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Help With Choosing a GPU (AMD vs. nVidia)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 29, 2012 2:32:50 PM

Hello Everyone!

I'm planning on building my first desktop PC, but I'm still a noob. I know there are some of the crazy GPUs out there like the nVidia GTX 690 and Radeon HD 7970 and stuff like that, but I don't have that kind of money nowadays. I'm looking at Ars Technica's system guide for the budget box, and my budget is only $800, so that works out pretty well. My only problem is I don't know which GPU to select.

First of all, I'm not sure whether to go with nVidia or Radeon. The budget box says the HD 6850 is a decent card, so what is the nVidia equivalent to that?

Also it might be helpful to know that I want to play different kinds of games, maybe some RTS's, like Starcraft II (hopefully maxed out at 1920x1080), and FPS (like Battlefield 3 maxed out or nice settings, since I know it's a really demanding game and my $800 budget won't satisfy), or maybe some RPG like Skyrim or Fallout.

Being future proof does matter though, I'm not expecting to run 2014's games maxed out at 60 FPS or anything like that, but I want to be able to play the games and run them well with at least decent graphics if not more.

Also something to consider is that I prefer a quieter GPU, because I still live with my parents and siblings, and I don't want them complaining about my monster-loud computer.

And some other important questions are: What is the core clock speed in a GPU? Does a higher clock speed mean a faster GPU? What's the difference between PCI and PCI Express?

Bascially, if you think I should know any basic spec things, or if I should know any fundamentals about GPUs, I would like to know.

Thank you so much! I appreciate it!
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 2:36:12 PM

6850 wont max out bf3...to do that what is your gpu budget?
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a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 2:46:02 PM

Specs can be deceiving as each card has a (fairly) unique architecture. Tom's usually gives good budget advice:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

At the end of that article they give a rough heirarchy of gpus by speed.

Another good reference that will give you approximate speeds and prices is futuremark's benchmark site:

http://community.futuremark.com/hardware/gpu

Use these guides to narrow down to a few choices and then read reviews of the cards you pick.
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a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2012 3:13:39 PM

hey for a budget get a hd 6870 which is awesome card forthe money and is available for as little as 159.99$ on newegg and other siter
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June 29, 2012 3:24:18 PM

My 6850 OC (970/1200) can max out BF3, except when it comes to true AA. It's also not running at high FPS, when it's doing so. I keep my settings at high and disable mlaa for the post processing.

Either way, the 6850 was good a year ago, but you want to look elsewhere so you don't get left behind.
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June 29, 2012 3:27:47 PM

AMD has buggy drivers. Always has and probably always will.
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Anonymous
a c 117 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
June 29, 2012 3:47:01 PM

kaZangy said:

First of all, I'm not sure whether to go with nVidia or Radeon. The budget box says the HD 6850 is a decent card, so what is the nVidia equivalent to that?
Also something to consider is that I prefer a quieter GPU, because I still live with my parents and siblings, and I don't want them complaining about my monster-loud computer.
And some other important questions are: What is the core clock speed in a GPU? Does a higher clock speed mean a faster GPU? What's the difference between PCI and PCI Express?


the nVidia equivalent would be a GTX 460 it will be a few frame rates behind the 6850 but also a few dollars cheaper.

though what i really would like to suggest is a 7770. it also outperforms the 460 and with a frame rate or two behind the 6850. and since noise and temperature is a concern it is much quieter since it draws less power which will get less hot.

there are several components that comprise of making a gpu faster such as memory bandwidth (the size of the pipeline going to the memory) the speed of the memory (ddr5 is much faster than ddr3) along with how fast the clock speed is. explaining how what affects what would be an extensive reply that i am truly not qualified to give.

and for a brief explanation between PCI and PCI-E. the older PCI is used for add in cards such as NIC, sound and other peripherals that do not demand a lot of data to transmit/receive. PCI-E allow for much more data to transmit/receive since it is full duplex (can do both at the same time). for a little more detail:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express#Architecture

if you want to find out more about a particular card that looks interesting . . . google is your friend :) 

EDIT: since folks are throwing out suggestions i myself would like to ask; what make and wattage of PSU and what CPU do you have?
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a c 91 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
June 29, 2012 3:52:56 PM

ram1009 said:
AMD has buggy drivers. Always has and probably always will.

only partially true, and Nvidia has released a few card killing drivers here and there as well. at the end of the day, know your *** or get someone else to set up your computer for you.

anyways, I would try to squeeze a bit higher in terms of video cards, try to get something like a 6870, which Nvidia has nothing to match up against at that price.

if you can squeeze to $200, get a gtx480 from Nvidia, or the AMD equivalant: the 6950 (which is a bit slower).

at the end of the day, both companies are very competitive in performance, but each kind of have their own shining moment at specific prices
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