I built my first PC over the Christmas break and am extremely happy so far. I've been using the integrated graphics and would like to step it up to discrete.
I've been looking and researching but it's all so confusing! I'm usually pretty good at deciphering all the specs but I'm at a bit of a loss here.
I think I would like to go with AMD Radeon.
I will use it for just basic everyday internet/email stuff, but I also will use it for AutoCad/Inventor drawing & renderings, and moderate gaming now and then. However, when I do play games, I wan't them to look good with high resolutions and good fps.
I like the AMD Radeon for it's EyeFinity thing. I'm a huge fan of multiple monitors, so an AMD card with plenty of outputs would be great.
Also, I'm confused as all get out with the naming and numbers... 6790,6750,6770??? What's "better?" I know that sort of depends on what I want to do with it, but any insight as to what I should look at would be greatly appreciated.
I was hoping the 7770 / 7750 would offer something comparable to the 6870 but they come up quite a bit short. The 7950/7970 cost per frame is will above the above cards coming in at 75 cents per frame and 81 cents per frame in single card configurations.
I am not super familiar with AMD, but for $150 you would probably want to look at either one of the new 7770s, or else a previous generation high end card. The old high end cards will have more parallelism which will help more with the CAD type programs, and then the newer low end cards will be better for gaming (faster clocks and ram) while still doing well enough for the work stuff.
Personally I would go with an old nVidia 280 or 9800GT if work is the big thing and games are secondary. They are old cards which will do work well, and they still have enough kick in them to game on occasion at med quality. On my 9800GT I played Mass Effect 2 at 1920x1200 maxed out and only had frame issues towards the end of the game (all those damn flying things brought it to it's knees and I had to turn off AA to continue playing). It will not play newer games on high settings though... for that you need to look at something more in the $250-$350 range.
Also, depending on the size of your work projects you may want more RAM than comes stock in those older cards. 9800GT only came with 512MB stock, where 1GB may be a little better for CAD applications (again, depending on the size of the projects).
When comparing cards look at benchmarks, not the card's specs. GPU architectures are so different from one another (even within the same brand) that there is no way to tell the performance of the card until you see the real world benchmark.