Let’s talk about some specifics for the average home/office PC user. This PC is used for word processing, spreadsheets, viewing photos, and even watching a DVD movie or playing a 2D game. Most all of these functions are handled easily by today’s low-end graphics cards.
To accomplish these tasks, you can get by with a 32-64MB card, with a clock speed around 166MHz. You can find a good card with these specs for $40. Most of them will have only a VGA connector, but you can find some with DVI and even S-Video for more like $100.
Prevent eye fatigue
If you are looking at spreadsheets and documents for hours on end, the best thing you can do is get a card that has a high refresh rate, at the resolution you work at. A minimum is 75MHz. The higher the resolution, the more memory is used on the card and the harder it is to refresh. If this rate drops below 75MHz, your eyes will be fatigued from the flicker of the monitor. Find out what your monitor can support at the resolution you use, then get a card that can pump it out that fast.
Don’t get features you don’t need
If you just play on the Internet, or balance your checkbook on the computer, you don’t need all those available connectors on the back of your video card. Don’t spend a lot of extra money on a card that has features you’ll never use. If you’re just playing solitaire, it’s not likely you’ll notice the difference in a $50 card and a $500 card. Another good thing to check is the software that comes with the card. Most come bundled with nice utilities to change resolution and even add some effects to the way XP looks. A lot of them also come with a game or two, which are usually a good indication of what the card can handle.
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