Video Cards – Then and Now
|June 13, 2011||Posted by alex under Technology|
The world of video cards is a peculiar place.
Once upon a time, in the distant land known as the 1990s, video cards were known under a variety of names. Back in the day it wasn’t uncommon for a program to list as a requirement a “3d Accelerator” or a “3d fx card” or a ton of other snazzy sounding bits of techno babble. They still go by a couple of names, such “graphics card” or “graphics processing unit” , bu regardless of what they are called, they all essentially serve the same purpose: helping your computer run everything from high definition movies to heavy duty 3D editing and gaming.
Things used to be a lot simpler than they were today. Every single card had a tough and flashy name that made you want to own one if you didn’t. “Voodoo3” (which I still have in a box on my shelf!), “Geforce2” and “Rage Pro” came to be synonymous with late 90s PC gaming. It was sexy, it was edgy and most of all it meant you could play games like King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity, Unreal Tournament and even that Diablo clone Darkstone.
With 4-8 megs of graphical processing power, these mean machines where what separated the casual from the hardcore gamer.
Things were simple.
You can tell this card is serious – just look at the eyes!
Nowadays, taking one look at video cards can be migraine inducing.
A 2 gig DDR3 HD-695X-ZNFC is a what now? I don’t see the word “Fire” or “Rage” anywhere… are you sure this is something made for gaming? Who could have known that things would get so… geeky?
HD-695X… What is that? A ray gun?
Though, who’s to complain: technology has been moving ahead rapidly for the last decade. That GeForce 2 quickly became GeForce GT and so forth as cards simply got bigger and better (well, not every card… a few notable stinkers out there), with crazier names. After a while you simply run out of flashy one word names followed by single digits.
I would hate to see Fire Pro 985500 on the shelf anytime soon.
Thankfully, due to a little old thing we like to call the internet, there are a ton of useful resources at your disposal which helps you make informed decisions when it comes to buying a card, as well as for some good old system vs system hardware competitions with the lads.
One of the most useful sites for measuring desktop hardware is Video Card Benchmarks. These site is so informative that is is practically Addictive. It lists not only individual benchmark tests, along with pricing, but it also has everything neatly organized in columns, by card class, so you can have a quick reference between cards all on a single page. Literall, you can get lost for hours, trying to find the perfect price / performance ratio between cards. Even more impressive, is the fact that you can find information on just about any component thanks to network sites such as CPU Benchmarks and Hard Drive Benchmarks.
For notebooks, there also some very useful sites. Notebook Check gives you the lastest reviews on most models, as well as a ton of benchmarking for various notebook components. They have a super handy page which lets you cross compare every video card they have benchmarked with one another and how they fare with various games.
So for research freaks like me, nothing can compare to these sites. However, for all you laymen out there, who might not share the same joy I have with numbers and test results, fear not: the road to understanding video cards is not as tough as it looks. There are a few basics that anyone can grasp. Be sure to follow the guides we regularly post, and you can become a techno pro in no time.