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Is it worth it to spend a little extra on a 1gb card with the same exact specs as a card with 512mb memory for a monitor of resolution 1920x1080?

I am thinking of getting the nvidia gts 250. The 1gb card throws in a fre usb stick :)

Also is it better for the heatsink to be boxed or unboxed?

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well, i think since they also throw in an usb stick, there really is no dilemma here :-)) –  ldigas Feb 18 '10 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The output resolution doesn't make much difference once you get to this sort of memory scale. 1920x1080 at 32 bits per pixel is ~8Mb, so even if an app/game/what-ever is triple-buffering the memory used by the frame buffers will only be ~24Mb.

The extra memory will be used for thing like higher resolution textures (improving some visuals) or just being able to hold more texture data on the card saving trips to and from main memory (improving speed when moving between areas that might need different textures) and other such. How much difference this will make depends on the apps/games you plan to run - some will be able to take advantage of the extra while many will ignore it. Another related issue is that if the game/app does user more RAM for higher resolution textures the GPU will have more work to do presenting those textures on screen, reducing framerates so you might tone the settings back down anyway. Many game/card reviews compare benchmarks between different RAM sizes as well as different GPUs, so I suggest you try find some such resources (try "gts250 1Gb 512Mb benchmark" in a search engine as a starter-for-ten) to get an impression of what difference to expect and if that difference is enough for you to care about.

If you look at most game specs "256Mb minimum, 512Mb recommended" seem usual these days, so my gut suggests that unless you are a big gamer type, or the price difference is quite small, I would stick to 512Mb as you are likely to want an upgraded GPU before the amount of RAM becomes a major limitation. If the price difference is large you might be better of spending the extra on a game to play with the new card instead! But check out some relevant reviews and benchmarks to be more sure.,

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Are these cards power efficient when not gaming? Would they use up same amount of power when idle as low profile cards? –  Absolute0 Feb 18 '10 at 15:10
    
They will use less power and kick out a lot less heat when not working at fill tilt, so cooling fans will likely be running slower too. I'm not sure about nVidia but ATI cards certainly half their core and RAM speeds when they detect they can get away with it. But even when relatively idle a powerful card could consume more power than a less able one of the same generation. The extra 512Mb RAM will take a little more power even at idle, but this difference is minor compared to the idle/active GPU difference. Some card reviews test power consumption, so again it is worth searching for these. –  David Spillett Feb 18 '10 at 16:23

It depends.

If you think you might need the resolution or have a device capable of displaying that resolution then yes. If not, probably no. However, only you can decide whether the extra money is worth spending. Do you want this more than the beer/food/movie tickets etc. you'd spend it on otherwise?

The USB stick won't be worth the difference in price.

The boxed heat sink will probably give you better directed airflow over the card. They won't have added it for "looks". They're in the business of making money and any extra they spend on making the card is reducing their profits.

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@ChrisF I debating between these 2 cards: newegg.com/Product/…-14-130-539--Product newegg.com/Product/…-14-130-514--Product The price difference is $45 after rebates It seems smarter to get the cheaper one but as the saying goes "you get what you pay for" I would like good quality I can probably get a new low profile nvidia card for that $45 :) –  Absolute0 Feb 18 '10 at 14:45
    
@Absolute0 - If you can afford/justify the extra $45 go for the higher spec card, if you can't - don't. I'm afraid it's as simple as that. –  ChrisF Feb 18 '10 at 15:05

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