How to decide which video card?

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I'm building a budget $1000 PC for email, surfing, photo editing and
some low-end gaming (little, if any, 3D gaming).   I'd like the PC to
be Vista-ready and good for 5+ years.   I'd like a PCIe video card,
possibly GeForce, DVI connection for an LCD, close to or not much over
$100.  Which card would be the best value?

Re: How to decide which video card?

On Sat, 06 Oct 2007 23:33:19 GMT, Phisherman

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Without 3D gaming requirements, the main considerations are
whether you need two DVI ports (for dual display), that it
be DX9 or 10 if you wanted to use the Vista Aero interface,
that if  have as much as possible MPEG4 acceleration for
video playback (not as important as other things, IMO), and
whether you prefer the most gaming performance possible for
the money, or are looking to go the opposite direction and
get a card that is as low power as possible to meet your
needs (cool running, including the potential to run w/o a
fan, lower total cooling requirement for the case, and less
power needed from the  PSU).

Good for 5 years is a lot to ask, a lot can happen in that
period.  An ATI Radeon 2600XT or nVidia 8600GT should be
around $100, more or less (sometimes significant rebates or
sales can make a large difference in this price range).
Towards the lower end, take a look at your favorite vendor
and choose among their offerings keeping in mind the
criteria I posted above.  There really isn't much need to
spend around $100 when you don't be 3D gaming, but who's to
say what you'll be doing in 4-5 years...

Re: How to decide which video card?

Phisherman wrote:
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Since you didn't mention gaming, some criteria would be:

1) Device is for I/O and not gaming. If card has DVI-I connectors, is
    a dongle included to convert to VGA ? Some cards now include a dongle
    to convert from DVI to HDMI. Video output options possible are composite
    video (one RCA jack), S-Video (din connector, basically equiv to two
    RCA jacks or two signals, two grounds), and component video (RGB connectors
    so three RCA jacks). The video card will have a DIN connector, and maybe
    include an adapter cable to plug into the component input on your HDTV.

2) Vista Aero requires Pixel Shader 2.0 or better. (Many DX9 cards can do that,
    and all DX10 cards should be OK.) At least 128MB of video memory should be
    on the card. Possible video card memory amounts would be 128MB, 256MB, 512MB.
    If you buy a recent video card at the $100 level, that should be good enough.

3) Current generation video cards use PCI Express x16 connector. Check that
    the motherboard has that connector, and the video card does too.

4) The current DRM protection method for high definition images is called
    HDCP. HDCP is a form of encryption, between the DVI or HDMI connector
    on your video card, and the high definition display device at the other
    end. The encryption means, if you were to cut the display cable and look
    at the signals, you couldn't "steal" or "make a copy" of the output. You
    may wish to include HDCP compliance in your feature list, in case you plan
    on playing HD content (perhaps Blue Ray disks etc.).

The following card, shows one that has a good collection of adapters included,
for I/O purposes. The card is "buzz word compliant", meaning it has most of the
junk you could think of including in a modern card (DX-10, HDCP, maybe even
accelerated video playback of sorts). I saw one report about warranty
support being hard to get, in another item's review. Have a look around
in the Newegg collection of 400+ PCI Express x16 cards, and you should be
able to find something you like.

There is a limit to how many adapters will come in the box. Missing from
the collection here, is S-video and composite output, but you can probably
find those if you needed one. You should look for cables that match whatever
your budget might support in terms of display devices.

I wish this table was up to date, but as usual, the latest cards are missing.
You can check for Pixel Shader 2.0 (PS 2.0) or greater support here. /


Re: How to decide which video card?

Phisherman wrote:
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For what you are doing on the computer you don't need a hundred dollar
graphics card.  You would only need it if you decided to do more 3d
gaming and even then there are many games, mostly older ones that would
run on whatever you are using.

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