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UPGRADE VIDEO CARD

NVIDIA and AMD - VIDEO CARD DESIGNERS

young boy in fighter jet helmet playing a gameTwo companies, nVidia and AMD, control the design of virtually all video cards. They provide the reference designs that all brands (EVGA, ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, etc.) follow and the key graphics processing chips they use.  Thus for any particular design or model of video card, the cards sold under the different major brands are very similar in performance. 

Similarities are also due to the brands using many of the same third party manufacturers, often with components obtained from the same sources.  However, there are some differences between brands of specific cards as explained on a Brands.

AMD acquired another company, ATI, and consolidated them in 2010. Their video cards have been sold as ATI Radeon video cards, but AMD is in the process of changing their branding to "AMD" for newer models, so you may see cards following their designs referred to as AMD, ATI, or AMD/ATI. 

AMD/ATI labels most new video cards “Radeon HD” followed by a model number while nVidia uses “Geforce” followed by a model number. Sometimes the “Radeon” or “Geforce” is omitted in the card description.

NVIDIA VS. ATI - PERFORMANCE DIFFERENCES

AMD and nVidia are continually working to upgrade their designs and issue new cards.  It often seems that whichever was the last one to bring out a new design is the “leader” with the fastest graphics card.  And while some graphics card users have a strong preference for one or the other upgrade card, both are good companies and ATI and Geforce video cards are generally priced very competitively with one another. 

Right now ATI provides an advantage to those wanting to use more than two monitors or displays with one card while Geforce has the advantage in improving performance by using the video card to process some of the calculations normally handled by the CPU, although the number of programs or games taking advantage of this feature is still small. 

However the different designs in Geforce and ATI cards, and different graphics processing approaches taken by game designers, do create performance differences with respect to particular games, most often small but occasionally significant.  Serious gamers can evaluate those differences by looking at video card comparisons and reviews.

The Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart at Tom's Hardware Guide (THG) places video cards in groups based on relative performance. Each grouping shows the different card models from one designer with similar performance and is placed next to the group of cards from the other designer at the same performance level. THG recommends making video card upgrades that are at least three groups higher on the chart.

For more information about specific cards, see Non-Gaming for basic video cards for general use or Gaming for faster video card upgrades.

 

 


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