Compare any two graphics cards:
GeForce 9600 GT 512MB vs Radeon HD 3850 512MB
IntroThe GeForce 9600 GT 512MB comes with core speeds of 650 MHz on the GPU, and 900 MHz on the 512 MB of GDDR3 RAM. It features 64 SPUs as well as 32 Texture Address Units and 16 ROPs.
Compare all that to the Radeon HD 3850 512MB, which comes with a core clock frequency of 668 MHz and a GDDR3 memory speed of 828 MHz. It also features a 256-bit bus, and makes use of a 55 nm design. It features 320(64x5) SPUs, 16 Texture Address Units, and 16 ROPs.
Power Usage and Theoretical Benchmarks
Power Consumption (Max TDP)
As far as performance goes, the GeForce 9600 GT 512MB should theoretically be a bit superior to the Radeon HD 3850 512MB overall. (explain)
Texel RateThe GeForce 9600 GT 512MB will be much (more or less 95%) better at AF than the Radeon HD 3850 512MB. (explain)
Pixel RateThe Radeon HD 3850 512MB will be a small bit (approximately 3%) more effective at FSAA than the GeForce 9600 GT 512MB, and also able to handle higher screen resolutions better. (explain)
Please note that the above 'benchmarks' are all just theoretical - the results were calculated based on the card's specifications, and real-world performance may (and probably will) vary at least a bit.
Memory Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the maximum amount of information (in units of megabytes per second) that can be transported across the external memory interface in one second. The number is worked out by multiplying the interface width by its memory speed. If it uses DDR RAM, it must be multiplied by 2 once again. If DDR5, multiply by ANOTHER 2x. The better the memory bandwidth, the better the card will be in general. It especially helps with anti-aliasing, High Dynamic Range and high resolutions.
Texel Rate: Texel rate is the maximum texture map elements (texels) that can be processed in one second. This number is worked out by multiplying the total texture units by the core clock speed of the chip. The better the texel rate, the better the card will be at texture filtering (anisotropic filtering - AF). It is measured in millions of texels applied in a second.
Pixel Rate: Pixel rate is the most pixels the video card can possibly write to its local memory in a second - measured in millions of pixels per second. The figure is worked out by multiplying the number of colour ROPs by the clock speed of the card. ROPs (Raster Operations Pipelines - also called Render Output Units) are responsible for filling the screen with pixels (the image). The actual pixel rate also depends on quite a few other factors, most notably the memory bandwidth - the lower the bandwidth is, the lower the potential to reach the max fill rate.