Choosing the Right Video/Graphics Card Today

Posted by jun auza On 11/08/2007
Choosing the Right Video/Graphics Card Today: A video card, also referred to as a graphics card, is a piece of personal computer hardware whose job is to produce and output images to a PC monitor or display.

When I say video card, I’m referring to the separate, dedicated expansion card that is plugged into a slot on the computer's motherboard, not the integrated “onboard” graphics controller included into the motherboard chipset.

The two most commonly used graphics card slots in today’s computers are AGP, typically found in motherboards manufactured from 1996-2004, and PCI Express, made from 2004 up to present. PCI Express can handle a greater data output and offers performance of up to 4 times faster than the fastest AGP slot.

Choosing the right video card that fits your needs, your computer hardware, and your budget can be a little bit difficult especially if you don’t have proper computing background. That is why I’m here to help out.


These basic but important things should be considered first before buying a video/graphics card:

*Graphics Card Interface:
Make sure you're aware of whether your motherboard supports AGP, or PCI-Express. I have included some photos to help you identify.

AGP slot (usually brown in color):


PCI Express (usually black in color):


* Different Levels of Graphics Card
High-end Video Cards:
These are the highest-end, fastest, best-performing cards for high quality imaging, 3D gaming and other demanding applications. If your goal is to play games with visual options turned on to their maximum settings this is for you. The video cards in this class generally are priced above $200.

Mainstream Video Cards:
These are the mid-range card. If you are looking for affordable PC graphics upgrade for gaming, video editing, digital photography, or simply web surfing, then this is for you. The video cards in this class generally are priced between $99 - $199.

Low-end Video Cards:
These cards are used primarily for business and desktop graphics functions, as well as specific applications like providing TV output or S-Video output or dual monitor support. If your main goal is to improve your graphics for desktop publishing or surfing the web, or you just need dual monitor support or TV output, then value video cards should be sufficient. Any video card under $99 is considered a low-end video card.

* Graphics Card Brand:
Nvidia and ATI/AMD are two of the best manufacturers of video cards on the market today. So, it is really up to you which one to select Be sure to visit their websites to be guided on different video card models with corresponding specifications and prices.






*Extra Features:
Added features like TV-out, S-video, dual monitor support are present in most modern graphics card, but be sure to check before you buy if these aspects are available.

Conclusion:
So there you have it. To wrap it all up, when choosing a video card, always remember to pick what is right for you. Ask yourself what level of graphics card you need for your computing tasks, and whether you can afford the price. Most importantly, choose a graphics card that is compatible with your computer hardware.

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