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Graphics Cards: So Many Is So Stupefying


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#1 Rob8UrChips

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 05:58 AM

Hi Folks,

I'm persuaded to invest in an awfully expensive Graphics Card, but there's so bleeping many with subtle wee differences that I really need help in finding out what the different Cards are actually for.

If I can find that out, I hope to shave a few unnecessary bucks off my final Bill by buying a Card that wont have something I'll never need or use.

For example, these two beasties are almost identical:

XFX GeForce 8800GTS 500M 320MB GDDR3, PCI-Express, 2xDVI/HDTV/HDCP,500/1600Mhz

XFX GeForce 8800GTS 580M 320MB XXX GDDR3 ,PCI-Express,2xDVI/HDTV/HDCP,580/1800Mhz

The first is £183 and the second £228 (almost $100 difference).

Is there a page or site I can go to for non-technical, idiot-proof guidance on what each of the terms mean (and for what purpose - eg plugging in a High-Def. TV, or a games console, etc.), in the HUGE list of different types of card?

The list of Cards I refer to starts about one-third down from top of page here:

http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/config.aspx?ConfigSystemId=10137

Thanks guys.
Rob
(the one who knows from experience that:
1. ignorance combined with minimal wealth + plenty health is, in fact, bliss;
2. asking questions becomes dangerous when they're answered; and,
3. eating too many chips wont make you into a FAT32).

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 08:17 AM

What are your intentions? High-end games, video editing or just everyday stuff? Don't buy it if you don't need it. Also remember higher end cards will most likely need more power
Mark
Reviews at tom's hardware

Edited by garmanma, 02 September 2007 - 08:18 AM.

Mark
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#3 Rob8UrChips

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 09:21 AM

Hello again Mark, I'm keeping you busy my friend!

I've bookmarked your link for future ref, thanks.

I don't have any 'proper' games or player/console yet, but I've had an eye on getting a system that would:

* play Star Trek: Legacy (for PC, despite the poor reviews), and maybe games of similar sys req's;
* play/run .avi .wmv .mp4 etc video files (eg I'm downloading 73GB of Stargate SG-1 .avi's just now, and going for Star Trek, Boston Legal and Battlestar Gallactica over the next few years!);
* watch/record TV (but I'm not all that fussed about high quality, expensive, High-Def. - cheaper and watchable will do me just fine so long as the playback aint jerky or have hiccups and I can plug it in OK. I currently have a cute wee 19" LCD monitor linked by D-Sub but it has a DVI option. A slightly bigger one (say ~26") in a few years time isn't ruled out.).

What more can a man want from a wee box? Frankly, I'm too sure - but may find something else as this newish World of 'computer hits home'.

Let's put it this way Mark. I don't even have a mobile 'phone and it's still unlikely I'll get one as I'm practically housebound. I need to get tech stuff for use in the house. Stuff I don't need to build myself. I do plugging cables in quite well.

So I reckon some sorta GeForce or Radeon or ....?.... card will be needed - but there's so bleeping many of 'em with so many different 'things'. As Homer would say, "D'oh!"
Rob
(the one who knows from experience that:
1. ignorance combined with minimal wealth + plenty health is, in fact, bliss;
2. asking questions becomes dangerous when they're answered; and,
3. eating too many chips wont make you into a FAT32).

#4 garmanma

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 09:38 AM

Are we talking about the computer in your profile specs.? In all honesty, I'd leave it alone as far as trying to update it to today's standards. First and foremost, We need the set of numbers that follow Compaq Deskpro so we can narrow down what you have. If possible you would benefit by increasing your memory. You'll be limited in video card choices by what you have in you unit, onboard, PCI, AGP. Don't even think of upgrading to VISTA. You will not be happy. Have you tried downloading SIW? It will give you more info than you can imagine about your computer
Mark
Mark
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Having grandkids is God's way of giving you a 2nd chance because you were too busy working your butt off the 1st time around
Do not send me PMs with problems that should be posted in the forums. Keep it in the forums, so everyone benefits
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#5 Rob8UrChips

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 10:18 AM

"Are we talking about the computer in your profile specs.?"
No. Due to the problems and limitations of the Compaq (Deskpro - with no numbers, etc.), I'm trying to fully and properly suss out what I need before the sales in Jan. '08 (unless the Compaq becomes thoroughly inoperable).

The 73GB is being downloaded in 4.1GB segments to the Flash Drive then burning each seg. to DVD before starting on the next 4.1GB (done by torrents via Azureus Mark, but it'll take about 3 to 4 months to complete).

Found the SIW download and Licence pages - if you think it'll help with sorting the 'Can't Fully Restart or Shut Down" topic (wish I knew how to use that Insert link thing), I'll get back to you in the Windows 2000 Forum rather than this one. ( I notice SIW reports on Big Idiot's Operating System :thumbsup: )

Thanks Mark - you're a gem. So, for this Topic/Forum, it's a new computer I'm looking at (but still trying to fix the Compaq meantime).
Rob
(the one who knows from experience that:
1. ignorance combined with minimal wealth + plenty health is, in fact, bliss;
2. asking questions becomes dangerous when they're answered; and,
3. eating too many chips wont make you into a FAT32).

#6 FireKracker

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 05:45 PM

Hi Rob8....

How much RAM do you have in your computer and what CPU are you running? Oh yeah be carefull downloading to flash drive, not the most reobust of storage devices anychance to download to hard disk and then copy to DVD, much safer!!
If all else fails, hit the reset button.
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#7 Rob8UrChips

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 04:09 AM

Hi Fire,

My Deskpro's CPU is an Intel Pentium III EB (733 MHz) Family 6 Model 8 Stepping 6 MMX, SSE and the RAM is SDRAM 256 MB - but I'm thinking the new computer will need a bit more to help the Graphics Card do its stuff properly.

The computer specs I'm looking at is here Fire (though the link may become obsolete in time), and under the "Buy" button is the terrifying "Customise" option containing a huge list of mind-boggling goodies (the Graphics Card options start about one-third down the "Customise" page):

http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ci.aspx?sku=10137

Fire, if your willing to take the time to look over this Beast and make recommendations based on what I intend to use the (currently undecided) Graphics Card for (see my Post of Sep 2 in this thread starting with "Hello again Mark..."), then that would be terrific. The OS is likely to be Vista Home Premium (or Basic).

The Komplett guys have other computers here but the Graphics Cards are either GeForce 8400 or 8500, and I've been advised they wont be sufficient.

http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/kcf.asp?id=162...tm_campaign=ITL

Fire, I'd like to limit spending to around £700 (but can reluctantly go a bit more if REALLY needed), and If the Compaq can last until the Jan '08 sales that would suit me too.

Thanks my friend,

Edited by Rob8UrChips, 04 September 2007 - 04:33 AM.

Rob
(the one who knows from experience that:
1. ignorance combined with minimal wealth + plenty health is, in fact, bliss;
2. asking questions becomes dangerous when they're answered; and,
3. eating too many chips wont make you into a FAT32).

#8 FireKracker

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 06:52 AM

Hey mate!

I assume the system you’re looking at is the following:

- Chassis: Gigabyte Triton 180 Black Aluminium Front (Without PSU)
- Power Supplies: AXP Powersupply ATX 630W Retail SLI, SATA,
- Mainboards ABIT AN52, nForce 520, DDR2, Socket-AM2,
- Processors AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3.0GHz Socket AM2 2MB, BOXED w/fan
- Memory Corsair TWIN2X 6400C4 DDR2, 2048MB CL4, Kit w/two 1GB Dimm's,
- Graphics Cards XFX GeForce 8500GT 450M 256MB DDR2, PCI-Express, DVI/VGA/Tv-Out, 450/800Mhz
- Hard Drives Hitachi Deskstar T7K500 500GB SATA2 16MB 7200RPM
- Optical Drives NEC DVD±RW burner AD-5170 IDE Black OEM, DVD+R/+RW/DVD-R/-RW (Dual layer)
- Operating Systems Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Eng OEM DVD 32bit

As it stands the system is a pretty good spec. I would agree with you that the graphics card would need updating but only in order to play the latest games e.g. Bioshock, Dirt all on full detail, maximum resolution. This system is setup as SLi so you’ll want a graphics card that supports this technology. Any of the newer gfx cards that use NVIDA chipa will work 8600 upwards. However if you can afford it get a XFX 8800 or above. Now there are many companies that use NVIDIA chips, XFX is just one of them.

You may also notice that some of the cards have XXX or GT or GTS etc. If you look a bit more in detail, you’ll notice that the clock speeds vary slightly even though the cards features are similar. Also the amount of memory might vary too. The key to buying a gfx card is buy what you can afford.

The spec of my new machine is very similar to that of your proposed one. I currently have an XFX 8600GT XXX, now this runs Prey, Painkiller, Dirt and Company of Heroes quite well, however I don’t have the settings on maximum. When I rammed the graphics setting to max, on Dirt, my PC threw a wobbler! The 8800’s have two DVI outputs so you can connect two monitors to that one card. Also with your system you can run two cards together to increase your performance. However the cards have to be exactly the same when in SLi.

Your proposed system will play/run all audio/video files, providing you install the correct codecs for that type of media file – so no problem there!

To watch TV you’ll require a TV card. These vary. IMHO I would purchase a PCI based TV card, these USB TV type devices don’t work in my experience. A good company to look at is Hauppauge. Again this company has a wealth of cards, look for Freview/digital compatible.

As far as the operating system, personally I would stick to WinXP pro. I’ve used Vista and found problems with the OS with regards to games and some hardware. However the decision is up to you.

With regards to your current machine, upgrading the RAM would be beneficial; a speed increase will be immediate! I wouldn’t bother with upgrading too much unless you can sell this machine to pay for your new gfx card?!

Nearly finished........... Star Trek: Legacy on the PC is going for £7.95 over at Amazon! .

This is the Official Forum for Star Trek: Legacy game. The link provided will zip you to the ‘help and support’ part of the forum. Here you can find the minimum and recommended specs for the game to work.


Minimum spec:
Windows XP (Home, Media Center or Pro Editions) with Service Pack 2
• DirectX Version 9.0c
• Intel Pentium 4 (2.66ghz or higher) or AMD Athlon XP 2800+ or higher
• DX9 compatible AGP 8X or PCI Express video card, 128 MB VRAM, Pixel Shader 1.4
• 16-bit Direct Sound compatible sound card, speakers or headphones required for audio
• 512 MB RAM
• 5 GB free space
• LAN or Broadband connection (DSL or Cable Modem) for Multiplayer
• Windows compatible Keyboard & Mouse

Your potential system would be miles ahead of this spec.

To add more choice to your dilemma, I see your from the UK (like me) so have a look at these links for more sytem deals/customisation. I have use all of the below companies and have experienced a very fast delivery, and helpfull customer service.

- Eclipse Computers
- CCLOnline
- Overclockers.co.uk

Hope this hekps!!! :thumbsup:

Edited by FireKracker, 04 September 2007 - 10:14 AM.

If all else fails, hit the reset button.
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#9 Rob8UrChips

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 08:35 AM

OMG - the rumours ARE true Fire: you ARE wonderful :thumbsup:

Just like the Compaq, I'm getting old, slow and decrepit! So gimme a couple of days to a week to look into this lot (& the Tom's Hardware site kindly mentioned by Mark (garmanma)) and digest properly. What's also slowing me down is trying to fix things with the Compaq (see the Windows 2000 Forum, or my Profile page) and at the moment have no intention of spending cash on it if increasing the RAM needs money. I'd rather buy you a gallon of beer, my friend.

As for buying a new system that'll suit me for the next 10+ years, there's no rush on my part and your bleeping EXCELLENT Post is gonna help soooooooo much. In fact, I'd love to set up a chat with you sometime someplace (a chat site somewhere) after I've had a proper look at all the stuff and reckon I've learned enough to ask questions that aint so blatantly stupid as they would be if I plunged in today.

If you're EVER in or near Paisley in the next few months let me know, and that gallon is yours. Meantime, please don't stop looking in at this thread Fire - with your kind permission I'd like to make final hardware decisions with your opinion first.

With the greatest of respect and admiration,
Rob
(the one who knows from experience that:
1. ignorance combined with minimal wealth + plenty health is, in fact, bliss;
2. asking questions becomes dangerous when they're answered; and,
3. eating too many chips wont make you into a FAT32).

#10 FireKracker

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:30 AM

.......... Well thanks for the kind reply, I'll have trouble walking out of the door at work!!! Nah, its a pleasure, glad to of been of some assistance mate! I've made more of ain impresson that I have a work today!! :thumbsup:

I've made some minor alterations to my previous post, (see bold text)

Graphics cards are a bit of a knightmare, its a boggy area as you rightly described, the technology is rapidly changing. Getting the wrong one can cause you problems not to menton a lighter wallet!!

Thanx for the 'virtual gallon of ale'! Much appreciated!! Take it easy matey, catchup asap.
If all else fails, hit the reset button.
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