Purchasing a Video Card

Nader Diamond

A video card or graphic card is a device that allows for the visualization of images on your computer monitor. Without the card you would not be able to view images, play games or see colors. If you are anything less than a graphics card expect, the shopping process for a video card can be grueling. With a bit of knowledge it should make the trip easier and you may just come home with the correct video card. There are currently more than sixty types of video cards that range in price and specifications. In order to decide which card is right for you there are a few things that you must understand first. Keep in mind the type of computer, purpose and uses of the computer, as well as the expectations for rendered image. After that is all decided you must remember your budget when shopping for the video card.

The type of computer that you have is one of the most important issues when deciding on a video card. You must ensure the compatibility of the card with your PC or it could be a waste of money. To ensure compatibility you will need to know what type of card slot the computers mother board has for the video card. There are three types of card slots that we will discuss further.

PCI Slot the PCI slot is short for Peripheral Component Interconnect and is not exclusive with any one processor type. PCI was the first expansion slot made by computer manufacturers. The PCI has limited performance, but there are several value cards that offer acceptable performance.

AGP Slot the AGP slot is short for Accelerated Graphics Port. AGP has many versions and was first designed for 3D gaming abilities. Today the AGP 2.0 and 3.0 are sold, but the 1.0 is no longer in use.

PCI Express this is the latest card slot and is up to four times faster than the PCI slot or AGP slot. The PCI Express was made with the intention of replacing the PCI and AGP slots for the extended performance ability. Note PCI and PCI Express are not compatible and are very different products, not to be confused with one another.

Along with knowing the card slot type you must also know the requirements and specifications of the CPU. When we refer to requirements and specifications we mean the CPU type and speed. If you are purchasing a video card for regular viewing the 500 MHz will suffice, but for optimal use the 800 MHz is suggested. When viewing images it is important to have a higher MHz or your system may become overloaded. The 1600 MHz range is suggested for limited 3D gaming and running other applications such as business applications or graphics. For optimal 3D gaming the minimum CPU would be 2.4 GHz. Much of the CPU speed depends on computer use and personal budget. The faster the CPU the better and more realistic the special effects are. Cost rises as CPU speed rises!
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