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Computer Graphics Card Upgrade Guide

page 3 of 3

Specific Recommendations for Upgrading your Video Card

Below you'll find our specific recommendations for upgrading video cards depending on the age of your video card or computer system. If after reading our recommendations you are still uncertain if you current card should be upgraded, then visit your graphics card manufacturer's web site and determine the fill rate of your current card and compare it those in the charts featured in the ATI and NVidia Graphics Card Comparison Tables on the previous page.

If your video card/computer system/ is 2 years old or older. I suggest you spend no more than $100 to upgrade your video card. Suggested upgrades would be the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra or the ATI Radeon 9600 SE.
If you already have an ATI Radeon 8500 or an NVidia GeForce 4 Ti card than you shouldn't upgrade.

If you currently have a video card/computer system less than 1.5 years old

If you currently have an ATI Radeon 8500 or 9000 series card, or an NVidia GeForce 4 Ti series card with at least 64 MB of memory, your video card has adequate performance, and does not currently require upgrading.

If you are concerned that new performance games like Doom III will not run adequately with your current card, or if you just would like faster video performance, then be prepared to spend at least $170-$200 to upgrade your current card to an ATI Radeon 9600 XT or a NVidia GeForce 4 FX 5700 Ultra.

If your video card is less than 1 year old. Providing you have a fast, well-tuned computer, you should not consider upgrading to any card slower than the ATI Radeon 9600 XT or a NVidia GeForce 4 FX 5700 Ultra.
If you want one of the fastest video cards available, then you should upgrade to a NVidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra or an ATI Radeon 9800 XT video card.

Video Card Shopping Tips

1. Do not pay a premium for 256 MB graphics cards. Only those purchasing ATI Radeon 9600 XT or a NVidia GeForce 4 FX 5700 Ultra or faster cards should consider paying additional money for a 256 MB card.
Your money would be better spent on a faster video card with 128 MB of memory. The additional memory on a slower video card will not give you an appreciable boost in speed.

2. Understand the warranty. Most graphics card manufacturers have a 2 year or longer warranty on video cards. However, at least one brand of video cards, PNY's Verto, claims to have a life-time warranty, while in reality its warranty only covers the card as long as it is in production.

3. Beware of overpriced video cards. I have seen GeForce FX 5200 and 5600 cards priced in the $175 range. These cards typically have 256 MB of video memory and are proclaimed as a great deal.
Don't be fooled! The ATI Radeon 9600 XT and NVidia GeForce 4 FX 5700 Ultra with 128 MB of video memory can be found in the same price range and are much faster cards.

4. Make sure the graphics card has the correct video out connectors. If you have a flat panel monitor you will need a DVI out connector. If you have a regular CRT monitor you will need a VGA connector. Those wanting to hook their video card to TVs or VCRs need a SVGA connector.

5. Make sure your system can use the card before you buy it. Many new video cards require the use of a hard drive power connector to function properly. If you do not have a free hard drive connector or your connector is not long enough, buy a splitter/extension known as a hard drive "Y cable".

<< Back to ATI and NVidia Graphics Card Comparison Tables

<< Back to Article Introduction

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