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Noob Question: What's in a name? GPU Brand Manufacturer Differences

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 30, 2012 9:06:30 AM

I am in the process of building a new PC and I have pretty much decided on purchasing a 7870. But one thing that has always perplexed me is the difference between GPU manufacturers/brands.

What are the differences between GPU brands/manufacturers? Are all GPU's made at one location and then shipped to vendors who then put their own packaging on the cards? Or does each vendor make their own cards themselves? Why are some people so adamant about recommending one GPU brand over another and why are some brands so much cheaper than others?

If someone could explain this to me I would be very grateful, as I noticed there are currently 22 different types of 7870's being sold at Newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

In fact, some brands even have multiple GPU's of the same type like these 2 MSI 7870's:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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a b U Graphics card
August 30, 2012 9:39:56 AM

For a reference board, the only difference between manufacturers are the warranty and extras included in the box (usually worthless items like stickers, posters, mousepads, etc.)
All reference boards are identical in all respects; matching the chip manufacturer's PCB, Cooler, components and layout exactly.

The biggest difference between manufacturers is in their custom offerings.
Modifications for these cards run from a factory overclocked reference card to a complete redesign of the PCB, cooler, layout and higher quality components.

For most people, the cheapest possible version of an available GPU would be the best bet.
Only if you are specifically interested in a custom cooler (quieter and/or cooler) or heavy overclocking would the differences in manufacturers become apparent.
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a b U Graphics card
August 30, 2012 9:49:40 AM

It varies. When a new GPU is released, the designer (AMD/Nvidia) release a default, reference version of the card. In the early stages of the card's life cycle, the various vendors will stay very close to the reference design and basically just slap their sticker on it.

As the card matures, the vendors start creating their own custom coolers for better temp/noise performance, pre-overclock the card, and sometimes even change the reference board design a bit. They also bundle software or games with the package. This obviously comes at a price.

I suggest you decide on a price bracket and then look at what's available. My personal preference runs toward Asus and MSi, but there are plenty of good cards out there. Look for the combo that fits your needs and pocket.
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August 30, 2012 10:00:36 AM

Thank you both for the information. I am trying to build a PC that is as quiet as possible, as I do a lot of audio recordings with a professional quality microphone that picks up a lot of background noise.

Is there a way to determine which 7870's have custom/quieter cooling on them? I can't see any dB readings on the newegg specifications or anything like that.
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August 30, 2012 10:08:55 AM

oTradeMark said:
Thank you both for the information. I am trying to build a PC that is as quiet as possible, as I do a lot of audio recordings with a professional quality microphone that picks up a lot of background noise.

Is there a way to determine which 7870's have custom/quieter cooling on them? I can't see any dB readings on the newegg specifications or anything like that.


Based on the following link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5767/capsule-review-sapph...
The Sapphire HD 7870 Overclock Edition is probably your best bet for a quieter 7870.
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August 30, 2012 10:46:50 AM

Best answer selected by oTradeMark.
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