Before a grab your hand and take you to the sweet shop, you need to know the “graphics card”. A graphics card is not just a piece of electronics generating the picture on your screen. It is much more. It is the most powerful CPU in the world. If you think quad core CPUs are cool, because they have four cores, then you’ll probably fall down dead of fear, when I tell you a HD7950 has 2.048 cores. Yes, 2.048 cores. It is the same kind of core that is in your CPU; the difference is that this has more than 2.000 of them. That is not a coincidence. It demands a lot to keep in control of millions and millions of tiny triangles, constantly changing colour and shape.
The reason that a CPU can’t take care of the GPU’s tasks is due to their extensiveness. You can see it when you run 3DMark. You will notice, that when the CPU part is running, it will be a stuttering business, but as soon as it comes to one of the GPU tests, it runs much smoother and with much prettier graphics. That is due to that the four cores in a CPU, first of all is designed to calculating tasks and because there is simply too few. You can compare with geometries and integral calculus.
In geometry it’s all about triangles and in integral calculus it’s all about x, Fc (X) and lots of funny signs where something has to be calculated or integrated. Another but relevant thing is that a graphics card is not just a PCB with a GPU on it. It consists of a lot of components, and is a small computer itself. It has both memory, a memory controller, a GPU, a cache/buffer, a PCIe controller and a chipset to control it all. The name of the graphics card describes the chipset.
Here is an example on how to read the name of a graphics card
“Sapphire AMD Radeon HD7970 6GB GDDR5 OC Vapor-X”
- Sapphire is the producer of the graphics card, and has a deal with AMD about the rights to produce the card.
- AMD is the chipset producer. (GPU, RAM, standard PCB, standard cooler)
- Radeon is the name of AMD’s desktop graphics card series. (FireGL/Pro is used for workstations)
- HD7970 is the name of the chipset or the card. These names are often logically given so HD7970 is better than the 7870 etc.
- 6GB is the amount of memory. Varies a lot.
- GDDR5 is the name of the used RAM technology. Today, only GDDR5/GDDR3 and DDR3 for motherboards, is used. The last mentioned for APU/IGP chips.
- OC means that the card comes with a factory OC for extra performance.
Vapor-X is the name of a cooling solution from Sapphire, which is better than the stock cooler offered by AMD. Besides, there might be names of other features on the card, e.g. Power Edition which MSI uses about their high-end cards. (Other producers uses their own terms to describe a feature/cooling solution)