View Full Version : What's a decent video card now?

Captain Altoid
2009-06-01, 10:27 AM
Help! I need computer expertise far beyond my own!

It's been a long time since I've looked at video cards, and everything I remember from the last time (i.e. nothing) is now out of date. If I'm putting together a new computer and want it to be able to run decent games, what's a good middle-of-the-road card to get?

Or if not a particular card, what sort of chip/memory/etc should I be looking for? I don't need (nor want to pay for) top of the line, but I want something that'll do the job, too.


Cristo Meyers
2009-06-01, 10:32 AM
I do fine with a 512mB card, runs everything up to F.E.A.R. 2 pretty well. You're not going to get the massive, jaw-dropping pretty graphics of higher cards though.

Bear in mind though, that my 512 is still considered slow by today's standards. I think most people run at least a 1 GB if not a 2 GB.

nVidia is supposed to be the king of video cards, or so I'm told. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to brand names.

Captain Altoid
2009-06-01, 10:39 AM
Is there a particular chipset that's generally preferred by gamers these days, or is that one of those things that varies with opinion?

2009-06-01, 10:44 AM
The amount of memory on the card is not a good indication of how well it will perform. I have a GeForce 7800 with 512 and it's woefully underpowered these days. After the GeForce 9 series, nvidia changed their naming scheme and I believe the 200 series is the most modern. For ATI cards, it looks like the 4000 series is their top of the line.

2009-06-01, 11:29 AM
Well in order to answer the question we pretty much have to know what price range you are looking at. And if the price range is open ended, what resolution are you wanting to run at.

If you are running a large monitor and want to run games as 1920x1200 you are going to need to spend a lot more then if your monitor will only run at 1280x1024, in which case you will see very little difference between a $100 card and a $500 card (because both will run that resolution at high frame rates on just about every game on high settings).

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-graphics,2296.html This should give you a pretty good idea of what to look at. They should have one for June coming out in a week or so.

And as Valadil said, the amount of memory on a card has a negligible impact on how powerful the card is. They often put 1GB on low end cards to make them look better to buyers that don't know better, despite the fact that the GPU is simply no were near powerful enough to put that much memory to use. And on some of the mid-range cards like the HD4850 they have both 512MB and 1GB versions, and the card can put the memory to use but it depends on what resolutions you are running. If you are running 1280x1024 you aren't going to be running out of memory on the 512MB card even with everything turned up, so the upgrade to 1GB isn't going to help much. But if you are running at high resolution (like 1920x1200) especially with AA enabled then you will see a noticeable increase with the 1GB.

Crispy Dave
2009-06-01, 12:54 PM
Generally you either want a Nvidea 9000 series or a ATI 4000 series. There is a new Nividea series as well. Make sure you get 512-1 gig of onboard ram on the card as well.

ATI cards (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048%201069633099%20106792627&name=Radeon%20HD%204000%20series)

Nividea cards (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048%201069633099%20106792522&name=GeForce%209%20series)

Captain Altoid
2009-06-01, 04:03 PM
Thanks all! I think I've got what I need. (And I'm only going to be running 1280x1024 max.) That Tom's Hardware link was especially helpful. :smallsmile::smallbiggrin::smallcool: