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Graphics Card Comparison Guide 271

JaniceZ writes "These days, there are so many graphics card models that it has become quite impossible to keep up with the different configurations. Therefore, we decided to compile this guide to provide an easy reference for those who are interested in comparing the specifications of the various desktop GPUs in the market as well as those already obsolescent or obsolete."
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Graphics Card Comparison Guide

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  • by tute666 ( 688551 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:34PM (#13364241)
    they'll be obsolete in 5 minutes anyways....
  • by linux_warp ( 187395 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:35PM (#13364244) Homepage
    This article does not provide benchmarks, just things like "transistor count" and the number of pixel pipelines. Check out index.html [] has the same information and benchmark charts.
    • The Rojakpot guide provides fillrate and memory bandwidth so you can directly compare cards without doing the math. These are the two most import factors in the performance of the cards. It also has quite a few more cards.
      • by freidog ( 706941 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:56PM (#13364889)
        If the CPU wars of the last 5-7 years have taught us nothing; it's that you really can't judge a product on stats alone. At some point you have to see it perform. If we went strictly by the Rojak tables, the 5900 Ultra is a clearly superior card to the Radeon 9800 Pro.

        Radeon 9800 Pro 128-bits 380 MHz 3040 MTexels/s 256-bits DDR 340MHz 21.76GB/s
        GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 450 MHz 3600 MTexels/s 256-bits DDR 425 MHz 27.20 GB/s
        The 9800 Pro has 1 additional vertex shader pipe, but the raw pixel pushing of the 5900U should be a good 15-20% faster than the Radeon.

        Clearly that is not the case in the real world []

        A modern graphics card has so many complex and intricate features and tradeoffs for performance and power and production, looking at a handful of stats isn't even a good comparison when we're dealing with GPUs of the same family, much less a wide ranging comparison.

        If you want to know how something performs, there is no substitute for benchmarks.
        • I agree that benchmarks are important. I explained in another post that a card with a higher fill rate and more bandwidth isn't always faster.

          If you look at an OpenGL game such as this one vga-charts-06.html [] the 5900U beats the 9800 Pro by a greater margin than the 9800 Pro beat it in that DirectX benchmark you linked.

          The stats _are_ a good indicator of performance in the same family. The performance of the 9700 through the 9800XT scales mostly accord
        • If we went strictly by the Rojak tables, the 5900 Ultra is a clearly superior card to the Radeon 9800 Pro...

          Clearly that is not the case in the real world

          It is if you're running Linux, right? Seriously, I haven't seen any 5900 Ultra vs Radeon 9800 Pro Linux benchmarks, but I know NVIDIA has had a better reputation for Linux drivers. For that reason alone, I tend to favor NVIDIA products, even if their Windows performance is slightly worse.

          Has ATI improved their Linux drivers lately?

    • by Coneasfast ( 690509 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:55PM (#13364326)
      i like digital-daily, they have some good benchmarks:

      PCI-E 2005 []
      ATI 2003 []

      for example
    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:02PM (#13364353)
      Fortunately, I've converted to the Mac, so I don't have to worry about stupid things like having a choice in graphics cards.

      (Sadly, I'm not trolling or being a smartass.)
      • I can't tell if it's supposed to be humorous or arrogant.

        Choices are bad! Oh noes... I have to read a bit before spending over a few hundred dollars.

        To be honest, if you are not intending to spend more then a hundred dollars your choices aren't so great. Older cards tend to depreciate to their relative value as per their capabilities.

        With newer cards there is of course the tax for being a newcomer and the cost of the performance.

        When I play this game, I start by determining how much I want to spend and then
        • My gaming PC has a $600 videocard in it. I'm thinking of getting away from the annual process of building two new souped-up PCs to keep up with top of the line gaming and moving to console gaming once the new XBOX and PS3 come out.

          My main reason is that I can get any decent strategy or RPG game that I want to play on the Mac. Everything else, I can get for the console. And rather than maintaining two expensive high-end gaming PCs for myself and my brother, we can buy one copy of a game and have one machine
      • Well, I guess only the Powermacs really offer a choice, but with current PCs, there aren't a lot of laptops that offer choices (there are some). With pre-assembled desktops, I'm not sure you can just pick a model and have a choice of graphics cards.

        Personally, graphics cards did matter for a while, but I have never spent more than about $200 to get one, and the choice was affected by whether it supported certain 3D apps, but not games.

        The Radeon 9500/9600 cards that I have do everything that I want except
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Fortunately, I've converted to the Mac, so I don't have to worry about stupid things like having a choice in graphics cards.

        Really? When I bought my G5 tower I had the choice between a GeForce 6800 Ultra, an ATI X800XT, an ATI 9600XT, or an aftermarket ATI Radeon 9800 Pro.
        If you *really* needed the choice you shouldn't have bought a Mini, Emac or an Imac.

        No, you don't get all off the off-brand "XFX Sooper EXTREEM O'CLOCKED 78000GTX with Dual Inline Turbo" types of things, but there are choices for some of

      • What do you mean? You have choices. I just upgraded the video card in my Mac.
      • While I respect your low user number, you have got to be kidding me.

          You get your choice of ATI or Nvidia, PCI-X if you have a newer G5. There really aren't any other choices worth mentioning unless you don't play games...even then..

          We seem to live in a dualistic world. Male or Female. Left or Right. Up or Down, Mac or PC, ATI or Nvidia, Intel or AMD. Linux and the BSD's are an affront to this order. :)
    • by DJ-Dodger ( 169589 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:15PM (#13364755) Homepage
      The Tech-Report has a similar chart [], but theirs is sortable and each card is linked to a review of the card if they did one.
    • Unfortunately, Tom's article is out of date now. It only includes cards that use an AGP slot (So, none of the new PCI-express only stuff is there), and doesn't include anything from the new Nvidia 7800 line.
    • Thanks for the tomshardware link, that rojaks pot site is annoying to read too since he insists you always stare at his banner at the expense of readable screen area.
    • Conspicuously absent from the table: does it have free drivers?
  • Me dumb (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monte ( 48723 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:39PM (#13364268)
    Let's say I didn't know anything about graphics cards. How does this help me?
    • Re:Me dumb (Score:2, Informative)

      by feanor512 ( 905622 )
      Look at the fillrate and memory bandwidth. In general a card with a higher fillrate and more memory bandwidth is faster than one with a lower fillrate and less memory bandwidth. This isn't always true, though. The ATI Radeon 9700/9800 series is faster than the Geforce FX 5900 series clock for clock, while the Geforce 6800 series is faster than the ATI X800 series clock for clock.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:40PM (#13364271)
    If the manufacturers didn't go out of their way to completely confuse the issue to the point where there are no definitive answers to the question.
    • We really wouldnt need this type of thing if the manufacturers didn't go out of their way to completely confuse the issue to the point where there are no definitive answers to the question.

      Yeah, why should all these capitalist commercial corporations be so insensitive as to confuse the question of whether their competitors make a better product?
  • It _is_ a shame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Achra ( 846023 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:49PM (#13364304) Journal
    Anyone else that accidentally bought an ATI Radeon 9250 knows what I'm talking about.. Why is it acceptable to rename the 8500 to 9250, just to make it sound more "relevant" in the modern market? The fact is that if you're going to buy a vidcard you have to do a crapload of research. Period. You can't stand in the PC store and say, "I dunno, what you got for $50?" anymore. You'll end up with a pile of junk. Another good example is the Geforce 4mx, basically a rebranded Geforce 2.
  • Short list (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) * on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:57PM (#13364334)
    If you want Linux compatibility, you want nVidia. Yes, nVidia's drivers are closed-source, but they're at the same level as their Windows drivers, right down to the overclocking controls.

    If you want a fanless, low-power GPU that can also do light gaming, get a GeForce 6200 with as much onboard RAM as you can find (ignore the TC "TurboCache" crap).

    If you want a midrange, not-too-power-hungry card, get the 6600GT. This is my favorite card.

    If you need a high-end GPU, get a 7800GT. If you have money to burn, get the GTX version. Check to make sure your power supply is up to snuff (Seasonic S12 series is my favorite, highest efficiency I've found), especially if you did something silly like buy an Intel P4. If you can afford one of these you can afford a proper AMD 64-bit processor to go with it.

    There, everything you need to know. The 6200 was a pleasant surprise to me. I put one in my parents' Shuttle SFF box (Athlon 64 3000+), replacing a Ti4200, and the lower power consumption was enough for the main system fan to slow down to its minimum 1000RPM most of the time. It's still good enough to play UT2004 Demo at full detail at 1280x1024 res.
    • Re:Short list (Score:2, Informative)

      by s_p_oneil ( 795792 )
      You have to watch out for some of the 6200's. Some are a step down from the 6600's and others are a step up from the 6200 TurboCache versions. Even though they're not TurboCache versions, they are actually slower than the original 6200. It's a shame that they're not marked as being different from the others.

      If you want silence, there are some fanless 6600's on the market. They may use too much power to run in a Shuttle, though. ;-)
    • Re:Short list (Score:3, Informative)

      by NitsujTPU ( 19263 )
      He's right. I have an ATI video card, and it's pure misery.

      People will argue it in both directions, but they're just completely incorrect. My 4 year old GeForce works far better under Linux than my brand spanking new Radeon.
      • Re:Short list (Score:4, Interesting)

        by adam613 ( 449819 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:00PM (#13364708)
        That's not surprising. Most four-year-old hardware will work better on Linux than the brand-new equivalent, because various developers have had four years to write drivers.

        What is impressive about nVidia is that their brand-new hardware works just as well under Linux as the four-year-old stuff.
        • I totally understand.

          However, on both fronts, I am using the proprietary drivers. On one front, I paid $300 for a card (included in a notebook), that will have devalued significantly by the time I am able to use all of its features.

          Had I purchased an nVidia, it wouldn't have been a problem.
    • I have a 6600GT and it is nice, but I think I am going to get a Gigabyte 6600 256MB because it is apparently fanless.

      My computers sounds like a jet engine.
      • You could always just buy a third party silent VGA cooler. Just remove the stock cooling array and attach. $20 for a good one at most places around here.

        The 256MB 6600 apparently doesn't need a fan because it's not even close to performing as well as the 6600GT.
    • Nvidia Linux support (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrJimbo ( 594231 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:17PM (#13364761)
      A couple years ago, I noticed a memory leak in OpenGL apps when using Nvidia drivers and an experimental Gentoo Linux kernel. I sent Nvidia an email about it around 10 pm Saturday evening.

      I got a response about 20 minutes later which included a patch for the Linux kernel I was using. I recompiled my kernel with the patch and it fixed the leak.

      It is too bad their drivers are closed source, but I have to say that their Linux support is outstanding and on a par with the best support I've experienced.

    • Yeah, I've always had good luck with nVidia drivers/cards and Linux - although not sure I'd say they're exactly "at the same level" as the Windows driver counterparts.

      On my MythTV box, using a GeForce 4Ti 4600 card, I've run into lots of issues of nVidia changing around little details related to the card's ability to output in HDTV resolutions, to properly select or auto-detect which port the card is connected to (s-video, composite, or DVI/VGA) and other such things. It generally works well... don't get m
    • If you want Linux compatibility, you want nVidia.

      and if you want a graphic card with a Manufacturer's Warrenty you want to get an ATI. Seriously for certain card models ATI cards aren't that badly supported (even under linux) sure, most ati cards work better under windows than under linux (with a few exceptions) but if you're buying a gaming system and worrying about linux you're either A. dual booting or B. running some type of virtual machine set up, or C. planning on migrating down to 'linux' when you
      • "nvidia has nothing that compares to FireGL"

        Say that again? What about Quattro??
      • As previously pointed out, the nVidia equivalent to the FireGL is called the Quadro. It's been out for several years now and is extremely well supported.

        nVidia also has the most complete and accelerated OpenGL implementation on the market. They have much more stable drivers than ATI, and the actually support their previous generation hardware. They don't tend to do massively bloated "we require 128MB RAM for our driver" type crap.

        When ATI gets around to releasing a driver that actually loads on a new ker
    • I'm loyal to nVidia (at least in their video cards, not so much in their motherboards) but I wouldn't say their Linux video drivers are at the same level as their Windows drivers. For example, I'm still waiting for proper TV-in support (no, RivaTV doesn't count, it's an awful hack that will never work properly).
    • There, everything you need to know.

      Not quite; if you want a card that works using the Free XFree86/Xorg drivers and offers stability, future usability and 3D, then you want a Radeon upto the 9250.

      If you don't care about 3D, you can buy pretty much anything you like, including on-board.

  • They missed FPS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mishra100 ( 841814 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:58PM (#13364341)
    I hear video cards being rated in FPS(frames per second) in certain video games all the time. If person A can get 100 more FPS out of Doom 3 using an ATI at the same cost as a Nvidia, usually they are going to go for that.

    So my question is why didn't they include this in there? They have a lot of good data but I just wish that someone would run all the video tests on each card and check out the FPS data on certain popular games and produce them in a nice chart similar to this one.
  • by Wino ( 655084 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:02PM (#13364352) Homepage
    That list looks like my damn credit card bill for the last 10 years! What would be really cool is if the guide had check boxes and when you hit submit it tells you how much money you wasted on all those shiney new gfx cards over the years.

    Wait... on second thought that wouldnt be cool at all.

  • by TuxPaper ( 531914 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:05PM (#13364360)
    the web picks up the slack. Back in the day when I bought computer magazines (at least 2 years ago), I've always wanted comprehensive charts of the latest graphic cards listed in magazines. Occassionally, if they were doing a graphics card special issue, there'd be maybe 7 cards compared.

    However, this comparison guide is hardly a "easy reference". It's on the web, so give it some features. I want to sort, filter out columns, have side-by-sides comparisons, comments/ratings by users (or staff), etc.

    I live in Japan now, where I can pick up a monthly computer magazine, and they have a section dedicated to charts on the latest CPU, Video, HDD, Motherboards, and Chipsets. The video chart, for comparison, has 14 different specs, all listed on one row, making it far easier to compare than this site.

    The only advantage to the charts at the site in this story is that it will/does include old cards. But, as with other commenters in this thread, I say this story certainly feels like a cheap ad.
  • I'm using a docking station with an old Dell CPTv Celeron laptop as the base for my car computer that runs Debian Woody. The interface I'm working on runs on PerlSDL

    Anyone one to suggest a good PCI linux friendly card for the dock? Tried doing some research but PCI video cards aren't exactly popular anymore. Hard to find any hits that aren't after 02.

    So far peformance is ok, but moving up from a 8mb ATI rage mobility seems like a a cheap way to get more performance. Especially for some of the bells and whis
  • My solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YuriGherkin ( 870386 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:36PM (#13364470)
    I recently came up with a good way to compare video card with a bang-for-buck type analysis.

    * I went to the latest review of VGA cards at Tom's Hardware [].

    * I chose the top 12 video cards from ATI and nVIDIA

    * I created a spreadsheet which calculated the relative rankings of each card across about 30 different tests for a range of games/benchmarks. i.e. the top scoring card in a category got 100% and the remaining 11 cards were expressed as a fraction of the top score.

    * I averaged the rankings for the 30 categories

    * I used a local hardware search tool to find the current "buy it today" best prices for each of those cards.

    * I divided the average ranking by the price to get a bang/buck ratio that can help to compare the cards. i.e. so a card that averaged 90% but costs AUD$600 would have a lower final score than a card that came in at 50% but only cost AUD$200

    Unfortunately, the spreadsheet is at work but the 6600GT was a clear winner in terms of bang-for-buck.

    All these 12 cards were good, and most of them were the only ones remaining in the extreme tests like high-res DOOMIII with AA sort-of-tests. So, even if a card only came in at 50% average, it was still able to work with all the latest games at reasonable frame rates.

  • YAG3DGCC! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:40PM (#13364480)
    Oh Boy! Yet Another Generic 3D Graphics Card Comparison! Like we've never seen one of those before!

    How about something that covers new ground? How about evaluating the features beyond simple stats and 3D performance in various games I'll never play?

    I want to see a comparison that looks at these characterstics without regard to 3D FPS...

    1) Noise level, idle and under load
    2) Heat level and/or power consumption, idle and under load
    3) DVI signal quality when pushed to maximum resolution & refresh rate - i.e. how long a cable I can hang off of it at what resolution
    4) Video acceleration - mpeg2, mpeg2 for hi-def, WM9, WM9 for hi-def, h.264 and h.264 for at hi-def resolutions
    5) Video de-interlacing support and quality - 3:2 telecine at what resolutions, how about 2:2 telecine, etc
    6) Video scaling quality -- how many taps for vertical, how many taps horizontal, any fancy algorithms, test-pattern measured quality levels

    Anybody and his brother can put up a speclist of 3D features or run a set of semi-standard 3D benchmarks and they already have. How about somebody with some real tools - oscope, multi-meter, pattern tests, etc do something new and useful to the REST of us for a change?
    • Re:YAG3DGCC! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      I agree. Most of the 3D benchmarks push the idea that the only buying considerations for buying are FPS and dollars. It would be nice if they considered the other stuff like you mentioned.

      I personally would like to see a database like what does, and be able to cull out rediculous crap like graphics cards that take two slots. I'd also like to know what sound pitches the on-board fans use and how loud they are.

      It seems like the people that buy the high end stuff buy without regard to prac
    • How about something.... new and useful to the REST of us for a change

      Those things take effort and time. Turning on FPS counters do not.
    • Couldn't agree more. I've been through four upper-middle-range cards through the past several years (Voodoo3, GeForce3 Ti200, GeForce4 Ti4200, and now an FX5900XT). I get all caught up in memory bandwidth and pixel shaders and I end up with a card that works great during the three or four times a month I play games, but drives me insane with its fan noise the rest of the time.

      'No fan' is #1 on my list for my next card.
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:09PM (#13364572)
    It seems like Matrox kind of got swept under the table over the years. They always made great cards. Not necessarily the best for gaming but they had some cool features before any one else.

    Seems like they haven't really introduced anything new in quite some time.
  • by digitalderbs ( 718388 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:11PM (#13364576)
    I'm in the process shopping for a fanless card. I found this review [] useful (Nvidia and ATI). Sorry, no linux. The review comes with detailed benchmarks.

    • PCI-E and AGP
    • Nvidia Geforce 6200, 6600 and 6800 models
    • ATI X300, X700, X800
    • Benchmarks : 3DMark05, 3DMark03, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, Far Cry,
  • Rojakpot? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mblase ( 200735 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:18PM (#13364599)
    Didn't we already slashdot this server once today []?
  • What if all you want is just to display some stuff on the screen, and dont care about having the highest FPS on the planet..

    I remember when 25 dollar cards were plentiful and DID THE JOB...

    Not everyone that owns a PC is a gamer.
  • I've always referred to this excellent pcvsconsole table of PC video card specs [] for a very concise overview of the specs and performance of the various video cards. It really is worth a look if you want to see how much more horsepower is in the newer cards as compared to the older ones.
  • by js3 ( 319268 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:28PM (#13364798)
    if you can't handle the slashdot!
  • The chart would be a lot more useful if it had a column listing compatibility with the various flavors of Linux/BSD/etc.
  • Don't miss the little dropdown at the very bottom of the linked page.
  • I mean, sure, it wasn't the fastest thing on the block, but it had triple-monitor support and some other really nifty technologies in there (par for the course from Matrox). I know, not exactly a gaming card, but if you're going to include the G550, you can't leave the Parhelia out. Then there's the Px50 series too...

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.