Tips on Choosing a Video Card
Without getting into the minute details of video card technologies, there are some steps you can take to ensure you get the graphical capabilities you need. First, if you are buying a low-budget computer, be aware that the computer’s video card is likely to be either on-board or an out-of-date generation. Again, this is how computer manufacturers save a buck for themselves and lower prices on their computers.
If you will be using the computer for any kind of gaming, a good rule of thumb is to choose a video card that is either a current generation or one-generation-old card. Current generation cards from companies such as nVidia and ATI can run well over $500. One-generation-old cards often run around $200 to $300. These cards are much more economical and provide a decent level of power for current games.
For hard-core gamers, you can save some money by buying a card that is at the lower end of the latest generation cards. Newly released video cards always carry with them the highest price tag because of skimming.
Skimming is the pricing strategy of charging very high prices for a product just released to the market. The purpose is to “skim" off customers who are willing to pay exorbitant prices for the right to say they have the best video card on the market. As soon as the next video card is released, the older one is likely to drop in price dramatically. Since there is often little difference between the number one and the number two (or three or four) video card, smart buyers can save a lot of money by opting for a lower-end current generation video card.
Some high-end gamers can even opt for multiple video cards in one computer. So called SLI or Crossfire technologies allow for two, three, or even four video cards. Of course, putting more than one video card in your computer can be very expensive. Not only do you need to spend money on multiple video cards, you must also have the right power supply to connect to those power-hungry graphics cards. However, if you want to get the absolute maximum performance out of your computer’s graphical capabilities, this is the best way to do it.