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Is memory size or clock speed more important in a graphics card?

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November 10, 2013 5:42:30 PM

I am looking at the Gigabyte GTX 770 4gb and the AMD R9 290. I see they both have the same memory size but the 290 has a much lower clock speed. The GTX 770 has a clock speed of 1.14Ghz but the 290 has a clock speed of about 947Mhz maximum. I am wondering if the clock speed really matters that much in games like Battlefield 4?
November 10, 2013 5:47:19 PM

even with lower clocks the 290 is much faster

mhz is not directly comparable between 2 different parts
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November 10, 2013 5:49:43 PM

The clock speed would generally be more important, but you can't compare clocks across architectures, plus you need to take the number of shaders etc. into account. The 290 is a significantly bigger/more powerful GPU, so it doesn't need as high clocks to still clearly outperform the GTX 770.

As for the memory, there are four important parameters - the type of memory, the amount, the clocks, and the bus width. They use the same type of memory and have the same amount, but the 290 has a much wider bus and that results in much more memory bandwidth despite lower clocks.

Overall, the 290 is just plain faster than the 770.
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November 10, 2013 6:10:36 PM

Sakkura said:
The clock speed would generally be more important, but you can't compare clocks across architectures, plus you need to take the number of shaders etc. into account. The 290 is a significantly bigger/more powerful GPU, so it doesn't need as high clocks to still clearly outperform the GTX 770.

As for the memory, there are four important parameters - the type of memory, the amount, the clocks, and the bus width. They use the same type of memory and have the same amount, but the 290 has a much wider bus and that results in much more memory bandwidth despite lower clocks.

Overall, the 290 is just plain faster than the 770.


Thanks, I will mark this as best answer after you answer this final question: Which one of the cards has the best company backing? By this I mean who releases drivers most frequently etc.
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November 10, 2013 6:13:17 PM

drivers are released from AMD directly and all the manufacturers have the exact same reference card right now

there really is no difference at this point in time
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November 10, 2013 6:15:41 PM

If you mean Nvidia vs. AMD, then most would point to Nvidia.
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November 10, 2013 6:21:07 PM

^most wouldnt know what they are talking about
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November 10, 2013 6:21:44 PM

Sakkura said:
If you mean Nvidia vs. AMD, then most would point to Nvidia.


Thanks a lot! I will probably go with the 290 even though Nvidia might have better drivers. I might also wait until some companies stop using the reference design of the 290 and start making their own cooling solution. Thanks again, I marked your original post as the best answer.
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November 10, 2013 6:25:16 PM

neon neophyte said:
^most wouldnt know what they are talking about


Haha, I know a lot of fanboyism goes on between each company, but I am sure that each company has very good support. Going with the 290. Thanks for your reply.
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November 10, 2013 6:32:55 PM

both companies are good. amd doesnt have bad drivers like some people like to claim

amd definitely has the better price/performance at most price points

good call on waiting for the non-reference cards though. as is, the 290 is a noisy beast (or hot, if not noisy.)

nvidia has some fine cards out right now, they run cool and efficient but for the price points amd is considerably better on performance.

not a fanboy either way here. i will just always go with what gets me the most for my price point.. which for serveral years now has tended to be amd.
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November 10, 2013 6:41:47 PM

Well, Nvidia was ahead of AMD when it comes to frame pacing for multi-GPU. So they do have some real advantages, but for single-GPU AMD is fine really.

Waiting for a non-reference 290 is good idea, yeah.
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November 10, 2013 6:45:42 PM

aye, admittedly which one is "better" isnt clean cut. each has advantages and disadvantages. its complicated.

this is why i find the statement "nvidia vs amd most people would say nvidia" to be simplistic and franky, stupid.
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November 10, 2013 6:48:34 PM

neon neophyte said:
both companies are good. amd doesnt have bad drivers like some people like to claim

amd definitely has the better price/performance at most price points

good call on waiting for the non-reference cards though. as is, the 290 is a noisy beast (or hot, if not noisy.)

nvidia has some fine cards out right now, they run cool and efficient but for the price points amd is considerably better on performance.

not a fanboy either way here. i will just always go with what gets me the most for my price point.. which for serveral years now has tended to be amd.


The same goes for me, I do not have an unlimited budget and with AMD, I can get very good parts for much cheaper than Nvidia. Also, I wasn't trying to call you a fanboy earlier. Sorry if it seemed that way. If you feel like it, check out the build I will be using the 290 in. Right now I have the reference 290 there but that is just meant to be a place filler. I will be ordering all the parts in January or December so I'm sure they will have non-reference coolers for the 290 by then.

LINK: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/jeffd1324/saved/2KGA

Feel free to critique it in anyway as I am always looking for better options.

-Jeff
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November 10, 2013 6:53:07 PM

Sakkura said:
Well, Nvidia was ahead of AMD when it comes to frame pacing for multi-GPU. So they do have some real advantages, but for single-GPU AMD is fine really.

Waiting for a non-reference 290 is good idea, yeah.


Yes, I have heard that Nvidia SLI is better than crossfire in some cases. But I will only be running one GPU so this will not effect me much unless I decide to crossfire in the future.

As I said to the other user before, feel free to check out my future build and critique it in anyway as I am always looking for better options.

Link: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/jeffd1324/saved/2KGA
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November 10, 2013 6:53:16 PM

nice build

i havent looked into the newer boards so i cant be certain if its the way to go or not. that is definitely the part i would research the hell out of in regards to overclocking if i were interested in purchasing it though
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November 10, 2013 7:01:32 PM

neon neophyte said:
nice build

i havent looked into the newer boards so i cant be certain if its the way to go or not. that is definitely the part i would research the hell out of in regards to overclocking if i were interested in purchasing it though


Thanks, will do. I only chose that one because it had pretty good reviews. Also I noticed that your i5 is @ 5.0Ghz. How are you getting it that high? I've only heard of it being stable up to 4.7Ghz or that could just be for haswell. What are you doing to cool it?
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November 10, 2013 7:02:30 PM

jeffd1324 said:
Yes, I have heard that Nvidia SLI is better than crossfire in some cases. But I will only be running one GPU so this will not effect me much unless I decide to crossfire in the future.

As I said to the other user before, feel free to check out my future build and critique it in anyway as I am always looking for better options.

Link: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/jeffd1324/saved/2KGA

If you're only going to run one graphics card, you can scale back the PSU and save some money.
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November 10, 2013 7:04:59 PM

jeffd1324 said:
Thanks, will do. I only chose that one because it had pretty good reviews. Also I noticed that your i5 is @ 5.0Ghz. How are you getting it that high? I've only heard of it being stable up to 4.7Ghz or that could just be for haswell. What are you doing to cool it?

It's Sandy Bridge, it overclocks quite a bit better than Haswell.
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November 10, 2013 7:07:00 PM

Sakkura said:
jeffd1324 said:
Yes, I have heard that Nvidia SLI is better than crossfire in some cases. But I will only be running one GPU so this will not effect me much unless I decide to crossfire in the future.

As I said to the other user before, feel free to check out my future build and critique it in anyway as I am always looking for better options.

Link: http://pcpartpicker.com/user/jeffd1324/saved/2KGA

If you're only going to run one graphics card, you can scale back the PSU and save some money.


Thanks, I only picked one that high because there is a possibility that I might crossfire in May. I might even do SLI with Nvidia if they come out with a really good deal and I feel i should switch to them. Either way, I really just wanted everything in the build to be future proof, including the PSU for if I need more power later on.
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November 10, 2013 7:07:32 PM

retail haswell doesnt even do 4.7

truth is i can get this cpu stable at 5.1, could probably push to 5.2 with better cooling. as is, 5 is as hard as i want to push it with my current thermals as my cooling isnt as good as it could be

in my opinion, intel hasnt made a better cpu since sandybridge. sandy, ivy and haswell are all equal in regards to the cpu performance

sandy was the best overclocker of them all. as the die shrunk, removing heat from the die has become very difficult. sandy was capable of 5ghz, ivy was capable of 4.7-4.8 and haswell is capable of about 4.4-4.5 realistically. however the ipc has increased over each generation. once you take max overclocks into account they all are about equal
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November 10, 2013 7:09:21 PM

Sakkura said:
jeffd1324 said:
Thanks, will do. I only chose that one because it had pretty good reviews. Also I noticed that your i5 is @ 5.0Ghz. How are you getting it that high? I've only heard of it being stable up to 4.7Ghz or that could just be for haswell. What are you doing to cool it?

It's Sandy Bridge, it overclocks quite a bit better than Haswell.


I see. I would scale back to Sandy Bridge but I like the Haswell motherboards a bit better and I also wanted to go with Haswell since I really don't like buying tech that already has a newer version.
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November 10, 2013 7:13:28 PM

neon neophyte said:
retail haswell doesnt even do 4.7

truth is i can get this cpu stable at 5.1, could probably push to 5.2 with better cooling. as is, 5 is as hard as i want to push it with my current thermals as my cooling isnt as good as it could be

in my opinion, intel hasnt made a better cpu since sandybridge. sandy, ivy and haswell are all equal in regards to the cpu performance

sandy was the best overclocker of them all. as the die shrunk, removing heat from the die has become very difficult. sandy was capable of 5ghz, ivy was capable of 4.7-4.8 and haswell is capable of about 4.4-4.5 realistically. however the ipc has increased over each generation. once you take max overclocks into account they all are about equal


I really only chose Haswell over Ivy and Sandy because I don't really like buying tech that already has a newer version. Also I want to have the new motherboard since I hope Intel will keep it as a standard at least for a little bit.
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November 10, 2013 7:13:51 PM

Haswell is faster per clock, so performance evens out in the end. And Haswell does have support for newer instructions, and PCIe 3.0 and some chipset advantages.
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November 10, 2013 7:15:24 PM

hard not to go with whats new

if i was looking for a new computer i would as well, most likely. though there is something to be said for finding a sandybridge on the cheap right now

for me, its just nice knowing there is no sense in upgrading the core of my pc. though im thinking about picking up a 290 as well
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November 10, 2013 7:20:57 PM

Sakkura said:
Haswell is faster per clock, so performance evens out in the end. And Haswell does have support for newer instructions, and PCIe 3.0 and some chipset advantages.


I heard it has stronger cores too. I originally was set on buying the AMD FX-8350, but read that the Haswell i5's have stronger cores then the 8 cores of the 8350. I think that the 8350 is better in some areas but i want to eventually upgrade to an i7 so i wanted to have the correct motherboard already.
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November 10, 2013 7:24:10 PM

per core is the same between sandy and haswell, as they both have 4 cores (this is including overclocking.)

intel 4 cores do have stronger than amds 8 core offerings though.

as for the difference between i5 and i7, it really just comes down to hyperthreading (and a small amount of cache.)

if your program doesnt take advantage of hyperthreading you will see no benefit to the i7 over the i5. typically things like, unraring or cpu video encoding (which is silly) or rendering in 3dsmax or something.
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November 10, 2013 7:24:55 PM

neon neophyte said:
hard not to go with whats new

if i was looking for a new computer i would as well, most likely. though there is something to be said for finding a sandybridge on the cheap right now

for me, its just nice knowing there is no sense in upgrading the core of my pc. though im thinking about picking up a 290 as well


I would feel the same as you if I already had the computer but since I am buying new, I want the newest items. I own a pretty good i5 already (not sure which type) and I think it would be perfect for my build but it is generation 1 and inside of a laptop that I am using at the moment. So basically what I am trying to say is that if I had the option to upgrade from my current i5, i wouldn't because it is very strong and it wouldn't be worth it to upgrade from an already powerful CPU.
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November 10, 2013 7:28:53 PM

neon neophyte said:
per core is the same between sandy and haswell, as they both have 4 cores (this is including overclocking.)

intel 4 cores do have stronger than amds 8 core offerings though.

as for the difference between i5 and i7, it really just comes down to hyperthreading (and a small amount of cache.)

if your program doesnt take advantage of hyperthreading you will see no benefit to the i7 over the i5. typically things like, unraring or cpu video encoding (which is silly) or rendering in 3dsmax or something.


Thanks for the heads up. Maybe an i7 is unnecessary for what I do as all i would do is game on my machine. I do not photoshop but if I ever get into it, I will definitely get an i7. I've heard of the name hyper threading before but I really don't understand what it does. Would you mind explaining?
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November 10, 2013 7:32:12 PM

its a process done on the software level which divides a single core in 2 seperate cores. hardware wise, there is absolutely no difference between an i5 and an i7 (outside of a small amount of cache.) this division of cores does help, by about 20-30 percent on highly threaded, hyperthread enabled software.
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November 10, 2013 7:34:43 PM

neon neophyte said:
its a process done on the software level which divides a single core in 2 seperate cores. hardware wise, there is absolutely no difference between an i5 and an i7 (outside of a small amount of cache.) this division of cores does help, by about 20-30 percent on highly threaded, hyperthread enabled software.


So the i5 has no hyper cores and the i7 has 4?
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November 10, 2013 7:37:39 PM

i5 = no hyperthreading
i7 = yes hyperthreading

hyperthreading turns the 4 cores on the cpu into 8 software cores. physically just 4 cores but they are now capable of processing 8 threads.
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November 10, 2013 7:44:58 PM

neon neophyte said:
i5 = no hyperthreading
i7 = yes hyperthreading

hyperthreading turns the 4 cores on the cpu into 8 software cores. physically just 4 cores but they are now capable of processing 8 threads.


So do these cores help with gaming performance or are they used strictly for applications like photoshop or video rendering?
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November 10, 2013 7:47:02 PM

pretty much strictly for applications. which is why i5 is right alongside i7 in gaming benchmarks (outside of the 100 mhz difference, which isnt applicable if you overclock.)
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November 10, 2013 7:50:31 PM

neon neophyte said:
pretty much strictly for applications. which is why i5 is right alongside i7 in gaming benchmarks (outside of the 100 mhz difference, which isnt applicable if you overclock.)


Thanks so much for your help. I wish I put this in a different thread so I could give you best answer but the other guy answered the original question. Now I just need to learn to overclock haha.

-Jeff
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