THG Graphics Card Buyer's Guide

Software Bundle

One significant area that sets individual card makers apart from each other is the software they bundle with their cards. Aside from the obligatory driver CD, most cards come with a software DVD player. Graphics cards with video inputs also often come with video editing software. In most cases, these programs are either older or slimmed-down versions, usually carrying the SE or LE tag.

Some companies also develop their own display tools that operate in parallel with the graphics driver. These aren't required, though, since the card makers have no part in driver development these days; they are written exclusively by the chip maker.

Depending on the card manufacturer, some games may even be included in the bundle. These run the gamut from entirely useless (outdated titles, limited versions or freely available demo versions) to highly attractive (retail versions of top titles). You can save money this way, if you find a card that ships with a game you were planning on buying anyway. In most cases, the bundled versions ship without a manual, however. And of course, there's no advantage if you've already bought the game, or if it isn't one you like.

As usual, it's up to the individual to decide how much of a factor the software and/or gaming bundle is in the buying decision.

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