|Benchmark Reviews Editors Choice Awards 2008|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 19 December 2008|
Page 5 of 9
Desktop Graphics Cards
Video cards are part of an industry that must frequently produce new product in order to stay competitive, and not necessarily because a new product is needed. This factor notwithstanding, there have been a few very important developments in the desktop graphics segment for 2008. So while most video games have actually started to rest on their laurels and essentially require the same hardware today that they did three years ago, the GPU industry has forged ahead month after month.
For the sake of argument, there have really only been three players in the discrete graphics sector: NVIDIA, ATI/AMD, and Silicon Graphics. Silicon Graphics have carved a niche in the low-end segment, which sell well in South America and developing nations. But for gamers, only NVIDIA or ATI products will do; and both companies have had a convincing argument to use their products at one point or another in 2008.
The product which has most-impressed me is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 video card. NVIDIA created a monster with thsi single-GPU display adapter, and ATI was forced to fight it with their 4870 X2 dual-GPU space heater. Partners such as ZOTAC later released their GTX 280 AMP! Edition graphics card, which to this day has offered the best performance of any single-GPU solution we've tested. For this, the GTX 280 has earned the Benchmark Reviews Editors Choice Award for 2008.
I would be remiss to exclude ATI's efforts, however. The Radeon HD 4850 may not pack the hardest punch, but it sure delivers a whole lot for only $159.99 and deserves an honorable mention. If it weren't for the scorching hot RV770 it try's to domesticate with a single-slot cooler, this might have been our top choice. The Radeon HD 4870 has also been quite the performer, but GDDR5 hasn't caught on like it should have with manufacturers, and the bandwidth hasn't been cause for demand.
So what was less than worthwhile this year? The GeForce 9500 GT G96 Video Card. The 9500 series should be sold for the price of shipping, because it performs on par with integrated graphics. Ultimately, this insults the good name of GT's everywhere, and NVIDIA should be ashamed of offering such a pathetic video card to the discrete graphics market. With 256 and 512MB GDDR3 versions available, I question the engineers who decided it was better to choke this little bugger with vRAM than to give it a native HDMI port.