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Graphics: What About DirectX 11?

I get this question every time a new DirectX API ships: "Should I jump into the new generation of graphics cards?"

It was a tougher sell in the past. Whenever a new generation of GPUs shipped to support a new API, those initial GPUs were typically very high end. Anyone remember $600 GeForce 8800 GTX’s? DirectX 10 was also something of a disappointment. Visual enhancements were relatively minor, and performance often took a serious hit.

AMD Radeon HD 5870 DirectX 11 Graphics Card

This time around, it’s a little different. AMD’s ATI division was first out of the chute. Not only is performance of the new Radeon HD 5870 stunningly fast. The HD 5850 isn’t so shabby either. Plus, AMD followed up pretty quickly with more budget-oriented cards, like the Radeon HD 5770.

While it’s a little early to tell, it looks like DirectX 11 is a much bigger step up than DirectX 10. Plus, it won’t be exclusive to a single OS, running on both Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Performance will likely improve, even on older GPUs, due to the addition of multithreading in the API. And features like hardware tessellation promise significant image quality enhancements.

AMD Radeon HD 5750 and 5770 DirectX 11 Graphics Cards

If you currently have a graphics card that would have been high end three months ago – a 285GTX or Radeon HD 4890 – you can probably wait a bit, to see how it all shakes out, and to find out what Nvidia will have in store. But if you’ve been living with an older card, it’s a good time to upgrade. ATI’s new cards are solid, faster than their previous generation and, in the case of the HD 5850 and HD 5870, the fastest single GPU cards available. And they’re priced right, too.


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