Graphics for Gaming
The die-hard gamer has some important features to examine when making a graphics card selection. Memory is probably the most important. For most gamers, a 128MB might be sufficient, but you have to check the specs on the game and think about what resolution you like to play it at. At a resolution of 1600 x 1200, you’re going to need a 256MB card. Bare in mind that the memory is used to store image data, the more data it can store, the faster the rendering of images. Also, make sure the board uses DDR memory. It’s not too much more expensive, but is much faster.
For the most serious gamers, you’ll want a clock speed of at least 350MHz. This doesn’t mean that if you are a hard-core SimCity gamer you need speed like this. A 200MHz card would be fine for that, but the more processor intensive 3D rendering of games like Tomb Raider will greatly benefit from the increase in power. The clock speed alone doesn’t dictate how effective the card is, but it’s usually a good indicator of what it will be capable of.
The ultimate gaming rig will utilize AGP 8x or, if your PC supports it PCI Express. AGP is faster than standard PCI, but PCI Express is even faster yet. Again, make sure your PC supports it before you drop $500 on an Express board.
Here’s one place it’s good to get only what you need. You’ll pay more for a lot of different in/out connectors, so if you’re not going to use them, find a board that only has what you need. Instead of spending money on all those connectors, you can get a faster 3D card for the same price, that only has the connector you need. If, however, you do want to do some video editing, all the options are available on the higher end cards.
Microsoft has released DirectX 9, so you’ll want to find a card that supports the DirectX 9 API. As always, check the software that comes with the card. For example, if the card is a little pricey, but includes a $50 game you’re planning on buying, you could easily justify the cost of the card.