Quality Factors - Graphics versus Performance
A classic trade-off in Web site design is graphics versus download time.
The marketing department wants lots of graphics to improve the visual appeal of the site.
The systems engineer knows that performance (in the eyes of the user) could suffer. Both viewpoints reflect different quality factors.
An architect would consider alternative approaches to satisfy the marketing department and
the systems engineer.
- Could the image files be compressed?
- Could the files be distributed across multiple servers to decrease the load?
The architect's challenge is to determine a solution that satisfies as many stakeholders as possible.
What about this other card that is not on the list?
Question: How do I know if it is a good deal or not?
This will happen. In fact, because inventory levels and prices change quickly, it is guaranteed to happen. So how do you know if that card you have got your eye on is a good buy in its price range?
Here is a resource to help you judge if a card is a good buy or not. The graphics card hierarchy chart groups graphics cards with similar overall performance levels into tiers.
The top tier contains the highest-performing cards available, and performance decreases as you go down the tiers from there.
You can use this hierarchy to compare the pricing between two cards, to see which one is a better deal, and also to determine if an upgrade is worthwhile.
I do not recommend upgrading your graphics card unless the replacement card is at least three tiers higher. Otherwise, the upgrade is somewhat parallel, and you may not even notice any worthwhile difference in performance.
At the request of readers, we've added mobile graphics and integrated chipsets to the hierarchy chart. We want to make it clear that there is very little performance data available for these graphics solutions. While the discrete video cards in the chart are placed in tiers based on a lot of information, many of the mobile and integrated devices in the chart are guesstimates based on their specifications.
At worst, we doubt they are more than one tier away from their actual performance, but this is something to keep in mind when considering mobile graphics chipsets.