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Why would I need a graphics card? Well just to explain this, when you buy a new pc, it will either have a seperate graphics card installed or more commonly it will have 'built-in' graphics. This means that your motherboard has on-board graphics. The problem with onboard or built-in graphics is that it doesn't have it's own memory. Say you have 256mb of RAM, and built-in graphics of 64mb (a common set-up). Your actual RAM will only be 192mb because your onboard graphics have to steal 64mb to run. If you have a seperate graphics card it has it's own memory and doesn't need to steal from your RAM.
So that is a major advantage. You could of course upgrade your RAM instead for a similar price, but generally you will get the best performance from having a dedicated graphics card. Apart from having its own memory there are many other advatages.
This particular graphics card is the XFX GeForce FX5200 with 128mb of memory. It also has AGP 8*. I will attempt to explain what this means.
Obviously the memory is the amount of memory it has. This is particularly important if you do anything which requires heavy graphics usage. For example video editing or gaming. The AGP 8* figure refers to the type of card this is. AGP is the latest standard of video card and 8* (where*=times) is the latest speed. Previously 4* was the standard. An AGP card should be quicker than a PCI video card.
Other features of this card are:
TV/DVD out. You can connect your pc to your tv or dvd player via the svideo socket of the card.
Cinema quality graphics via the CineFX Engine.
nView Multi-display Technology. If you want to run something accross several screens.
DirectX 9.0 compatible.
In order to use this card you must have an AGP slot on your motherboard. It will be brown in colour. You will probably have 1 AGP slot and up to 8 (white) PCI slots. It simply clicks into place.
Being able to hook up to your dvd/video/tv is also good if you do video editing. This card will give you excellent quality pictures. However this is not a top of the range card. It is a budget one. Generally speaking you will pay around £40 online including delivery (ebuyer.com). Probably a lot more in the store. If you are seriously into gaming you will no doubt want a much more powerful graphics card. Many cards can cost hundreds of pounds. The more power it has the quicker it will be for very graphics intensive applications, such as games.
But for the budget minded person who is looking for a good basic graphics card to perhaps free up some RAM, and which will also be more than adequate for general requirements this is an excellent choice. You can play high quality games and it will handle video editing etc. But if you do a lot of this then greater speeds will cost more.
You can check out this card in more detail by going to www.xfxforce.com.
I will now list basic specs and system requirements:
You will need:
Pentium4/III/II/Celeron, AMD K6/Athlon AGP 8*/4* slot (it is backwards compatible) 64 MB of system memory (at least) CD-ROM drive Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/NT4.0/XP
This also works fine on my Linux (Mandriva 10.2) system
The technical specs are:
Graphics Core - 256 bit Vertices/sec - 63 million Pixels per clock - 4 peak RAMDACs (MHz) - 350 Fill Rate - 1 Billion Textures per Pixel - 13
In the box you will find the card in its anti static bag, a quick installation guide (which covers both hardware and software installation), the software CD, and an svideo lead.
i got one of these, but 256 Mb memory one, and it runs doom 3 fine.
Mark20 18.07.2005 16:32
Great review this is a good graphics card and surely a perfect buy for someone looking to improve their graphics on a budget!
ptitpupuk 18.07.2005 15:39
Good review, which clearly explained to me (rubbish at computers) what my brother (computer engineer) tried to get me to understand for the last 5 years (in the computer jargon that was like chinese to me)... Thanks ... Lorraine xx