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ernard
Dec 21, 2011

What is the best graphics card for enjoying my new Christmas Present?

I do a lot of work from my home during weekends and evenings, and my wife decided to encourage me to spend more even time at my home office PC by getting me Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Christmas.  Maybe I should actually be thinking that she just wants me out of her hair when I am home! I have been a console gamer since I was a kid, but was never really a PC gamer, and haven't built my machines with a focus on gaming. Since most of the work I do at home isn't graphic intensive, I've skimped on graphics cards and I'm going to have to upgrade to get the most out of Skyrim. What would be the best choice for experiencing all the visual gaming goodness of games like Skyrim?

becker
12/23/2011

 

The are two graphics cards that I would look at, if you don't mind paying a modest premium for high mid-range cards: Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti or AMD Radeon HD680.  They are going to give you solid performance and the AMD will probably run cooler than some other choices.  Nvidia is always a "go-to" brand of choice for gamers, but the downside is that a GeForce GTX 560 Ti will run you around $250.  The AMD can also be counted on to perform well across the spectrum and should cost about the same.  If you look up some testing of the two cards, they perform similarly, and when benchmarked on different games, it tends to be a coin flip which performs better.  You can      

 

You could also save some money and go with a Palit GeForce GTX 560 Sonic Platinum.  There was a recent test putting it up against the Nvidia and AMD cards.  You get a card that has good performance, is factory overclocked, and costs less than the Nvidia option.  You won't save a ton of money over the Nvidia choice, maybe $40-50, but hey, that's still a few bucks.  You can check out the numbers:  http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/graphics/display/palit-gf-gtx560-sonic-platinum.html  

 

jimlynch
12/21/2011
Hi ernard,

Here are the minimum and recommended system requirements for that game:

Minimum System Requirements
OS: Windows 7/Vista/XP PC (32 or 64 bit)
Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent processor
Memory: 2GB System RAM
Hard Disk Space: 6GB free HDD Space
Video Card: Direct X 9.0c compliant video card with 512 MB of RAM
Sound: DirectX compatible sound card

Recommended System Requirements
Processor: Quad-core Intel or AMD CPU
Memory: 4GB System RAM
Video Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible NVIDIA or AMD ATI video card with 1GB of RAM (Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 or higher; ATI Radeon 4890 or higher)

http://gamingdialog.com/2011/11/10/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-pc-minimum...

And you may want to read this overview and performance comparison:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Performance & IQ Preview
http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/11/11/elder_scrolls_v_skyrim_perform...

"The long awaited sequel to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was launched early this morning, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is now available on Steam or in retail stores. While we have a full evaluation of Skyrim in the works, we wanted to bring you this preview of performance and image quality so you know what to expect out of this game today. We started playing Skyrim right when it was unlocked on Steam and quickly began looking at performance and image quality on several video cards. First and foremost, what caught our eye was that the game is running in DX9, it does not support DX11. This left us with a rather cold and disappointed feeling at first, but as we played more into the game we see that Bethesda has done quite a lot with DX9, though certainly there is room for improvement.

Skyrim does not use the previously used Gamebryo engine that Oblivion used. Instead, Bethesda created its own technology for this game called the Creation Engine, which is heavily based on Gamebryo. Some key features of graphics improvements over Oblivion include draw distances being father, dynamic lighting leads way to shadows being cast by any object, and now Bethesda is using this technology for the trees and foliage. Previously, SpeedTree was used, but now this is all done in the Creation Engine. Skyrim also makes use of Havok physics engine for character animation which allows real-time interaction with NPCs. Speaking of NPCs, Skyrim uses Radiant AI, which was also used in Oblivion but has been updated to allow NPCs to interact more in their environment. All of this sounds great, but again, nothing special we haven't seen in any game so far. Nothing that really screams "unique" here."
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