Graphics Board Buying Guide

Whenever you hear the word "graphics board", it seems as if you’re hearing a very technical term that is especially reserved for the geeks in your I.T. department. It’s either you think that or you conclude that they’re big-time PC gamers. However, graphics boards aren’t just for playing video games. They help you out with large pictures and graphics and allow you to play high-definition video.

One of the biggest requirements of the new Windows Vista operating system is a graphics board. If you have a good one in your computer, then you’re assured that you’re going to get pretty graphics every time. So how exactly do you go about choosing a graphics board? Simple, you look at the different specs that it has. Here are what you need to be looking at:

Interface  – Be sure that your graphics board has a PCI Express interface where you can plug in a PCI Express slot. Some of the value options out in the market today have an AGP interface which allows you to plug into the same AGP slot on an older PC.

Graphics processor – This is your graphics board’s brain. The graphics chips that are being included in some graphics boards today are able to easily handle full-motion 3D video. Most of the top graphics boards that are out in production today are developed by the leaders "nVidia" and "ATI". Basically, the faster your graphics processor is, the faster graphics will render on your PC.

DirectX 10 – Windows Vista has now adopted DirectX 10 technology which basically guarantees you visually richer graphics in the applications as well as more life-like rendering of games. Some of the first DX10-ready cards were developed by nVidia through their GeForce 8800 chip which previously cost $300. Now, there are ones that are available for as low as $90.

Memory – One of the most important things to consider whenever you’re looking for a good graphics board is the memory allocation. Whenever you use your PC for graphics-intensive activities such as playing games or editing video, the information is always buffered in graphics RAM (Random Access Memory) You’ll need a lot of dedicated graphics RAM in order to accommodate the most complicated and memory-intensive games that are out there today. 

So far, those are the main things that you need to look out for whenever buying a graphics card. Be sure that you have enough memory, it’s DX 10-capable, has a good interface and if you can manage, get the one with the top-of-the-line processor. Good luck!

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