10 Years of Graphics Cards (part 2)

10 Years of Graphics Cards (part 2)

ATI Radeon HD 4770

I had learned from my earlier mistakes, and this time I would do it right. I built my own PC from the ground up, and the HD 4770 was the crown jewel. It had just been released, and unlike all of it’s contemporaries, it was build with the new 40nm process, making it one of the most energy efficient cards around. Praised by critics, I knew I had made the right choice the second I booted up the latest games. I have some great gaming memories with this card, using it for games like Crysis, Fallout 3, BioShock, L4D and Modern Warfare 2.

Later when Skyrim was released, I again started to feel the need for an upgrade…


ATI Radeon HD 7850

The HD 7850 was a safe bet from the start. Just like the HD 4770, I had made some serious research before the purchase. The difference this time around was that this was just a straight forward, routine upgrade. Sure, it was almost three times as fast with four times the memory, and I was pretty impressed at the time. I think it’s just that this is to close to present time to have that nostalgic shine of my older cards.
Regardless, some of my favorite games in recent years ran on this card, including Bioshock: Infinite, Dishonored, Metro: Last Light and Alien: Isolation.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

This was my latest purchase. Again, almost 3 times as fast as my previous card and double the memory, but somehow less impressive than all of the previous upgrades. Looking at the numbers I should be just as impressed, but I think get more and more picky with time. Maybe it’s also the fact that the progress of visual fidelity is getting less and less noticeable, all the while more and more power is required for rendering. It’s some sort of inverse Moore’s Law.
Being brand spanking new, I haven’t really had the chance to pour time into any games yet. I did finish Crysis: Warhead again though, as per tradition when I get a new graphics card. Finally achieved that 60fps minimum framerate on “Ultra” settings. And it only took like 7 years! Talk about ahead of its time.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll find much joy with this card. Now that E3 2015 is starting (today actually!), I’m sure that I’ll get a chance to update my “to play” list. I already know I’ll have to get Fallout 4, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Doom 4, Dishonored 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, and Star Wars: Battlefront 3. Shit, that’s a long list… I’ll probably have to compress it a bit 🙂



Again, for the number freaks, including the cards from part 1:

Model Process Core clock Memory Memory clock
Radeon 9600 PRO 130 nm 325 MHz 128 MB DDR 600 MHz
Radeon 9600 XT 130 nm 500 MHz 256 MB DDR 600 MHz
Radeon X1650 PRO 80 nm 600 MHz 512 MB GDDR3 700 MHz
Radeon HD 4770 40 nm 750 MHz 512 MB GDDR5 800 MHz
Radeon HD 7850 28 nm 860 MHz 2048 MB GDDR5 1200 MHz
GeForce GTX 970 28 nm 1114 MHz 4096 MB GDDR5 1752 MHz

We can have a look at the development in diagram form.


Something that is clear from the graph is that the amount of memory is what is developing the fastest. By 2020 (that’s in five years, people!!) we’ll probably sit here with cards that have 16-32 gigabytes of memory. It shouldn’t really be a surprise though, as we are on the verge of starting mass production of 4K displays, that will for sure be the golden standard by 2020 (if not 8K). That alone will push the requirements for memory amount and bandwidth vastly.

I think it’s time to round off with some conclusions. Looking back, the real stars were the Radeon 9600 XT and the HD 4770. Awesome cards for their time, and I’m simply grateful for all the fun they’ve enabled through the years. What made them so special was the surprise, how they constantly beat my expectations, and how they for the longest time kept me content, almost at peace, with how well they performed in modern titles and new releases of games.

Thanks for reading!

If you feel like digging through some numbers and evoke some nostalgia of your own, knock yourself out:

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