the last two or three years it mayhave a PCI-e (PCI-express) video slot. PCI-e is the new typ and there are more models of cards being made for that type of video slot now. AGP cards are becoming harder to find.


My computer is about 4 years old and has a PCI Express video card slot so the AGP 7600 GS you referenced wouldn't work. I have browsed around but so far haven't found one for the PCI e slot, I'm sure they made one.

Do you know of an equivalent board that will go into a PCI Express socket?

Price-wise the Radeon HD 4670 seems to fall in that range and is suggested by Tom's Hardware. I think it might be a bit faster than the 7600 GS and pulls a bit more power. I don't know if it will work with my power supply.

"Keith" wrote:As I've mentioned many times before, it is important to know what your systems internal power supply can provide in wattage. You don't want to buy a card that requires 400 watts if you only have a 350 watt power supply.


My computer has only a 300 watt power supply. I am not sure how to determine what video cards will work with it. I guess, if necessary, I could swap out the old power supply. How many watts would I need for the board you have in mind?

If I up the power, will I also have to increase the fan ventilation?


Karter,
Thanks for the link and the recommendation on BFG.


Mouse,
Thanks for the reinforcement of Karter's recommendation on Tom's Hardware website.
Last edited by Norm35 on Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:57 am, edited 8 times in total.

Karter
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Postby Karter » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:42 am

For the Radeon HD 4670, on the same page it had this link for pricing
either is a good choice

http://stores.tomshardware.com/search_attrib.php/form_keyword=Radeon+4670/page_id=5/st=sort/sortby=priceA/

[edited]

example (my system has a 475w power supply) but, I have 4 additional fans specifically for cooling, several hd's, etc. (which one fan needs replaced come to think of it) :)

even if your unit is under powered, most cards will function, but your system may heat up more quickly. Heat is probably the most damaging thing to todays PC's.

PS: nice choice on cards
Last edited by Karter on Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:49 am

The only way to tell about the power supply is to either find a site like newegg.com that often lists in the items specifications (but not always) or going to the manufacture's website and looking for the specs there.

300 watts isn't much and may not be enough for the ATI you mentioned.

Newegg does list a PCI-e 7600 GS /w 256MB made by Sparkle. They also listed at least one 7900 amonst their PCI-e cards. They have a EVGA 8600 card but it requires a 350W power supply.

I took a look at one ATI 4670 by Diamond and it requires a 450W PS. However, the Diamond 4650 only requires a 300W PS and only has a power consumption of 75W.

Norm35
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Postby Norm35 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:45 am

I have never given much thought to the computer power supply, it supposedly did what it was designed to do and that was it. But, how do you know how close to the edge it is operating? I looked up the power usage for the currently installed board and the other boards we were considering. Fom the present video board usage (16 watts) the usage could go up to over 50 watts for the 4670. I don't know where you got 75 watts but I don't know whether my figures are accurate. The next question is how much power am I using now and how do I find out? The usage of course varies depending on what the computer is doing but I have no idea how much usage varies over the day.

When I started browsing the web on the subject several new aspects reared their heads. One fellow speculated about whether some of his unexplained shutdowns resulted from getting too close to the power supply limit and initiating a shutdown as a result. No error messages, sounds, smells or smoke. It just shut down.

I looked on the web for software for monitoring power usage but apparently most power supplies don't have current monitors built in, at least none that could pass information to a program. I was surprised to hear this, something has to tell the system to shut down when the power supply is overloaded, something more subtle than a fuse or circuit breaker. I am still not convinced but so far I haven't found anyone offering for sale software for monitoring power usage. There are expensive products for wiring up computer rooms and large scale operations but nothing for the lowly home computer.

With only a 300 watt PSU and no idea how close to that I am now, I am reluctant to just add 30 or 40 watts to the load. It may be ok but it may introduce problems, problems that may not point to the power supply when they occur. A 300 watt power supply has multiple outputs each of which has a limit on how much power it can provide so total usage may not be near 300 watts but one of the circuits may be near its limit. Presumably, the manufacturer has installed a PSU that will do the job for the way the computer was configured when it left the factory. However, if one starts adding things, something can get overloaded and for a while continue to operate. But every so often, it may introduce some unexplained problems and/or shutdowns.

I am not giving up on the idea up upgrading the video board but I am going to try to figure out how close to the edge I am now, on each of the PSU's outputs. I am also going to find out what it would cost to upgrade the PSU. 300 watts seems too low for a modern computer, particularly one that will be used for gaming.

Karter
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Postby Karter » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:52 am

OPPS correction

I was looking at the 4650
the 4670 which you wanted requires a 400W supply

here are the specs

http://www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?omid=104&ref=become&utm_source=Become&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=VT900251&sku=VT900251

but this is the Crossfire model, they also make a 4670 non-Crossfire
which, I truly doubt you need Crossfire - (it is only used if you want to connect 2 Crossfire cards together)

sorry about that

power supplies are very very easy to replace, you might consider that

again sorry for the mis-information
Last edited by Karter on Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

Keith
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Postby Keith » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:40 pm

The 75w consumption rate is mentioned in the technical specication information for the Diamond 4650 along with all the other technical info. Just click on the 4650 link above and then the specifications tab on that page.

Norm35
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Postby Norm35 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:22 pm

I think my first move must be to remove the power supply constraint.

My next question is what is a practical power level to move to. If I go too far, aside from the waste of money, the PSU will not operate efficiently at a level too far below what it was designed for. I don't plan to invest heavily in the video board but want to see a significant improvement in performance over that with the X300 card and don't expect to do more than one upgrade during the remaining life of the computer. I would think that would be one to two years more. My options are 350, 400, 450, 500, and 550w. Considering anything higher than that is probably not sensible. So what is high enough but not too high?
Last edited by Norm35 on Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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