Changing video cards: a call for advice

by Diane Duane

So here’s a casual question for the group mind. It has to do with PC graphics cards.

The card presently in my desktop machine is a Radeon HD 5800. When I bought it (six years ago and change) it was fairly high-end. Needless to say, time passes and what was once a cutting-edge card has just now been relegated to “legacy” status and will no longer be getting driver updates.

Additionally, of late the card’s been getting… capricious. My present monitor runs at 1920×1200 (the best it’s capable of), but of late the Radeon card has been refusing to acknowledge the highest resolution and keeps not only falling back to 1920×1080 or similar (which looks like complete CRAP to the point where I can’t use it) but in such moods isn’t even able to perceive that the monitor has that resolution available. Though the (Samsung) monitor’s drivers are correctly installed, the card seems to have trouble correctly seeing / acknowledging the monitor’s EDID info and repeated attempts to force recognition come to nothing. The Radeon Catalyst control-center software is no better about this.

I keep installing software/driver updates as they come down, and sometimes they help, and sometimes they don’t. So it becomes plain to me that it’s time for a new video card, ASAP.

Now then. I’m doing increasing amounts of cover design work in Daz Studio, and Daz has a rendering engine called Iray that runs on Nvidia-chipped cards only. Between the fact that I’m kind of annoyed with Radeon at the moment (and that its support of the OpenGL standard has always been kind of patchy), I’ve been ready to make the jump to Nvidia for a while now. So the question is: which one?

For the moment I may have to go entry-level. (I’ve been drooling over the Titan cards for a bit, but I don’t have the budget to spare for one of those right now.) So my question is: Who’s got an Nvidia card that they like and has been good at the graphics end? I don’t need a billion cores (not right now. Later…) In particular, cards that do well for gaming will also do well for desktop graphics: high fps numbers aren’t an issue — for my needs it’s about processing power.

So if you have an opinion, please opine. 🙂 It’d be useful. I’ve been in specs-reading mode for a week or so now and I may have to make this decision sooner than later, if this most recent driver update doesn’t fix the problem that materialized again this morning. (Just when I have five different projects that need the big machine, and none of which can be worked on until the damn video gets sorted.)

Anyway, to anyone who has time to share an opinion: thanks in advance.

(Just adding this for completeness’s sake: the present machine is running W7 64-bit — will eventually allow the upgrade to 10, I suppose, but not just yet. Or may ask Scan UK to build me another with 10 preinstalled — this machine was beautifully built and excellent value for money: I recommend Scan highly. They’re good enough to have scored the Royal Warrant and that’s good enough for me.)

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Andrew Timson August 14, 2016 - 4:40 pm

I’ve been happy with my Nvidia GTX 970, the midrange card from the previous generation. While there’s been some kerfluffle over RAM issues (it has 4 GB on board but only 3.5 GB is really usable), I haven’t noticed an impact on my gaming.

However, the current generation entry-level card, the GTX 1060, performs about 10% better for the same price. So if you can find one locally, I’d recommend that. It just came out last month, though, so it’s still in somewhat short supply.

Otherwise, you’ll probably want to be choosing between the 960 and the 970. The 970 costs about the same as a 1060 but doesn’t perform as well; the 960 only has about half the performance of a 970, but is noticeably cheaper.

T'Saavik August 15, 2016 - 6:58 pm

You really hit the nail on the head for why to go with Nvidia right now….The drivers.
That said, the exact card dosn’t really matter as much, just buy what makes sense for your budget.

Is the $500 card faster than the $300 one? Yes! Will it work better? Eh, not really.
For the record I have a GTX 970. But today I would try to get a 1060.
I bought the Gigabyte version, but I seriously considered the Asus and MSI as well.

John Nemesh August 19, 2016 - 6:14 pm

My brother just bought a new computer with the Nvidia GTX 1080 (and I get to use it!). It is FANTASTIC and FASTER than the old Titan X! And it’s $600 (US) vx $999 for the Titan X. They JUST released a new Titan X…but for most uses the 1080 will do just fine. If on a budget, you can go with the 1070…same architecture, slower memory. They are rather hard to get ahold of, due to their popularity though, be sure to shop around for the best price.

I am 100% in agreement with your decision to move from ATI to Nvidia. I have had nothing but problems in the past with ATI/AMD graphics cards…I find the Nvidia to be MUCH more stable! Good luck on your upgrade!

Tobia Hawklyn August 27, 2016 - 9:18 pm

I ended up going with nvidia based on some issues with game optimization- they’re still cheating, apparently. Since I don’t want to reward them for this behavior, I went with the previous generation and bought used. I had a low power requirement as well, so I went with the 960- it performs very well at 1080p, and should you have a physical size requirement, they come in itx size. It may end up being a hassle for you, but I’ve had great luck buying used hardware off Reddit at

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