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Gfx card for non gamer

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 11, 2008 10:02:37 PM

I'm looking to build a new PC and could use some input on the choice of gfx card. My current gfx card is 7/8 years old (no joke!) so I'm really out of touch on the market and could use any pointers.

These are my requirements:
  • Good desktop performance (on Vista64/Aero)
  • Run great at 1920x1200 (probably going to get a new widescreen monitor)
  • Smooth playback of HD media.
  • Very quiet operation

    I've not played a 3D game in many years. It would be nice to think one would be 'playable' with cut-down eye candy but at the same time it's not a deal-breaker.

    I've seen cards based on ATI Radeon HD3450/3470/3650 with passive cooling and lots of support for media playback (the HD bit?). Is something like that basically going to cut it for me? Or should I look elsewhere. They all look fairly cheap but at the same time I don't want to buy 'too much card' that's going to needlessly use a lot of power.

    They seem to come with 256MB and 512MB ram. I was initially looking at 256MB but a friend said that Vista/Aero was demanding and I should go with 512MB. Would you agree?

    Is there any reason to choose a HDMI over DVI assuming the monitor supports both?

    Also - lots of different manufacturers seem to be selling cards based on the same chipset. Is there anything I should be looking to differentiate them? Concrete suggestions on cards welcome.

    TIA for any input/suggestions.
  • More about : gfx card gamer

    August 11, 2008 10:43:11 PM

    I would personally go for the 8600, cheap and quite effective. However, if you want great performance, then it may be worth looking into a 9600...If I were you id rule out the 3450 and 3470, theyre old and theres better cards for the same price. Whats your budget?
    August 11, 2008 10:54:30 PM

    falcodakrzz said:
    I would personally go for the 8600, cheap and quite effective. However, if you want great performance, then it may be worth looking into a 9600...If I were you id rule out the 3450 and 3470, theyre old and theres better cards for the same price.


    Thanks - I'll take a closer look at those.

    falcodakrzz said:
    Whats your budget?


    I suppose up to £100 or so. But at the same time that's not a target :)  I'm just after something that's going to do the job well without lots of bleeding edge, power-hungry stuff i won't use!
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    August 11, 2008 11:10:12 PM

    3850 will do you fine.... though, for aero i would sudgest at least 1GB of ram. that is if your mobo supports that much
    August 11, 2008 11:21:03 PM

    daft said:
    though, for aero i would sudgest at least 1GB of ram. that is if your mobo supports that much


    1GB on the GFX card or the mobo?

    I've not chosen a mobo yet but its ram capacity won't be a problem.
    August 11, 2008 11:28:17 PM

    jon3001 said:
    1GB on the GFX card or the mobo?

    I've not chosen a mobo yet but its ram capacity won't be a problem.

    I don't see how Aero will require 1gb video ram. And it's impossible for any modern motherboard to not support at least 8gb system ram.

    If it's just for Aero and nothing else, just get a cheap bottom feeder DX10 card for $50 or so. Some older DX9 cards cannot run Aero, some can. Better to get a newer card just to be safe.

    Something like this:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

    August 12, 2008 10:00:18 PM

    Thanks for the input guys.

    I guess I'm leaning towards one of the following passively cooled cards (or similar). Do let me know if I'm making a big mistake!

    EAH3650 SILENT MAGIC/HTDP/512M
    http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=2&l2=8&l3=637&l4=0...

    EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP/512M
    http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=2&l2=6&l3=514&l4=0...

    Is there much to choose between them (given the requirements I originally posted). Like I say - I'm not really up on what the technology but I'm aware that they're probably competing products and don't want to start any holy wars. :) 
    August 13, 2008 6:27:15 PM

    I'd say that either card is a good choice, though I'd note that the Radeon HD 2600XT is roughly comparable to the Radeon HD 3650 you mention as well. though cooled with a fan, I saw some rather inexpensive 2600XTs in the past; since you're not gaming, you won't need to worry with these cards to look for the GDDR3 versions; the weaker DDR2 versions are slightly cheaper, and will be perfectly fine for running Aero, playing Hi-Def media, and driving a couple of high-resolution monitors.
    a b U Graphics card
    August 13, 2008 6:47:02 PM

    I'd get a Radeon HD3650 - they are significantly better than the nvidia cards for general media applications.
    August 13, 2008 7:30:12 PM

    vista is not demanding. My laptop's 945gm intel integrated chipset gpu (945gm chipset with a gpu smashed in it) runs it perfectly. It has 8mb memory (able to borrow/use 128mb maximum memory from the normal system ddr2, and has 2 pixel shaders.)
    If you're thinking about some light gaming, such as counter-strike: source, or hl2, then take an 8500gt. amazingly cheap (around 50 bucks on newegg?). for 100euros, i think you can get something close to a 9800gtx, but if you're strict about your budget, go with an 8800gt (STILL better than the 9600).
    August 13, 2008 8:39:13 PM

    You said you're also going to be purchasing a new motherboard. I'm a HUGE fan of the 780G chipset by AMD. It has inegrated video that is fully capable of handling HD media (has an HDMI output or DVI + optical audio). Also, it has a PCI x16 2.0 expansion slot so if you suddenly feel the urge to start gaming, you can just buy a decent graphics card and be good to go. I recommend this one.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    I have the same board except mine doesn't have the 128MB sideport.
    !