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What to look for in a graphics card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
February 15, 2009 8:13:43 PM

I'm pretty good with building computers, but the 1 thing that has always eluded me was what makes a graphic card good?

Radeon HD 4850:
GeForce GTX 285:

The Radeon card is far superior in Stream Processors. 1600 (800 x 2) Stream Processing Units. The GeForce card only has 240 processing cores. What advantages does more stream processors give? What are they used for?

The Radeon card also has a better core clock speed, 650 vs the GeForces 648. What differences does this make and what is it used for?

As for memory, both cards are sporting 512bit GDDR3 memory. The GeForce only has 1GB as oposed to the Radeons 2GB. The Memory Clock speed however is superior on the GeForce with 2484MHz(effective) to the Radeons 1986MHz. What makes what card better and why?

What tasks do each card perform better than others? I want to know what makes what card better, and why.

Thanks! :love: 

More about : graphics card

a b U Graphics card
February 15, 2009 8:59:51 PM

The stream processors on ATI are not as strong as the ones from Nvidia.

The best way to tell a cards performance compared to another is to look up benchmarks. Tom has many charts for those.
a c 130 U Graphics card
February 15, 2009 9:07:23 PM

Sorry but thats not something you can be told just like that. It would take ages for me to post it all and you would need to read it a lot of times for it to all sink in properly. personally it took a lot of months reading reviews asking questions on forums etc before i understood even the basics. There are a handfull at most on here that really understand it properly, and i mean right down to programing and circuit board level.(Im noy one of them :(  ).
here are some links to decent reviews, you can search more on the same sites.,2845,2309870,00.a...
The tecreport is talking about the same Chip as the second Beyond 3d link but its a very good site to search for other info.
Xbit labs is another good site as well as
You can search tweak guides for info on GPU settings AA/AF V-sync etc
This is usefull
And last but not least
Hope that helps
Mactronix :) 
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February 15, 2009 9:18:58 PM

Thanks for the replies.

A lot of reading Mactronix! I'll get started :) 

What I liked about computer building is things are usually black and white. But with graphic cards theres a big big gray area.
a c 130 U Graphics card
February 15, 2009 9:39:18 PM

Yes i know i think there is a conspiracy to make things difficult :) 
Post back When you hav esome questions :) 
February 16, 2009 10:08:12 AM

You have to look what kind of games you want to play with your pc/card. A lot of games 'favor' either nvidia or ati. Just use the reviews and benchmarks to make a choice what you want and look for reviews of that card to see if it is what it says :) 
then there is the value for money story, we don't know what kind of budget you have, although youre looking for a high end card looking at your first post.
It is hard to compare videocards purely on the specs, they are just build entirely different. I hope you have a more clear view of the matter.