Original video creator(s): Arnox - script writer, video maker
Creator's description: Your old Nvidia card may actually have hidden value that you never knew about. In this video, I'm going to give, basically, a massive general buyer's guide for Nvidia GPUs both way in the past and all the way up to the current year of 2022. A small note though on the mention of the Quadro RTX 6000/8000. I forgot to include both cards depending on how much VRAM you need. Both cards are equivalent in performance though.
00:00 - Intro
01:40 - The absolute best in 2022
03:37 - The best except without tons of VRAM
04:45 - Best bang for your buck GPU with no frills
05:26 - Best workstation GPU that won’t completely destroy your wallet
06:43 - Most hardware-compatible GPU
07:51 - Best no-holds-barred legacy GPU
09:26 - Best no-frills GPU for $300 or less
10:23 - Most hardware-compatible GPU with legacy support
11:14 - Best GPU for Windows 9x and Windows XP
12:57 - Summary
13:56 - Final thoughts
Game source(s): Super Smash Bros.: Project Plus v2.0
707 Ocean Drive
on La Vie Du Lounge
by Lance Hayes
on Forza Motorsport 4 OST
Before I even start, I do want to apologize a bit here as this video is probably going to sound like a giant 15 minute ad for Nvidia even though I’m not actually sponsored at all by them. Bear with me as there is a method to this graphical madness. You see, from SGI to ATI to Intel to AMD, Nvidia has had a lot of competition over the years. Nevertheless, in terms of raw quality, Nvidia’s graphics solutions usually seem to take home the gold. Of course, there have been a few exceptions over the years such as ATI’s X800 XT, but by and large, it’s been a wash. In fact, it hasn’t been until rather recently that AMD finally was able to put out some graphics cards that could stand toe to toe with Nvidia’s offerings.
And so, with that, we’ll be looking at Nvidia cards from both the past and present that are still relevant in 2022, whether because of their OS compatibility, their monitor compatibility, their performance, their power efficiency, their size, or all five. Now, since I’m sure a majority of the viewers for this video are probably only going to care about raw performance or bang for their buck, and not going to give a shit about compatibility, we’ll start with the latest and most powerful card in this list and work our way down from there to the oldest.
A small disclaimer on prices in this video though. Your mileage may vary. I looked at the all-around cheapest prices on ebay for these cards at the time of this writing, and such prices fluctuate. Sometimes wildly. It also doesn’t take into account new-in-box prices.
The Best of the Best in 2022
So, say you’re Bill Gates, and price is no object. You want the biggest baddest motherfucking card available, including server and workstation-grade cards. The GPU that’ll crush all current pretenders to the throne in terms of sheer overwhelming power. Well, for that, you’re looking at the RTX A6000.
Formerly the Quadro line, Nvidia recently decided to rebrand their workstation-grade cards in 2021 to a generic letter and number after it. Absurd name aside though, the card itself is rather absurd as well, basically being a full 3090 except having not 12, not 24, not 36, but 48 GIGABYTES OF VRAM! From raw compute to gaming to cloud server purposes, this card does it all… Well… Almost everything. It does have some weaknesses, but if power is all you care about, none of them will be of any concern.
For one, it shares the same problem that the 3090 has in that this monster is utterly massive. You better have a big enough case for this thing, because it sure as fuck is not going to go into anything else. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to put a stand in the case so you can prop it up to stop the shroud and cooler from pulling away from the PCB.
The second problem is, obviously, the price. How much do you think this card is? $1,000? $2,000? Maybe $2,500- No, it’s $4,500 dollars. About the price of a nice used car. But no biggy.
The third problem is OS compatibility and monitor compatibility features. Specifically, uh… There isn’t any. You get DisplayPort, DisplayPort, DisplayPort anddd… Oh yeah, DisplayPort. And OS compatibility? Hope you like only Windows 10 and Windows 11. Although, I guess you could also run it on Linux too if you hate yourself…
The fourth problem is that it requires a whopping 300 watts of power. Quite a lot for a GPU, but if you’re already dumping $4,500 on a card, then I’m sure you can afford spending a little more on an adequate power supply.
The Best Except Without Absurd VRAM
Moving on, let’s say you want an RTX A6000, but you have absolutely no use for anything more than 24 gigabytes of VRAM and don’t need server quality hardware. Well, in that case, just get the 3090. You’ll save over $2,000 and get the exact same performance out of it.
Since this is basically just an A6000 with less memory though, it’s still quite massive, and requires higher amounts of power than any other GPU on this list. Namely, 350 watts. You do get a few pluses though that the A6000 doesn’t have. Namely, native HDMI support and Windows 7 support. That’s about it. No 32-bit OS support or analog outputs.
Oh, and one note I should probably put in this section. If you need Windows 8.1 support, you will need to get a Quadro RTX 6000/8000. It’s not as performant as the 3090, having about the same power as a 2080 Ti, and is around $1,000 more expensive on top of that, but it does use less power at 300 watts instead of 350 watts, and a 2080 Ti with 24/48 gigabytes of VRAM and the full list of Quadro exclusive features backing it up is absolutely nothing to scoff at.
Best Bang for the Buck GPU With No Frills
Alright, you don’t care about backwards compatibility in any way, but you’re also not Bill Gates, sadly. You need a card that is fully relevant, performance wise, and are willing to put in some extra money, but don’t wanna spend more than $800 and don’t need a workstation card at all. Well, the RTX 3060 is your card. 1080 Ti levels of performance except with RT and tensor cores also, and all this at a $650 price tag, and a 170 watt power draw. Very nice!
Of course, it will require external power and doesn’t have a slim form factor. Plus, even though it supports Windows 7, Windows 8.1 support is very weirdly absent. And again, no 32-bit OS support or analog outputs.
Best Workstation GPU That Won’t Completely Wreck Your Wallet
Now, say you need a workstation GPU that can do WORK, but you don’t have or want to spend ridiculous sums of money. In that case, the Quadro RTX 4000 is your best best. At $850, it’s not exactly cheap, but for a workstation-grade card, it is. 8 gigabytes of GDDR6 memory with RT and tensor cores plus a very slim single-slot profile not found in many other cards, 8k resolution support, OS support for Windows 7 and up, USB-C output, a max power draw of 160 watts, and RTX 2070 levels of performance, plus some other nice-to-haves like a stereo connector and the ability to section off parts of the GPU in virtual machines…
The only problems with the RTX 4000 are that it has no support for 32-bit operating systems, doesn’t support anything older than Windows 7, doesn’t support analog outputs, and it still requires external power. So, this GPU is not the biggest, the baddest, the lightest, or even the most compatible GPU at all, but it is still competent, reliable, efficient, feature rich, and affordable. A perfect card if you want a little bit of everything plus a nice helping of performance. Also, a fun fact. This is the card I am currently using in my own workstation and I can personally vouch for its quality.
Most Hardware-Compatible GPU
Alright, say you got a rather small system or an OEM system that doesn’t have external power connectors for a GPU. What are your options then? In this case, it would be a tie between the GTX 1650 and the 1050 Ti at $240 and $185 respectively. The 1650 is definitely the more powerful option, but if you want Windows 8.1 support and support for 32-bit operating systems, you’re getting the 1050 Ti.
In any case, at a TDP of 75 watts for both cards and a nice small form factor that will fit into pretty much any damn computer you throw it in, these cards make for amazing backup graphics cards or if you just need a simple output to a screen. They run cool and quiet, can output up to 8k, and will even handle a ton of older games at a locked 60 FPS. Sadly though, even the 1050 Ti has no analog outputs as the 10 series was when they phased those out finally. Also, the cards, of course, do not have ray-tracing or tensor cores, and the 4 gigabytes of VRAM that both cards have can quickly become a large bottleneck in many modern games, and a few very modern games may even refuse to run. Just keep these things in mind before you get one of these.
Best No-Holds-Barred Legacy GPU
Now we’re getting into one of my favorite categories on this list. Basically, what if you wanted the maximum amount of legacy software and monitor compatibility that was possible on a single card and didn’t care about power usage, form factor size, or cost? Well, my friend… Meet the Titan X (Non-Pascal). Like the 980 Ti, we got OS compatibility from Windows 11 all the way back to Windows XP 32-bit and full native analog and digital outputs. But since this card is kind of a special edition 980 Ti, we also get a super nice bonus of 12 whopping gigabytes of GDDR5 memory instead of just 6.
As long as you got the power to spare, specifically 250 watts of it, and the space, this card will absolutely rip, and tear through any legacy task you need it for like tissue paper with even some overclocking room to spare. And all this while STILL being relevant in 2022 in terms of performance, even 6 years later. Don’t believe me? It runs Call of Duty: Warzone on 1080p, max settings at an average 75 frames per second. It runs Cyberpunk 2077 on 1080p, medium settings at an average 45 FPS. And this for the price of $425. Damn…
Because of everything that the Titan X is capable of, both in terms of performance and feature support, it also wins the small award of being, in my opinion, the most quintessential Nvidia GPU, so to speak. The card that came out at the perfect time, just before all the old stuff was getting phased out entirely, but not before the more modern cards that still have some nice performance even today.
Best No-Frills GPU for $300 or Less
Alright, you want to stay relevant and don’t need a bunch of extra features, but you’re just starting out and you really don’t have a lot to spend at all. Well, the bad news is you’re not gonna be able to get an RTX-class card for less than $300, but thankfully, that doesn’t really mean anything substantial in this case, especially if all you want is to just get your foot firmly in the door.
In this case, I’d recommend the 980 Ti. It BARELY gets into this category, price wise, at a price of, basically, $300, but it is fully competitive with the Titan X, performance wise. The only problem is that the Titan X’s 12 gigabytes of VRAM is pretty hard to beat. Back in the day, all that memory wasn’t important at all outside of production work, but nowadays… ? Ooh! With that said, 6 gigabytes of GDDR5 is still pretty usable, even in 2022. Just keep your expectations in check I guess is what I’m saying. Also, remember, like the Titan X, no ray-tracing or tensor cores, and it requires external power with a TDP of 250 watts.
Most Hardware-Compatible GPU with Legacy Support
Our next card on the list, the 750 Ti, is just like the 1050 Ti, and has all the advantages of such save for, of course, performance. And then add to that full analog outputs and, like the Titan X and 980 Ti, full support for every OS from Windows XP 32 bit all the way up to Windows 11. And all this at a mere $110. Of course, max resolution is also capped at 4k, and the card is rather weak with a mere 2 gigabytes of VRAM. You’re not exactly going to be playing Cyberpunk on this card. At least the memory is GDDR5 though. Oh, and one more note. There are some 4 gigabyte versions of this card floating around, but one, they’re pretty rare, and two, the extra 2 gigabytes is, believe it or not, almost useless as the GPU doesn’t have enough horsepower to support that much memory at an adequate speed anyway.
Best GPU for Windows 9x and Windows XP Both
And finally, we have our last card. The GeForce 6800, AGP edition. The last Nvidia card to support Windows 9x. Now, there are three versions of this card. The GS, the GT, and the Ultra. The Ultra is the only one that is even somewhat appreciably more powerful, but it’s also much harder to find, and, in my arrogant opinion, not worth the trouble and money to get over the GS and GT versions which are generally equivalent. Not quite, but close enough. In any case, the GS and GT versions overclock ridiculously well, should you ever need it, but I don’t think so. These cards will run all games from that era very smoothly all the way up to Doom 3. But at that point in gaming time onward, you should just run Windows 7 with a MUCH more modern card anyway, so in both the Windows 9x and Windows XP eras both, the 6800 reigns supreme. Alternatively, you MAY also be able to get a very old Quadro FX 3000. It should perform the exact same, but don’t quote me on that. The very old Quadros MAY have hard-coded restrictions on them when it comes to gaming that the newer Quadros simply don’t have at all.
Now, before you get this card, keep in mind three very important things. For one, you will need a motherboard that supports the appropriate AGP slot for the card. AGP is NOT the same as PCI or PCI Express, and a motherboard with PCI Express will not slot an AGP card. And you WILL need the AGP version of this card because Windows 9x doesn’t play nicely at all with PCI Express. Another thing is that while this card does require external power, it gets it through a molex connector. And finally, this card can be a little tricky to get as it’s become a bit of a collector’s item.
So, in summary, we listed 10 cards. The RTX A6000 as the absolute best in 2022, the GeForce RTX 3090 as the best except without absurd amounts of VRAM, the GeForce RTX 3060 as the best bang for your buck GPU with no frills, the Quadro RTX 4000 as the best workstation GPU that won’t completely destroy your wallet, the GeForce GTX 1650 and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti as the most hardware-compatible GPU, the GeForce GTX Titan X as the best no-holds-barred legacy GPU, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti as the best no-frills GPU for $300 or less, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti as the most hardware-compatible GPU with legacy support, and finally, the GeForce 6800 GS/GT/Ultra as the best GPU for Windows 9x and Windows XP both.
Beyond that, I should say, I’ve very recently made a full list of all GPUs that have FP64 or double precision performance of 1 teraflop or more and also checked current prices for such. I didn’t incorporate those findings into this video though as high double precision performance is a pretty niche quality of GPUs that isn’t actually relevant to anything most people care about. Nevertheless, it does have its uses, and if I see some demand for it on the Sanctuary forum, I’ll release another video with the full details.
But yeah, let me know which of these cards you guys have on the Sanctuary site and which one you guys would like to get, if any. Don’t worry. An account is not needed to comment. Oh, and one last bonus award for those who made it this far. The GPU that has the best-looking shroud. The GTX 1080 Ti Founder’s Edition wins this one for me, boys, and I don’t care what anyone says. The 980 Ti comes in at a close second though.