I’m looking to buy a new GTX 280 card. There seems to be a significant difference in the price of cards from different manufacturers, all using the same GPU. Are you assembled masses of experienced users aware of any meaningful differences between cards built around the same GPU? When I run my simulations for many days straight, am I going to blow out a cheap card with a dinky cooling system? Can you recommend a particular manufacturer?
Look carefully at the specs of the listed cards. Price variations from board to board with the same GPU often come from factory overclocked boards and the level of overclocking applied. I.e. EVGA offers a board with NVIDIA’s recommended clocks, a “Superclocked” version, a “Super super clocked” version, and a few more on top of that IIRC!
There have been some reports on the forums that overclocked boards are more likely to crash in CUDA apps. For stability, I would recommend getting the standard board with the NVIDIA recommended clocks (which is likely to be the least expensive, too).
As for a manufacturer… I’ve always bought from EVGA and never had a problem with on of their GPUs. It really doesn’t matter much: almost all of the manufactures just build NVIDIA’s reference design, except for their top of the line massively overclocked versions where they have redesigned the board to take extra cooling.
I am researching this too, primarily by reading the reviews on Newegg. I came across this one (about the PNY VCGGTX260XPB GeForce GTX 260) that concerned me:
It’s great that the market power of gamers is pushing down prices, but it seems that some companies maybe cutting one too many corners. For a server, particularly a production server, the situation described is completely unacceptable.
The highest rated manufacturer for GTX 200-series boards on Newegg is EVGA, followed by MSI, XFX and BFG Tech.
The hardware section of the general Nvidia forum here may also be of some help.
Being frail mechanical devices, a certain percent of fans will always die (and sometimes the bad fans will come in batches). Maybe it’s a fault on PNY’s part, maybe not.
I’d like to see some tangible evidence that it’s worth spending an extra thousand dollars on a fan. (Particularly when high-quality aftermarket fans are available on GeForces too…and some manufacturers install those directly.) Are there any concrete (forget even independent) numbers such as “Tesla has a MTBF x, EVGA GeForces have a MTBF 0.1x”?
BFG, XFX, or EVGA offer Lifetime warranties. You cant really go wrong with that. For all that matters any card with a long warranty should be the pic. XFX you can overclock all you want and to my understanding doesnt void the warranty. As for budget cards you never know. I put many Biostar cards in alot of builds for people and I havent had any problems. I dont even know what the Biostar warranty is but i have trusted them without ever thinking of it. So far no problems. If you find a card you like google the manufacturer# and see if anyone has any ill comments. I do that on any new component I am about to buy so that if there is a common problem I wont buy it. Usually when something happens ppl post it somewhere. You have to look for the trends though cause random things could happen to any card