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Home > Hardware Reviews > Graphics Cards

Thursday, July 28, 2005
VGA Roundup Vol.2

1. Introduction

The graphics card market can easily be described as a vast place, consisting of numerous brands and manufacturers, a fact that is sure to confuse the potential buyer. Which card should they buy? Which type suits their needs, be it "office use" or for extreme gaming experience (chillin' 3D or heavy 3D environment respectively). How much VGA memory is really required by the latest games without it affecting performance? Which card supports which features and last but not least, which is the most affordable solution?

Throughout these pages, we will try to give a more comprehensive view of some of the latest PCI-E graphic cards out there by comparing their performance with the aid of some of the well known benchmarks available.

The cards we selected to present in this review are based on the following chipsets:

ATI NVidia
X300
X600
X800
X850
6200
6600
6800

Before proceeding with any of the tests, we should mention that there is more than one version of each card, with differences in performance. For example, there is the X800, X800XL and X800XT or the 6800GT and 6800Ultra. In our case, we selected only one from each chipset instead of all of the versions, since we only want to point out some major differences between each card and help a potential buyer make up their mind.

-A brief "3D" History

Over the last few years, the need for better and better graphics cards has risen and as expected, has eventually led to a battle between the manufacturers with a single aim: market dominance. It all started with the release of the Voodoo series from the now defunct 3dfx, which featured the first consumer-level 3D hardware, adding 3D graphics to the 2D rendering cards using a pass through cable offered with the 3D accelerator Voodoo cards. Later on, Voodoo 4 came out in either a single PCI or AGP interface card, which led more or less to the now familiar scene we have in the graphics card market.

"A graphics card, video card, video board, video display board, display adapter, video adapter, or graphics adapter is a component of a computer which is designed to convert a logical representation of an image stored in memory to a signal that can be used as input for a display medium, most often a monitor utilising a variety of display standards. Typically, it also provides functionality to manipulate the logical image in memory."

Source: Wikipedia.com

Several major changes have taken place since then in graphic cards technology such as the AGP X bus speeds and of course the integration of Vertex/Pixel shaders as well as Direct X support (originally known as the "Game SDK") and the latest, PCI-E interface. All these contribute to the performance of the graphics cards and their ability to "render" the latest 3D applications, which in the main involves games.

 

 

- Tests

Lets take a quick look at the benchmarks used in this comparison.

-3DMark

we used the 01, 03 and 05 versions

-Aquamark

the well known aquamark is also in our review

-Codecreatures

the codecreatures benchmark from Codecult

We also used a variety of graphics card dependent games:

this is considered one of the "heaviest 3D " applications what a stealth game is all about..
one of the best strategy games... for racing enthusiasts...

 

Half life, the most anticipated game ever created...




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