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Nvidia or AMD GFX card?

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November 6, 2012 5:18:02 PM

Hello everyone. I'm new to this very useful site and only have a layman's knowledge of PC's and I'm currently in the process of speccing up a new build for myself. As you can see from my profile, it's been a while since i got my last Pc!! This new Pc has to last for at least 4 years and i'll be using it in 1920x1080 resolution on a 26" monitor mainly for university and gaming (Minecraft, FSX, Total War franchise, FarCry 3, Witcher 2 and maybe the new GTA). The spec of my prospective new machine is as follows:

i5 3550.
Gigabyte GA-77-D3H.
4GB DDR3 (1600mhz).
WD 'black' HDD.
Corsair or Antec PSU.

My problem is that i'm not too sure of which GFX card to go for. I'm thinking of getting an AMD 7850 (2GB version) as this is good value for money and seems to fill a gap in the market or i might stretch my budget slightly to an Nvidia 660GTX. I want to play in 1920x1080 at max settings which both cards should do well. However, i've been told by a friend who works in computers that AMD cards burn out a lot and that AMD drivers aren't as stable or as optimised as Nvidia's.

I'd thought i'd throw this out there and see what the general consensus is on these two cards and their respective manufacturers. Also i've read that Nvidia's Forceware drivers, quote, 'castrate the compute (GPGPU) performance of GeForce cards' and that the, quote, 'asymmetricl distribution of <Nvidia's> V-RAM starves the GPU and in future games when texture load will only increase the performance will suffer considerably.'

Would the 7850 age better than the 660GTX then? Are Nvidia cards more stable and less prone to failure?

Thankyou in advance for your replies.

More about : nvidia amd gfx card

a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 5:24:14 PM

Nvidia cards burn out a lot too (perhaps more often with the reference models, Nvidia really likes to skimp on VRM on many cards) and Nvidia's drivers aren't any better right now, at least not for single GPU configurations, so I wouldn't give much attention to whoever told you that.

I'd recommend stepping up from the 7850 to either the GTX 660 or the Radeon 7870, with the 7870 having a small advantage at stock in average gaming performance.

The 7850/7870 would probably age a little better than the 660, but I don't think that it'd be a big difference in future-resistance in this example, at least not for two years or so.
November 6, 2012 7:57:54 PM

Thank you for your reply. So both AMD and Nvidia cards burn out a lot? Sounds ominous and seems that cards don't last as long since the advent of GDDR5 some years ago. I'll get a GTX660 or 7870 then and I'll look at makes such as XFX, Asus, Zotac, Sapphire etc. It'll be a Christmas present to myself! Cheers.
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a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 8:03:14 PM

Actually, neither burn out a lot (well, given that a lot is subjective, I suppose that might not be accurate, but w/e), I was simply pointing out that Nvidia is no better and in some ways can be worse just as in some ways they can be better. It all balances out fairly well in quality, although the AMD cards lately have been winning that by a little in reference build quality (while losing in reference cooler quality), presumably because of Nvidia's skimping on reference build quality. Getting a decent non-reference card often solves that for Nvidia and AMD (except for many of the MSI PE cards and maybe a few others, those had their own reliability issues).

Basically, be sure to avoid reference cards and you're more likely to be fine, especially with the higher end models.

Cheers.
a c 196 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
November 6, 2012 8:07:17 PM

I would definitely go for the 7850 over the 660. AMD drivers are just fine, and the'r cards are alright.

I've worked with my fair share of AMD cards (4870, 5450, 5570, 5770, 6570, 6670, 6770, 6850, 6870, 6950) and probably more, and the only one that seemed to have an issue at all was my 6950, and that was completely my fault.

I think the whole AMD driver-hype is mainly user error to be honest.
November 6, 2012 8:09:43 PM

Ok, thanks for clarifying that. I'll take your advice onboard. Cheers.
November 6, 2012 8:22:30 PM

Present company excepted, many on this board will tell you that AMD/ATI drivers are buggy, myself included. I gave up on them years ago. I don't have the problems with Nvidia as with AMD/ATI. Simple as that.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 8:25:58 PM

ram1009 said:
Present company excepted, many on this board will tell you that AMD/ATI drivers are buggy, myself included. I gave up on them years ago. I don't have the problems with Nvidia as with AMD/ATI. Simple as that.


YEARS AGO. Are you really going to claim that your experience from "years ago" applies to the current situation? AMD has made huge strides with Catalyst 12.6 and kept on improving with each release since then. Besides, Nvidia has had their fair share of problems. Not a generation goes by without Nvidia having issues too. If we want to go back a few years, then why not bring up Nvidia's incredible WHQL 196.75 driver that literally burned the GPUs of many Nvidia cards to irrecoverable failure?
a c 196 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
November 6, 2012 8:29:48 PM

ram1009 said:
Present company excepted, many on this board will tell you that AMD/ATI drivers are buggy, myself included. I gave up on them years ago. I don't have the problems with Nvidia as with AMD/ATI. Simple as that.


Don't know if alot of people would tell you that one. Its mainly people who join the forums and rant about how their AMD cards stopped working because of something they probably did.

Quote:
I've worked with my fair share of AMD cards (4870, 5450, 5570, 5770, 6570, 6670, 6770, 6850, 6870, 6950) and probably more, and the only one that seemed to have an issue at all was my 6950, and that was completely my fault.


Quote:
I was simply pointing out that Nvidia is no better and in some ways can be worse just as in some ways they can be better. It all balances out fairly well in quality, although the AMD cards lately have been winning that by a little in reference build quality (while losing in reference cooler quality), presumably because of Nvidia's skimping on reference build quality.


Quote:
Nvidia cards burn out a lot too (perhaps more often with the reference models, Nvidia really likes to skimp on VRM on many cards) and Nvidia's drivers aren't any better right now, at least not for single GPU configurations, so I wouldn't give much attention to whoever told you that.


Honestly I'm quite convinced alot of people will tell you the opposite.

a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 8:30:51 PM

only video card ive ever had stop working on me was a nvidia 8800.

amd is the better buy right now, by quite a bit.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 8:39:59 PM

Quote:
I disagree the 660 and 670 are good buys any other cards yeah i say not good buys right now.


Good buys, yes. Perhaps even great buys. However, are they better? I don't think so, at least not with current drivers and pricing.
a c 145 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
November 6, 2012 10:32:15 PM

blazorthon said:
Good buys, yes. Perhaps even great buys. However, are they better? I don't think so, at least not with current drivers and pricing.


i can understand if the pricing are more attractive on the radeon side but what's wrong with nvidia driver?
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 10:34:51 PM

renz496 said:
i can understand if the pricing are more attractive on the radeon side but what's wrong with nvidia driver?


Nothing is particularly wrong with them, AMD's driver updates simply keep rolling in significant performance boosts.
a c 145 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
November 6, 2012 11:04:05 PM

nvidia also releasing 'performance increase'driver with their latest beta. and from time to time both company will release driver that will increase performance in some games. so just because radeon gain big performance increase this time the option from the green camp are being ignored.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 11:05:00 PM

Nvidia's update was less effective than AMD's, mostly targeted older style games, and AMD already had the lead anyway. I'm not ignoring anything.
a c 145 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
November 6, 2012 11:23:33 PM

it wasn't less effective it just nvidia already bring out most of their potential from the get go :p  . jk

btw going either way cant be wrong. both offer storng performance in games. its just a matter which are more bang for your buck or preference....or if you want exclusive feature like physx
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 6, 2012 11:40:48 PM

Nvidia doesn't really get most of their potential from the start, they simply spread performance updates out over several years while AMD takes a slightly longer while (relative to launch time) to get started with proper drivers, but gets most of their potential in a shorter time frame than Nvidia after that. For example, driver updates today from Nvidia continually improve performance on cards from several generations ago whereas AMD finishes up much more quickly, seemingly to focus on a single generation at a time.

Can't go wrong is debatable. What is *wrong* would depend on the situation, but someone looking to get the most for their money at the right price point is the most common situation and AMD is really winning that in most such cases. AMD also just happens to have the fastest single GPU card right now (technically not the fastest dual-GPU because the 7990./7970X2 isn't officially an AMD card), although the 7970 GHz Edition does have power efficiency issues compare to the rest, kinda like the GTX 580 against the Radeon 6950 and 6970.
a c 145 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
November 7, 2012 2:00:36 AM

so are you implying that nvidia recent drivers that offer support down to their old 6k series because they were slow to improve performance on their card?
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 7, 2012 3:54:19 AM

Nvidia does their performance improvements slowly over the years whereas AMD tries to get everything out of each generation more or less during its life time, presumably so that they can focus on only one or two generations at a time. AMD also seems to have greater functional differences between their architectures with each generation than Nvidia does (GCN uses a whole new ISA, among other changes compared to VLIW4 along with the process shrink, yet Kepler is mostly just a re-organized Fermi on a smaller process), so that's not surprising.

I'm not implying that Nvidia is wrong or scandalous to do it how they're doing if that's what you're asking. It's less effective in the short term and until we hit at least the next graphics generation, that is what matters the most at any given time, especially with how games are looking to become more and more intense (naturally), something that the Kepler-GPU-based cards simply don't shine in no matter what drivers you give them, perhaps mostly because of their inferior balance between GPU performance and memory performance. Nvidia seems to be currently less future-resistant for that reason and for others such as their inferior compute performance (more and more games are implementing features that rely on OpenCL and/or Direct Compute and some new engines are partially built around them).

AMD doesn't need to continually update drivers for their older cards except for bug fixes, many of which can simply be applied through CAPs instead anyway, so they don't do so as often as they do for the newer generations of cards and even then, other than the GCN based cards, none of AMD's newer cards tend to really take advantage from most of the new driver releases. AMD squeezes out what performance that they can early on so that they don't have to keep doing it later on.
November 15, 2012 4:08:11 PM

Thanks for all your comments. I settled on an Asus 7870 DirectCU II c
ard in the end.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 4:12:09 PM

Glad to help.
November 15, 2012 4:15:30 PM

Nvidia 310.54

You should research this driver before making a final choice, 15-20% boost in titles.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 4:48:21 PM

AMD made new boosts with another release of Catalyst 12.11 too. Nvidia's new driver didn't really change things because of that. Still I agree that it's worth looking into anyway. AMD and Nvidia targeted some different games and that might have increased differences between each other in a few games as a result of that.
November 15, 2012 4:51:33 PM

I am not judging what he should purchase, but Nvidia offer a little more for the money, but AMD have raw performance.

It is up the OP to decide this one.
November 15, 2012 5:02:01 PM

PhysX, Cuda support, less power consumption.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 5:02:55 PM

How does Nvidia offer more for the money? The 7870 can compete with the 660 Ti overall, the 7950 Boost and factory overclocked models can compete with the 670 overall, and even the 7850 has been nipping at the heels of the more expensive 660. The 7750, 7770, and 7850 1GB slam the 650 and 650 Ti in value too.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 5:06:41 PM

Amuse_UK said:
PhysX, Cuda support, less power consumption.


PhysX is hardly used (let alone used well), CUDA is dying out compared to Direct Comptue and OpenCL (Besides that, Kepler has inferior CUDA performance to their predecessors in many if not most supporting applications), and Nvidia doesn't always have lower power consumption. For example, the 7870, 660 Ti, 670, and 7950 all have quite similar power consumption numbers. The 7850 and the 660 have similar power consumption.

The 7970 and 680 have similar power consumption. The 7750 and 650 have similar power consumption numbers, The 650 Ti and 770 have similar power consumption numbers. The only serious power consumption/efficiency wins for Nvidia are the 670/680 versus the 7970 GHz Edition and the 650 versus the 7770 in workloads that don't stress the memory interface too much.

Furthermore, AMD has superior MSAA/CSAA performance, OpenCL/Direct Compute features, and the third party micro-stuttering fix that bests SLI in consistency and smoothness according to Tom's.
November 15, 2012 5:07:48 PM

As my point was, Nvidia have more for the money.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 5:09:04 PM

Amuse_UK said:
As my point was, Nvidia have more for the money.


My point is that you're wrong about that and so far, nothing that you've said proves otherwise. With current drivers, it's very situation-dependent (more so than it was a for the last several weeks), but AMD still has the overall win, especially with their Never Settle deal.
November 15, 2012 5:09:21 PM

Ok, i will let you enjoy your AMD swag, and move on, hopeless fanboy.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 5:17:20 PM

I'm hopeless? I've given direct examples and reasoning, you've done no such thing. It looks like the pot is calling the kettle black.
a b U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 7:26:20 PM

dude, you have an nvidia logo as your sig and you have the nerve to call someone else a fanboy?

amd offers more for the money right now. 7970 is better than gtx 680 in 13 out of 18 games at high resolutions. it is cheaper too. as for the low resolutions, nvidia is better but who needs 300 fps at low resolution with a high end card. please.
a c 87 U Graphics card
November 15, 2012 7:32:25 PM

Low resolutions can have high levels of MSAA/CSAA in many games, something that the GCN cards beat Nvidia at in scaling even more than they beat Nvidia in high resolution performance scaling, heh.
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