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How much Graphics Power Does a PC Really Need?

Mainstream PC Gamers (Casual Gamers)

The Mainstream segment comprises the large group of users who also use their computers for a game every now and then, and not just for office tasks.

This market segment is dominated by the chipmakers ATI and NVIDIA. Both develop graphics technology and act as suppliers of graphics chips. The sales of the actual graphics cards using their graphics processors are handled by partner companies. ATI only sells boards under its own name in the US and Canada.

A wide range of products is available in this category starting at about $100. The rule of thumb here is pretty simple: the higher the price, the better the card's 3D gaming performance. (Of course, there are other differences as well.) If you need some help deciding which card might be right for you, we recommend a look at our VGA Charts.

VGA Charts IV: AGP Graphics Cards
VGA Charts V: PCI Express Graphics Cards

Add-In Graphics Cards

  • ATI PCIe: Radeon X600, X700
  • ATI AGP: Radeon 9550 & Radeon 9600 (with a 128Bit memory interface), Radeon 9800
  • NVIDIA PCIe: GeForce 6200 (with a 128Bit memory interface), GeForce 6600
  • NVIDIA AGP: GeForce 6200, GeForce 6600. Cards belonging to the older GeForce FX series are a mixed bag, as they take a large performance hit in DirectX 9 games but do very good in older games.
  • S3 AGP: Deltachrome S8
  • XGI AGP: Volari V5, V8

Of course all gaming cards are also suited perfectly to office work and surfing the Internet. Additionally, depending on the manufacturer, they also offer enhanced video functionality as well.