Choosing a new Graphics Card can be often be a tad intimidating, with so many products and choices to make. So the question is, should you go for the card with more memory and how do you tell which one is best for you and is the most expensive the best.
Makers of Graphics Cards all use a graphics chip from either ATI or NVidia.
To make deciding easier you can normally separate the various options into one of these categories:
1. Top End, Heavy Graphics or Game Usage – Card with Dual DVI Connectors and S-Video
There are many high specification cards on the market with plenty of memory and fast processors. These provide plenty of power for the latest games which are constantly evolving in their performance abilities. HDMI & DVI outputs are the most used and versions often include several outputs for multiple displays and may include TV/Video In/Out or tuners. Prices in this section would be over £80 and can go into the several hundred pounds bracket
2. Mainstream or Occasional Gamer – General applications and light gaming.
If your system is fairly new you may not need to change your card but in some of the newer games, these do require more powerful specifications. For guidance you should view the minimum specifications on the back of the game as this will give you the best system requirements.
3. Graphics or Video Card DVI Outputs
Most cards include multiple HDMI, VGA or DVI outputs to allow two or more displays. Some models may include older S-Video or TV Out connectors. If you are wanting one of these then prices start from £40-£80.
4. Value/On-board Cards
These are ideal if your main use is either office or general internet applications. Most motherboards come with on-board (built-in graphics) and use some of the system memory (RAM) to run. You can often change the amount of system memory used by going into the BIOS usually. This is also used in laptops where a dedicated card is not used. This is because most gamers normally use a desktop to allow for higher RAM and more significant cooling options.
DVI and VGA Graphics Video Cards that are for running intensive games or high display sizes are unlikely to run at a usable speed using onboard graphics but would be fine for general use. These would also suffice for dual displays or extending desktops. Pricing starts from £0-£40.
The best way to tell if your current card is suitable for the latest games is to try it out. If the graphic details are poor and sequences become jerky or freeze its most likely the card.
There are many other attributes including RAM and overall system speed which can also restrict the amount of games you can run on your system. It does not make sense to invest in an expensive card if your overall CPU, memory or system is a few years out of date.