Keywords: ati, cards, graphics, nvidia, video
Hey gaiz, so in my computer hardware class, we briefly went over graphics cards, and I honestly don't know how to choose a good one, from an alright one, from a bad one. I know you have ATI and Nvidia as the manufacturers. But how do I know what to look for? What are the standard numbers I should be trying to get? Like I know if I'm buying RAM, I want DDR3 and 4GB or more.

Basically can someone explain the standards of graphics cards, how to read the numbers (Like ATI Radeon HD 4250, Nvidia GeForce 460) And explain all this from a newb stand point on video cards?

I also need to know the following terms and what a good standard is for them:
Steam processors
Core Speed (I believe this is the GPU's clock speed right?)
Effective Memory Clock
Memory Size
Memory Interface
Memory Type

And I'm sure there are more things to consider when buying a video card. I just want to know how to look for a good one that I can buy whenever I make my desktop. Thanks!
The latest series of ATI cars(Now named AMD) :
These are almost the same cards, only that 6850 has a slower GPU then the 6870. it usually comes with a little less memory to.
Radeon 6850
Radeon 6870

These are the newest cards that you should look at. same as above, only with a stronger GPU and more memory.(basicly better)

NVidia now has the "GTX 560", which is a card you defenantly should look at. extreamly good card.
Now, Nvidia makes theyr serialnumbers abit different...

GTX(Type) 5(Series) 60(Quality number, from 40 to 80)

the higher quality number, the greater GPU, memory and clock speed.

if you have a standard CPU, buy no higher then Radeon 68(9)50, or GTX 560
They stand great out in price, and let you run everything released today at high(+|-)
So then Nvidia does their stuff different from ATI? That means I have to try to follow both of them and just know about the devices?
pretty much, yeah...
Well, there really isnt more to know then the memory speed, clock speed and memory size on the video card. The cardnumber usually is the name of the GPU for both ATI and Nvidia. It comes new cards each year, so i recomend you to buy something efficient and less valueable, instead of going for a HC-setup.

If you really want to know the Graphic cards in and out, there is plenty of describtions on the brands homepages.

Also, the brand release really doesnt matter. they give you different shapes and cooling systems, but everything else is the same. go with a brand that offers you big fans and lots of vents.

If you want to max out, i would prefer 1200W, 3x Nvidia GTX 580, AMD 1090T CPU(Hexa-core 3.6Ghz), 8GB RAM 2000Mhz, etc.
My advice: use Nvidia hardware; I've had some pretty awful experiences with ATI graphics cards.
But I still wanna know more about video cards. I want to be able to understand the meaning of the terms and be able to tell if a graphics card is okay and what it can run.
You can look at reviews on Amazon to see what cards can run, or YouTube the card. A lot of people make videos showing what the cards they have can do.

Usually, as long as the card isn't from years ago, like made in 2000-2005 range, it'll be decent, and to run newer stuff on high you probably don't want to go any earlier than a NVIDIA/ATI card made in 2009-ish. Unless you really want to be a super nerd and know every little detail about the cards, all the specs don't really matter. All you need to know is if the RAM of the card is compatible with your motherboard, how much wattage the card requires, and if it can play whatever game you're trying to play ( which, like I said, you can find out by Googling or Youtubing w/e card you want and reading reviews or watching people's benchmark videos ).
I chose Intel HD 3000 over some ATI mobility models cos its better... overall i think it depends on your price range, although i would try NVIDIA cos my last experience with my ATI graphics card with 2gb dedicated graphics wasn't the best. My laptop overheated and my cooling system was totalled... used ice packs for the following year till last 3 days :P
SilencedWhisper said:
I chose Intel HD 3000 over some ATI mobility models cos its better...

That is if you game on laptops, lmao. but its not better, i tell you!

SilencedWhisper said:
My laptop overheated and my cooling system was totalled...

Never have a gaming laptop in a bed or something. And the cooling really depends on the computers brand. some offers greater cooling then others.
and it is true that laptops with Nvidia often is better then laptops with ATI, most because of the cheapness. Nvidia cards inside a laptop makes it way more expencive. since the components has higher prices, the producers often places more cooling to make it last longer, or give it a higher price for a lower cost.
When torrenting games I've always found myself to download additional software cause I don't have a nvidia graphics card, I have a mobile ATI with my imac =(.

So yeah you should get a Nvidia it's supported more.