8 Key Points to Buy THE Graphics Card You Actually Need!

By Soumya Sinha, Gaea News Network
Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gamers can go for holidays. Not you, its your video card that wreaked the havoc. Often I come across terrible stuffs. Take for that a somebody got a 512 MB video card cheap. To my utter shock and awe its was like dropping a 110-horsepower engine into the body of a muscle car. The figures may be impressive but the underpowered card yields to pressure. Stop falling prey to cheap offers, committing the same blunders. Check things before you buy.

Before I begin let me tell you that a video card GPU (Graphics processing unit) works like a CPU in a system. This are upgraded year after year and you need to keep a track of the latest GPU announcements and performance reports. Still it’s not easy to choose from an array of video cards. Moreover, the retailer would always press you for a obsolete one that’s dirt cheap. So which is the best suited graphics card for you? If you are clueless then here is an extensive article just to keep you on the right track.


1. Choose a lower-end new generation model than a higher end old generation

Old is not always gold. The seller would always insist you lowering prices on older generation video cards. That’s because, he needs to get rid of the old stock. Never make such a deal.

Most of you blindly choose the card on the basis of generation number. Take for that a ATI Radeon 3870, could be far faster than a ATI Radeon HD 4650.

For more details, this is what hardware-revolution.com suggests

The numbering was explained with ATI’s 4850 model

4850: The first number refers to the generation of the card. A higher number there means that the video card is based on a more recent generation, which always brings in improvements over the previous generation.

4850: The second number refers to the range of that card. Same here, higher is better. In Ati’s case, for the 4xxx series, it goes mostly like this:

* 3: Low end
* 6: Mid range
* 8: High performance

4850: The last two numbers refer to the place of that model, within the hierarchy of that range of video cards (See second point, for the “8″); within a generation (See first point, for the “4″). In the vast majority of cases, a higher number means higher performance, but both ATI and Nvidia tricked people in the past with crippled GS/SE models, so keep an eye open for the suffix if there’s one. No, SE does not mean special edition!

More than all these this was just an attempt to explain you that older generation high-end models may be faster than the newer models. Go for a latest updates and compare the prices be you set out to buy.

Further look for the additional modifiers at the end like GT, GS, GTX, XT, and XTX in the higher model numbers. Essentially these reveal the important slander and clock-speed.

2. Size of memory is not all important

Just keep in mind that your video card must have a decent memory to play high resolution games with good quality graphics setting. Usually a high end video card has enough memory, without which the GPU horsepower will be a waste.

Larger memory size doesn’t always work good. But most novice people look for more memory. This is why the manufacturers offer cards with greater memory at cheaper prices. Video cards with 256MB or even 512MB of memory may not perform well if the GPU is not compatible.  Not just memory video card there are several factors that count to deliver optimal performance.

3. Consider the Space

Well this is a homework that you must complete first. Once you have got the GeForce GTX 280 and it doesn’t fit your small format case, you are at complete loss. Nothing on earth will forgive you for the blunder. Again if you have a Silverstone HTPC case, it won’t have room for a typical gaming card like Radeon 3850.

So measure the space available for video card in your system. Check it with the length of the card. Normally you can find it on the specs. Still if you have a doubt check the reviews.

4. Consider the GPU and CPU speed

Lets say you have got the latest in AMD line, Phenom II X4 920. While gaming you find you are nowhere near the experience suggest in the review. Sluggish framerates

This could be something to do with your slow CPU in comparison to your GPU. Suppose you have Intel’s lowest end Core 2 Duo E4300 it would be an impasse with high end video cards.

On the contrary, if you are looking to work with a midrange video cards suppose ATI 4850, for optimal results you must have a midrange CPU like Intel E7400.

5. Power requirements

Even if your card fits in, there may be a power problem with the video card. What that means is your video card needs a extra power connector. Further your computer doesn’t boot or it boots but crashes while the game runs. Its tough to up the power of new video card. Better look at the power-supply recommendations on the side of the box. Normally high-end single cards require 400W or 450W power supply.

6. AGP and PCI Express

The PCI Express have almost replaced the AGP as standard graphics slot. These new slots have two to four times more bandwidth than AGP. For you its crucial to know that new video cards come with PCI Express format. The AGP are common with systems two years older or more. But video cards for AGP are upgraded once in a while, like the Nvidia GeForce 7800 GS. If you have a AGP better to upgrade it to PCI Express for a better gaming experience.

7. Choose The Purpose Before Buying a Good Graphics Card

There is a similarity between car and car-ds. No I am not saying this because I love playing with words. Its simply because, they both get older very easily and they can prove to be costly if you aren’t sure which model to buy. So before you buy a graphics card, do understand first you will be using it for either games or video acceleration of software that you are using. If its for games, then richer the gaming experience, better the graphics card you need. A person who buys Geforce XFX to play Max Payne II is nothing but losing some money. But if you are playing Far Cry or Half Life II then that is the graphics card to buy. So the purpose is more important than going for the graphics card blindly.

Realize that and do research on your requirements. You are sure to find a better graphics card.

8. Understanding SLI and CrossFire

Cnet.com has a wonderfully technical insight on this area. Let me put it for you.

Nvidia and ATI both offer competing dual-card formats, which require their own specific motherboards. Nvidia introduced SLI (scalable link interface) first in 2004, and has used the time since then to solidify the platform and even build up an SLI certification program for crucial motherboard, power supply, and memory components. You can pair two SLI-approved GeForce cards from different manufacturers as long as the GPU types match. ATI launched its CrossFire dual-card technology in 2005. As with SLI, CrossFire requires a CrossFire-enabled motherboard, quality memory, and a beefy power supply. Matching ATI cards is slightly more complicated because you need to pair a “CrossFire Edition” card with a “CrossFire Ready” card to get two cards working together.

Hope I haven’t confused you with too many options. Even if I have, that is for your own good. So get a good graphics driver for you that meets all the requirements as stated above and get rid of a permanent problem. Ciao.

[Indebted to: hardware-revolution.com and Cnet.com.au]


January 16, 2010: 6:08 am

is ati hd radeaon 5850 better than 4870…

June 28, 2009: 5:00 am

hi thks for this information. plese help me to buy a graphics card for gaming & animation both.

my sys speci r:

intel p4 3.0 2mb cache
biostar 945GZ
1 gb ram
80 gb hdd
1 pciexp x16(4x speed) slot

which graphic card is better nvidia or ati.
also what is the minimum Power requirements for g card & how to find on smps.

pls do raply

June 28, 2009: 4:53 am

Thks for u r information.Please help me to select a good graphics card for gaming & animation both.

My system speci:

Intel p4 3.0 2mb cache
Biostar 945GZ mb
1 gb ram
80 gb hdd
1 pciexp x16(4x speed) slot

which graphics card is better nvidia or ati.

pls do replay.

January 16, 2009: 12:59 am

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