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Buying a graphics card: advice please!

Posted on 2004-09-11
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
Hi.

I am planning to buy a new graphics card.

(I will be running a P4 3GHz on an ASUS P5GD2 deluxe board).

In looking around I have come across some issues that I would like some advice on to help me in my choice of card:

1. What is the “engine clock”?
2. What is the “memory clock”?
3. What is “RAMDAC”?
4. What is the “memory interface”, and is 128 bit DDR what I should be aiming for?
5. How much “video memory” should I go for: 128MB or 256MB DDR? (I don’t play games but do use Photoshop with high-end plugins and I maybe using Lightwave 8.0 and Maya 6.0 in future).

Also, how much RAM (DDR2 533 MHz) do I realistically need in my new system given the above platform: 1GB, 1.5GB or 2GB?

Advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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Question by:timclyma
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stockhes earned 50 total points
ID: 12035934
1. What is the “engine clock”?
speed of the GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) CPU of the graphics card also called Core clock

2. What is the “memory clock”?
speed of the interface between GPU and memory if DDR then *2  = memory speed

3. What is “RAMDAC”?
The UNIT that feeds the signal to the monitor and draws the picture on the screen

4. What is the “memory interface”, and is 128 bit DDR what I should be aiming for?
Wider/ More is better see 2

5. How much “video memory” should I go for: 128MB or 256MB DDR? (I don’t play games but do use Photoshop with high-end plugins and I maybe using Lightwave 8.0 and Maya 6.0 in future).

256 MB but beware many cards ship with slower ram in the 256Mb version than the 128 Mb version

Also, how much RAM (DDR2 533 MHz) do I realistically need in my new system given the above platform: 1GB, 1.5GB or 2GB?

If you do a lot of HIGH-end Photoshop and/or 3d modelling 2GB wont hurt
For " normal " systems - gaming or office anything above 1 GB is overkill, again it depends on resolutions blah blah blah


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by:Danny Child
Danny Child earned 25 total points
ID: 12036215
timclyma, you may find these sites useful to find what you're after.  

http://www.tomshardware.com/
http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20040816/index.html

personally, I like to keep my graphics card about 6 months behind the "bleeding edge" - the nVidia 6800 is King of the Hill today, but will be at least 50% cheaper in 6 months - and there's plenty of games that will take me 6 months to play... the ATI 9800 Pro's seem to have reached sensible prices at last.  But that's for gaming, which isn't your bag...  

Depending on whether you've actually bought any kit yet, you might want to keep an eye on PCI Express, a new faster bus architecture just coming in.  Might be nice, might be buggy as hell...
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by:buckeyes33
buckeyes33 earned 25 total points
ID: 12036781
Since you are photo editing you are going to want a card that has high graphics quality.  Between Nvidia and ATI chipsets, ATI has much better graphics quality.  I have not been able to see a Geforce 6800 series to see how well their quality is, but the X800 series from ATI is excellent.  For those cards, you will just have to look around and read a lot of reviews.  The 6800 is much faster then the X800 series, but as for the quality of the graphics I don't know which is better.  If you are looking for an older card, then either the ATI 9800XT or 9800Pro would better for your use as their graphics quality is better then the FX5900 series of cards.  What I mean by graphics quality is the amount of smoothness and brightness that the card gives you.  If you were to put to identical systems together with about Identical ATI and NVidia cards, the ATI will have the better graphics quality.


As for your RAM question.

This really depends on the size of files that you will be working with.  If you are going to have several different files open that are large files and you will be saving and opening up the files contiunously then 2GB might help.  Otherwise 1GB of RAM would probably be fine.  Now, if you start video editing at all, then the more RAM the better.  SATA drives will also help out a lot with your set up.  

Just a note:   Since you are using one of the new motherboards, you need to watch out and make sure that you get the lastest revisions and bios updates that you can.  These boards are very unstable with many test that they are doing, they are getting better everyday though.  They seem to be exspecially unstable with processors higher then 2.4ghz.  
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