Choosing the right graphics card has ever been a hard task. There are hundreds to choose from and many brands, model numbers and specifications to confuse the everyday computer user. Building your own PC, upgrading your existing system the challenge to get it right the first time is a difficult one.
The graphics cards duty is to generate the image that you see when you turn on your systems monitor. It basically translates processed data into pixelated images that you see on your screen. It works solely with the artistic aspects of your machine. Your video card produces an image according to the specifications laid down by the central processing unit.
So what kind of graphics card should you buy?
The value of a video card will determine the speed and quality of its display capabilities. If you are a games player and want a graphics card optimized for that, then it’s best you look for one with a lot of memory and a powerful processing unit. However, if you use your computer for basic functions such as surfing the internet or reading email, then a low-end desktop solution will suffice.
In order to determine how well a video card is performing, all you have to do is look at the frames per second (FPS) that it produces. Your latest video games require at least 30 FPS for a full motion experience. The capabilities of your motherboard and systems CPU are also important in getting the most out of the graphics card.
When reading about all the different specifications and products available it is easy to get bogged down and make a decision based solely on marketing or sales hype.
The first step to choosing your graphics card is to decide exactly what you will be using it for. Are your demands for your PC graphics intensive? Are you a keen gamer and find your graphics card isn’t coping with the newer games you want to play. Your main usage may lie in graphics work such as graphic design or photography.
To begin with get a list of games you love to play or the graphics applications you want to use on your PC. A visit to the site of these games or software sites can lead to the basic information we need to get the ball rolling. Or if you have already purchased a game or software package you should be able to find these settings on the box or in the product information be it a manual or CD. These sites or product information will tell you the basic requirements and recommended requirements for playing or using the software.
As a rule, always disregard the minimum demands and take note of the suggested requirements. These are more important as these are the requirements for running all components of a game or software suit. For example, if purchasing Adobe CS5 suite certain components for video or 3d work cannot be installed if the graphics card does not have all the required features.
Certain games cannot be run at full capability i.e. certain graphics setting will need to be turned off or specifications lowered if the graphics card is not capable or fast enough to run these features.
What does your motherboard support? This is important for starting your research. Graphics cards are installed into your PC via a slot on the motherboard. If your computer is over 5 years old then your motherboard may have an older AGP slot. Although AGP cards are still available they have been replaced by PCI-E slots. If your motherboard still contains the AGP slot then you probably should be considering a new PC or motherboard upgrade and all that will incorporate which is beyond the scope of this article.
PCI-E is the industry standard now and there are two versions of this form factor, PCI-E and PCI-E 2 it is important that you find out which one your motherboard supports. PCI-E 2 is backward compatible and will work in a PCI-E 1 capable motherboard but the gains made by PCI-E 2 format will not be available on a PCI-E 1 motherboard.
The final decision should be made now that you have all the required information to make a purchase. So what should you buy? You probably have a budget for your purchase so this may limit what you can buy. Take a glance at some of the hardware testing and evaluation sites to see what they are saying about the latest graphics cards. These sites test and recommend graphics cards based on the results of their tests. Toms Hardware, MaximumPC, and AnandTech have regular features and reviews for the latest technologies and graphics cards to help you compare your required specifications and make that final decision on which graphics card you need to improve your computer graphics performance.
Shopping for this type of upgrade isn’t just about going to the store and choosing one, though, so you need to consider a few factors before you head out and spend your money on something that doesn’t work for your needs before you make any purchases.
The first thing you need to know is the specs of your computer. In other words, what operating system does your computer use and how much memory does your computer currently have? You can give your computer a total overhaul by adding more memory and upgrading your operating system, but you might also be able to make a significant improvement when it comes to your computer’s graphics simply by buying a more powerful card.
You also need to consider your budget. This is where a great retailer will be helpful because these little cards can vary in price. Consider stepping out of the electronics store where you normally shop and seeking alternatives. If you choose to shop online, look for a reputable company who you know you can trust and check for brand name parts so you can be sure that you’re getting a really good deal.
Don’t forget to take your processor speed into account when you are seeking a new graphics card for your computer. The speed of your processor can make all the difference in how well your computer will handle your new card. You should also be aware of how much memory your computer already has. This is especially important if you’re not interested in having to add more memory just to make the card work.