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IanL

Looking for video card advise

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A while back I upgraded my PC's video card to a HD Radeon 6770 just to give that old PC some life. I have been pretty happy with it. Fast forward a year and a bit, now I am looking at replacing that system with a new computer (running Photoshop and light room at the same time working on a few hundred images is just too frustrating...)

The machine's primary goal will be photo editing but the graphics card choice will be made for CM (CM is more demanding of a graphics card than Photoshop). I am looking at a GTX 650 or 660 or an HD 7850 not the top end but no slouch either. I tend to work that way not pick up the top end processor but a bit below it I find the value for $ is better but I don't ever have the fastest machine - ah trade offs.

Which brings me to my question: the cards I will be looking at will be pretty comparable but and I might splurge for a bit more card. The question is should I go with a Radeon card or an Nvidia card? I see various driver issue and bug report. To me it looks like there are more problems reported with Nvidia but not by a land slide or anything. Does it matter? Is one direction better than another?

If it matters I am looking at an i5 (3.0 or 3.2 GHz) and either 8Gb or 12Gb of memory (but with a board that will accept more) with an SSD HD for the OS and programs and a platter based one for everything else. I will be staying with Windows 7.

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I've used both mfg, I like them about equally well, probably give the edge to Nvidia because they update their drivers a lot more often than AMD (it's not even a close contest).

This of course won't matter with CM since we're still hanging out in 1997 around here using opengl, so you might steer this decision off of photoshop feedback about which mfg the consensus feels does a better job.

From the CM perspective either will work just fine, my main recommendation on hardware is to keep it all in line. And by this I mean, don't get any critical piece way out in front of the rest of the config, you tend not to see the benefit as a result of the rest of the system holding it back.

When it comes to hardware discussion, there are lots of opinions about how to go about it, which is why people spend (waste?) so much time discussing it. Fortunately there's usually a wide range of ways to get the answer right, so whatever you put together I'm sure will do a nice job.

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I've used both mfg, I like them about equally well, probably give the edge to Nvidia because they update their drivers a lot more often than AMD (it's not even a close contest).

This of course won't matter with CM since we're still hanging out in 1997 around here using opengl, so you might steer this decision off of photoshop feedback about which mfg the consensus feels does a better job.

Great, thanks for your feedback. Is frequent driver updating really a good thing? I suppose if they are delivering fixes faster that is good but if they are fixing things the just broke - not so much.

From the CM perspective either will work just fine, my main recommendation on hardware is to keep it all in line. And by this I mean, don't get any critical piece way out in front of the rest of the config, you tend not to see the benefit as a result of the rest of the system holding it back.

That is indeed good machine building advice.

When it comes to hardware discussion, there are lots of opinions about how to go about it, which is why people spend (waste?) so much time discussing it. Fortunately there's usually a wide range of ways to get the answer right, so whatever you put together I'm sure will do a nice job.

Oh I know. That's why I came here for thoughts on just one thing and it seems like it is 6 of one or half a dozen of another. I'll go with what I can get a good deal on.

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Yep, pricing is a good way to go at it, just about any current hardware you decide on will prove to be a performance improvement.

Always nice to get a new machine!

Oh, and btw, on the driver update thing, yes, more is better. It doesn't equate to bug fixes like other updates might, this is reflective of how much support the card mfg is providing, specifically, how quickly they get out new drivers that improve performance on existing and new games.

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NVidia has a much better record with driver correctness than ATI/AMD as long as you don't exclusively look at current blockbusters. NVidia has always been working much better for exotic games and older games. They seem to have actual QA to ensure API correctness while ATI's QA seems to be limited to playing the current top 10 games.

Don't get a x5x card for CMx2, though. The panning in particular is pretty brutal and you really want as much memory bandwidth as you can get.

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Don't get a x5x card for CMx2, though. The panning in particular is pretty brutal and you really want as much memory bandwidth as you can get.

Do you mean avoid the 650 and got with the 660 instead? I have been reading about video cards but I so far have failed to see an explanation that those numbers mean something. What does the x5x vs x6x mean?

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Do you mean avoid the 650 and got with the 660 instead? I have been reading about video cards but I so far have failed to see an explanation that those numbers mean something. What does the x5x vs x6x mean?

The second digit is speed and decisive for memory bandwidth in particular. The first digit is the generation.

E.g. a 6800 is much faster than a 7200.

Just buy the best memory bandwith you can afford, that's the way to go for CM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Nvidia_graphics_processing_units

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I've run both, and currently have 2 of each manufacturer running in my rigs. Despite all the hype, they both do quite well. I think the current bang for your buck champ from AMD is the 7950 series. They can be very easy to overclock. Even without that, they are very good. Nvidia just released their 7xx series, a mild refresh. That may shave a few bucks off the last generation, the 6xx series.

The drivers seem to be a wash. AMD was putting out new drivers every month, now they've backed off a little on that. Nvidia puts them out at about the same rate. Really, unless you've got a problem, there's no need for fresh drivers. (New game optimizations, SLI/Crossfire situations, and the odd bug which may or may not affect you are the only reasons for driver upgrades. Shrug.)

It really comes down to your budget. After that, does temperature, sound, number and type of output ports, case size, card length, matter?

$300 range: AMD7950 or Nvidia 660Ti

$250 range: AMD7870 or Nvidia 660 (upmarket versions: more memory and/or higher clock speeds)

$200 range: AMD7850 or Nvidia 660 (basic versions)

Ken

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