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I have planned to buy a graphics card. When searching for a particular chipset (e.g. GTX 460) I find cards of different vendors (i.e. Gigabyte, Palit, PNY, ...).

I can figure out differences in frequency, memory, and equipment. When I read test reports, usually a particular NVIDIA card is compared with its ATI/AMD "counterpart" - have not really found a comparison of all vendors for a particular NVIDIA chipset.

So in order to make a decision:

a. Are the drivers all the same for all the cards of a particular chipset (and provided by NVIDIA or the vendor?)

b. How to figure out which card actually to buy. OK, I choose chipset, and memory, and check the card has the required ports, but then ....

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Are the drivers all the same for all the cards of a particular chipset (and provided by NVIDIA or the vendor?)

Yes and no. All similar cards can use the same generic drivers from Nvidia. (Ditto for AMD/ATI cards).

But there are a few exceptions where large resellers (such as Dell) get chips with a different ID. In that case the generic driver refuses to install until you change the installation files. (They actually work fine afterward. And both AMD and Nvidia provide frequent driver updates, unlike some 3rd parties).

How to figure out which card actually to buy. OK, I choose chipset, and memory, and check the card has the required ports, but then ....

  1. Choose what kind of graphical power you need.
  2. Select GPU chipset on that.
    (Or chipsets, both Nvidia and AMD usually have chips in the same performance range).
  3. Choose how silent you want the card to be.
  4. Select a specific model.
  5. Browse around for that model in different stores.

All cards based on the same GPU chip perform roughly the same. Memory (currently the choice en DDR3 (slower) and GDDR5 (faster, more expensive, uses more power) can make a significant difference. Other factors seem to have little influence. (Where I define little as less than 10%).

Other factors to look for are output interfaces of the card (e.g. multiple DVI outputs? Multiple display port outputs. 3D options? Does it support eyefinity). A GPU might be able to generate output for half a dozen of these, but not all cards will have that many outputs.

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