I have a desktop computer that is approaching 5 years now. Yes – 5 years. I remember how I never had a machine for over 18 months. I now have 3 laptops and two tablets that I also use. Add to that the desktop really isn’t as obsolete in power as it would have been in 2004.
So I’ve upgraded the machine during the five years to keep it working as best it can. New memory, new hard drives and even the upgrade of the video card.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to try out two videos cards – the EVGA 760 2 GB graphics and the ASUS R9 280x 3 GB card. All to find out which one could extend the life of my desktop for another year.
First of all, lets look at the specs of the computer. Its an ASUS motherboard with AMD Phenom II x4 945 processor at 3 GHz. The processor itself has done a great job in what I do on the computer – mostly create video or photoshop.
There is 12 GB of memory inside. Before this summer I ran an EVGA 560 at 2 GB, which took a 5 minute video I created with lower 3rds and transitions about 45 minutes to process.
Not bad for this machine, but I knew it could do better. So when I was asked to compare the two video cards, I was intrigued to see the difference in performance.
GeForce GTX 760 Video Card
Lets start with the EVGA GeForce GTX760-2GB GDDR5 graphics card. This is a 2 GB card with a 1072 MHz base clock and 1152 CUDA cores. The card allows for 2 DVI monitors, one HDMI screen and Display port connector. It draws 170 watts of power for high end gaming, or anything requiring video rendering.
Keep in mind – video processing can include anything from creating a video, watching YouTube, or being part of a Google Hangout. Internet bandwidth and webcam are only small factors to your Skype call or other type of video conference. A good video card can improve the experience on your end.
With that said, the EVGA tested well in gaming. Around 60-90 fps when it came to some games at a 1600×900 resolution. Of course, when you get to higher resolution monitors the frame rate will go down. I don’t have a monitor higher than 1600×900, but I have seen 4K monitors show rates around 20-30.
As for what I do – that being video – I found that same 5 minute video took 27 minutes to process using the CUDA system. That is a 60% improvement for my 5 year old computer. Not bad, but it can get better.
AMD R9 280
But it apparently didn’t come easy.
First of all, I do have to mention I have been running Windows on my machine for 5 years. I do incremental backups, so if I ever have a problem, I go back to a point in time – not run a fresh install.
When I put the R9 280 into the computer, I had nothing but problems. The video card started to work properly, then glitches showed up. I really knew what I had to do – create a fresh start.
But I also knew that might affect the results of the NVidia GeForce 760. Therefore, I had to do something different for this test. I ended up creating 2 fresh Windows installs – one with the GeForce and one with the AMD R9.
This definitely made the difference in testing the cards. It also gave me a fresh install point in my backups.
So with that said, lets look at the ASUS R9 280 video card.
The R9 280 3 GB card contains an engine clock of 980 MHz. The card has 2 DVI outputs, HDMI and Display port. It also contains CrossFire so you can connect another AMD card to increase specs. AMD uses the OpenCL to improve graphics.
The memory clock and interface gives you a maximum resolution of 2560×1600 at 5200 MHz. The benchmarks shows the frame rate a little better than the 760 – between 5-10 fps improvement. Comparing with other benchmark sites they concurred my findings.
However, I am not as much about the gaming as the video production. This is where I was impressed.
Before I start, I have to mention one issue you might have when using this card with older versions of Adobe software. I have Creative Suite 5.5, which does not support OpenCL. I had to use Creative Cloud to see the difference in render time – which always seems to be a lot longer than other rendering softwares.
Nonetheless, I ususally use Sony Vegas for creating video which supports OpenCL wholeheartedly. When I processed that same 5 minute video, I found the render time to be 17 minutes.
That is 73% better than my old card and 38 % better than the EVGA.
I also noticed that whereas the other two cards maxed out my Phenom II processor, the R9 280 was only tasking it at 70%. That meant the GPU could handle the video so much it didn’t have to heavily rely on the CPU to process. It also means I could do other tasks while the video was rendering.
I could keep this desktop running for another year without issue.
One other thing I do with my machine is create video via a program called Wirecast. With this R9 280 card, I have successfully held an interview where I brought in 2 Skype callers and myself on camera. I can record interviews like this for podcasts or instructional videos. All on one computer.
So in all, we have two cards that do pretty well – the R9 giving a better performance simply by pulling some of the work away from the main processor so it doesn’t tax out.
I don’t overclock my machines, but some of you do – so I checked out how overclocking worked. The AMD made it easy with the GPUTweak software that loads with the card drivers. This can push the processor clock up to 1000 MHz and you can create profiles to switch back and forth from gaming to video production to surfing the web.
Summary – AMD R9 280 vs. GeForce GTX 760
So out of the two cards, I get better performance from the R9 280. If I was an Adobe house and used Premiere Pro 5.5 or 6, the GeForce card would be the better bet – especially since I can hack in the 760 to utilize CUDA.
One last thing if you are thinking of getting either of these cards – you will need a power supply running around 500 Watts – 600 preferred, but it also depends on what else you have running in the desktop.
So how old is your desktop computer? Are you looking to update the machine with memory or a new video card? Let me know!