Core Clock, Memory Clock confusion - advice please.

Hi All,

I've been a Toms Hardware fan for quite some years now, and this is sadly my first post.

I need some professional advice in regards to memory clocks, and core clocks. Long story short, I'm currently running a Dell 24" monitor at 1900x1200 resolution, and I'm sick and tired of struggling for frames, and not being able to pump-up the eye-candy to maximum AA/AF in games.

Now, gaming is my one passion in life, therefore it's important to me that I can get a lot of frames, and also enjoy the best graphics possible. With that said - it's time for an upgrade.

Firstly - I am looking at purchasing a GTX 280, which I believe is the best-card on the market at present?

Secondly, I'm trying to decide the flavor of card to buy (XFX, Microstar etc). I am absolutely confused over the most important measurement to look for... memory clock speed, or core clock speed? And - exactly HOW MUCH difference does an alteration in clock speeds actually matter? Does it justify the price difference.

Here's the 3 versions of the GTX 280 I am considering:
NZ$693.79 Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 1024MB DDR3
Graphics Clock 602 MHz
Processor Clock 1296 MHz
Memory Clock 1107 MHz

NZ$904.49 XFX GX-280N-ZDD9 XXX edition Geforce GTX 280 1GB GDDR3
Core Clock 670MHz shader 1458MHz
Memory Clock 2.5GHz

NZ$968.96 Microstar GF GTX 280 OverClocked 1GB DDR3 512-bit 650/2300M
This card is apparently factory over-clocked.

So firstly - why the price difference? What is the differences between these cards, and does it really make a substantial impact on performance, and therefore justify the price difference?

NOTE: I am not able to run an SLI configuration, as I only have 1x PCI-e slot, therefore this alternative is not possible.

Yours, utterly confused,

Acropoli
8 answers Last reply
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  1. If you post your full specs you will get better advice.
  2. Thanks...

    * Processor: Athlon 64 X2 5600+ (AM2) 2.8GHz, 1MB L2 Cache
    * RAM: 3GB Memory (3x1GB 667MHz)
    * HDD: 500 GB Hard Drive
    * Graphics: ATI X2400 Pro with 256MB Dedicated
    * Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
    * Dell 24" widescreen operating at 1900x1200
  3. Basically, as far as paying extra for the higher clocked cards, that is some what of a luck based thing.

    All the factory did was buy a zillion generic 280 cards from NVidia, like all the sellers do, and then stamp their weird logo on it, and over clock it them selves.

    If your intentions are to over clock anyways, might as well save the money and get the standard cards, and then over clock them your self, since its a 30 minute job.

    On the other hand, it appears to me from personal observation and logical deduction that the "factory" OC cards are actually picked through. IE, the Factory prolly tests an amount of the cards they buy, to make into "factory OC" versions. Once they have enough to sell, they may or may not label the un gone through cards as standard models, as they were meant to be.

    If that is the case, who knows now if you were to buy a normal one, if it has already been tested by the "factory" and proven to only over clock a smaller amount.

    BTW, Go Intel all the way, though NVidia chipset boards blow.

    And you may wanna check out the cross fire card, 4870 series. :)

    It's ripping NVidia a new one, for a lower price! And when coupled with an Intel based better end mother board, and a good intel quad, woo hoo! There are the games you want, hehehe!

    --Lupi
  4. Thanks very much for the informative reply Lupi.

    In regards to the clock information - it seems going for a generic card would be the best bet, considering the price. And at a later stage if interested, I may look at overclocking it myself.

    Unfortunately I'm not in the market to upgrade my hardware - I'm stuck with the AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+.

    I've looked into some ATI 4870 benchmarks - but it appears the GX 280 has a slight improvement?

    So overall, based on my current hardware configuration, and running games at a 1900x1200 resolution - your recommendation for a Single card (non SLI & non cross-Fire) would be?

    Thanks again.

    Acropoli
  5. Just as a side note - I've taken more time to take a look at the review/benchmarks again, and it appears the GTX 280 performs much better than the 4870 with max AA/AF.

    Keep in mind, I'm the type of person who buys "top of the line" once every few years, so what ever decision is made, I wont be upgrading from this card for another year or two.

    I generally play a variety of games, such as World of Warcraft, Combat Arms, Unreal Tournament, C&C3, and occassionally the odd racer. So I need a good all-round card thats going to be able to handle the 1900x1200 resolution with full AF/AA.

    I hope that info helps :)
  6. Then you prolly want the NVidia card. It is the best. But definitely not when it comes to price versus performance!

    Come on, True dual core video cards!

    --Lupi
  7. Hi Acropoli
    Funny you are a Kiwi but you have a holden avatar which is an australian icon. The way its works out is that the premium you're paying for the overclock in your selected group is not worth it. You might as well do it yourself. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/overclock-graphics-card,1916.html .Toms own guide. Also you might consider importing a card from Aus as a GTZ 280 can be had for only AU $499.
  8. the best single card atm is the GTX280 but your current CPU will have problem keeping up with the card. so the best option is to get the HD4870.

    but to run at full resolution of your monitor you will need the GTX280 of at least 4850/4870 in CF configuration.

    then again your CPU is the biggest bottleneck in your system and so is the memory. DDR2-667 is very slow.
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