Graphic Card Buying Guide 2008
This guide should help you see more clearly in terms of graphics cards with a selection divided as usual by our budget with the entry level, less than 100 euros, the middle range between 90 and 150 euros, Premium between 150 and 300 euros and ultra high-end to more than 300 euros.
A graphics card for less than 90 euros
Our selection of entry level for PCI Express
AMD Radeon - Sapphire Radeon HD 4550
In terms of graphics card PCI-Express entry, we adopt the latest Radeon HD 4550 Sapphire. DirectX 10.1, the chip can support, admit it, by its performance. While they are honestly seen at the requested budget, but they are often insufficient to play properly. Format PCI-Express 16x, the Sapphire card is a half-height and adopt a cooling system assets, remains rather noisy.
Equipped with 512 MB of video memory DDR3, the card provides output connector DB-15 VGA, a DVI and analog video output. Although no HDMI connector is not physically present on the card, an adapter will transform the harbor DVI to HDMI connector to connect your PC to an HDTV. UVD engine of the second generation should take every sense by taking over the decoding high definition movies.
AMD Radeon - PowerColor Radeon HD 4670
The Radeon HD 4670 is an excellent graphics chip for a budget less than four-twenty euros, halfway between a GeForce 9500 GT and GeForce 9600 GT. DirectX 10.1, the chip benefits from recent improvements made by AMD's graphics architecture for improved overall effectiveness. Moreover, the HD Radeon 4670 onboard the second generation of AMD UVD engine that supports decompression material flows high-definition videos then found support for the HDMI (via a dongle) and a circuit integrated audio compatible HDMI 1.3. Format PCI-Express 16x, the PowerColor card has an active cooling system which is not necessarily ideal for lovers of silence. Equipped with 512 MB of video memory GDDR3, the card displays the operating frequencies below 770 MHz with the chip and 1000 MHz memory.
Unlike a Radeon HD 2600 Pro or Radeon HD 3650, the Radeon HD 4670 offers an acceptable level of performance that will actually play. Can not be very high resolution, but we can certainly play 1280 x 1024 or even 1680 x 1050 titles. The PowerColor card has two DVI connectors and comes with the usual accessories (dongle DVI / HDMI, DVI / VGA, etc.)..
NVIDIA GeForce - MSI N9500GT-MD512/D3
Other choices on Graphics Cards entry, the MSI N9500GT based, as its name suggests, the GeForce 9500 GT. As part of the family of GeForce 9 this card is compatible with DirectX 10 and supports PCI-Express second generation. Performing like a Radeon HD 4670, it benefits the graphics engine of NVIDIA PureVideo HD, which is supposed to more effectively relieve the CPU when playing Blu-ray whether H.264, VC-1 or MPEG2 -HD.
Frequencies side, MSI offers a chip clocked at 550 MHz memory operating at 800 MHz or values recommended by NVIDIA. The card uses the effect of GDDR3 memory up to 512 MB cooled by a fan, the card is equipped with an output DVI and HDMI connector, and manages the HDCP protocol.
A graphics card between 90 and 150 euros
Our selection for midrange PCI-Express
AMD Radeon - Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512 MB
First representative of our midrange selection, the Radeon HD 4850 Sapphire is a little more expensive than the GeForce 9600 GT but also much more efficient. DirectX 10.1, the Radeon HD 4850 adopts naturally PCI-Express 2.0, and a video engine offering UVD hardware decoding of HD streams from Blu-ray and HD-DVD and whatever their format (VC.1 or H.264).
The Sapphire card takes logically support HDCP, respects the frequency standards set by AMD and is delivered in principle with a DVI / HDMI. It has two DVI connectors (all Dual-Link) and requires connecting a power cable PCI-Express to work. Beware, the length of the card it will not go into all the boxes. Sapphire forces, its frequencies are identical to those established by AMD. Ideally, if your system is compatible and extensible your budget, the Radeon HD 4850 CrossFire can settle in with another card, for amazing performance. Only flats: the card heats up quickly enough and its fan can be noisy.
NVIDIA GeForce - Gigabyte GV-NX96T512H-B
Based on the GeForce 9600 GT, the GV-NX96T512H-B is a Gigabyte graphics card format PCI-Express 16x meets the specifications of DirectX 10. Requiring connecting a power connector PCI-Express to operate six-pin, the card adopts the cooling system developed by NVIDIA.
Compatible with Windows Vista, the Gigabyte card has the engine PureVideo HD second generation which enables to handle hardware decoding of H.264 video streams (the format used mostly by the Blu-ray and HD confidentially by some -DVD). Here, the card gets 512 MB of GDDR3 video memory and displays the following operating frequency: 650 MHz for the graphics chip and 900 MHz memory.
GeForce NVIDIA - Point Of View GeForce 9800 GTX 512 MB
Last map of our midrange selection is, the GeForce 9800 GTX, proposed here by Point Of View. Similar in all respects to the GeForce 8800 GT, GeForce 9800 GTX is based on a chip G92b and propose only novelty, technology management Hybrid Power. All other features of the chip is in fact identical to the GeForce 8800 GT whether the number of processors or feed their operating frequency. The engine decompression of HD video stream is of course the party on this model.
With 512 MB of GDDR3 graphics memory, the GeForce 9800 GT is DirectX 10 and takes fully support Windows Vista. The chip runs at 600 MHz processors its flow to 1 500 MHz while the memory runs at 900 MHz. HDCP compatible and offering two DVI outputs in Dual-Link, the card will occupy a single location in your cooling tower but is sometimes noisy and it will require connecting to a PCI-Express to operate six pins.
Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB
A graphics card between 150 and 300 euros
Our selection for high-end PCI-Express
AMD Radeon - Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 512 MB
We adopt at the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 whose price has dropped significantly. Faster than the Radeon HD 4850, the Radeon HD 4870's main difference with the model previously cited its higher operating frequencies. DirectX 10.1, the card benefits UVD engine of second generation AMD and operates the GDDR5 memory.
The Sapphire card is signed at any point identical to the reference design developed by AMD, since we have a dual-card slot with a cooling system rather consistent. With two DVI connectors output, the card has two power connectors PCI-Express six pins each.
AMD Radeon - Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB
Identical to the Radeon HD 4870 suggested just above the Radeon HD 4870 is accompanied by a greater amount of video memory, namely 1 Go for same operating frequency. For an extra cost of 50 euros compared to 512 MB model, this choice will be justified if you plan to use the map in high resolution by activating the filtering options: otherwise gigabyte of memory will be of little use.
Not surprisingly, the Radeon HD 4870 is ready for DirectX 10.1 and adopts the PCI-Express 2.0. It is often hound the GeForce 280 GTX while frequently surpasses the GeForce 260 GTX in terms of performance. The Sapphire card signed resumed design reference AMD, type double slot and therefore offers two DVI outputs and comes with the DVI / HDMI.
NVIDIA GeForce - Asus Extreme GTX 260 / HTDP - 896 MB
In June this year that gave NVIDIA G80 architecture, an offspring with the GeForce 200 series. If the range GeForce 200 is further reduced, with only two models, the GeForce GTX 260 is a chip DirectX 10 features impressive after all. For then a chip generation G80 included up to 128 stream processors, the GeForce GTX 260 in loads for its 192! Powerful, the chip adopts a 448-bit memory bus and is supported by 896 MB of GDDR3 video memory. Although the performance of the GeForce GTX 260 are somewhat challenges by the Radeon HD 4870, the chip has some benefits exclusive to NVIDIA. It is believed to CUDA and PhysX technologies, technologies that have any effect on their high-end chips. Moreover, the GeForce 260 GTX has the decompression engine PureVideo HD.
No surprise, Asus design incorporates the NVIDIA reference and we therefore proposes a dual-slot graphics card with two DVI connectors. HDCP compatible, the card is clocked at frequencies defined by NVIDIA to 576 MHz for the graphics chip, 1242 GHz processors and 999 MHz flows for memory. Beware, the next few weeks, the GeForce GTX 260 should give way to the GeForce GTX 260 +, a slightly more powerful model which we will of course our preference because it is available.
Asus GTX 260 896MB
A graphics card to more than 300 EUR
Our selection for ultra high-end PCI-Express
NVIDIA GeForce - Leadtek WinFast PXGTX 280
On the niche of ultra high-end, we find the GeForce 280 GTX. Slightly faster than the GeForce 260 GTX which he takes most logical characteristics, both cards are based on the same chip, the GeForce 280 GTX comes with 1 GB of memory GDDR3 video interfaced to 512 bits. The number of stream processors is revised upwards, with a total of 240 scalar units, as opposed to 192 processors of the GeForce 260 GTX.
Our choice was here on a map signed Leadtek card that uses the reference design and incorporates NVIDIA frequencies, namely 602 MHz for the graphics chip, 1296 MHz processors feeds and 1107 MHz for the memory. In double-slot and measuring 27 centimeters, the map is quite impressive what can be problematic in some cases towers like Antec P180/182. We found this card connectors power PCI-Express, one six-pin and one eight-pin, and two DVI connectors.
AMD Radeon - Gigabyte GV-R487X2-2GH-B
If AMD was stripped a few weeks to face GeForce 280 GTX, it will not take long to the Sunnyvale firm to resume the performance crown at NVIDIA. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 is indeed faster than the GeForce 280 GTX, it is well supported with two graphics chips. There are indeed on the same physical map, two graphics processors! Quite large, rather voracious energy and can act as heaters, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 has the defects of cards very high-end happily while having the qualities that usually go with, namely very good performance.
Gigabyte signed the card GV-R487X2-2GH-B has a total of 2 GB of video memory, in the case of GDDR5 with 1 GB of memory per graphics chip. Double-slot, the card measure 27 centimeters long and will be powered by a PCI Express 6-pin connector and a PCI-Express 8-pin.
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