14 Replies Latest reply on Jul 5, 2013 3:38 PM by RjL190365

    What is the best video card for my system?

    Harm Millaard Level 7

      This is a question often asked and unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this very valid question.


      As is almost always the case, the answer is,  it depends. If depends on the components you already have in your system and it depends on your workflow. But there are some things to keep in perspective and I will try to explain them for your benefit.


      Components in your system


      Ultimately, you want to have a 'balanced' system where you avoid overspending on one component if it does not show tangible benefits that you profit from during everyday use.


      I know, this analogy is crazy, but it shows you the drift of my argument. If you have a rusty and 25 year old Chevrolet Malibu, that has over 150K miles on the odometer, you will not consider installing a very costly Ferrari Formula 1 gearbox in that old car. On the other hand, if you are in the lucky situation that you have a brand new Bentley Continental GT V8, you will not consider replacing the carpet with the floor mats from the old Malibu.


      Things have to be in balance, to get the most from it and that applies to video cards as well. In the table below, I have put down my thoughts on what is a good BFTB video card, depending on the other components in your system. Of course, this can never be a complete list of all configurations on the market, but it may help you to figure out where your system is and point you in the right direction.


      Video card.png

      I have only included system configurations that are pretty common. NA means not applicable or not relevant.


      Workflow impact


      Hardware MPE is very relevant if you use scaling or frame blending often in your regular workflow. Changing resolution from source size to export size or changing FPS from source to export format. Whether that is AVCHD to SD or YouTube or Vimeo, as soon as you regularly use either of these hardware accelerated MPE functions, it can pay to look at the Warrior column. If that is never the case, the Budget column may be more appropriate.


      The higher the overclock of the system, the more reason there is to look at the Warrior column, if there is no overclocking going on, the more reason to look at the Budget column.


      There is one noteworthy column here and that is the 'Sustained Transfer Rate on all volumes'. It simply means that if the project, media or media cache volumes can not sustain the indicated transfer rates, they will become a bottleneck for the very fast video card and will effectively not use the video card to its full capacity.


      That is the reason that all SB, IB and Haswell systems with their limited PCIe lanes do not warrant anything more than a GTX 660 TI as a Warrior model, even if all volumes are SSD's.


      Note that the GTX 760 is not included in this overview, due to lacking performance data.


      If you have suggestions to improve this table, please let me know.

        • 1. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
          Eric T Arroyo Level 1

          Nice job on this article Harm. This is a HUGE help!

          • 2. Re: What is the best video card for my system?

            Hi Harm and thanks for posting this extremely relevant post. Since the new CC release I've noticed improved interfacing with timeline, playback and keyboard controls. 

            I have an

            i7 3930k

            32GB (crucial tactical ballistic) 

            GTX 670 4GB

            Lsi 9271-8i (raid controller card)

            crucial M 240GB SSD (OS) 

            6 disk 2/TB in raid6 (WD RE4's)

            corsair 850TM  


            After stupidly trying to configure a machine on my own, Im proud to say our very own Eric Bowman from ADK has helped me get the machine on track and so far it's been working real nice.  My goal is to effectively edit 2k/4k material from the new convergent design OdysseyQ.  Right now 1080 is a breeze, so will adding another GTX 670 help in any case?  I know I need to add more drives and if you can your input is invaluable Harm and would appreciate your expertise and insight. Will adding more drives speed my raid6 enough for 4k?  Right now I'm averaging close to 600MB/s.  I think I might even need a large capacity SSD config as well?  If I can just add more drives to achieve the speed I need that may be cheaper than the SSD route? Sorry if I posted in the wrong spot but appreciate the opportunity to comment.




            • 3. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
              Harm Millaard Level 7



              IMO you could not be in better hands than Eric Bowen, he is the tech guru at ADK and I regularly pick his brains as well.


              You have currently 6 disks on your LSI controller. Adding two more disks to your raid6 will definitely increase your transfer rates by a noticeable amount. Think around 120+ MB/s per disk added to the array.


              Bill Gehrke has just bested my MPEG2-DVD results by a considerable margin with a combination of the GTX 780 + GTX 680. It almost doubled his performance in that test. The question arises, especially in light of this article about balanced systems and not overspending on a single component, whether that is worth it. Adding a second video card is a costly affair and is it worth it? To be quite honest, I sure would like to keep my nr. 1 ranking in the benchmark score, and I'm sure that when I add a GTX 780 or GTX Titan to my GTX 680, I will even improve Bill's score, but is it worth it? That is the fundamental question. It is not about getting or keeping the top-score in a benchmark test, it is about what will it do to your bottom-line? Is it profitable?


              In specific cases, like rescaling or frame blending, you will find great benefits from adding a second video card, but if your main material is AVCHD or full HD and you export to BDR, the video card is left out of the game almost completely and the second video card does nothing. Now if you edit 4K material and you plan on resizing to full HD on BDR, then the second video card will be very helpful. However, my first priority would be to increase memory to 64 GB and the second one to add a second video card.

              • 4. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                desi0214 Level 1

                Thank you Harm and thanks to this forum I discovered Eric Bowmen (spelling correct) I don't make a move without him.  The whole transition to a PC has been pleasant since meeting and working with him.


                More RAM it is, then video card (780 or 690) and of course more drives.  I must say I'm impressed with the raid6. So far so good (fingers crossed). Ha...But thanks again Harm for all your information and hard work. 




                • 5. Re: What is the best video card for my system?

                  Awesome Harm, that makes it easier to help sort out my build.

                  One quick question though. It appears as though I can get 2 650ti-boosts for pretty much the same price as a single 670 (or only ~$60AUD more than a 660ti). I've read multiple times that it's better to get a single card than two "half" cards. (But I've read the opposite with 650ti-boost in SLI).

                  Assuming there are no issues with the other hardware (3930k, 32GB RAM, SSDs in raid), is there any value in getting the two cards into SLI over a single 660ti. (will be doing premier pro (1080P, but doing resizing), after effects and photoshop).

                  Upgrading the ram to 64GB will cost an extra $300 as opposed to an extra $60 to go from a 660ti to the twin 650ti-boosts.


                  Thanks in advance.

                  • 6. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                    Harm Millaard Level 7

                    I have only seen one result with the PPBM6 benchmark, using CC and dual video cards. That was Bill who tested with these configurations and did the relevant MPEG2-DVD test, which shows the effectiveness of CUDA supported rescaling and frame blending. Going from a source AVCHD 1080i 29.97 to MPEG2-DVD 480i 23.976:


                    • A single GTX 680, 39 s MPEG2-DVD, 223 s H.264-BR
                    • A single GTX 780, 26 s MPEG2-DVD, 200 s H.264-BR
                    • Combination GTX 780 + GTX 680 non-SLI, 16 s MPEG2-DVD, 204 s H.264-BR


                    SLI is not supported BTW. The difference is quite significant, and shows what two video cards can do when using both rescaling and frame blending that are CUDA supported. But there are two issues here:


                    1. BFTB-wise, these two tested cards cost around € 1200, which is rather extravagant and only shows a benefit in this specific test. H.264-BR exports do not profit at all from the dual card solution. So is it a wise investment? Note that Bill's disk transfer rates are in excess of 1200 MB/s, so he has a very, very fast raid array that only very few people can match, so his MPEG2-DVD results are almost entirely due to the efficiency of the video cards, not held back by disk performance.
                    2. If you do not use rescaling and frame blending but use 1080p as source and as final delivery, the GPU is hardly involved, it is the CPU doing the heavy lifting, possibly held back by the clock speed, amount of memory and disk speeds.


                    In your specific case which does not mention a dedicated raid controller, one can only assume you are talking about either 2 SSD's in raid0 on SATA 6G ports or up to 4 SSD's on SATA 3G ports. You also did not mention the raid level used in case you are talking about up to 4 SSD's, but my gut feeling is, that you would be better off with further improving overclock speeds, memory and disks than a second video card, since that second video card performance gain does not apply to your workflow.


                    It is hard to understand that Adobe touts the dual video card capability on the one hand for exporting to DVD, and at the same time declares DVD 'dead' and stops supporting Encore. Isn't that ironic?

                    • 7. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                      CaillinAU Level 1

                      Thanks for the quick and insightful reply Harm.

                      Single 660ti it is then and I'll look at improving disk stuff.

                      • 8. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                        Nicol Simard Level 1



                        I will be testing PPro CC with your PPBM6 with both one and two Titan cards within the next couple of weeks. I will let you know how my computer performs in the new configuration.



                        • 9. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                          Nicol Simard Level 1



                          I have a question regarding SLI. In your comments, you say that it does not work in PPro CC. But isn't the GTX 690 on the list of supported cards? I am asking because the cards with built in GPUs are running basically working as if they were in SLI mode.



                          • 10. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                            Evil Edison Level 1

                            This chart is great.  Thanks, Harm.  Upon review, it looks like I need to go out and get another 32GB ram, a faster media array and a GTX Titan.  Christmas list done,

                            • 11. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                              Fabio Pis Level 1

                              I Nicol,

                              I did some fast tests with premiere pro CC and a GTX 690 card (a single card with two GPU on board and internal SLI activated via drivers))and both gpu are working, if I disable multi gpu (SLI option) on nvidia driver, the charge on both gpu seems to be more constant in full value load



                              We cannot talk of SLI if cards are differents. (eg. GTX 780 and GTX 680)

                              Premiere CC could use both of them togheter in multigpu mode (cards are not connected with a SLI cable like you can do with 2 GTX 680 or 2 identical gfx)

                              • 12. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                                Magic81587 Level 1

                                Harm - I'm curious as to your thoughts on the newly released GeForce 760 and how it fits into your table.


                                Reading that link, it noted that it's shading/texturing performance is slightly lower than the 660 Ti, but - in most applications - is overcome by it's increased ROP throughput and memory bandwidth. For use in Adobe CS or CC, do you expect the 760 to perform better than the 660 Ti?


                                I've heard conflicting reports of a 760 Ti as well. Some say it should be coming in 2-3 weeks. Others say Nvidia will be skipping that level for this series release. Time will tell if we have another card to consider.

                                • 13. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                                  CaillinAU Level 1

                                  Yeah I'm wondering the same thing about the 760. I haven't got my card yet, and benchmarks are making me reconsider especially with the pricepoint. Cheaper than the 670, but less cuda cores.

                                  • 14. Re: What is the best video card for my system?
                                    RjL190365 Level 5

                                    Good starting points. However, the recommendations do not quite jibe with what I found during testing. With my i5-2400 auxiliary system and a plain GTX 560, I discovered that the GPU utilization during the MPEG-2 DVD portion of the PPBM6 test got pegged at 98~100% while the CPU utilization stayed below 50%. This indicates that the GTX 560 itself was the bottleneck in that system despite its 128.3 GB/s memory throughput - it has only 336 CUDA cores. I discovered similar imbalance in my main rig, between an i7-3770K overclocked to 4.3GHz and a GTX 560 Ti 448: Despite its 156 GB/s memory throughput, the GPU utilization again pegged at 98~100% while the CPU utilization stayed around 30%.


                                    Those results indicate that there is plenty of room within the CPU's capabilities for a higher-end GPU. My idea of "balanced between the CPU and GPU" is that both the measured CPU and GPU utilization are roughly equal to one another (percentage-wise).