CrossFire vs SLI; Eyefinity vs 3D Surround.
It’s never safe to say that a tech company has released all of its potential products for a specific generation. This is certainly the case when it comes to graphics cards where the turnover is incredibly high (usually 8 to 10 months). So if you’re looking for a graphics card today from the latest generation, know that it’ll become outdated by the “next generation” before the end of this year.
However, our desire to play games at their highest settings with more frames than the human eye can handle has never stopped us before from splurging insane amount of money on graphics cards before. My aim with this feature article is to show you all the options available in the market right now. And depending on your setup, how much money should you spend.
If you’re a PC gamer, then you know how expensive this hobby can get. Whereas consoles offer an extremely cheap entry point into modern gaming, they also suffer from outdated graphics (DX9) according to today’s standards. The PC on the other hand offers DX11 graphics in ultra-high resolution glory and smooth framerates. And let’s not forget that PCs also allow us to play certain genres that are near impossible to play on consoles, RTS and MMORPGs being prime examples. And while racing games and hack & slash ‘action’ games feel cumbersome on a keyboard, PC gamers always have the ability to plug in a game controller.
For sure, PCs are a superior gaming platform, but it comes at a really high cost as well. And until the next generation of consoles come out in the coming years (PS4/Xbox 3), console games will never look as good as their PC counterparts.
One last thing I would like to stress on are the frame rates, because this is what we judge a 3D card’s prowess by. Most of the content you see on TV and movies are running at 24 frames per second. Most monitors and TVs are running at 60Hz, which means they cannot run more than 60fps. This is the point where the human eye goes from visualizing normal playback of games to ultra-smooth.
Basically if you see a game running at 30fps (the golden standard for smooth playback) everything feels alright, games at 60fps feel very fluid. So for console games, a good idea would be Halo Reach that runs at 30fps versus Call of Duty: Black Ops which runs at 60fps.
For PC players, 30fps is good enough, but 60fps is great. Anything beyond that the human eye cannot always perceive , but it’s just extra headroom which is great for when there’s extra action on screen and the fps don’t fall below 60 or 30.
What I have used in all of my testing, therefore, are average framerates since they take into account the highs and lows during a session and providing you with a result which is as close to the real world experience that you will get. So essentially a game with an average of 24fps is barely playable, 30fps is good enough and 60fps is just right.
Before going any further, I would like to thank AMD, Nvidia, ASUS, ECS, HIS, MSI and of course Zotac for providing us with these cards. Also, their trust that I won’t burn these during the tests!