3. Graphics Card

Performance Hierarchy

Graphics cards these days have confusing codes and model numbers. I was a little out of touch with whats what at the beginning of this guide, so I looked for some overall graphics card rating and came up with the following table shows the performace hierarchy of many video cards in a tier format.

Cards in the same tier have similar performance, which increases the higher we go. Tom recommends that if you are upgrading, you select a card at least 3 tiers higher. I have noted in red some of the cards that the Tom’s Hardware article has made special mention to, as they represent the best bang-for-buck in the $100-$150 price range.

In fact Tom releases monthly bang-for-buck graphics card roundup reviews that are an excellent way to get oriented at the beginning of your selection process.

Geforce Radeon
8800 GT, 8800 GTS 512MB, 8800 GTX, 8800 Ultra, 8800 GTS 640MB HD 2900 XT, 3870
8800 GT 256MB, 8800 GTS 320MB HD 2900 PRO, 3850
7950 GX2 X1950 XTX, X1950 XT, X1900 XTX
7800 GTX 512, 7900 GTO, 7900 TX X1900 XT
7800 GTX, 7900 GT, 7950 GT X1800 XT, X1900 AIW, X1900 GT, X1950
PRO
, HD 2900 GT
7800 GT, 7900 GS (OC),
Go 7950 GTX, 8600 GTS
X1800 XL, X1950 GT, Mobility X1800 XT
6800 Ultra, 7600 GT, 7800 GS, Go 7800 GTX, Go 7900 GTX, 8600 GT X800 XT (& PE), X850 XT (& PE),
X1650 XT, X1800 GTO, Mobility X1900, HD
2600 XT
6800 GT, 6800 GS (PCIe), Go 7800, Go 7900 GS, 8700M GT X800 XL, X800 GTO2/GTO16, Mobility X800 XT, HD 2600 PRO, Mobility HD 2600 XT
6800 GS (AGP), Go 6800 Ultra, Go 7600 GT, 8600M GT X800 GTO 256mb, X800 PRO, X850 PRO, X1650 GT, Mobility HD 2600
6800, Go 6800, 7300 GT GDDR3, 7600 GS, Go 7700, 8600M GS X800, X800 GTO 128mb, X1600 XT, X1650 PRO, Mobility X1800
6600 GT, 6800LE, 6800 XT, 7300 GT DDR2, Go 7600 (128-bit), 8500 GT 9800 XT, X700 PRO, X800 GT, X800 SE, Mobility X800, X1300 XT, X1600 PRO, HD 2400 XT
FX 5900, FX 5900 Ultra, FX 5950 Ultra, 6600 (128-bit),
Go 6800 (128-bit)
9700, 9700 PRO, 9800, 9800 PRO, X700, X1300 PRO, Mobility X1450, X1550, Mobility X1600, Mobility X1700, HD 2400 PRO, Mobility HD 2400 XT, Mobility X2500
FX 5800 Ultra, FX 5900 XT, Go 6600, Go 7600 (64-bit), Go 8600M GS 9500 PRO, 9600 XT, Mobility 9800, 9800 PRO (128-bit), X600 XT, Mobility X700, X1050 (128-bit), Mobility X1350, Mobility X1400, Mobility X2300, Mobility HD 2400
Ti 4600, Ti 4800, FX 5700 Ultra, 6200 9600 PRO, Mobility 9700 (128-bit), 9800 LE, X600 PRO, Mobility X600, Mobility X1300, Xpress 1250, Mobility HD 2300
4 Ti4200, 4 Ti4400, 4 Ti4800 SE, FX 5600 Ultra, FX 5700, 6600 (64-bit), 7300 GS, 8400 GS 9500, 9550, 9600, Mobility 9600, X300, X1050 (64-bit)
Ti500, FX 5200 Ultra, FX 5600, FX 5700 LE, Go 5700, 6200 TC, 6600 LE, 7300 LE, 8400M GS 8500, 9100, 9000 PRO, 9600 LE, Mobility 9700 (64-bit), X300 SE, X1150
Ti400, Ti200, FX 5200 (128-bit), FX 5500, Go 5600, Go 6200, Go 6400, Go 7200, Go 7300, Go 7400 (64-bit) 9000, 9200, 9250, Mobility 9600 (64-bit), Mobility X300
FX 5200 (64 bit), 6100, 6150, Go 7200, Go 7400 (32-bit) 9200 SE, Xpress 200M, Xpress 1000, Xpress 1150
2 GTS, 4 MX 440, 2 Ultra, 2 Ti, 2 Ti 200 7500
256, 2 MX 200, 4 MX 420, 2 MX 400 SDR, LE, DDR, 7000, 7200
Nvidia TNT ATI Rage 128

Source: Tom’s Hardware, Best Gaming Graphics: January 2008

Great comparison of leading graphics cards capabilities in Single and SLI/CF mode.

Single Mode Vs SLI/CF Configurations

In this section I am going to critisize some of the results from a familiar Tom’s Hardware article that I’ve referenced before. As I mentioned at the beginning, I am reviewing reviews and extrapolating information to come up with some down-to-earth and straitforward conclusions about whats what in the market. With the following I believe I have found the patients “pulse”.

The table has a summary of the x16, single and SLI/CF mode performances of the current leading video cards – exactly what we need to set an upper limit in performance to shoot for. I’m gonna analyze their performance per game also, to see if we have an overall excellent performer. Here goes:

Video Card PCI Single/Dual BlackSite A51 Call of Duty 4 Crysis Doom 3 Half Life 2EP2
8800 GT
(512) OC
x16x16 2.0
x16 2.0
SLI
Single
98.2
72.5
174.3
126.2
38.7
32.5
202.6
162.4
80.4
82.8
8800 GTS (512) OC x16x16 2.0 x16 2.0 SLI
Single
97.8
80.1
176.7
133.5
39.0
36.0
204.3
162.4
78.5
83.1
8800 Ultra
(768 MB) OC
x16 1.0a Single 76.8 134.8 37.0 160.0 81.8
HD 2900 XT
(512 MB)
x16x16 2.0
x16 2.0
CrossFire
Single
–.–
73.2
215.6
120.2
–.–
22.3
–.–
124.6
–.–
87.0
HD 3870
(512 MB) OC
x16x16 2.0
x16 2.0
CrossFire
Single
–.–
72.4
208.4
110.3
23.4 (x8x8)
23.3
–.–
123.9
–.–
86.9
8800 GTX
(768 MB)
x16 1.0a Single 68.1 123.0 33.2 160.8 81.7
HD 3850
(256 MB) OC
x16x16 2.0
x16 2.0
CrossFire
Single
–.–
61.4
182.2
93.7
–.–
19.2
–.–
122.7
–.–
87.7
All games benchmarked at 1280×1024. No AntiAliasing or SuperHigh Resolutions, to confuse us.

The bottom line here and from all the other reviews I’ve gone over is that NVidia is winning the graphics race, just as Intel is winning the processing race. Tom has some very useful articles about what the best video card per price range is here.

MY CHOICE: The best choice at the moment is the Geforce 8800GT 512MB DDR3, as the top performer and pretty good deal at $220.

Manufacturers

XFX: Leading video card and mobo manufacterers. They offer lifetime warranty on their video cards.

eVGA : They make all kinds of video cards and motherboards, but what sets them apart is their “step up” program, where you can exchange your video card for a newer model! Amazing!

Firing Squad: Geforce 8800 GT 8-way roundup comparison

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: