I am looking for a PCI video card to watch Divx movies (compressed 700MB/1.4GB format) and some DVDs on my Dell Dimension 2350. The integrated video does not support wide formats so I am looking for a video card that has the following:
- PCI interface
- VGA and DVI outputs
- supports widescreen resolutions
- good for Divx and DVD playback (noise reduction?)
- I don't play any video games
I keep hearing about GeForce and Radeon but I don't know much about video cards. Which one to get? Do I need 128MB or even 256MB?
ATI and nVidia don't sell video cards which can't run high-res screens. Even the bottom of the line outdated $20 ones will do. Choosing a brand or memory amount is not a concern. The **** of the **** will run your movies at full speed. I had a 4 year old ATI Radeon X300 that could run Divx movies on my 22'' widescreen.
Since you have concern for noise, get the cheapest card you can buy. Older cards use less energy and don't require extreme cooling / high fan speeds. And all cards on the markey support VGA and DVI. Most have dual DVI which come with free DVI-to-VGA converters.
Surprisingly enough, as soon as I connected my new 22" LCD, the onboard video was able to display wide formats 1280x768 and 1440x900. There is no 1650x1080 but I don't need it.
Everything seems to be working fine in 1280x768. I am able to watch divx movies. Images and colors look good, but not great. Colors seem a bit off even after adjusting the LCD screen. Images are not as sharp and crisp as I had hoped. I know I am not using the LCD's native resolution (1650x1080) but still I've seen it in the stores at 1280x768 and it looked better than what I have.
Could it be the onboard video card (Intel 82845G 64MB) in my computer?
I am wondering if a Radeon 9250 128MB or GeForce FX5200 128MB (the only ones I can get in PCI format) would be an improvement over my current onboard video?
You also need to understand that the quality of the video will depend on the encoding settings. Generally speaking, the larger the DivX file, the better the quality should be. For example, a two hour movie compressed to 700MB will look worse than if compressed to 1.4GB.
Encoded files will not look as good as the original. They are slightly less sharp and colors can seem faded especially if the file is relative small compared to the length of the movie (in technical terms, that means a low bit rate).
Subjectively speaking, in the past ATI cards always rendered video better than their nVidia counterparts. In the past 3 years nVidia's cards has caught up with ATI's cards, so nVidia more recent cards are subjectively as good as ATI (some people say nVidia is better).
I would go with the Radeon 9250 which has better video output.
I finally bought a Radeon 9250 128MB. And I am happy with it. It displays all wide formats, the image and colors are good. I haven't had any problems with it so far. Even with VGA output, movies look good. I think DVI is superior if you watch HD movies or do graphic design.
My computer is also running faster. It's amazing what a video card can do for an old computer.