What questions do people NEED to answer for a recommendation?

XacTactX

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Preface (Not Necessary To Read) Kay guys, this is going to be my attempt at making some sense out the mess that is helping people get GPU recommendations. I've been meaning to spearhead this for a long time, and now's the time to do it. I've noticed, in being involved greatly in the video card scene here, that people don't always know what to buy, so they ask for help. That's great, and it's good to help enrich the community by making high quality video cards proliferate with good cost-effective recommendations, but there is certain information that NEEDS to be posted. People often don't know what information is important, and include what they think is important. This non-standardized approach works sometimes, and doesn't work sometimes. I envision a 'Square One', that every person looking to get a GPU needs to start at. From this point, and after answering these questions both for the user's knowledge, and for making giving recommendations an expedient, efficient process, can we give an informed recommendation.

Is there any information that is so vital that anyone asking for a GPU recommendation should have to provide it? If yes, what questions, and what information would you deem so important?
 

XacTactX

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These are the questions I deem vital so far:

What motherboard, CPU, and power supply will be used with this graphic card?

How much length does your case have for the graphic card?

What is your intended usage of this graphic card? If games, the newest and most demanding ones, older ones, or any specific games? If movies, will you accelerate 1080p Blu-Ray and/or Flash, and would you apply image enhancements?

Overclocking?

Price?

Display Resolution?

Do you like or dislike AMD or nVIDIA, CrossFire or SLI, 3D, PhysX, noise, heat, or anything else? For any of these topics that you do not specify, we will assume you will accept them to a reasonable extent (not a leaf blower, but possibly not silent, neither an icebox, nor a furnace).

Do you have any upgrade plans in the near future?

Miscellaneous Information?
 
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Direfox

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Good questions, I would like to add that if this for gaming, Is there one specific game they want to shine. If someone is buying a setup for WoW with other casual gaming things will be a lot different than if they are buying it to max out BC2. For most games the focus is still on the GPU, but now there are some that need the CPU to be performance matched to the video card. If they want to play fully modded Oblivion with upgraded textures I would suggest a card with more memory, even if the GPU is slower to make the price point they are looking for. So if they have xxxxxxx money and need to play xxxxxxx game as well as possible, that really helps to give a recommendation.

Another thing that helps is how often they upgrade and whether they are comfortable overclocking.
 

Lord_Exodia

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It would be good to know what they can forsee themselves possibly moving up to later.

So if they are gonna power 1920x1200 we can recommend a specific graphics card but then if they are considering buying 2 more 19x12 panels within 6 months and we know that we may recommend a completely different graphics card knowing that ahead of time.

So whatever their possible upgrade plans may entail could be relevant.
 

XacTactX

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Please refer to post numbers 1 and 2 in this thread, tell me what you think. I plan on making a poll later to see if a thread like this is worth stickying so that it makes recommendations faster and easier.

Thanks guys, you won't regret it.
 

XacTactX

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I know it's not good to tell people what they do or do not know, but based on the (lack of) enthusiasm being received, I would like to say that you all will only understand the true meaning of this work once it gets stickied and people stop asking for help without writing their resolutions, price points, power supplies, future plans, etc.

Anyway, I thank you for your interest in this endeavor, and hope to read your opinion.
 

Balthazor

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The games wanting to be played is appropriate. Most of your other questions are good as well, although I think getting into specific retail store / regional tax questions is a bit much. A better approach, in my opinion, is to ask what their budget is and let them answer however they think is appropriate.

May also want to ask what display connector (s) they must have / would like to have.

Also, I'd like to nominate the following multiple choice question:

While in town the baker gives you a sweetroll. Delighted, you take it into an alley to enjoy only to be intercepted by a gang of three other kids your age. The leader demands the sweetroll, or else he and his friends will beat you and take it. Do you...

A) Drop the sweetroll and step on it, then get ready for the fight.

B) Give him the sweetroll now without argument, knowing that later this afternoon you will have all your friends with you and can come and take whatever he owes you.

C) Act like you're going to give him the sweetroll, but at the last minute throw it in the air, hoping that they'll pay attention to it long enough for you to get a shot in on the leader.
 

XacTactX

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The games wanting to be played is appropriate. Most of your other questions are good as well, although I think getting into specific retail store / regional tax questions is a bit much. A better approach, in my opinion, is to ask what their budget is and let them answer however they think is appropriate.

May also want to ask what display connector (s) they must have / would like to have.

You're right, asking about specific e-tailers is getting too specific, I'll remove that question until we think of something better.

For display connectivity, for the most part, all the GPUs we currently have can accommodate whatever the user needs, VGA, DP, and HDMI by being adapted from DVI. Are there any specific scenarios where certain display outputs would be a necessity? I think asking as few questions as possible would be better if we don't need them, but if it is warranted, I'll certainly make changes.

Also, I'd like to nominate the following multiple choice question:

The answer: Morrowind. :D
 

Direfox

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Actually, I would go with option D) as I have a CCL and a Glock 26. Don't mess with me sweetrolls.
 

Balthazor

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Sure, fine, don't worry about adapters.

Although you already have a general 'what is your system' question, I think we should include 'what is the max length video card you can fit in your case?' This and PSU, which you already note as being important, give some practical limitations to any possible recommendations.

While you're at it you may as well just scrap the general 'system specs' question and just boil it down to:

What PSU are planning on using with the GPU?
What motherboard are you using?
What is the max length video card you can fit in your case?

Because everything else, other than that, is not usually important. General CPU capabilities can be deduced by the motherboard, even.
 

XacTactX

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Balthazor, you're the man, man. Thanks for the help, I, and the enthusiast community, appreciate it.

System Specs: A person on LGA775, LGA1156, AM2+, and AM3 would not give enough information about CPU capability for us to give a recommendation. This would especially be the case for AM3, an X2 555 is worlds away from a 965, and the like. Maybe we can ask about the motherboard and CPU, to know about CF and SLI capabilities. So, instead of asking about the whole system's specs, we could ask:

What motherboard, CPU, and power supply will the computer be using?

GPU Length: Very good idea, I didn't think of that. To some extent, most people won't have to worry about that until they get to the upper limits of their wallets, but it is an important consideration. We could either ask:

Do you have any space constraints for length or width? If not sure, measure.
OR
How much space do you have length-wise?

Which of these do you think we should ask, or should we ask something else?
 

Balthazor

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I think just ask for max length available, since we're speaking generically. I mean we might think that 13" is more than ample for today's cards, but who knows what craziness they'll throw out there later. People on a budget may be more likely to get smaller cases, so this could be important in those ... cases (pun?)

If space is tight then recommenders could ask follow-up questions to see if there is a way to make more space in the case, by moving devices or whatever.

While you're at it, we should probably include the following (mostly to be able to recommend multi-GPU setups):

Aside from the GPU(s), how many other expansion slots do you plan on occupying? Include fan controllers that occupy a slot, sound cards, network cards, RAID cards, or anything else that takes up an expansion slot. Please specify PCI vs. PCIE (x1, x4, ?)
 

MJGunn

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Budget, main uses, specs of the rest of your system. I hadn't considered length restrictions but that's a good idea as well.
 

schoenda

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Good catch about case size and fit...

Also may I suggest some basic homework to help people answer their own questions...for instance:

1)find your price point options on any e-retailer, (Dont forget to use the [H]ard links)
2)Go to manufacturers spec site for that card and see what PSU recommended, what slot it needs, and what kind of i/o it has...look in your box and determine if you have those requirements
2) a)google reviews of that card for benchmarks using the latest games and perhaps head to head with other cards at that price point and b) google reviews of your favorite games as they will often compare various cards... techpowerup recently did an article on like Alien v/s Pred that compared like 12 different gpu. I do especially like the latest few Hard gaming performance reviews...not quite a gpu revue, not quite a game revue, but really gives potential system builders info for those "Must build system "x" for Game "y" situations..
 

XacTactX

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While you're at it, we should probably include the following (mostly to be able to recommend multi-GPU setups):

Aside from the GPU(s), how many other expansion slots do you plan on occupying? Include fan controllers that occupy a slot, sound cards, network cards, RAID cards, or anything else that takes up an expansion slot. Please specify PCI vs. PCIE (x1, x4, ?)

I think asking about someone's installed expansion boards gets needlessly specific. The main consideration if someone is considering CrossFire or SLI is if the person has two PCIe slots with one adjacent space each. I think the most direct way to address this consideration would be:

If considering CrossFire or SLI, how many and what type of expansion slots do you have for this purpose?

Again, I don't mean to push my views or anything like that, but if someone suggests an idea that is more practical than the current ones, I'll jump on it faster than a fat kid on a cupcake.

Good catch about case size and fit...

Also may I suggest some basic homework to help people answer their own questions...for instance:

1)find your price point options on any e-retailer, (Dont forget to use the [H]ard links)
2)Go to manufacturers spec site for that card and see what PSU recommended, what slot it needs, and what kind of i/o it has...look in your box and determine if you have those requirements
2) a)google reviews of that card for benchmarks using the latest games and perhaps head to head with other cards at that price point and b) google reviews of your favorite games as they will often compare various cards... techpowerup recently did an article on like Alien v/s Pred that compared like 12 different gpu. I do especially like the latest few Hard gaming performance reviews...not quite a gpu revue, not quite a game revue, but really gives potential system builders info for those "Must build system "x" for Game "y" situations..

I had a change of heart on this idea. I don't see how it would make a it easier for us or the user to get a recommendation. If the person knows all of the above information, he could basically choose the card himself. I'd appreciate some elaboration on how this would help, but would be willing to include it if it helps.
 
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jeremyshaw

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I think simply asking for mobo model and CPU is enough, since that will allow us to research SLI/CF compat. more effectively than the OP may be able to.
 

XacTactX

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I think simply asking for mobo model and CPU is enough, since that will allow us to research SLI/CF compat. more effectively than the OP may be able to.

Thanks for your idea jeremy, I don't understand what you have in mind. What do you suggest we remove, and only leave MoBo and CPU in its place?

EDIT: I understand what jeremy was suggesting. The expansion slot questions are completely irrelevant. If the person knows the components in the rig, then he will know that if he is considering multiGPU how many slots he has available, and if it's worth mentioning a limited availability in slots. It doesn't need to be asked, the person will likely know that.
 
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schoenda

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I had a change of heart on this idea. I don't see how it would make a it easier for us or the user to get a recommendation. If the person knows all of the above information, he could basically choose the card himself. I'd appreciate some elaboration on how this would help, but would be willing to include it if it helps.

I see your point and I could argue either side. It IS very helpful to get forum recommendations but people also talk nonsense in forums sometimes, (Not here!) and unless there is going to be a SINGLE UNDESPUTED [H] ENDORSED DIRECTIVE then at some point some research becomes advisable. (Even then?) No? I don't mean to make the process arduous, just some people may appreciate the guidance for further self learning...even if just somewhere on the side..."Some suggestions for web research" notation...like you say...if they knew this they could choose the card themselves, so if we assume they don't know how to evaluate hardware on the web why not tell them...some people think thorough web research is looking at the customer reviews on Amazon. Or perhaps your plan is to turn them into mindless [H] soldier automatons? That's cool too. ;)
 

XacTactX

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schoenda, your response was somewhat confusing to me, but is your suggestion that we make a section that would tell people how to evaluate graphic cards that are on the market? I think that would be a great idea, we could include a section for that purpose and make that the second post, then link that post to the first post so that people can read it if they'd rather learn than be [H] automatons like you said. We could have sections for this part of the guide, such as:

Price ranges
Fan Styles
General and specific gaming performance

Please suggest more sections that you think people would find valuable in a GPU-buying scenario. This will definitely have a section in the stickied thread (if it gets stickied, I hope).
 

XacTactX

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I'd appreciate a summary of the conclusion to be stickied

I appreciate your approval of this effort. After spending more time finalizing the questions people should answer, and developing a self-help section for people to educate themselves on video card buying, I will make a poll asking the community's opinion about whether a thread of this nature should be stickied. I would appreciate your opinion even more at that time :). I really hope this helps make recommending stuff smoother.
 
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