I need to get a video card for a new computer I'm building. I'm not an avid gamer, but when I do want to enjoy a new game, I don't want to be dissappointed. I do do a lot of 2D work in Photoshop, I would like something that is good for it. At first, I was thinkng about an ATI 9000Pro, but I fear it may not be good enough for games. I was then thinking about a Geforce 4 Ti-4200...the price is just a little high (but i might end up getting it anyways). What else should I consider? A Radeon 9700 is too expensive for me right now, and I don't know if I need that kind of power in my graphics card (as I said, I dn't play that many games).
At the same time, I'd like to get a PCI TVtuner with PVR so I can record and watch some TV. Any recommendations on that?
My mobo is an Asus a7n8x deluxe, with an amd xp 2200+, and 1gb DDR 400.
Radeon 9000 PRO
Geforce4 Ti 4200
All of these cards are at least DirectX 8 compatible. The Radeon 9500 is DirectX 9 compatible.
The radeon 9000 PRO is definitely a decent card, it certainly won't be disappointing unless you're trying to run things above 1024*768 resolution. It's major drawback is it's lackluster performance at high resolutions, and it's poor antialiassing performance.
The Radeon 8500/9100 is very close in performance to the 9000 PRO, the difference being it's usually a little cheaper... and a little better. It has 2 texture units per pipeline instead of 1 like the 9000 PRO. WHat this means is, in multitexturiung games, the 8500/9100 usually fares better. The 8500/9100 is a better choice than the 9000 PRO, in my opinion. But it still suffers from poor antialiassing performance.
The Geforce4 Ti 4200... this is a nice card. It performs a tad batter than the Radeon 8500 in normal situations, but it's strength lies in antialiassing and overclocking. If you're into using antialiassing, it'll perform far faster than a Radeon 8500/9100 in every situation. Add to this the inherent overclockability of these cards, and you have a winner in the segment... well, sort of...
The Radeon 9500 is a great card in this price range that's generally completely overlooked by the community. This card has a Radeon 9700 GPU that has been crippled at the factory. What this means is that they turned off 4 of it's 8 pixel processing pipes.
While this sounds horrible, you should know that the Radeon 8500/9100, 9000 PRO, and Geforce4 T1 4200 have only 4 Pixel Processing pipes to begin with.
The Radeon 9500 handles antialiassing a little faster than the Geforce4 Ti4200, it overclocks like a champ, AND it's directX 9 compatible... which no other card in this category can claim.
All of these video cards should be in the same price "range" but the Radeon 9000 PRO and 8500/9100 will probably be a little cheaper. The Geforce4 and Radeon 9500 are almost exactly on par, as far as price goes.
Frankly though... if you don't plan to enable antialiassing, and 1024*768 is fine for you... none of these cards will dissapoint you. All will play Unreal Tournament 2003 well, and that's a relatively new and demanding game.
It's future games like the upcoming Doom3 that will separate the men from the boys as far as graphics cards are concerned. If you plan to even try Doom3 on your system, don't consider anything less than the Geforce4Ti or Radeon 9500.
Long story short... if I were you, I'd get the Radeon 9500... and if you can afford the extra $$, get the Radeon 9500 PRO version. The 9500 PRO is a Radeon 9500 with all 8 Pipelines enabled... it is a very fast card for the money.
Hope this helps,
(EDIT: Ah! I missed the part about a TV tuner and PVR.
If it's important to you, you should look for a Radeon 8500 ALL-IN-WONDER. It has a fantastic tuner built in and tons of great PVR functionality, it also comes with a wireless radio remote. I'd recommend an all-in-wonder 9500 if I could, but they don't make those yet... they make all-in-wonder 9700s, but they are crazy expensive.)