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2010 Graphics Cards You Care The Most About

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For Nvidia, 2010 was the year of Fermi, the GPU architecture found on the GeForce GTX 480, 470, 465, 460, and 580 graphics cards. Earlier, AMD launched the Radeon HD 5670, 5570, and 5450, which were designed to appeal to the budget gamer and HDTV crowd. We also saw the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity Edition, which allows for sixmonitor gaming setups. Recently, AMD released the 6870 and 6850 to compete at the midrange level.


Winner: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 (1GB)
$199.99; www.nvidia.com
The GeForce GTX 460 was a top midrange performer in 2010, and it helped show what Nvidia’s Fermi architecture is capable of. The GTX 460 is built using the GF104 GPU, which is an update from the GTX 480 and 470’s GF100 GPU. As a midrange card, it features two GPCs (Graphics Processing Clusters)—whereas the GTX 480 had four—but compared to the GF100 GPU, Nvidia has improved the GPCs by adding an additional 16 CUDA cores and twice the number of special function units and texture units. The result is an affordable graphics card that still provides you the ability to play today’s newest games at high frame rates.

Nvidia offers two versions of the GTX 460, one with 768MB of GDDR5 memory and one with 1,024MB. The 1GB version offers 32 ROPs and a 256-bit memory controller, while the 768MB version features 24 ROPs and a 192-bit memory controller. Core (675MHz), shader (1,350MHz), and memory (1,800MHz) frequencies are identical on both versions. There are 336 stream processors and 56 texture units to improve your computer’s ability to process large amounts of parallel tasks.

For outputs, the GTX 460 offers two dual-link DVI ports and a mini HDMI port. Those with limited space in their case will also like that the GeForce GTX 460 is only 8.25 inches long. It requires two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors, and Nvidia suggests that your power supply should be 450 watts or greater.


First Runner-Up: AMD Radeon HD 6850
$179.99; www.amd.com
In late October, AMD released the Radeon HD 6800 series, and the Radeon HD 6850 was a top performer in terms of price/performance. The Barts GPU found in the Radeon HD 6850 is a redesigned version of the Cypress GPU found in the 5800 series. The Barts GPU took 25% of the engines for compute, shader, and texture performance and reassigned them to handle rasterization, tessellation, and ROP. The changes meant that even though the Radeon HD 6850 offers a half a billion fewer transistors than the 5850, it can deliver gaming performance close to what you experience with the 5850, and you’ll pay $50 to $70 less for the 6850.

The Radeon HD 6850 features a core clock of 775MHz and 1GB of GDDR5 memory that runs at 1,000MHz. There are 960 stream processors, 48 texture units, and 32 color ROP units. AMD also improved the technology for video outputs. There’s a DisplayPort 1.2 connector that allows a max resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 per display, and the HDMI 1.4a port allows for stereoscopic 3D and high bit-rate audio. There are also two dual-link DVI outputs. The Radeon HD 6850’s integrated audio controller can provide 7.1-channel surround sound over either the HDMI or DisplayPort connections. Finally, the card features support for DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0, OpenGL 1.4, and AMD’s Eyefinity.


Second Runner-Up: Nvidia GeForce GTX 580
$499; www.nvidia.com
The GeForce GTX 580 is the newest iteration of Fermi, and it attempts to make amends for the heat and noise problems found in the GTX 470 and 480. The GeForce GTX 580 also captured the single GPU performance crown over the GTX 480, because it offers more stream processors, faster clock speeds, and more texture units.

Overall, clock speeds are around 10% faster than the GTX 480. Even better, Nvidia claims that the GTX 580 offers lower power consumption than the GTX 480, so you’ll battle fewer heat issues. In terms of specs, the GeForce GTX offers 512 CUDA Cores, 1.5GB of GDDR5, and a 384-bit memory controller. It supports DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1, and Shader Model 5.0.

2010 Motherboards You Care The Most About

Source of Information : Computer Power User (CPU) January 2011

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