I have a home-built PC (configuration in my signature) and I want to upgrade my video card. I have two main questions...
Firstly, will my motherboard support PCI Express 2.1 or 3.0 cards? I'm having trouble finding this out. I know it will support 2.0, and I have found a 2.0 card that I like, but I am not sure if the upgrade is worthwhile.
This leads me to my second question, is the card I've selected better than my current card, overall? Obviously most of the specs are an upgrade, but the 448bit vs 384bit is one spec that is not better, and I'm not sure how important this is compared to the other specs. What does this particular rating do?
To help you out I have linked a graphics chart that is published here at Tomshardware every month and it gives you the different levels of where cards fall in order of best to worst.
The GTX 480 is a good card and a defenit upgrade to what you have now and will work just fine in the motherboard that you have. The only thing with the 480 is is consumes a lot of power and runs hot so that makes the fans run faster so you'll get more fan noise. But right now the GTX 480 is a good buy and a very good performing card.
MSI N560GTX-Ti-M2D1GD5/OC GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
$219.99 and a $20 rebate makes the final price $199.99
For the same price after rebate you can get this GTX 560Ti which is one level above the 480 and will consume less power so it will run cooler and be quieter.
Would you say that the 560 is a significantly BETTER card? i'm not concerned with noise or power consumption (i have an 850 watt psu, i'm nowhere near topping it out, and i'm never in this room if i'm not using the pc, usually with game/tv noise)
While I get that it's a "560" instead of "480", i see 1gb instead of 1.5gb and 256bit instead of 384bit and it makes me wonder if being a model year newer is really enough benefit on its own to be worth the decrease in those two areas.
going back to my first question, what does the number of bits (448 current vs 384 new vs 256 msi card) actually DO, and how important is it, compared with other specs such as amount of memory, number of cores, etc
also, will my motherboard support a PCI Express 2.1 or PCI Express 3.0 card? I have not even begun to research these because I am not sure it will, but obviously this would be a nice upgrade to make if possible.
The video cards are backwards compatable so if you have a motherboard with a 2.1 slot and a video card that is 2.0 or 3.0 it will work. Neither of these cards is Pci-e 3.0 and if you did buy a video card that was it would work in your motherboard because it is backwards compatable.
In looking at the chart the GTX 480 is a higher ranked card and would give better performance then the 560Ti.
Thank you for your input, as you can see in my signature, I wound up going with an EVGA GTX 570 Superclocked. In addition to a few performance upgrades from the GTX 480, this card is also 9" long rather than 10.5" - it's nice to have a little breathing room in my box.