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Group test: top 12 ATI & nVidia graphics cards

What makes a good GPU, and how to purchase one

PC Advisor looks at what makes a good graphics card, and tests 12 of the latest ATI and nVidia offerings.

Graphics cards: how we tested

In order to ensure a fair comparison, we used the same test machine for all the graphics cards reviewed here.

The majority of our tests revolved around games, and involved customised timed demos and the use of the Fraps benchmarking software.

We tested each graphics card's capabilities at the resolutions 1,280x768/800, 1,680x1,050 and 1,920x1,200. These are the standard resolutions used by PC monitors.

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We tested each of the graphics cards' performance when playing six games. You'll find results for the four most representative of these - Crysis Warhead, Far Cry 2, Left 4 Dead and World In Conflict - below the comparison tables for each price category.

We used ‘High Quality' settings on the main graphics card drivers and the games themselves. The same settings were used across all cards. All were tested with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering. At higher levels of anti-aliasing, many of the figures were too erratic for inclusion in our final assessment.

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The amount of noise generated by each of the graphics cards was also noted - a type of testing PC Advisor will be refining over the coming months. For the time being, we assessed the levels of sound generated by the PC when sitting idle in Windows and compared it to the maximum noise generated during our Crysis tests. A digital sound-level meter was used to conduct these tests.

As ever, price, build quality and features were weighed up, with factors such as whether a graphics card natively supported multicard configurations or required the use of an adaptor also taken into consideration.

NEXT PAGE: graphics card reviews >>

Index

  1. What makes a good GPU, and how to purchase one
  2. Graphics cards: more to consider
  3. How we tested
  4. Sub-£150 graphics cards reviews
  5. £151+ graphics cards reviews

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