Mark joined the show with his thoughts on the much anticipated upcoming release of Fallout 4
Allan in Kissimmee, Florida listens to the Into Tomorrow podcasts and asked us about upgrading his gaming desktop:
I have a gaming desktop and I’m looking to upgrade the video card. Just wondering what to look out for.
You should look out for unrealistic expectation first of all, when you upgrade your graphics card, your games should run better, but they may not run as well as you’d like them to, if the rest of your computer is still not up to the same standards of the new graphics card.
You should also keep an eye out for compatibility both with the rest of your desktop’s components, but even with your desktop’s own case, some modern graphics cards are close to a foot long. Pay attention to both RAM and it’s bandwidth, you want enough memory to load the images that will fill up your screen, but also the speed to get them there without delay.
You probably don’t want to spend a ton of money on the top of the line super expensive card, if it’s going to be overkill for what you need or for what the rest of your computer can use. Typically, people seem to find a sweet spot around $200 where good cards can be found that are also worth buying, but your mileage may vary.
The two big names in gaming video cards are NVIDIA and AMD, but those aren’t usually the name on the card itself. They are the names of the companies making the graphics processors–the chips that make the cards go. As to which one is better? Well, what day is it? They keep releasing new chips on a regular basis, and they’re playing a game of high tech leapfrog where each company takes the lead and holds it until the other company releases a new product.
Our buddy Mark Lautenschlager has said that he once was an AMD guy but has stuck with NVIDIA for a number of years. He said It’s his opinion that NVIDIA’s drivers and game support is more stable, but he also freely admits that he hasn’t kept up with AMD since making the switch. I will echo the advice we already gave you, and that is never to purchase the absolute top of the line card unless you simply have money to burn. You can usually step down one or two revisions and still get excellent performance for half the cost. But if you have the cash to spend and you want to raise the roof, I’d recommend an NVIDIA GTX 980 4G card right now, as that’s just about the fastest single card video solution for a gaming rig.
Finally, don’t go by the specs on the box. They will confuse you. The specs they publish on boxes sound very similar between cards. The things they don’t publish, like shader units, clock speed, and pixel fill rate, are indicators of true speed. There is no such thing as a free lunch. A $50 video card is much slower than a $200 video card, and much, much slower than a $600 video card. The sweet spot is $150 to $350. Under that and you’re not getting enough card. Over that and you’re spending to win the benchmark race–you’ll never see the difference in the current generation games.