I built my first computer back in September 2010, just over a year ago. One of the only components I did not buy was a GPU, since I really dislike shopping for them.
Instead, I'm currently using an old Asus EN9600GT 512MB graphics card that I received from a friend. He thought the card fried along with his mobo, but it was fine, so I've been using it since last year.
As of the last several months, however, I have been getting numerous BSoDs while using 2 monitors. In fact, while typing this post up the first time, I received a BSoD. I have now 59 unresolved BSoDs, almost all of them related to a "Video Hardware Failure", according to Windows Action Center. My display drivers also crash and recover while I am playing games, specifically Garry's Mod. This was happening even with the most recent drivers installed from the manuf. website. Rolled back, same issues. All of this has become extremely annoying and cannot be good for my system's health. The deciding factor occurred when my computer set my graphics to medium settings on Skyrim.
The 9600GT is getting old, and I believe it's time to get with the current technology. I don't have anything specific in mind. I've always had NVIDIA cards but I am not against trying Radeon.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Anywhere between now (11/26/11) to Christmas (12/25/2011), preferably.
BUDGET RANGE: Up to around USD $250.
USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT
1. Gaming [Garry's Mod, Minecraft, Skyrim/Oblivion, Fallout3/NV, L4D1/2, GTA IV, LoL, BioShock1/2]
2. Home theater/watching movies
3. Folding@Home (Not doing it)
Using the Hyper 212 on my 1055t, 1 ULTRA KAZE pushing air into a stock fan on the the other side of the grill.
1 ULTRA KAZE on the back of the case to pull the air from the CPU out. 2 stock push fans on top, 1 stock intake fan in front.
CPU is overclocked to 3.5GHz currently.
CPU temperature: ~38*C Idle -- 42*C Practical Load (50% CPU Usage)
GPU temperature: ~56*C Idle -- 64*C Practical Load (50% CPU Usage)
OVERCLOCKING: Never overclocked a gpu but willing to try it.
SLI/CROSSFIRE: Never done it, not really interested.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: [1 ASUS VH232 1920x1080] and a 1024x768 Dell Monitor (replacing it with an ASUS VH238 within a week, 1920x1080). I'm not interested in doing SLI/Crossfire. I just like having two monitors for playing games on one and doing everything else on the other. GPU must have at least two video ouputs (VGA/DVI/HDMI).
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Nothing specific here, just wanting a reliable card between $250 that has a noticeable performance jump from my 9600GT. I am not a hardcore gamer, as my list of games that I play shows. But I would like to be able to throw in games like Skyrim and play at max settings. I also play all games at 1920x1080 if possible.
One of the card versions that was suggested in this thread was the 1563-AR version
I recently remembered I had $50 in gift cards for BestBuy.com, so I was looking to possibly buy either the reference card (1560) or the slightly OC'd card (1563-AR) from BB to get a pretty good deal. However, searching through BB's selection revealed they do not stock the reference 1560 card, but instead have a 1563-KR model. I checked on Newegg to see if they had the KR model, but they don't. Thinking it might be a typo or incorrect product info on BB's part, I searched and found the 1563-KR model on Amazon and several other sites.
I was wondering, what exactly is the difference between the 1563-AR and 1563-KR models? They both cost the same (~$250) and it seems like the only real difference is the Lifetime Warranty. If the warranty is the only difference, why would they sell it for the same price?