I am of the opinion that video card naming and numbering schemes are now created to purposely confuse and mislead the consumer. I’m all for having selection, but things are starting to get ridiculous.
Without googling, put the following GPUs in order from fastest to slowest: the x1950 pro, x1950XT the x1900XT, the x1900XL, the x1900XTX, or the x1900GT. Here’s a hint, the x1950 is not the fastest. Only the super hardcore enthusiast will be able to come even remotely close. What’s worse is that it doesn’t even take into account the additional monikers of “Extreme”, “Ultimate” or “Turbo” that manufacturers add to cards that have slightly faster than stock clock speeds in order to make them stand out. And just to make sure that you’re hopelessly confused, many of the models listed about come in both 256MB and 512MB versions.
I consider myself to be pretty well informed when it comes to computer hardware, but if given the choice above based on model number alone I’d be hard pressed to make the proper decision. How then is your average computer enthusiasts supposed to be able to make a buying decision that is right for him?
In an ideal world, both ATI and Nvidia would subscribe to a naming standard based on and independent performance benchmark. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but wouldn’t it be nice if at the very least video card manufacturers adopted a performance based naming scheme like the one CPU manufacturers used? Sure it would be dumbing down the buying process to the lowest common denominator, but is that really such a bad thing? I for one find it annoying to have to spend as much time researching a $250 purchase as I would a university paper.
The real question here though is why manufacturers chose to use such a confusing naming schemes in the first place. The answer is quite simple. By naming a card X1900XL instead of perhaps a more apt X1750, the manufacturer draws an association with the higher end X1900XT, which ultimately leads the average consumer to feel like they are getting a high end product at a low end price. It also allows for the sale of 7300 as “gaming” cards to the unsuspecting consumer who mistakenly believes that they are getting an upgrade on their current 6600GT. That is at least until they get home and install the card anyway…