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Best New Graphics Cards 2015 Review

Updated on January 14, 2015

Top Rated Graphics Cards for Gaming, CAD, and Graphic Design

Most of today's media consumers are used to the high quality and stunning visual effects of everything from web pages to movies. Those awesome effects and visuals are created and viewed utilizing one very important piece of computer hardware - the video card.

Any more, it seems, a video card is becoming a necessity in computing. Weather you want a laptop for watching movies, a PC for gaming, or a computer used for 3D modeling and video, the video card has taken a central role in providing the capabilities to produce and view some amazing content. Video cards come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors and which one is right for you depends on what you intend to do with your computer.

nVidia Vs. Radeon Technology
nVidia Vs. Radeon Technology

Choosing A Video Card

AMD vs. nVidia Technology

There are two main manufacturers of the brains of a video card - the graphics processing unit, or GPU - and each has its' advantages and disadvantages in each card it offers. NVIDIA and AMD/ATI both offer everything from entry level to world class GPU's and video cards.

NVIDIA video cards have many features that make them great. 3D Vision Surround Technology which allows you to spread your display across 3 monitors in full HD 3D for an immersive experience and GPUDirect which allows for faster communication between computer hardware are two features that set NVIDIA cards apart. Optimus technology which optimizes notebook PC's, and PureVideo high definition video processor are a few of the other features that help you get the most out of your computing experience.

Some NVIDIA cards also feature CUDA Architecture which allows the GPU to perform mathematical calculations to speed up computing performance. PhysX gives the card the ability to run real-time physics in games and SLI technology allows you to link together multiple video cards for increased graphics power. With a great lineup of features it's no wonder that NVIDIA a popular choice.

AMD Technology

AMD video cards (AMD bought ATI a few years back) also have great features that give them performance benefits. AMD employs graphics technologies like VISION Engine which is the foundation of VISION technology giving you vivid HD entertainment and blazing fast graphics. AMD Radeon Dual Graphics combines two Radeon graphics processors to provide performance boosts. AMD Catalyst Control Center allows you to quickly and easily control every aspect of the graphics experience. AMD Eyefinity Technology gives you the capability of using multiple independent display outputs simultaneously - this can allow for massive displays and immersive graphics experiences.

AMD video cards also feature AMD CrossFireX Technology which utilizes multiple GPU's for high performance, GDDR5 Memory, Dynamic switchable graphics for balancing between performance and battery life, and AMD XGP Technology which breathes new graphics life into notebook computers.

Finding a graphics card to suit your needs shouldn't be hard with all of the features that these two manufacturers offer. As I mentioned earlier, which video card is right for you depends on the intended use.

Best CAD Video Card 2015 - NVIDIA Quadro 6000 Review

Let's take a look at the best video cards for a few of the most common applications.

CAD (Computer-aided Design) programs today use a lot of resources to produce the designs and drawings they do. As such, computers built to run CAD software have been designed and built to meet the demands of these programs.

One of the most important items to have in any computer running CAD software is a video card as CAD programs require a lot of graphics power. There are several video cards that are good for use in CAD systems and one of the best is the NVIDIA Quadro 6000. The Quadro 6000 offers incredible features and will allow any workstation to perform with optimal speed and quality.

NVIDIA Quadro 6000 by PNY 6GB GDDR5 PCI Express Gen 2 x16 DVI-I DL Dual DisplayPort and Stereo OpenGL, DirectX, CUDA, and OpenCL Profesional Graphics Board, VCQ6000-PB
NVIDIA Quadro 6000 by PNY 6GB GDDR5 PCI Express Gen 2 x16 DVI-I DL Dual DisplayPort and Stereo OpenGL, DirectX, CUDA, and OpenCL Profesional Graphics Board, VCQ6000-PB

The NVIDIA Quadro 6000 is built on the NVIDIA Fermi architecture and is equipped with NVIDIA's Cuda technology for blazing speed. It is also the first video card with 6GB of GDDR5 ECC video ram which gives you unprecedented performance across a broad range of applications. At a maximum resolution of 2560x1600 pixels at 60Hz, the Quadro 6000 deliver crisp, clear images. The Quadro 6000 has all the outputs you need to get connected to monitors, projectors, and HD TV's with 1 Dual-link DVI-I, 2 Display ports, and a 3-pin-Mini-Din Stereo port. The NVIDIA Quadro 6000 is definitely not the least expensive graphics card on the market, but if you are serious about squeezing every ounce of performance out of your CAD applications, then this card is a great choice. NVIDIA has packed a lot of power and features into this video card and for CAD graphics, this card can't be beat.

 

Video Cards for Graphic Design - ATI Radeon HD 6950 Review

As with CAD workstations, computers used to run graphic design applications include a dedicated graphics card. One of the best video cards for graphic design is the ATI Radeon HD 6950.

Video cards are key in any system used for gaming. Nothing is more frustrating than having poor video performance just when you need it most. A good system with a great video card can make game play awesome.

Sapphire DIRT 3 EDITION Radeon HD 6950 2 GB DDR5 DL-DVI-I/SL-DVI-D/HDMI/DP PCI-Express Graphics Card 100312-3SR
Sapphire DIRT 3 EDITION Radeon HD 6950 2 GB DDR5 DL-DVI-I/SL-DVI-D/HDMI/DP PCI-Express Graphics Card 100312-3SR

The Radeon HD 6950 offers amazing graphics capabilities and a very reasonable price point. Starting with 2GB of GDDR5 video ram and Eye-definition graphics which supports full DirectX 11, the Radeon HD 6950 is built on a solid foundation. The 6950 features AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology with native support for up to 4 monitors along with AMD CrossFireX mutli-GPU technology for dual, triple, or quad GPU scaling. With AMD App Acceleration the Radeon HD 6950 makes using your graphics programs feel lightning fast while giving you high end video quality. AMD HD3D technology also gives you that 3D experience and cutting edge integrated display support for connecting nearly any display type to your system make the ATI Radeon HD 6950 an outstanding choice for a graphics video card.

 

Fastest For PC Gaming

The top video card for gaming - and the one that claims to be the fastest in the world - is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980.

The GeForce GTX 980 is a powerhouse in a small package. The EVGA Superclocked version of this card features a base clock of 1266MHz and a Boost Clock of 1367MHz. You can use this to support 1080p at insane FPS rates or even 4k if you've got a good monitor to use with it.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB SC GAMING ACX 2.0, 26% Cooler and 36% Quieter Cooling Graphics Card 04G-P4-2983-KR
EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB SC GAMING ACX 2.0, 26% Cooler and 36% Quieter Cooling Graphics Card 04G-P4-2983-KR

The GeForce GTX 590 features support for DirectX11, NVIDIA PhysX, NVIDIA PureVideo HD Technology, NVIDIA Quad SLI readiness, NVIDIA CUDA technology, and NVIDIA 3D Vision surround readiness. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 is not the cheapest graphics card on the market, but if gaming is your passion then this card is worth every penny and will give you the edge over all your opponents.

 

Best Graphics Card for HTPC Home Theaters 2015 - ATI Radeon HD 5450

The days of having a huge entertainment center filled with bulky receivers, amplifiers, DVD players and the like are quickly becoming history thanks to an innovation called the HTPC (Home Theater PC). The HTPC seeks to replace or supplement many of the components of a home theater system. It allows you to not only play DVD or Blu-Ray movies in full HD but also serves as a game console and an internet source. Now you can surf the net and play those PC games on your TV.

A video card is an important component in any HTPC as it is what allows you to send the video to your TV instead of an ordinary monitor. It also contains special features that make using an HTPC for TV viewing an enjoyable experience. One of the best video cards for the HTPC is the ATI Radeon HD 5450.

The Radeon HD 5450 has been specifically built to live in an HTPC and has many HTPC specific features. At its' core, the 5450 has from 512MB to 2GB of GDDR2/GDDR3 video ram depending on the card manufacturer. The Radeon HD 5450 features support for DirectX 11, ATI Stream acceleration technology, ATI CrossFireX Multi-GPU technology, and ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology which can drive up to three displays.

ASUS EAH5450 SILENT/DI/512MD3(LP) Radeon HD 5450 SILENT 1400 MHz (700 MHz DDR3) Video Card
ASUS EAH5450 SILENT/DI/512MD3(LP) Radeon HD 5450 SILENT 1400 MHz (700 MHz DDR3) Video Card

The ATI Radeon HD 5450 also features HTPC specific technologies under the feature name ATI Avivo HD Video & Display Technology. These features include a UVD 2 dedicated video playback accelerator, support for H.264 (HD), VC-1, MPEG-2 and Adobe Flash. Dual-stream (HD+SD) playback support and support for 3D stereoscopic display/glasses also help you get the most from the 5450. The Radeon HD 5450 includes a dual-link DVI output with HDCP, a Display Port output, an HDMI 1.3 output with Deep Color, xvYCC wide gamut support and high bit-rate audio, and a VGA output. The 5450 also features an integrated HD audio controller capable of producing output protected high bit-rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI and supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master audio formats. The ATI Radeon HD 5450 is a great HTPC video card that will give you a wonderful TV and video watching experience.

 

Best Under $200 - Radeon R9 280

The video cards featured thus far have all been the best - or among the best - in their respective classes. Price has not been a concern and the prices on these video cards range from $50 to $3,200. That's all great if you are only looking for the best performance money can buy. But what if you are on a budget? Let's look at some video cards that fall into specific price ranges.

Spending $200 will get you a very good video card and one that, while it may not be the fastest or most powerful, will get the job done. One of the best sub $200 video cards out there is the ATI Radeon R9 280.

Under $100 - NVIDIA GeForce GT 430

If you are really on a budget but still want some good performance, the NVIDIA GeForce GT 430 is a sub $100 video card that fits the bill. The GT 430 has some great features including 1GB of GDDR3 memory, DirectX 11 support, Blu-Ray 3D support, TrueHD and DTS-HD audio bitstreaming support, NVIDIA CUDA technology, NVIDIA PhysX technology, and NVIDIA PureVideo technology. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 430 is 3D Vision ready if you are after an immersive experience.

This article has represented a wide range of applications and video cards to fit those applications. Weather you are after the ultimate speed and performance or a budget friendly compromise, there is bound to be a video card that is right for you, and we have just taken a look at the best video cards of 2012. Have a comment or recommendation? Feel free to leave your feedback below.

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      HAWK33 4 years ago

      2 7970's in crossfire 3 monitors at 5760x1080 BF4 all ultra.. Crysis all Ultra.. ARMA3 all Ultra.. suck on that Nvidia.. 2 cards under 600.00 total.. also OC'd them to the GHZ edition they are smoke'n fast every game like butter.. and THiS SITE SLEEPS WITH NVIDIA.. in the article at top I don't see the 7990 dual GPU and can get them for under 600.00 THIS SITE IS NVIDIA BIAS..

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm interested in buying a Sapphire Radeon 7750...but I'm not decided yet...can you help me??

      I'm from Cuba...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @Edutopia: well i got AMD 6000 series it's a very nice graphic card and i use it for triple monitor support and yes it is and deal breaker!

      AMD FTW (For The Win)

    • profile image

      Edutopia 6 years ago

      The one thing I really like about AMD cards is that they have native triple monitor support build in to their 6x series which can be a deal breaker for some.

    • ronickcompany profile image

      ronickcompany 6 years ago

      Good Article on the a couple different video cards, for benchmarking you can check out http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2011-gaming-gra...

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