Every article I see regarding graphics cards tell me about the latest game. But I don't game. I am going to upgrade my computer and my sisters. What are the qualities I should be looking for in a video card? We both watch video, I use Gimp on photos, but nothing professional fancy. At the moment I am thinking of just getting something in the $25-30 range and picking at random. Is there anything I should be considering?
I was faced with the same thing. I don't game but that doesn't mean I might not dabble in it in the future. Plus I read where HD video requires a good amount of GPU power, and I didn't need to squeeze every last cent out of my build. I did want low power consumption (meaning low heat output).
I started looking at the low end cards on newegg and noticed that none of them got very good customer reviews. I concluded that the cheap cards had poor quality components or poor quality control. I went up a few notches until I found some products with good customer reviews, and bought an MSI 4670. So far I haven't done anything with it that I couldn't have done with an el-cheapo video card.
Search the local dumpsters for anything that will fit your computer - PCI, AGP, or PCI Express. If you don't game, a 20 year old card will do. I"m sure your friends have some lying around from their old computers. I know I do.
From Nvidia, they're offering the 8400GS, 8500GT, 9400GT for roughly the same amount. Both are almost the same. Not much difference except for maybe 512MB vs 256MB, and 128-BIT vs 64-BIT bus speeds.
Thank you for you responses, and thanks to everyone else who responded. But this is almost the reverse of what I would somehow like. I am pretty techie, but I don't have much graphics knowledge. So I have no idea if extra memory is useless or helpful, if the bus speed matters or not. How do I judge a desktop card? I can't go to reviews, reviews only tell me about the last 8 card set up for gaming. (OK, 8 is an exaggeration, but boy will I look prophetic when they do build that system.) I do understand why the reviews are for latest and greatest expensive game cards, but a little dregs now and then for those of us who don't game would be nice.
(OK, I do crossword puzzles, but I am not very good at them and I don't think they stress my graphics engine quite as much as they stress my brain.)
At the moment ATI seems to have the best playback and decode performance for both normal DVD and HD formats.
Look to; HD3450, HD4350, HD4550.
Do not worry about the memory, memory interface bitwidth, shaders or memory type, they are of no concern to a non-gamer.
You should check the connections the card comes with and, even if you're not in the USA the customer reviews on Newegg.