Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Buying Tips # 1: Video Cards

This tips is for people that first time to buy or upgrade their PC according to their budget, it tips will not include the technical information about the product but I'll give you the introduction about the products.

I know there are a lot of video cards out there in the market today and a lot of them are expensive. We don't have enough budget to buy those cards for computer upgrade especially if you have PC at your home and you are one of those hard core gamers. Being one of them are way too expensive for us to settle our selves to buy a new high end video cards to play those stunning games like Crysis, Call of Duty 4, Half Life 2, and a lot more.

A lot of us thought that if we have a budget like I would say Php 3,000 - Php 5,000 more or less around $71 - $120, can buy mid-high range of video cards consider this things below:

1. Product Company
2. Product Manufacturer
3. Product Performance
4. System Compatibility
5. Product Price Comparison

1. Product Company
There are two giant companies in video card market, the Green Monster NVIDIA and Red Giant ATI, these two companies are rivals since they start to develop video cards. They are a lot of advantages/disadvantages reviews about the technologies of these companies. Others said that NVIDIA has more power to bring graphics to maximum performance but the GPU (Graphic Processor Unit) will heat faster. ATI brought you a balance on performance and cooling but on some game it has glitches and you have to fix by applying graphical fixes and patches to the application than NVIDIA has. But don't be just turn off right away by these false information, every video card has its own pros and cons. The decision is all up to you which side are you in.

2. Product Manufacturer
There are a huge range of manufacturers, so you will choose wisely. Gaming forums and other computer related forums will help you out here, this people know how to compare manufacturers of the products. Or you can enter the websites of the manufacturer you want to choose from and read the information about the video card you've chosen. It has same technical specifications of the product but they differ in quality rendering of the manufacturers. I would like to say such manufacturers like eVGA,Inno3D,ASUS,Palit are one of the trusted dealers of NVIDIA and ATI. I recommend that research more further for the company and manufacturer about their products and information.

3. Product Performance
Performance of the product is one of the most important things to be discussed especially to gamers who love to play high-end games. We will not go deep into the product features but I'll give you a hint on how to look after those technical information.

What is the meaning of this terms in the product's name:
Inno3D GeForce 7300 GT 512MB 128-bit AGP/PCI-E (NVIDIA)

Inno3D - Manufacturer's name.
GeForce - is the technology from NVIDIA, GeForce for PC Desktops, GeForce Go for Motherboards, Quadro for Professional Workstation, nForce for Servers.
7300 - one of the 7 series of the product line.
GT - each of these remarkable names have its own features, let's say if you have 7300 only and I have 7300 GT and compare which has more power? the GT wins the comparison because it has more clock rate than the other one. Other names are LE/GS/GT/GTX, LE which the is the one step high to the ordinary one then GS/GT/GTX has more from the LE.
512 MB - the RAM size of the video card.
128-bit - the memory interface.
AGP/PCI-E - AGP stands for Accelerate Graphic Ports and PCI-E for Extended Peripheral Component Interconnect, which is more power than AGP. Depends on the motherboard if supported.

a. VRAM - video RAM, some of the cards today has 128MB - 1GB or more size of RAM, but the size of RAM not shows the power of the video cards but on the technology it has.
b. Memory Interface - the more the better, lets say 64-bit vs 128-bit, 128-bit gives more power to the video card performance than the 64-bit.
c. Shaders and OpenGL - Pixel Shaders or PS for short, each cards have different shaders low-end cards have PS 1.0/2.0, mid-range has PS 3.0, and high-end has PS 4.0. Shaders helps helps the graphic enhanced to realistic textures. OpenGL 1.0 are lower end cards and OpenGL 2.0 supports mid-high end cards, games today must have OpenGL 2.0 capable cards.
d. Clock rates and pipelines - the more the better.
e. Bus Interface - AGP and PCI-E are BUS Interface of the motherboards, if you have AGP there are of them 8x/4x and 2x (which is very old). More faster is the PCI-E 16x boards they give better performance.

4. System Compatibility
There are systems that doesn't supports video cards, before buying any of the video cards today make sure that it is compatible in your motherboard, RAM and PSU or power supply unit.

a. Check the manual of you motherboard if supports AGP or PCI-E, remember this two ports are not same they are two different slots.
b. Check your system memory, if you chose a video card that has 128MB supports 256MB RAM,256MB VRAM well it supports 512 RAM, 512MB supports 1GB RAM...
c. PSU, some cards require less power some them more power, if not supply adequate power the card may run on low performance or may damage your card. Mid-range cards recommends 450-500W of power.

5. Product Price Comparison
First you must think of your budget they are a wide range of video cards to choose from and also have difference in prices. The best way is to ask the professionals or search for a product review on the internet for product and price satisfaction. If you have chosen already your product, just try to compare it first to other card which is more better and which is more cheap.

I hope this tips will help you out buying video cards.

"Think twice, Buy wise"

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