A Closer Look At PCI Video Cards
It can be confusing with all the information out there on what to buy for your particular computer. Especially if you are a gamer because today’s games push the graphics envelope. There are over 50 different cards on the market but they will usually be built around the graphic chip technology of Ati or NVidia.
Hint: Use the categories on the right to navigate this site.
There are 3 types of slots available on most motherboards today. For this site, as the name suggests, we will only deal with PCI Video Cards.
Value - These will generally be under $75 be able to run most applications and low demand graphics games. This is suitable for viewing DVD’s and streaming video’s from the internet. It is possible to get a decent gaming card for under $75 but I recommend at least mid level if you are
upgrading. (you won’t regret it later)
Mid Level – For the purpose of this site description, these will be cards in the range of $75 – $150 dollars. These cards will generally be used for photography, editing and some higher end gaming. By this we mean above the capabilities of the card that came standard on your stock computer.
High End or Extreme - These are reserved for the Uber Gamer or Graphics Enthusiast and are generally in the $150+ range. These types of cards will push the boundaries and allow you to play 3D games on maximum video settings. You should have at least a 2.4 GHz or better
processor on board for these cards. Most people who are upgrading the card that came with their store bought system will opt for the mid level cards. They will allow you to manipulate photos and videos as well as play most games on mid-level video settings.
The terms that are used to describe the features of graphics cards may or may not be familiar to you. We will break them up into descriptions you can understand even if you are not an Uber Geek
Video Card Terms and what they mean:
Anti-aliasing – technique used to smooth jagged edges that are created when straight lines are drawn in 3D game or program.
Chip set - This is the graphic system the PCI video card is built around. As mentioned above, this will usually be NVidia or Ati.
Core Clock - The speed at which the video card runs measured by megahertz MHz.
DDR - Double data rate memory. These will be in increments of 64Mb on lower end cards to 1 Gb or more.
DPI - Dots per inch.
GPU – Term coined by NVidia in 1999 – Graphics Processing Unit.
FPS – Frames per second – a measurement of the speed or performance of a game. The higher the fps the better.
Graphics Accelerator Card - Also known as 3D accelerator cards. The cards we are talking about here.
Interlacing - The effect of refreshing the image on your computer screen.
Pixel – Taken from the term picture element. It is the smaller part of the whole picture the computer can display.
Render - In simple terms making a computer generated image appear or rendering it as 3D.
SDRAM - Synchronous dynamic random access memory. SDRAM is the dominant form of memory on today’s video cards. Its low cost and high speed make for a perfect combo.
T & L - or Transform and Lighting – video technology that takes all the 3D information that used to be handled by the computer processor gives it to the GPU. Most games will specify that your card be able to handle T&L.
There are other terms used in the describe cards, but for the sake of simplicity, we have included only the main ones. Make sure you have a PCI slot available on your motherboard before purchasing a graphics card. Please refer to the
How to install your new unit
On this site we have provided a source of information about PCI video card and the other components of a great computer video gaming system. Find reviews on surround sound speaker systems and HD monitors that will complete your home pc game system.
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