Author Topic: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide  (Read 3931 times)

Ari Altman

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The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« on: March 03, 2014, 06:42:14 PM »
Here's the thread to discuss the "Video Card Buyer's Guide", updated quarterly on The Tech Buyer's Guru.

The guide can be found here:

http://techbuyersguru.com/VideoCardAdvice.php
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 08:00:00 AM by Ari Altman »

JJAP

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2015, 07:56:27 PM »
@Ari
I urge you to recommend the 285/960 over the 280(X).

Witcher 3 benchmarks show no strain on vram.
http://www.techpowerup.com/mobile/reviews/Performance_Analysis/The_Witcher_3/3.html
In fact, no game to date has shown a need for more than 2GB @ 1080

OK, you know that. I understand your claim to be that the 3GB of the 280 will someday be better than 128/2GB. But look at hardocp's benchmarks of gta V:
http://www.hardocp.com/article/2015/04/27/grand_theft_auto_v_single_gpu_performance_review_part_1/7

The 280X is significantly slower! We now have significant evidence against the case of an older chip, and still no evidence against 128/2G. I think it's too much of gamble to bet on 3GB w/old chip.

JJAP

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2015, 08:14:56 PM »
I also want to address the commen about the 970 3.5vram being a liability in SLI. There is no evidence of this. In fact, the 970 is by far the best value in dual gpu gaming.

http://www.techpowerup.com/mobile/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_970_SLI/22.html

Even when the 970 SLI was brought to it's knees by GTA V, it's vram didn't go past 3.5GB. It's conceivable that the last 500MB would be a liability, but compared to what? What other card would outperform/price it in SLI?

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2015/05/04/grand_theft_auto_v_multigpu_performance_review_part_2/2

PCPer spent days trying to artificially stress the last 500GB. Under a microscope, yes, the last 500 is slower. But so what? The 970s value still stands.

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Frame-Rating-Looking-GTX-970-Memory-Performance/COD-Advanced-Warfare-and-Clos
http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/Frame-Rating-GTX-970-Memory-Issued-Tested-SLI

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2015, 09:26:15 PM »
JJAP,

You make some really good points above. There have been some recent game releases (The Witcher 3 and GTAV in particular) that have run much better on new architectures, both from Nvidia and AMD, than on older architectures. The Witcher 3 also happens to be really easy on VRAM, making the GTX 960 and the R9 285 the better choice for that game versus the older R9 280/X.

But the recommendations in the TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide take into consideration many years' worth of games, not just the newest releases, and overall, there is evidence that VRAM matters in many games. And in most game engines, the R9 285 and GTX 960 simply have not proven superior to the R9 280 and GTX 760 that they replaced.  But the Buyer's Guide is updated every quarter, so if I see more evidence of the newer cards proving superior to the older cards (while also dropping in price), I'll change the recommended cards at the applicable price points.

On the topic of GTX 970 SLI, I'm going to hold my ground. I've run GTX 780 Ti 3GB SLI for quite some time, and I can honestly say the 3GB of VRAM became an issue. GTX 970 4GB SLI is nearly equivalent in speed, and will run into similar VRAM issues. The reason that no one has been able to push the GTX 970 over 3.5GB is that the latest Nvidia driver has disabled the last 0.5GB of VRAM, because it is a massive bottleneck to performance. Therefore, the card only has 3.5GB of usable RAM, and that simply is not enough to push detail levels that 970 SLI can run. Even 4GB is going to start being a limitation soon, and this shouldn't be a surprise. The consoles have a total of 8GB at their disposal, about 6-7GB of which can be allocated to graphics. With most games today starting as console ports, game developers are depending on VRAM more and more. For a single GTX 970, 3.5GB is plenty, as you can't push ultra-high levels of detail at ultra-high resolutions on a single card, but for SLI, it does matter.

As for what cards beat 970 SLI, the answer is simple. Either the Radeon R9 295 X2, which will go down in history as one of the most insane closeout deals of all time, or alternatively two R9 290X cards. Sure, there are games where 970 SLI will outperform the Radeons, but overall, the Radeons are simply faster and more robust in dual-card configurations due to their VRAM advantage and huge memory bandwidth.

Oilcruzer

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2016, 01:32:34 PM »
Nice site Ari.  Hope you are getting enough page views / links...

The hierarchy on vid cards is a little difficult to follow... although people at TH have hit that pretty well.

A few questions here.

The "2160p (4K)" HTPC vid card recommendation is that Gigabyte GeForce GFX 950 that you link to.  http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-GeForce-GDDR5-Graphics-GV-N950OC-2GD/dp/B013XFK0R6

1) Is that the only 950 model that will fit the bill? (i.e. do other / all GeForce GFX 950 units include HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2?)

2) Are there other restrictions on systems that people need watch for?  (I.E. does the processor come into play here at all or the chipset or other items?  (I.E. does simply switching out the vid card fit the bill?)

3) For those who would like an even better vid card, are there other cards that work right now?  (I've a Gigabyte GFX 560 ti, and it's a pretty decent mid-stream card, but if I'm going to upgrade, maybe I should toss a bit more into the upgrade cycle here...

Thanks.

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2016, 02:10:14 PM »
Nice site Ari.  Hope you are getting enough page views / links...

The hierarchy on vid cards is a little difficult to follow... although people at TH have hit that pretty well.

A few questions here.

The "2160p (4K)" HTPC vid card recommendation is that Gigabyte GeForce GFX 950 that you link to.  http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-GeForce-GDDR5-Graphics-GV-N950OC-2GD/dp/B013XFK0R6

1) Is that the only 950 model that will fit the bill? (i.e. do other / all GeForce GFX 950 units include HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2?)

2) Are there other restrictions on systems that people need watch for?  (I.E. does the processor come into play here at all or the chipset or other items?  (I.E. does simply switching out the vid card fit the bill?)

3) For those who would like an even better vid card, are there other cards that work right now?  (I've a Gigabyte GFX 560 ti, and it's a pretty decent mid-stream card, but if I'm going to upgrade, maybe I should toss a bit more into the upgrade cycle here...

Thanks.

Thanks for this helpful feedback, Oilcruzer. Much appreciated!

Were you referring to the hierarchy in the Video Card Rankings article? This will get a full revamp in Spring 2016 when the new generations of cards launches, so any suggestions can be integrated into the update. The Tom's Hardware hierarchy is incredibly comprehensive, but some of the categories are a bit too broad. That makes making purchasing decisions a little harder.

As to your specific question, all GTX 950 cards have the same home theater capabilities. The Gigabyte happens to be least expensive, and given that the some of the "upgraded" models are too close in price to higher-end GPUs, they don't get our recommendation.

The GTX 950 is actually the most advanced GPU on the market in terms of HTPC capability. It's not certain whether any other Nvidia model can do HDCP 2.2, as there is no content to test it with yet. And no AMD card comes close to its capabilities.

Oilcruzer

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2016, 02:38:44 PM »
Thanks for the quick reply.

Hmmmm... I didn't make it as far as Page 4 (funny)... the article didn't scream out that those were coming after the groupings seen in Pages 1 to 3.

Perhaps a tweak for next time?  Make the navigation and "what's included" more clear?

Also, I predict that more people are going to be looking at alternatives from the locked down options such as the Roku 4 / Apple TV... so that they can move their own picks from their HTPC to their combination of Display and Audio units.

Personally, I'm looking to build a stand alone unit that allows me to tie my NAS and Netflix options together, and from there I separately send SPDIF to the AV unit and the HDMI signal to the "4K" unit.



HNY!

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Video Card Buyer's Guide
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2017, 10:43:45 AM »
This guide has been updated for Summer 2017, with TBG's best picks in a difficult market. The Ethereum cryptocurrency mining craze has wiped out inventory on a wide range of models!