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Criticism of "Best Graphics Cards for the Money" articles

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September 10, 2008 10:56:54 PM

I have a couple complaints about the "Best Graphics Cards for the Money" articles. I feel that if they were taken into consideration then it would help many more people and the articles would be more objective as a whole. Plus logical fallacies tend to annoy me, especially when I see potential as I do with these articles.


Meaning of “best card for the money”:

For some reason many people, including the author of the articles, think that the meaning of “best card for the money” is somehow synonymous with price/performance. This is a complete logical fallacy. According to logic, the best card for the money would refer to the best possible card for a specific price point, regardless of price/performance. For instance, if I have $500 to spend on a graphics card I am obviously not interested in bang for buck and interested in THE BEST PERFORMING CARD FOR $500! If there is a $500 card that performs better, even if only 10% better, than a $200 card, then this would be the best card for the price range.

Of course there is a slippery slope. There is no point in recommending a $2000 price point simply because there are VERY FEW users willing to spend that money, but there are many people who want to spend $500+ on a graphics card and the article does not help these people out because of some elitist price/performance ****, something these articles aren’t even supposed to (according to their title) address.

Obviously the most expensive hardware is overpriced and that there are diminishing returns for the best, EVERYONE is well aware of this. It’s still the best and that is what the article is supposed to convey. This is an enthusiast site and this alienates many potential readers. Either change the name of the article to something that means price/performance (in which case you would only really be able to recommend a very few cards) or provide an article that is appropriate to the title.

Also, the argument that a true enthusiast would choose best price/performance and then overclock is just semantics. If that is the case then Tomshardware is not an enthusiast website and more of a “people interested in hardware and its performance” website. I think the word enthusiast is a bit easier to use.


Intended readers:

Who are the intended readers for this article? I assume it wouldn’t be casual readers because I don’t know of any casual PC gamer that even knows what SLI or crossfire is. The chances of them having an SLI or crossfire board are miniscule. Why would anybody recommend a crossfire setup to someone who doesn’t even know what crossfire is?

I can also assume it isn’t for people interested in graphics cards because a decent percentage of people of hardcore gamers like to have the best graphics card and are not interested in price/performance.

If you’re going to mention SLI or crossfire then at least give a single card option to include people without the specific boards and people who don’t want dual card solutions. Even if the single card performs slower than the dual card solution, it is still the best performance for a large amount of people.



Final word:

Although these articles fail to list the best cards for all price points I think the under $200 segments are always well done. I also feel that most complaints are rather pointless such as the desire for recommending PSU wattage and such. However, this is an enthusiast web site which means that a percentage of readers are ENTHUSIASTS and desire to pay a premium for the best card regardless of diminishing returns.

SO PLEASE STOP SAYING that "Best Graphics Cards for the Money" implies best performance/dollar. It doesn’t mean that. This is not just an opinion, it is logic. The English language is very specific, not ambiguous. If this still does not make sense then I would recommend asking someone who went to university for something involving linguistics or the philosophy of logic.

And finally, stop alienating your readers because you have some high and mighty opinion about what people should be spending. If someone wants to spend $500 more for 10% performance then the article SHOULD (again, according to the title) recommend something for these people. This isn’t the inquirer so try to be a bit more objective. If the article was truly best price/performance then there could only be a single card chosen because there are no variables.


September 10, 2008 11:05:24 PM

The phrase "Best Graphics Cards for The Money" implies a set amount of money. That's what "The" money means - a set amount of money, as opposed to "Best Graphics Cards Money Can Buy." :p 

I do have one problem with the article. It makes 9800gx2 look as if it performs the same as 4870 and gtx260, by putting all three on the same level without mentioning that 9800gx2 far outperforms either. They just cost the same, but don't perform the same.

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=13
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=14
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=15
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=16
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=17
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=18
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=19
a b U Graphics card
September 10, 2008 11:16:34 PM

I'm a little confused - if you want the article to be aimed at enthusiasts, wouldn't you just be telling them things that they already know?

By this I mean - that the 4870x2 is a great card and is expensive and is currently the top of the GPU charts - every enthusiast I know has this knowledge.

I figure the article gives us an overview of best performance for a specific price range, not all the little details. I figure us enthusiasts spend our free time picking up the details because we enjoy it.

Sorry you are upset about it. I figure the article did what I thought it should. Maybe I'm the one that is missing something.
Related resources
September 10, 2008 11:20:40 PM

Yes thats what I'm saying, a set amount of money. My problem is that the author dictates the set amount of money by using some personal idea of what the price/performance should be. It's not really objective and it neglects anyone who is interested in getting the best graphics card for set amounts of money above $350. If we didn't have cards like the 4870x2 or if we didn't have people willing to spend that amount of money then this wouldn't be a problem. But I know a few people that like to spend $500+ regardless of the price/performance, and they want "the best graphics card for the money" as well.

I definitely agree that the author should be a bit more specific about the performance as well. The 9800gx2 issue was another blunder I did not mention but I fully agree.

But there is a great deal more performance to be had with other price points (not just the most expensive) and I think this should at least be acknowledged.
September 10, 2008 11:25:15 PM

This just occurred to me but perhaps the author could include some sort of scale to show the reader what price/performance they will get with a specific card. For instance, give the frames/dollar for each card (in different resolutions would be best) and let the reader decide if the extra money is worth the performance, even if there are diminishing gains. This would make the article more objective and user friendly.
a b U Graphics card
September 10, 2008 11:25:27 PM

I agree...I felt there were some major holes in there. It makes it tough if you want to spend money in-between those set numbers to decide what is best.

I don't understand why they just don't add a "high-end" category or something to appeal to the $400-450+ spender - that would probably be a good price point for the enthusiast market.
September 10, 2008 11:39:46 PM

I just don't like that the article neglects the higher price ranges and recommends SLI and crossfire setups over single card solutions. It would just be nice if I could refer people to these articles without having to explain what SLI is or why there aren't more expensive cards.

Like I said, the under $200 recommendations are great for both enthusiasts and average consumers, but above that it gets confusing. Especially for the average consumer.

And i would also assume that if an enthusiast already knows the best graphics cards then they would also know the best for the money if they just did a search on newegg.

The article would simply be more helpful if it included all price segments (and single cards) regardless of price/performance.
September 11, 2008 2:51:47 AM

larrydavid said:
This just occurred to me but perhaps the author could include some sort of scale to show the reader what price/performance they will get with a specific card. For instance, give the frames/dollar for each card (in different resolutions would be best) and let the reader decide if the extra money is worth the performance, even if there are diminishing gains. This would make the article more objective and user friendly.


To make frame per dollar calculations, they'll have to use real benchmarks. And did you see the Tomshardware benchmarks? They're horrible. Performance of different cards are not consistent, jumps all over the place. One even shows a 8800gts outperforming gtx280 sli. Base the calculations on that, and you'd get some weird results. :p 
a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 3:02:34 AM

I always thought that was what the hierarchy chart on the last page was for, checking to see what card had the actual best performance and leaving it to the reader to check prices, availability and suitability.
September 11, 2008 3:22:11 AM

larrydavid said:

SO PLEASE STOP SAYING that "Best Graphics Cards for the Money" implies best performance/dollar. It doesn’t mean that. This is not just an opinion, it is logic. The English language is very specific, not ambiguous.


Actually, it does mean that. The word "for" in the english language is used as a set off for a ratio in the language of math, which is universal. The "best graphics cards" indicates high performance, for sets off the ratio, and money is, of course, dollar. Therefore, we have performance/dollar.

:D 

But, anyway, there'll always be discrepancy over which card is best at what price point, there's no way to get around it. Because of this, it becomes someone's opinion on which graphics card is best at some set price. You can't have one without the other. That's logic.
September 11, 2008 3:32:16 AM

larrydavid said:
using some personal idea of what the price/performance should be.

$/FPS ... price/performance is not arguable, it's inherent. This is not a personal idea, rather a universal measurement without bias or limitation.
September 11, 2008 3:47:15 AM

You have to do $/FPS for every resolution, though. Most often when a card runs out of VRAM at a higher resolution, there's a massive drop in performance, which would impact the $/FPS unequally, and it wouldn't matter unless you want that higher res. (ie, 256MB VRAM will hold up well at 1440x900, but will die at 1900x ? )
September 11, 2008 3:58:24 AM

It's a nice idea and all, but if you have $500 to spend, and you already know it's going to be on a video card. . . you probably already know what's up. Hence, you dont need an article telling you what the best card for $500 is, because you already know.
a c 106 U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 4:07:10 AM

Yeah the price of the 9800GX2 has fallen like a rock. It's a good buy depending on your resolution, AA and AF preferences. Other reviews don't show the 9800GX2 stacking up so well, but you have to look at the test setup, games, and driver versions. Anyway I do kind of like those articles for the updated on low end card prices since I don't want to research them myself when people ask me ^_^.
a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 4:09:11 AM

I agree that there are flaws in their articles, but overall they do a decent job. Seeing as how this is an enthusiast website, I agree with the OP completely that every level of gfx cards should be overviewed in their article.
a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 5:21:56 AM

The more specific the article becomes, the lengthier it becomes. Im not sure about Toms layout, but Im sure theres parameters. Just a consideration. I also agree with a few things being said here. GTX2 is a fine card, and fits somewheres by itself, between the newer 280 and newest 4870x2. I feel it was somewhat lumped in. But I also agree with the top card prospect as well. Most, if not all people know how top cards perform before theyd go to Toms for a recommendation which spans the entire gfx market. Which in itself points to some of the problems being said here. In these forums, going by the number of threads, its either someones whos been around, and pretty much knows their stuff, or someone whos just entering gaming/gfx buying, and needs help/advice. The higher numbers of threads tend to be the latter, thus justifying the up to 200$ segment focus. Maybe Im wrong by agreeing with this type of layout, but to me it fits, and seems everyone agrees with, as regarding quality/capability regarding information at that price point and lower (200$)
September 11, 2008 5:24:15 AM

The article is geared towards the people who drop out of the tech world for a while and come back in to do an upgrade, for themselves or a friend. They don't have time to keep up. Toms is doing them a favor and steering them away from getting ripped off by the $500+ graphic solutions currently on the market today. At real people resolutions the $500+ video solution is hard to justify for real people gaming/ usage.

A message for enthusiasts:
If you rely on THG Best Video cards for the money for your $500+ video card buying guide, you are a tool. Go do some reasearch, if you are going to spend the money know the product. As an enthusiast on a budget, I could not in my right mind recommend any of the current $500+ video cards to someone building any kind of real machine (dream machines ($3000+) excluded). I would steer them to a lower priced solution that fit their needs and then tell them to invest the rest, then buy a new video card in six months.

September 11, 2008 6:04:20 AM

I think you're reading way WAY too much into the article/charts. Back for the people who were around Tom's hardware when they started doing this, the entire point of the article was for people to go and say, "i have X amount of dollars, what is the card that i should buy given my budget?". The article was never intended for the 0.1% of the community that has to have the bleeding edge of performance, regardless of price. Places like Anandtech, or extremetech existed for those people. Toms hardware was a place for people to come and read about hardware, of any kind.

And just since it annoys me when people pull the informal logic card, your post is a pretty clear cut red herring.
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 6:46:20 AM

"Best Graphics Cards for the Money" obviously indicates it's intended to report on price/performance sweet spots in the current market. If there is no sweet spot near the very high end then it doesn't belong in the article. The author of the article doesn't think there's anything worth recommending over 2 4850s right now and he shouldn't be forced to do so because of your pedantic semantics and trust fund.
September 11, 2008 7:16:03 AM

dagger said:
To make frame per dollar calculations, they'll have to use real benchmarks. And did you see the Tomshardware benchmarks? They're horrible. Performance of different cards are not consistent, jumps all over the place. One even shows a 8800gts outperforming gtx280 sli. Base the calculations on that, and you'd get some weird results. :p 


My idea was more of an ideal than anything. They could easily show this by implementing that handy chart at the end of the article. For instance maybe they could mention how powerful one card is compared to a few others in similar price segments. I’m sure there is some sort of measure of performance for that chart so they could simply implement those approximations and say something like “the 4870 is approximately xx% faster than the 4850 and xx% fast than the 8800gt.” The percentage only really needs to be as accurate as the chart.


frozenlead said:
Actually, it does mean that. The word "for" in the english language is used as a set off for a ratio in the language of math, which is universal. The "best graphics cards" indicates high performance, for sets off the ratio, and money is, of course, dollar. Therefore, we have performance/dollar.

:D 

But, anyway, there'll always be discrepancy over which card is best at what price point, there's no way to get around it. Because of this, it becomes someone's opinion on which graphics card is best at some set price. You can't have one without the other. That's logic.



I don't mean that it's not related to a price performance ratio. I'm saying it’s not based on the price perfomance ratio by itself because “the money” would refer to a variable. Therefore it would mean "price/performance with price as variable". If it meant price/performance then there would be only one card that would win, or perhaps a few if the variable were resolution. But the variable is money.

Limiting the variables (available price segments) because of a change in price/performance prevents many people from using the article. I don’t like that the author doesn’t include these variables because he doesn’t think the cards are worth the money. If there are better cards there will always be a population of people who want them. The article will not help this population because the cards in their preferred price range don’t come close to some “price/performance” ideal which has been set by another card in a completely unrelated price range.




kutark said:
I think you're reading way WAY too much into the article/charts. Back for the people who were around Tom's hardware when they started doing this, the entire point of the article was for people to go and say, "i have X amount of dollars, what is the card that i should buy given my budget?". The article was never intended for the 0.1% of the community that has to have the bleeding edge of performance, regardless of price. Places like Anandtech, or extremetech existed for those people. Toms hardware was a place for people to come and read about hardware, of any kind.

And just since it annoys me when people pull the informal logic card, your post is a pretty clear cut red herring.


And just since it annoys me when people pull the informal logic card, your post is a pretty clear cut red herring.

Umm I’m only using this logic because it’s been defended in this way. On the message board the author constantly says that the article is called “the best graphics cards for the money” and therefore it is about price/performance and he uses this as an excuse to ignore price segments. Forgive me if I don’t like when someone defends something while not being logically consistent. It’s not a consistent reason for neglecting to include some single card solutions and entire price segments that Tom’s has previously covered. You have done nothing to argue against my points and instead chose to insult my method.

Why do I pull the logic card? Because the author tries to use the ‘logic’ of price/performance to dictate what people should be buying. I am responding to a defense which is an attempt to use logic and so I use logic. If someone subjectively finds something useful then you can’t use logic to argue against this and the only way to show this is to point out inconsistencies in the original argument.

“Because the price performance of card A at $500 is not as good as card B at $250” is not really a valid argument since all price segments have different price/performance, usually diminishing at higher costs. People also seem to agree that single card solutions should be recommended.

And Tom’s has usually always had the top performing cards on the list at the high price ranges. I can’t remember if the Ultra was ever listed but the GTX was there for a very long time.

It doesn’t make sense to ignore price ranges. If you don’t find it useful then good for you but many people do. It would help a lot of people and it’s annoying that this is ignored.

How could this be red herring? I mean really, I base my argument on what some people find to be useful! I only use logic to discredit the author when my point remains that there is no real logical reason for keeping out something that people find useful. The article’s PURPOSE is to be useful.







Sorry everyone. For some reason I really don't like when people use a logical inconsistency to argue what a person should buy or what they would find useful. I really just think that theres no real reason to not include the higher price segments since I know people would find it useful. If the author didn't defend it in such a way then I probably wouldn't care so much and find it a useful suggestion. If the author defended his articles by saying they are specifically for budget cards with good bang/buck then I wouldn't care.



So I will pretend it was defended in such a way for a moment...

I think it would be useful to include all price segments regardless of bang/buck. It wouldn't take much extra time since there are not many cards to choose from and it would help people that are interested. It would also be useful to include single card solutions for people who do not have crossfire/SLI.



a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 7:35:36 AM

I guess it comes down to market, or who youre trying to reach here. Its easier for people to be put off by elaborating on the high end than vis a vis, but I see your point. Ive seen many a time where the highend was very much included in equal parts. Itll vary month to month. It is in a way taking away that segment by coming from a certain pov, but sometimes it doesnt as well. Thing is this time, theres fewer cards in the 350 on up segment that make a huge difference. Im not talking about just performance either. Consider what ATI has done to the nVidia pricing, which, if left in place, then the over 300$ segment wouldve been much larger, but ATI came in low and swinging, so it will vary from week to week, month to month, qtr to qtr. You have to take all things in consideration when doing this, and not just segment even 1 qtr to make a determenation of these articles
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 7:40:32 AM

larrydavid said:
I’m sure there is some sort of measure of performance for that chart so they could simply implement those approximations and say something like “the 4870 is approximately xx% faster than the 4850 and xx% fast than the 8800gt.” The percentage only really needs to be as accurate as the chart.


The relative performance of the various cards depends highly on what game they are running, the resolution used and the AA/filtering being applied. Trying to be more specific than the current vague tier system would be a very complex undertaking and/or significantly misleading depending on the circumstance. I'm sure it would come with a lot of controversy.
September 11, 2008 7:51:34 AM

We're getting into the sticky issue of subjectivity now.

A 4870x2 or 2 4850's in CrossFireX?

It's like choosing between a Ferrari or a Ford Focus. I'd rather have the Ferrari, but I'd be happier paying for the Ford.
September 11, 2008 8:01:59 AM

jyjjy said:
The relative performance of the various cards depends highly on what game they are running, the resolution used and the AA/filtering being applied. Trying to be more specific than the current vague tier system would be a very complex undertaking and/or significantly misleading depending on the circumstance. I'm sure it would come with a lot of controversy.


I wasn't suggesting they be more specific. I was suggesting that they incorporate it somehow to show the reader how much better a certain card is. There is has to be some form of measure if the article exists in the first place. Approximations like "the 260 is similar to the 4870" are not really that far off, and to say they are approximately 75%-100% faster than card Z would give some indicator. This way you could include the $500 card and show that although it is the best for $500, it's only say 10%-20% faster than a card at $300.

This would get rid of any issue and would provide an excellent indicator for the best price/performance without dictating what a person price/performance a person should decide on.
September 11, 2008 8:11:31 AM

kitsilencer said:
We're getting into the sticky issue of subjectivity now.

A 4870x2 or 2 4850's in CrossFireX?

It's like choosing between a Ferrari or a Ford Focus. I'd rather have the Ferrari, but I'd be happier paying for the Ford.


Oh subjectivity really isn't all that sticky in this sense. The simple rule of subjectivity in the realm of utility is that what makes you happy is what you should go with, regardless of what logic dictates. You can't tell yourself to be happy, certain things just naturally make you happy. All you can do as a person (or as an article writer) is lay down the facts and let the user decide. You can't use some logical argument like price/performance to convince them that they SHOULD be happy with a 4870 if they aren't going to be, for whatever reason.

a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 8:31:07 AM

Words like edges out or slightly out performs or simply beats gives enough reference to %'s, within the framework of the article. Not all people take such a logical approach as youd like, in fact, when it comes to gaming and gfx cards, excite many times overrules logic, let alone product identification. I see your point, but your approach becomes more benchmark oriented than general reference, which Im thinking is the design here, tho I could be wrong
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 8:46:03 AM

larrydavid said:
All you can do as a person (or as an article writer) is lay down the facts and let the user decide.

This really gets at the core of what you aren't understanding. The comparing of graphic performance is exceedingly complex and variable based on system, situation and price. The whole point of this article is that it is a professional tester of video cards giving you his subjective opinion of what video cards make the most sense at their price points at this particular moment in time in an easy to read, concise and frequently updated format so that you don't need to have the expertise or the time to wade through the huge volume of information he has had to to come to these conclusions. It is in absolutely in no way intended to be a "laying down of facts" and it should not be(that would require a book every month, not an short article.) This is explicitly stated at the beginning of the article.
What you said about happiness is correct though. If the format/goal of this article doesn't make you happy, by all mean go read a different article, there's tons of them.
September 11, 2008 8:47:24 AM

huron said:
I'm a little confused - if you want the article to be aimed at enthusiasts, wouldn't you just be telling them things that they already know?

By this I mean - that the 4870x2 is a great card and is expensive and is currently the top of the GPU charts - every enthusiast I know has this knowledge.

I figure the article gives us an overview of best performance for a specific price range, not all the little details. I figure us enthusiasts spend our free time picking up the details because we enjoy it.

Sorry you are upset about it. I figure the article did what I thought it should. Maybe I'm the one that is missing something.


I don't think you're missing anything. IMHO, the OP is a bit focused on enthusiast, and his definition of same. His comment that "...then Tomshardware is not an enthusiast website and more of a “people interested in hardware and its performance” website" illustrates the point.

Well, that's one definition that we can reasonably all disagree with here. I'm enthusiastic about CPU and graphics performance, with chipsets a close third. I'm a hardcore gamer in the sense that I spend 20+ hours a week on my PC gaming, but I don't play certain genres that are very popular: little or no interest in FPS, zero interest with disdain for gangster RPG's and only a moderate interest in simulations. I'm more of a CRPG (SF and fantasy) gamer.

I don't overclock my CPU or GPU. I go for the best parts I can afford but I make compromises. In a sense, I'm not an enthusiast; but in another sense I am. I enjoy building my PC's but don't insist on the best in any one generation. I've only once spent $450 on a GPU and found that it was equalled 5 months later by a just under $200 part, so I'm not likely to spend that much again.

What the OP and many others here need to realize is that there's a whole continuum between those who live for overclocking and spend upwards of $500 on a GPU or $1000 on an EE CPU and those who don't know Crossfire from SLI and just buy a name brand PC at a big box store. I fit into that broad continuum near the middle closest to performance at any price enthusiasts.

The GPU "Best Cards" articles are well done. My kvetch about Tom's Hardware under new management is that the CPU and GPU charts are badly in need of updates. Maybe they're waiting on Deneb and Nehalem for the CPU charts, but there's no need to wait for the GPU charts. It's nice choosing a couple of cards currently being sold from drop down menus and then clicking on a benchmark. It's not perfect, but it aids the potential upgrader (who should also compare as many individual reviews as he has time to read).

The only area of the "Best Cards" articles that needs improvement is the "What About..." section. The list is populated by too few cards in today's generation where cards are rebranded but essentially remain the same (Nvidia thrives on this).

a c 376 U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 8:57:23 AM

larrydavid said:
I wasn't suggesting they be more specific. I was suggesting that they incorporate it somehow to show the reader how much better a certain card is. There is has to be some form of measure if the article exists in the first place. Approximations like "the 260 is similar to the 4870" are not really that far off, and to say they are approximately 75%-100% faster than card Z would give some indicator. This way you could include the $500 card and show that although it is the best for $500, it's only say 10%-20% faster than a card at $300.

I just explained exactly why what you suggesting is unworkable. All you did here is somehow totally deny what the word specific means and restate yourself unnecessarily.
September 11, 2008 9:03:53 AM

My $240 HD3870 last year looks expensive...hehehe man how fast things change
a c 191 U Graphics card
September 11, 2008 10:23:01 AM

@Dirtmountain: dead on.
@Yipsl: I think we're in the same boat.
@OP: I'll grant that you have a point that all price points, even the unreasonably high ones, could (should?) be covered. Otherwise, please consider the law of identity; a thing is itself, or "A=A." The article is what it is, not what you wish it to be, or think it should be.
@Cleeve: Thank you. I think the article, and the chart at its end, are extremely useful. If I want or need to know "Why?" I can always read more.
!