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The following chart shows the performance in floating point operations (in GFLOPS) and Fill Rate (in GigaPixels per second) for the lowest end and highest end cards available in each series of GPUs going back to ~2007.



I have chosen to narrow down the way we look at GPUs into these 2 specifications for this article. GFLOPs helps give an overall picture of the cards ability to crunch numbers, and Fill Rate is directly correlated to the cards ability to pump pixels to the screen. Between these 2 specifications, one or the other will usually represent the bottleneck for a particular application.

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Considerations:
Many people automatically assume that a new card generation must equal substantial speed improvements. Historically speaking, this has not really been the case. Every card generation has a massive overlap in performance with the previous generation. The bottom and the top of the line each move up (sometimes only slightly, especially the bottom), and everything in the middle is overlapped. This is important to consider, because it's very easy to get caught up in the "newer = better" philosophy. Newer usually is going to be better in some way, but whether or not it is better in the desired way needs to be determined for a particular upgrade or application.

The performance of modern integrated (on mobo or on chip) GPUs is in the 40-60 GFLOP and 2-3GP/s Fill Rate range. The Fill Rate of many very modern low end dedicated GPUs is no better or similar. Keep this in mind before recommending hardware like a GT430 to someone building a budget gaming machine.

Over time, the gap between the performance of the lowest and highest performing CPUs currently on the market has been growing larger because there is more and more middle ground opening up for a performance range that works plenty well for modern software. For GPUs, the gap between high and low performance has been steadily growing, and was much wider to begin with. The problem of "poor performing" GPUs has been around a long time... and the trend points to the problem only getting worse with the lower end GPUs on the market.

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Summery:
The newest model range of cards does not automatically translate to a massive performance change for a given price point. The lowest end cards in the any new range of cards will perform just barely better than the previous generations lowest end cards. The newest generation of GPUs will often set the new price points for performance/$ in the market, and previous generation cards are often forced to follow suit and endure price reductions to place them properly. Be wary of recommendations of a "new generation" GPU without properly critiquing its actual performance potential.

Eric
     
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
FX-8350 990X EVO R2.0 Sparkle GTX460 768MB ballistix tactical 2 x 8GB 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Toshiiba THNSNH 256GB Enterprise RE3 1TB Asus BD combo drive Artic A30 
OSMonitorMonitorMonitor
Manjaro Linux Samsung 21.5" LCD E2009WFP E2009WFP 
PowerCase
Seasonic G 550W Modular Fractal Design Core 3500 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
FX-6300, 4.7 GHZ@1.43V GA-970A-UD3P GTX 460 768MB Mixed DIMMs. 2x4GB + 2x8GB @ 1600-8-8-8 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Toshiba THNSNH 19nm 256GB 1TB Spinpoint F3 WD RE3 1TB WD RE3 1TB 
Optical DriveCoolingOSOS
yes CM Seidon 120V SolydK OpenSuse 13.1 
OSOSMonitorMonitor
Linux Mint 9-32 bit // Linux Mint 17-64 bit  Manjaro Xfce Samsung 21.5" HannsG 21.5" sideways! 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Sticky ATNG Rosewill Green 630W NZXT Gamma Basic Microsoft corded 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
A10-6800k 4.8GHZ @ 1.375V, 1.2GHZ iGPU Gigabyte GA-F2A85XN-WIFI HD8670D Ripjaws 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Seagate ST1000DM003 Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Zalman CNPS5X Linux Mint 15 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
LG IPS224V-PN Logitec K360 FSP 400W Aurum S 80+ gold Prodigy 
Mouse
logitec M235 
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