Building a PC

Started Apr 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
Jim Cockfield Forum Pro • Posts: 16,333
Your Video Card choice probably stinks

Tareq Abdulla wrote:

GPU: Zotec something, Nvidia 4GB, i will be sure to checkout this, but it costs about $135

That sounds like an entry level card.   Manufacturers tend to add more memory to "suck in" consumers that don't know any better; because it looks like you're getting a better card; when they're not going to perform very well at all for most purposes if the GPU design is still slow.

I'd get the exact model of what they're proposing for more informed responses.

Memory is a secondary consideration as far as video card performance, once you get to around 1GB.

For example, Zotac makes a GT 630 card with 4GB of memory that I see for sale on some U.S. Sites like  This card:

All of the other Zotac Cards they have for sale there with 4GB of memory are priced *much* higher (hundreds of dollars).  So, I suspect they're trying to sell you an entry level GT 630.

The GT 630 is an entry level card that can run from PCIe bus power (meaning you wouldn't need that higher wattage Power Supply) and would only test at around 717 on the Passmark test series (and just because they sell it with 4GB of memory is not going to make any difference in real world use compared to a card with only 1GB of memory instead).

That card uses GDDR3 (not GDDR5) with only 96 CUDA cores (based on the older Fermi architecture versus newer Kepler Archeticture that higher end 6xx series cards use), with very limited bandwidth to the memory (because it's 128 Bit GDDR3).

Benchmarks for a GT 630 here (and just because it a card may have 4GB of memory is not going to make it any faster than one with only 1GB of memory instead, as the extra  memory makes a negligible difference for virtually anything you'd do once you get over 1GB):

Heck, I've got a GT 440 with 1GB of GDDR5 (not slower GDDR3 like the stock GT 440 cards use) that would probably outperform a GT 630 with 4GB of GDDR3.  I bought it for $59 with free shipping a while back.

In contrast, a GTX 660 would test at more than 5 times as fast at 4085 on the same benchmarks.

A GTX 660 uses a wider 192 Bit (versus 128 Bit) path to memory (and uses much faster GDDR5 versus GDDR3) with 960 CUDA cores (10 times the amount you get with the entry level GT 630).  Other internal specs are much better, too.

So, I'd take a GTX 660 with 1.5GB of 192 Bit GDDR5, 960 CUDA Cores, newer Kepler architecture, and more any day of the week; as compared to an entry level card like a GT 630 with 4GB of slower 128 bit GDDR3 and only 96 CUDA cores based on the older Fermi architecture..

You've specifically mentioned wanting to get into gaming, etc.  Sorry, an entry level like a GT 630 is *not* going to be suitable for that purpose.

At a *minimum* for gaming (and you still won't be able to play all games at their highest quality settings), I'd look at something like a GTX 650Ti (or even better GTX 650Ti Boost, as the newer "Boost" models are closer to the GTX 660 in performance).

But, the best "bang for the buck" for a gaming suitable card would come with the GTX 660 models right now.   I'd lean towards a GTX 660 with 1.5GB or more (for a bit of "future proofing" over the 1GB models) and you'll be fine for most anything you'd want to throw at it.

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