View Full Version : The truth about Video cards part 2.

20-11-2004, 12:10 AM
The truth about Video cards part 2.

First off, the most important info about video cards…….. The performance of any card is dictated by its chipset, not by the amount of ram it has onboard.

I shall repeat that.

The performance of any card is dictated by its chipset, not by the amount of ram it has onboard.

And once again,

The performance of any card is dictated by its chipset, not by the amount of ram it has onboard.128mb vs. 256mb?surely 256mb’s faster?…right?…wrong.

Many people for reasons that escape me are of the belief that the video card is defined by the amount of ram, This is a falsehood, the ram only dictates the size of the textures the video card can handle, and while a card with 256mb of ram can theoretically handle larger textures its always limited by the speed of the video chipset,
Purchase your card based on the chipset, not on the amount of ram, although the speed of the ram is a consideration as manufactures have many cunning and evil tricks up their sleeves….

Buyers guide in a nutshell…If your looking to play recent games at high detail then you get the most bang for your bucks with a midrange card from the current generation or a top end card from the last generation…or even the generation before…But base your decision on the chipset the card is based on…

Do I need a video card?

The short answer…Yes, you do indeed.

All computers benefit from a dedicated video card, not just gaming machines. A computer with a low-end video card is a far superiour unit even when gaming is left out of the equation.

Everything displayed on your screen is held in video ram, An integrated video chipset uses the system ram, not only limiting the amount of ram that can be used for display purposes but taking resources away from the rest of the system.

A computer with a dedicated video card will perform better, display a better quality image, Will not bottleneck the system, And you won’t find yourself kneecapped further down the line when you branch off into area’s of interest you hadn’t considered when purchasing the computer…such as animation, 3d modeling, Photo manipulation, Viewing your collection of 49000 items of clipart…

Plus, You have the added benefit of being able to play games. Kids love games, especially big kids..

Just a side note, All video cards can run games, you do not need the latest and greatest card on the market nor do you need a super computer.

A run of the mill comp with a low to mid-range card will run the majority of games just fine, Sure you may have to run them at low detail and a reduced resolution but it will still spank the fudge out of a console….Don’t believe me?…Play Medal of Honour on FX5200 then fire up the same game on a PS2…….

And another side note…Motherboards with integrated video tend to be very poor performers across the ….uh…board. This applies to all functions of the item, for very *similar money you can get a high performance board with no integrated video (the extra cost comes in the way of the video card, but if you aim low it will only add an additional $120 or so)

There are a (small) number of motherboards that do perform well and have better then average integrated video, While these are a better option then run of the mill offerings they still suffer from the same handicaps as all integrated solutions.

Need more reasons?

If you want to run dual-monitors, or a projector, or feed a signal into a TV then you will have to go with a dedicated video card.

Moving on to the short and sharp topics.


This stands for video-in video-out, Video out is pretty much standard on all cards nowadays and most people don’t use it so I won’t dwell on the subject…apart from to say the difference in price between a card that has it and one that doesn’t will be tiny, So before making a purchase ensure the card does indeed have it…You will need it to run dual monitors or hook the old girl up to the TV…or to feed the video signal into a secondary computer to record high resolution game footage…but hey…. what sort of a geek would do that?

Now onto Video in, this enables you to plug a device into your computer and record the footage…such as a VHS, DVD, console, etc etc, basically anything you can think of sending down the video cable.

It’s a crap idea, It increases the price of the card, Usually has poor drivers, crap capturing software, Limited abilities, Plus you lose the feature when its time to upgrade the video card.

If you want to dabble in some video capture, Buy a TV card, They work independently of your video card, do the job 789 billion times better, can stay in your system when the video card gets upgraded, can be transferred to another machine, Plus give you the ability to watch TV on your comp…. How bloody brilliant is that?

Cards Ranked
In which your humble pathological egotist takes info stolen from another site and reproduces it here.

These are ranked slowest to fastest.

ATI (woohoo)111

9550 64bit
9550 128bit
9800SE or 9800 128bit

NVIDIA (boo!! Hiss!!)

5200 64bit
5200 128bit
5600 EP/XT/LE
5700 EP/XT/LE
5900u< BR>5950U

More to come, Mrs. Metla is complaining that the key tapping is keeping her awake….

20-11-2004, 12:28 AM
Well done Metla, great!

I bought a Pixelview (yes, I know) FX5200 card based on a review of the 128bit one, but when the 64bit arrived, mthey refused to take it back becasue it never mentioned on the site that it was the 64bit nor the 128.

My fault.

Murray P
20-11-2004, 12:40 AM
Met's, coming along nicely.

I'll get this over with: There's a couple of wee, umm... typo's but, I guess they can wait, and wait' ouch! oh come on I'm only trying to help, ouch! ok ok sheessh! ;)

Actually it's an easy read with good info, building up instead of dumping you in the middle,

and, the beast is growing :o

Can't wait for the next installment

Murray P

20-11-2004, 12:45 AM

Well done :-)

I take it you're an ATi man yourself then? ;-)

20-11-2004, 12:45 AM
well,point them out.

I did author the entire text in Word....so its not my fault....


Or is it my grandma?

20-11-2004, 01:38 AM
Nice one metla.

So my card is 8th from the bottom. It only performs about 40% better than my integrated in terms of frames per second. But, things are much smoother in games, not just FPS but non-jerkyness.

And then there was one other thing. IT WORKS - My horrible SiS 661FX took up 12.5% (64MB) of my precious 512MB RAM, and couldn't even display graphics for s**t.

Massive holes in everything, rastering, vibrating effects, no textures in some things, polygons sticking out of objects.....

But the new video card fixed all, gave me a TV out hole, and EVERYTHING looks better. Even Windows.

And playing DVDs uses 0% CPU now, it must be done in the graphics card now.

Some programs that render stuff don't make use of it though :(, but I am still happy with my 9600SE.

Cheers George

20-11-2004, 01:49 AM
Continuing onwards


Which is better?

Wrong approach to the situation, both make excellent quality gear with performance to knock off not only your blindingly white sport socks but your roman sandals as well.

Decide on a budget, consider the specs of the comp it’s going in, weigh that up against the desired performance (and probably adjust your budget) and pick the card that fits the bill. Low-end cards from either manufacturer are just that, High-end cards from either manufacturer will serve up buckets of eye candy and both have gems in the midrange…well NVIDIA have better mid-range cards at the moment but that may not be the case in a week/months time

Granted the cards from different manufacturers have strong points and weak points, The reality is that they (largely) are invisible to the naked eye, They only way to compare is to benchmark them and compare the results…and whose really going to care if one runs Doom at 109 fps and the other runs it at 104 fps?…Both are going to serve up the gore.

And before anyone mentions shaders and crap…..when you can see the difference on the monitor let me know…

Pick the card that gives the most bang within your budget…. Unless you prefer one particular make, But keep in mind that all the fuss over poor drivers is a thing of the past

Which leads us onto the next Segment…Drivers.

Both manufactures offer unified drivers, that is a driver that will run their entire family of cards, Back in the day ATI had a number of issues with buggy drivers and few releases/fixes. This is no longer the case, ATI drivers are now as polished as the NVIDIA drivers, They receive regular updates and as mentioned are now a unified driver,…which simplifies updating them, just grab the latest version and your good to go.

Updating Drivers.

Video card drivers can be pesky buggers to remove, they not only spread themselves around your OS but they tend to leave traces of themselves behind when uninstalled. This can have adverse effects on performance and in extreme cases lead to a crash happy computer or one that runs extremely poorly.

This is especially the case when upgrading your video card to one from the other camp…i.e.; Ripping out an NVIDIA and putting in an ATI.

The answer is to run a little app called driver cleaner, this will identify and remove all traces of video card drivers, giving a clean slate. It’s a must when replacing a card, and a suggested step when updating drivers

It is available http://www.drivercleaner.net/

While I’m on the subject, a modified set of ATI drivers called the Omega drivers are available from http://www.omegadrivers.net/ these make a large number of hidden options available, as well as providing the files required to do a softmod and overclocking…which brings us onto our next subject…


All cards have a clockspeed, this is the speed they are capable of running at and is set in the factory, Lucky for us its very simple to adjust the clockspeed and get a substantial performance increase, In some cases well above the performance levels the card is designed to run at.

Bear in mind that not all video cards are great overclockers, some wont oc at all, and some will take an increase with a smirk and ask for more.

A good resource for info on this subject is http://www.overclockers.co.nz/ being a NZ site they have the added relevance of testing cards that are on the New Zealand market.

More to come….

Power requirments,relevant sites...

20-11-2004, 06:39 AM
Metla, I don't give a stuff about video in or video out or 3D and all the rest of the stuff that seems to be the rage today.
I want a card that will give a clear sharp image on my monitor. One that I can set at 1152 by 864 on my 19 inch monitor and then forget about. One that doesn't need the colour or brightness or contrast adjusted all the time. Or the drivers updated every five minutes. And one that doesn't cost about four times the price of my motherboard.

What do you reccomend?

Currently I have a Logitech/Nvidia 5200 with 128 megs. And I don't like it.


the highlander
20-11-2004, 08:14 AM
Radeon 9600 XT
Medium range, not profanely expensive, good performance. Kick the cr#p out of a 5200
Good bang for your buck
IMO anyway

Neil McC
20-11-2004, 08:47 AM
Thanks for all that,Metla.It's a great help.have saved it to read again.Been wanting some practical directions for ages.Where was part 1,by the way?Did a look at your user profile but don't feel like looking at all your 4717 posts!!
Thanks again.

Susan B
20-11-2004, 09:11 AM
Nice one Metla, that looks really polished now.

I kind of miss the bits on how much one can expect to spend and your recommendations for the cards in each price level. I know they go out of date quick but we always knew this FAQ was going to be a dynamic one.

Neil: The first FAQ is here (http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=50964&message=309262&q=666#309262). :-)

Alan Cottrell
20-11-2004, 09:31 AM
Hi Metla,

One other thing worth mentioning is if you wish to use the TV out function without hassle you are far better off with a Radeon chipset, I have yet to have found a problem getting excellent TV out functionality with any of the Radeon cards.

The Nvidia chipset is a different beast altogether as far as TV out goes and often requires considerable tweaking of software and cabling to get anyware near the same result.

This may have changed a bit in the later version Nvidias (after 5200 chipset ) but judging by the amount of third party software around that tries to improve the function I would not bet on it.


Greg S
20-11-2004, 09:32 AM
Thanks for the DriverCleaner tip

20-11-2004, 10:13 AM
thats interesting alan, i always found i got best results from nvidia tv-out, especially the mx440

20-11-2004, 11:52 AM
Must be time for a musical interlude...

First thing I remember was asking papa why
For there were many things I didn't know.
And daddy always smiled and took me by the hand
Saying someday you'll understand.
Well I'm here to tell you now each and every mother's son
That you better learn it fast you better learn it young
'Cause someday never comes.
Well time and tears went by and I collected dust.
For there were many things I didn't know.
When daddy went away, he said, try to be a man,
And someday you'll understand.
Well, I'm here...
And then one day in April, I wasn't even there,
For there were many things I didn't know.
A son was born to me. Mama held his hand,
sayin' someday you'll understand.
Well, I'm here...
Think it was September, the year I went away,
For there were many things I didn't know.
And still I see him standing tryin' to be a man,
I said, someday you'll understand.
Well, I'm here to tell you now, each and every mother's son,
That you better learn it fast, you better learn it young,
'Cause someday never comes.

Neil McC
20-11-2004, 12:13 PM
Thanks Susan.Such a lot to read!

Pete O\'Neil
20-11-2004, 05:07 PM
> Radeon 9600 XT
> Medium range, not profanely expensive, good
> performance. Kick the cr#p out of a 5200
> Good bang for your buck
> IMO anyway
Why would you reckonmend a 9600PRO for someone who doesnt want to play games? Its complete utter overkill, its like buying an EVO7 for my grandma to go to the supermarket once a week.

ATi's image quality is supperior to nVidia's especially 2D, if your looking for the best image quality for the desktop and have no interest in gaming then an entry level ATi card will be perfect. If you want an AGP or PCI card grab a 9200 if you want PCIe then grab a X300.

Matrox have the best 2D image quality, its second to none, not even ATi can match it. Unfortunatly Matrox cards arent cheap. If you dont need DVI you can probably pick up the older G400 for under $200 if you shop around.

the highlander
20-11-2004, 07:18 PM
>Currently I have a Logitech/Nvidia 5200 with 128 megs. And I don't like it.<
>>Why would you reckonmend a 9600PRO for someone who doesnt want to play games? Its complete utter overkill, its like buying an EVO7 for my grandma to go to the supermarket once a week.<<
Well one reason could be that I didn't read the post properly (rushing to town this morning)
But on reflection I would still stick with that advice. A 9800 pro would be overkill, I don't think a 9600xt is an over the top choice. I can't see the point of spending money on a card that is a sideways move. But then again If I won lotto I probably would buy an EVO7 for my granny. :-)

20-11-2004, 07:43 PM
wow thanks meta very helpful indeed
hey george those 9600SE are not too bad if your not too much into gaming, i got one my self :D
damn only if i known of that driver cleaner a month ago, because that would have saved me to do a format when i did a upgrade from intergrated to my graphics card, oh well:p

great thread