Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Dave Beans

Graphics Cards In Laymans Terms

Recommended Posts

I'm thinking of building a PC, and have built a couple in the past. I'm pretty clued up when it comes to PCs, but become lost when people talk about graphics cards. What should I be looking for?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you want to do with your PC?

If it's just 'light' browsing, word processing and what not, the integrated video card in the intel iX (HD4000, HD5000 etc) processors should be fine.

If you want to be playing teh gamerz, then pick a budget and buy the bestest thing for the price off ebay or somewhere.

This site is quite good if you like stats: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you want to do with your PC?

If it's just 'light' browsing, word processing and what not, the integrated video card in the intel iX (HD4000, HD5000 etc) processors should be fine.

If you want to be playing teh gamerz, then pick a budget and buy the bestest thing for the price off ebay or somewhere.

This site is quite good if you like stats: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/

The Intel Iris seems to be quite good...but what if I'm talking about good 'ole 3D rendering etc...Whats the difference between all the Geforce cards for instance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Intel Iris seems to be quite good...but what if I'm talking about good 'ole 3D rendering etc...Whats the difference between all the Geforce cards for instance?

In general terms with all video cards there's a broad relationship between cost and performance, so the more you pay for something, generally there will be more pretty triangles and at a smoother frame rate and a higher resolution of monitor. There's a slight caveat to that in newer cards will generally tend to draw lots of graphics without using the power of older cards. This may/will be an issue if you have a less powerful power supply for your pc.

As an example, I got a big fast video card from ebay the other week for £50, it's very fast, but it uses 250w of juice and makes a lot of hot air. I think a brand new modern video card of a similar level of performance will cost about £120-150, but will use about half the power.

Have you got any go to games that you want to be playing? do you want to play oodles of first person shooters on a 4k telly or lots of WoW on a 720p screen?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking at this sort of spec... http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/computing/desktop-pcs/desktop-pcs/lenovo-h30-desktop-pc-10108881-pdt.html

How would it, for instance, handle a half decent flight sim?

If you really want to run something like Xplane, maybe go for a machine based around an i7 and a gtx970 card - there's a new card/chipset coming out so pricing should be a little more flexible, the card is not cheap at £250+. Main consideration is a power supply that is not properly rated, this can cause all sorts of problems, so an off the shelf machine based around a chepaer graphics card probably won't hack it. High rated Corsair power suppy or similar is good.

See if you can find a supplier, local? who will put all the bits together for you. May be able to meet that budget.

Something like this, cheapest deals just about around the existing budget:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Intel-Core-I7-4790-1tb-8gb-1600Mhz-GTX-970-4gb-Carbide-Computer-Gaming-PC-/391070160949?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item5b0d991835

Or build yourself - just be really careful of cooling and power supply requirements. I don't think you'd be able to buy the parts separately any cheaper than above example to be honest, that was jsut the first example I came across so no recommendation as such as have not dealt with them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking at this sort of spec... http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/computing/desktop-pcs/desktop-pcs/lenovo-h30-desktop-pc-10108881-pdt.html

How would it, for instance, handle a half decent flight sim?

The GTX 745 performs marginally higher in the benchmarks than my current GTX650.

I don't really play a lot of games.. but when I do I haven't come across anything yet that wouldn't run on high settings.

You'd run flight sims easily. Plus most games will let you reduce the graphics detail if push comes to shove.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you really want to run something like Xplane, maybe go for a machine based around an i7 and a gtx970 card - there's a new card/chipset coming out so pricing should be a little more flexible, the card is not cheap at £250+. Main consideration is a power supply that is not properly rated, this can cause all sorts of problems, so an off the shelf machine based around a chepaer graphics card probably won't hack it. High rated Corsair power suppy or similar is good.

See if you can find a supplier, local? who will put all the bits together for you. May be able to meet that budget.

Something like this, cheapest deals just about around the existing budget:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Intel-Core-I7-4790-1tb-8gb-1600Mhz-GTX-970-4gb-Carbide-Computer-Gaming-PC-/391070160949?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item5b0d991835

Or build yourself - just be really careful of cooling and power supply requirements. I don't think you'd be able to buy the parts separately any cheaper than above example to be honest, that was jsut the first example I came across so no recommendation as such as have not dealt with them.

There is http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/

There's so much choice, and so many variations, its hard to make head nor tail of it all...what's the difference from say a £50 one to a £100 to a £250 one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should be absolutely fine, the cpu is powerful and the gpu is fairly meaty.

The only negative points I can see (and they are fairly small) is that

1. the video card is a DirectX11 card, not a DX12 one, so you could need to replace it in the future at some point, maybe in several years time, which leads to

2. the case doesn't like like a full-height PC case, so it may be 'interesting' trying to get a card that will fit in it, if you want to upgrade at some point.

My take is that if you're the sort of person that doesn't want to dig around in pcs, then it should be fine and I would expect to get at least 3 years of serious gaming use out of it before having any real thoughts about upgrading or changing anything.

I was looking at this sort of spec... http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/computing/desktop-pcs/desktop-pcs/lenovo-h30-desktop-pc-10108881-pdt.html

How would it, for instance, handle a half decent flight sim?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/

There's so much choice, and so many variations, its hard to make head nor tail of it all...what's the difference from say a £50 one to a £100 to a £250 one?

I just limited to i7 (min spec) and GTX 970 in the filter and cheapest pre-build came in at 790.00 - don't think that site will find you cheapest deal. Let someone else go though the hassle of matching components and staking a reputation / warranty against that. I think maybe 10/15 years ago the PC market matured byond a pont where self build actually saved much, if anything. Even a small pc builder co. can gets a price break by ordering 10+ off of parts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just limited to i7 (min spec) and GTX 970 in the filter and cheapest pre-build came in at 790.00 - don't think that site will find you cheapest deal. Let someone else go though the hassle of matching components and staking a reputation / warranty against that. I think maybe 10/15 years ago the PC market matured byond a pont where self build actually saved much, if anything. Even a small pc builder co. can gets a price break by ordering 10+ off of parts.

I very much agree with your comments on self-build vs. off-the-shelf. Novatech is my supplier of choice and it's very hard to build their OTS systems at less cost than they sell them for. I've found the only reason to go self-build these days is to make something a bit unusual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/

There's so much choice, and so many variations, its hard to make head nor tail of it all...what's the difference from say a £50 one to a £100 to a £250 one?

Graphics cards show dramatic difference in performance from top to bottom end - going from bottom end to top end cards on the market, the top end cards have nearly 20 fold (not 20%, this really is 20 times) more processing power than a bottom end card.

Choosing a £250 card like a nVidia GTX 970 over a £50 card like an AMD R7 250 will get you between 5 and 10 times the graphics performance.

The issue is whether you would notice or need that extra performance; even an R7 250 is a very capable card, but some types of modern software are very demanding (particularly games).

If you play a lot of games, then you likely will notice the difference, especially if you have a high resolution screen - or multiple screens. For example, a flight sim with dual or triple monitors, you'd be well advised to consider a GTX 970, maybe even a GTX 980.

It would be well worth consulting some of the PC review web sites and check for benchmarks for you preferred games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/

There's so much choice, and so many variations, its hard to make head nor tail of it all...what's the difference from say a £50 one to a £100 to a £250 one?

Dave,

The easiest (hopefully) way to explain this is that a video card is basically a massive number crunching engine that makes pictures. It does this by relying on parallel processing, so it has lots of processing units within it to break rendering problems down into small chunks of processing. This is very different from how cpus work, where they may have 4 or 8 cores, a video card can have tens, hundreds or even thousands of cores.

A 'cheap' video card may have less than 100 cores, a mid-range one maybe 500 hundred and a really, really powerful video card will have several thousand cores. Naturally, these cores all cost as they are made out of silicon on the video card processor and there's a general relationship between number of transistors on a chip and the cost. Also, cards will come with differing amounts of memory. The bigger and faster the memory is, the more it will cost, but the more the video card will be able to do, like run in higher resolutions and so on.

The final hurdle, is that all those transistors will create heat as electrons are pushed through them, so keeping the video cards cool costs money. Typically, this is solved by reducing the size of the transistors on the video card processor, and as we all know, minimisation always costs.

So, in terms of what do you get. A cheap video card will probably give you a similar performance to the Intel HD4000-5000 video cards that are embedded into processors now. They give a reasonable level of performance (desktop use, watching videos and so on) but will struggle when you start playing fairly modern 3d games.

A decent £100ish card like an AMD R9 270X will give massive improvement in performance compared with a low-range card and you should be able to play games at 1920x1080 with high quality settings.

A really expensive card, like a GTX980 at £450 should be a lot faster that the 270X as it has twice as many processing units, so it can get a lot more work done, which is super-important if you are running multiple displays at 4k resolution. Also, it supports the new DirectX12 standard which the 270x doesn't.

The bottom line is that a cheap <£50 or embedded card isn't going to last that long, especially if you start playing meaty games or want to stick lots of monitors on your pc. Spending £100 or so, will give you a graphics card that will last for some time, whereas spending £400-odd on a card will give you something at the bleeding age that will last for a fairly long time. As an example, I bought a very expensive video card for my job back in 2009 and I still use it today for playing fairly modern games, e.g. Tomb Raider, Skyrim etc.

If you really want to get stuck in with Xplane and run multiple monitors for a wrap-around view, then it's probably not worth getting that Lenovo, but if you're happy to get stuck in with just a single monitor, then it should be fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should be absolutely fine, the cpu is powerful and the gpu is fairly meaty.

The only negative points I can see (and they are fairly small) is that

1. the video card is a DirectX11 card, not a DX12 one, so you could need to replace it in the future at some point, maybe in several years time, which leads to

2. the case doesn't like like a full-height PC case, so it may be 'interesting' trying to get a card that will fit in it, if you want to upgrade at some point.

My take is that if you're the sort of person that doesn't want to dig around in pcs, then it should be fine and I would expect to get at least 3 years of serious gaming use out of it before having any real thoughts about upgrading or changing anything.

Cheers for all the comments so far everyone...

If its not a full size case (possibly classed as a "midi" case), wouldn't you possibly have issues with heat?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If its not a full size case (possibly classed as a "midi" case), wouldn't you possibly have issues with heat?

Intel's latest CPUs and Nvidia's latest GPUs are designed for low power, so they can use similar tech in mobile devices. AMD, not so much.

I built a PC a couple of years ago with a high-end Intel CPU and mid-range Nvidia GPU, and it uses less than 200W when playing most games. Can't even hear the fans over the game sounds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

video card = co-processor, ie another processing chip that takes specialised instructions firstly off the main processor freeing it up to do other work, and secondly, doing this so fast that there is a cache of snapshots of the majority of up coming frames to be displayed on your monitor.

it also handles things like sprites and other effects that can be changed between cached frames.

Thus, the performance depends on several things...the software of the main program actually sending instructions, via drivers, through the Operating System, being as efficient as possible, the speed of the data from processor to co-processor ( data-bus), the receipt and processing of that data by the co-processor (program instruction set optimized), the storage of the produced frames in RAM attached to the co-processor, the speed of getting said frames out to the monitor interface.

all manufacturers claim theres is the best, but as drivers are a significant issue, then you must refer to the game programmers requirements to get the ultimate in performance.

I play WOW ( or used to), at 3/4 quality on my Toshiba i3 laptop. very acceptable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cheers for all the comments so far everyone...

If its not a full size case (possibly classed as a "midi" case), wouldn't you possibly have issues with heat?

I would expect that a respectable firm like Lenovo would match the components in their cases so they didn't overheat or drive the fans at warp factor nine the whole time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My general rule has been to buy a mid range card - somewhere between £100 and £200, depending on what I really want to do with the PC. Unless you have really specific requirements (e.g. 2 x 4K monitors and an ability to see the difference between 75Hz and 40Hz) the high end cards are a waste of money, mainly because they are next years mid range cards. This rule has held true for pretty much 15 years....

Buy a mid range, keep the change, and then upgrade in a year or two if you really need to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking at this sort of spec... http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/computing/desktop-pcs/desktop-pcs/lenovo-h30-desktop-pc-10108881-pdt.html

How would it, for instance, handle a half decent flight sim?

I know this was just an example but for this model you'd save money by not buying from Currys (eg, buying direct off Lenovo). (and the machine itself seems a reasonable computer)

re. graphics cards - if you really don't know anything about which graphics card to buy aim at the $100 space (ie, about £75-£90. At the moment that would be about a Radeon r7-260 or a Geforce gtx750) - all the manufacturers seem to work hard to get customers at that level... If it exceeds your requirements it won't be an excessive spend, while even if it turns out you'd like a bit more performance it will work just fine at the next quality level down.

Worst case - this price point is popular so you could sell on ebay and get most of your money back to put towards a higher performance card.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My general rule has been to buy a mid range card - somewhere between £100 and £200, depending on what I really want to do with the PC. Unless you have really specific requirements (e.g. 2 x 4K monitors and an ability to see the difference between 75Hz and 40Hz) the high end cards are a waste of money, mainly because they are next years mid range cards. This rule has held true for pretty much 15 years....

+1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if you are old school its easy to underestimate the importance of the graphics card.

Back in the day it was just something that ran the monitor. Nowadays it's largely the graphics card capability that better defines the gaming performance.

The new nvidia 970 appears to be widely accepted as a pretty good card with a good price point. A lot of people I have spoken to seem to think the 980 is not worth the extra cost. It's the law of dimishing returns, I think the 970 hits a sweet spot.

I do racing sims, but mainly on PS3 and Xbone, although I have started on PC. You'd be happy I think on most games with a 970 for racing. Racing does really benefit from the higher frame rate though. Most people seem to think that you need 60fps for racing games. I have no idea about flight sims, but I guess it is similar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know this was just an example but for this model you'd save money by not buying from Currys (eg, buying direct off Lenovo). (and the machine itself seems a reasonable computer)

re. graphics cards - if you really don't know anything about which graphics card to buy aim at the $100 space (ie, about £75-£90. At the moment that would be about a Radeon r7-260 or a Geforce gtx750) - all the manufacturers seem to work hard to get customers at that level... If it exceeds your requirements it won't be an excessive spend, while even if it turns out you'd like a bit more performance it will work just fine at the next quality level down.

Worst case - this price point is popular so you could sell on ebay and get most of your money back to put towards a higher performance card.

There seems to be a few deals out there for 4th gen Intel's, as the 5th gen's have just come out, and the suppliers want to get rid of their old stock.. I've never really been bothered about graphics cards in the past, as I never used a PC for that sort of thing (I relied on the on-board GPUs if I built one)...for games, I used to concentrate on consoles..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I upgraded from a GTX 280 (the top range card at the time of release in 2008) to a GTX 970 recently. I didn't get a massive frame rate increase in flight simulations - they are more CPU dependent! :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I upgraded from a GTX 280 (the top range card at the time of release in 2008) to a GTX 970 recently. I didn't get a massive frame rate increase in flight simulations - they are more CPU dependent! :(

If you are processor bound then that might explain it, but might also be driver/software settings, you should be able to get better fps and resolution. The 970 really is a powerful card. It should produce great results with many games and has well developed and widespread driver support.

4K displays are going to be pretty cheap within a year or two and a machine based around a less powerful graphics card (or one that cannot be upgraded to a significantly more powerful graphics card) is reall going to struggle. I'm not usually a perfromance chaser but if laying out well over £500 on a machine then I would be looking to the best spec possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There seems to be a few deals out there for 4th gen Intel's, as the 5th gen's have just come out, and the suppliers want to get rid of their old stock.. I've never really been bothered about graphics cards in the past, as I never used a PC for that sort of thing (I relied on the on-board GPUs if I built one)...for games, I used to concentrate on consoles..

Funnily enough, it seems that the big advantages of 5th gen over 4th is power consumption and integrated GPU - so for a desktop with dedicated graphics there wouldn't seem to be any advantage to 5th generation at all...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   36 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?


      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.