I need YOUR expert advice on what Graphics Card to get :)

Well I've been looking on the net for the last two days to find a new graphics card as a birthday gift from my fiance. I know a lot about computers..but i don't have a lot of specific experience in video cards. I need your expert advice :)

Price range:
I'm lookin to spend between 40-55 dollars (with shipping if possible, I'm trying to save my girl some money, slightly higher might be ok, but that's my ideal range)

Goals of the card:
Medium level gaming, eventual blu ray play..but the biggest priority i guess is getting the best card i can for games..as cheaply as possible. I know 40-55 dollars isnt going to get an absolutely amazing video card..I'm not a hardcore gamer (i can put up with medium to low settings), but i would like to get something that can play most any new game on at least low settings. I'm not aware of the current price on cards except for what i've looked at the past day or two so any advice or suggestions, or deals/links would be awesome.

Specs of computer:
CPU Type: DualCore Intel Pentium D 820, 2800 MHz (14 x 200)
Mobo: Dell Dimension 5150/E510 (has PCIe 1.0 x16)
RAM: 4GB DDR2-533
OS: Windows XP Media Center at the moment, upgrading to Windows 7 ultimate here shortly
PSU: 500watt
Storage: one internal 120gb, one external 1.5TB, one dvd rom, one cd/rw drive
Video: Currently using an ATI Radeon X300XT (i know this card sucks lol)

Games i currently play:
Mostly left 4 dead 2, abit of world of warcraft..i'm gonna get starcraft 2 and maybe Lost Planet 2..would like some flexibility in games i can play on the computer. Like i said medium settings would be ideal for new games..but i can put up with low.

Cards i've been lookin at (opinions/suggestions?):

MSI R4550-MD1GH Radeon HD 4550 1GB 64-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16

EVGA 01G-P3-N959TR GeForce 9500 GT 1GB DDR2 PCI-Express 2.0

1. Is there a huge difference between ddr2 and ddr3?
2. Should i go for 512mb, or 1 gig?
3. what are Stream Processors? no clue what that is actually..
4. Does PCIe 2.0 cards scale down to a PCIe 1.0 Mobo, and is there a dramatic loss of performance or anything?
5. is there a huge difference between directx 10.1 and 11? should i consider this in a video card?
6. should i get one with an onboard fan? or can i go without?

Any comments, suggestions, or answers would be gratefully appreciated.

7 answers Last reply
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  1. Additional note: If i could find something with multiple monitor support...i'd love it.
  2. I'd go with the nVidia card as it as a higher bandwith and a wider bus.
  3. thanks for the fast response...I understand the bandwidth aspect, what does a wider bus mean? sorry if that's a stupid question
  4. I would go with HD4650/70 DDR3 (GDDR3) card they are more powerful than the cards you listed but in the same price range. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048%20106792627%201067944045%201068310557&name=512MB
    There will be no loss in performance with those cards on PCIe 1.0
    DX10.1 and DX11 are only supported by Win Vista and 7 but the cards are compatible with older versions.
  5. remember.. gddr5 is double of gddr3 speed.. so save a bit and get 5XXX series
  6. save like few $ and get 5770.. you won't be disappointed..
  7. Thank you all for the suggestions thus far, right now i'm leaning towards the 4650. It fits my price range better at the moment. Realistically a 5770 wouldn't work out..although i was just reading some reviews on the card and it does seem pretty awesome...i really only need something cheaper, that can do some gaming and last me through the next year or two until i get an entirely new rig which i plan to. I was just gonna put up with my X300XT until i got a new rig(lol, god this card sucks now), until my girl offered to get me a new card....so goin from the card im using to the 4650 in and of itself will likely feel like an enormous improvement.
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