AMD vs NVidia smackdown!
Although you will never be able to play Crysis 3 with all the details turned up to the max up on a budget graphics card, those of you with limited funds will be pleased to know that a decent gaming experience can be coaxed out of even quite modestly priced cards.
At the time of writing two cards slip just under the 100 buck price barrier on Amazon, one based on NVidia’s GT 640 chipset, and the other on AMD’s HD 7750 architecture, so I thought it would be a good idea to examine which of these similarly priced options is the one for the discerning budget-minded gamers to go for.
VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card N640GT-MD1GD3
A newly released chipset designed to get NVidia back in the sub $100 game, the GeForce GT 640 is a compact card (approx, 6” by 2 ¾”) that will fit into all but the tightest casing, and boasts a 900MHz clock speed. Three video outputs (DVI, HDMI, and VGA) are provided, which allow up to three monitors to independently display at the same time thanks to NVidia’s Surround technology, which is very impressive at this price point and the inclusion of Express 3.0 compatibility is similarly impressive. Pulling just 65W of juice from the mains, the GT 640 is an energy-efficient card that does not require any additional power connectors, making it look neat in a PC’s case.
This MSI version of the chipset comes with 1 GB of the older (and slower) DDR3 memory and features a compact design with a single large fan.
Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB DDR5
HDMI / DVI-I / DP PCI-Express Graphics Card 11202-00-20G
Repeatedly voted best in its class, the HD 7750 chipset from AMD has a reputation for delivering blistering performance for its price. With a power rating of just 55W, the HD 7750 runs straight from the PCI-E connecter, obviating the need for extra connectors. This Sapphire model does however hog two PCI slot bays, which gives it room for a good-sized fan to help keep temperatures down when the gaming gets hot. Like the MSI GeForce 640 above, this card sports 1GB of memory, but this time of the faster DDR5 variety. Also, like its competitor, the HD 7750it supports up to three monitors, albeit this time through HDMI, dual-link DV-I, and DisplayPort outputs.
In features, these two cards are fairly closely matched. However, what gamers need is frames per second, and this is where the HD 7750 really begins to strut its stuff. When playing Skyrim, the HD 7750 pulls off an average of 66.5 fps compared to the GT 640’s 42.2 fps at the same settings, while in Crysis 2 these figures are 44.3 fps the GeForce card compared to 28.5 fps on the GT 640. In short, there is no competition; the HD 7750 wipes the floor with the GT 640.
While the Radeon HD 7750 is clearly the superior card, boasting spectacular performance for such a low price point (as well as impressively low power consumption). The GeForce GT 640 is still a good card, however, and one that flings out quite playable frame rates. If the price for it drops a bit, it may still be a very attractive choice for gamers on a super-limited budget.
*figures courtesy of tomshardware.com.