Video Card Background

By bstedne18
Dec 5, 2007
  1. Hi guys,

    I'm very new to the computer building/computer component field, and I have some brutal questions about video cards in general.

    What type of video cards are there? I've heard PCI and AGP, and I think those are two of the types that there are.

    Great. Now that I know what types of video cards there are, buying one should be a snap. Assuming I figure out one more thing....How do I know that a PC will be compatable with a certian type of video card? I know that they usually have expansion slots in the back, but what type of slots support which type of video cards?

    Feel free to write a page of "boring" information, I know almost nothing, and making a purchase is difficult with no knowledge on a vital component in a good system.

    Thanks so much...
  2. bstedne18

    bstedne18 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    and also, if someone ever responds, PCI is older than AGP, which is older than i right? and is PCI-E PCI-express? thanks guys.
  3. bstedne18

    bstedne18 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    and's the difference between PCI-E X 1 , and PCI-E X 16? lookin to make a purchase and need some answers before I choose....thanks.
  4. wolfram

    wolfram TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,967   +9

  5. bstedne18

    bstedne18 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    thanks alot for that man...
  6. bsted, i'd say that once you're more fluent in the tongues of graphics cards from reading that article, i'd say you're ready to start catching up on the times in terms of what major companies are making cards, and which ones are the most recent/ the best of the business and what they're priced like.

    and for that, i'll just give you a list of them.

    the two main companies that are competing right now are AMD and NVidia. you may have heard ATI lately, but ATI was bought by AMD. so for all intents and purposes, we'll call them AMD.

    the latest cards that were introduced on the AMD side were the ATI Radeon 3850 and 3870. the difference between the two models is the amount of vRAM attached. the 3850 is the same as the 3870, but only has 256mb of RAM on it. the 3870 has a full 512mb. the 3850 is priced at around 180 dollars, and the 3870 is priced at around 200-220 dollars. these two cards are both their most recent and their most powerful cards to date.

    nvidia has just released two major cards and will be releasing another one soon. the major two that are out right now are the 8800gt 512mb, and the 8800gts 512mb. those are their most recent releases. their most powerful card they've ever made is the 8800GTX 768mb. and it remains their most powerful to date. also their most expensive. 500 kahones.

    now that you know of the newest models, some of the older models need to be introduced to you. from the AMD side of things, there are:

    the Radeon HD 2900xt - $400
    and the X1950 Pro 512mb- $175

    the 2900xt is weaker than the 3850/3870, but it performs very well indeed. the x1950 is a classic card because it's old, but it was so powerful, that it was even able to run modern games with playable frame rates. take for example bioshock. the x1950 was able to run it at decent settings with about 25-30 frames which is pretty impressive.

    nvidia has:
    the 8800gts 320mb, 8800gts 512mb, and 8800gts 640mb-- $300, $350, $400
    the 8600gt 512mb- $170
    the 7900gs-$160

    those few are the best of the nvidia side, and they're the most recent. the 7900 is like x1950 from AMD. it's very powerful, and is still considered a decent card that delivers good performance even on later games. i have a friend that's running two of them in SLI.

    now that you know what cards are the best and most recent from both sides, let me say that nvidia is beating AMD right now. nvidia is putting out very top notch cards for low prices. although some of their stuff is very pricey, namely the 8800gts, and 8800GTX, they have some extremely powerful models for far cheaper.

    right now the model to get is the 8800gt, priced at around 250 dollars depending on where you look. the 8800gt delivers performance that beats the gts 320mb and 640mb, but is slightly slower than the GTX. and it's performs almost exactly the same as the 8800gts 512mb. which isn't surprising.

    what's interesting is that if you overclock the 8800GT, you can surpass even the GTX in performance. and at that price, that kind of performance is unheard of.

    amd has some decent stuff. the 3870 is their best card out to date, but it lags behind a lot of the 8800 models. its better for a budget builder.
  7. wolfram

    wolfram TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,967   +9

    Nicely said man :) But BTW, the HD3870 has faster GDDR4 RAM, and faster clock speed ;)
  8. GDDR4 RAM aside, it still performs under the 8800gt. so my point still stands :D

    the only thing the GDDR4 RAM does for it is it improves it's marks in 3dmark. that's about the only area it could excel in and overtake any of the other cards. when it came to raw performance, delivering pixels, and all kinds of other stuff in massive amounts, really fast, that's where the 3870 lagged behind noticeably.

    don't get me wrong. if you want to game, the 3870 will let you do that. you'll be able to play crysis with decent settings.

    BUT, if you want higher or MUCH higher framerates, the cards to get are one of the 8800s.
  9. bstedne18

    bstedne18 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    thats a lot of useful information, ty. However, I am obviously on a budget, and was looking for a card that can perform in/around the $100 price range. Like I said, I don't do intense gaming. Some WoW and CS. Is this doable?
  10. Blind Dragon

    Blind Dragon TS Evangelist Posts: 3,908


    doesn't it consume less power too? just curious

    Edit: just googled it - The new GDDR4 RAM combines a lower voltage requirement with a fixed burst length that's twice as high as that of GDDR3. In essence, this means the memory needs much less power to run at the same clock speed, and can therefore be run faster.
  11. wolfram

    wolfram TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,967   +9

  12. i guess that's the last time i just click the side bar options. a power search gets better results. good find. not a bad price either.
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