Newb question about understanding graphics cards...

I have a dinosaur, a Sony VAIO VGC-RA710G. I'd like to update the graphics card but I'm overwhelmed by the amount of cards that there are. The reason I'm doing this is to play Starcraft ii on my desktop (requirements for graphics card is 128 MB NVidia GeForce 6600 GT/ATI Radeon 9800 PRO video card)

So far I've learned that there are PCI PCI-E and AGP. I have an AGP. My specs are below. I'd like to know what it means by 128mb video memory and 128 bit DDR. I'd also like to know what is meant by 8x and 4x/8x. I'm mainly concerned about compatibility... with ram you have DDR, DDR2, DDR3; I don't know if that applies here. Also, because the card I have now is 8x, does the upgrade have to be 8x(as opposed to 4x/8x)?

These are the cards I've been looking at but I don't necessarily know which ones would be an upgrade.

I'm planning on getting an extra fan and adding more ram
relevant? my psu was replaced a few months ago after a power shortage, I'm not sure about the wattage

Penitum 4 cpu 3.20Ghz
1.5 gb of RAM
NVIDIA Geforce FX 5200

Specs from the Sony site...
Video & Graphics : NVIDIA® GeForce™ FX5200 w/TV-Out 128MB Video Memory (128-bit DDR) TV-Out / VGA-Out / DVI-Out (DVI Output: 1280x1024x60Hz max.) 8X AGP 3D Graphics Hardware Acceleration Giga Pocket™ Engine MPEG2 Realtime Encoder board with TV Tuner

Expansion Slots : One 8x AGP (occupied by Graphics Card) Three PCI (none available)
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More about newb question understanding graphics cards
  1. the x4/x8 is the speed of the AGP slot on your motherboard, the card that you get will just need to be AGP and it will be compatible. AGP cards however are outdated and over expensive, and perhaps you need to think about upgrading your computer all together.

    As for your current graphics card it means what it says. The graphics card has 128mb of slow DDR memory. Graphics memory and the type of Ram that your motherboard can have are completely unrelated, and you could could in theory have DDR ram but GDDR5 graphics memory.

    No matter what card you get you are never going to get an amazing graphics performance because of your other system specs however if I had to choose an AGP card to play star-craft II I would get a Radeon HD 4650

    I think that this is the best AGP card available. But you really need to think about the fact that If you upgrade to a new computer it will have a PCI -express slot, and so you will not be able to reuse the card so REALLY think about upgrading your system.

  2. Thank you for your prompt response. It's probably not worth it for only one game.

    With that in mind, would I be able to play (on the lowest settings) SCII? How much of a difference is there between Geforce FX5200 (250mhz) and Geforce 6600 GT (1000mhz) if they're both 128mb?

    I think I'll play on the laptop. I appreciate your help.
  3. you'll play it on laptop?

    generally, laptop are more weak than desktop... :)

    But it depends on it's specs...
  4. Do you have a budget in mind for this upgrade? I would look at something like the ATI 3650.

    SAPPHIRE 100258L Radeon HD 3650 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X HDCP Ready Video Card $64.99
  5. ^ what he said
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