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How do the latest video cards work?

Posted on 2004-05-01
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I ask this here because I want an answer in Leyman's terms!

The last video card I bought was the GeForce 4 Ti 4200. No this is almost out of the game! This was a great card when I bought it because it was one of the first to do pixel and vertex shaders, so you could have real water!

What features have the latest video cards got, and what's a good one to buy?

Jason
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by:Pete Long
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Undoubtedly the best place to go for graphics card and hardware info, for roundups on all the latest gear and what it performs like go see Tom :)

http://www.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20040420/index.html
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Thanks Pete. I know about Tom but I've lost track of things a bit and I wondered if someoe out there could fill me in with just a sentence or two.
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New important features are directx9, mainly improved shaders

more drawing poly power in terms of AA and FSAA (ati Smoothvision 2.1 allowing 2/4/6X AA and 2/4/8/16X AF)

The greatest change comes in better bump mapping and shading techniques (ati Smartshader 2.1 offering complete DX9 support)

Much higher GPU & ram clocking speeds

improved pixel handling in the z-buffer (z-buffer avoids rendering stuff u won't see anyway, 2 things ontop of each other)
more pipeline

thats about it, not those huge technological leaps we saw in ealier cards. Now speed is much more important since the complex rendering of scenes.
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by:goblin072
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The best card to get right now is the ATI 9800 pro.   The 9800 Pro XT is a little faster but for the money 9800 pro is better deal.

The main improvement you can see is not in speed but in visual quality.

Your 4200 is a very nice opengl card.  

FSAA and anisometropic filtering help quit a bit.

You will have very few jaggies and shading is much better.  All this can be done without loosing a ton of speed.

Nvidias Dx9 performance is rather anemic.  If you want another Nvidia card wait for the NV40 the current crop of FX cards were a bit of a disaster for the company.   The ti4600 was the companies last great card.

Get a 9800 Pro and play a game called Far Cry with it.  You will think you are inside of the game its effects are that good.
You want real water, take a look at Farcry.  

It can be played on other hardware, I tried it on a old Gforce4 MX card to see how it looked.    It basically ruined the game, you could play but all the realism was gone.

Speed is where it use to be, today its about eyecandy plus the speed.  

If you wait the new cards are going to offer more bandwidth so the games will not slow down when you turn on all the eye candy.  You are going to need it because the new games eat bandwidth.  

For the money now on current hardware get in this order.

1. 9800 pro
2. 9700 pro
3. 9600 pro or maybe nvidia 5700u

wait  4 weeks from now.

R420
nv40

If you wait get a native PCI express card, do not get a AGP card that is hacked to use PCI express.   Nvidia is going to be making some of those hacked cards.  
You should be able to get a PCI express card that has a AGP adapter.  That way it will play in your current rig and when you get a new pcix mother board the graphics card will be native pcix not a hacked AGP card.

So all the new cards are about realism.  Making the fog look real, making shadows look real. Even todays fastest cards start running out of bandwidth if you turn the rez up too much.  

If you get a 9800 pro don't try to run all the games at 1600x1200 with all the features turned up it will chug.  You can do it on some games but not the newest direct X 9 games.

run 1024 and crank it all up or 1280 rez.  

Jaggies are my biggest gripe.  I find 4x FSAA + 1280 looks far better than 1600 rez without FSAA.  All your current games will have a new look to them.   I could never go back to a card that has poor FSAA.


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by:Jason210
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Thanks, that was all really useful-.
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by:Pete Long
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ThanQ
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by:goblin072
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Let me just warn you about Toms Hardware.   I was one of the first to see his site way back before the pentium II.  Intel just about sued his butt off the web.   He survived.   Now his site is not what it use to be.  Its a bit of hype etc.  He sort of sold out.

His data is less objective than it use to be.  Some of his articles are ok but most are influenced by advertisers etc.

I suggest you read more than one hardware site when making a decision.  Its getting like the news you have to read between the lines.   Usually its the small new site that is more objective.  They start out with good intentions then they buckle to coorporate pressures and end up selling out.   It happens to many magazines as well.  

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