In our country, many people are still on onboard graphics. Many have now started upgrading their systems and single and most effective way to improve a system's 3D performance is by upgrading its graphics card. Generally, people here don't really know what parameter's to look for while buying a graphics card, they think more memory = more performance, which is definitely not true in all cases.
While upgrading a graphics card, here are some points you should keep in mind:
- The purpose
- Your Maximum Budget
- Your existing hardware
You should first decide what you need it for, if you want better aero performance in Vista/Windows 7 or whether you want top notch gaming performance at highest possible resolution. In both cases, you can get totally different cards at a totally different price point.
Now that you have decided your purpose, find out how much you are ready to shell out. Do remember, you may need to upgrade your PSU too, which may add to the cost by some Rs3000 -5000 (in most cases).
Now have a look at what you currently have. If its an ancient P3 system, then just forget it, its better off you buy a full new system instead of the graphics card alone. You basically need to see the compatibility. The main being the availability of a PCI-e slot. You can read your motherboard manual for that.
So now that you have done all the above, lets have a look at the various options in the market. For many first time buyers, Rs6000 or less is the price range. Well, at this price, you will get a decent performance graphics card, but only at lower resolutions like 1440x900 or 1280x1024 in most new games. For a gaming system, Rs6000 is a bare minimum in my book.
So, here are the options in the market:
Nvidia 9600GT - Its a pretty old card, but is still a decent choice as it performs well at lower resolutions. The huge con with this card is that you will need to plug in external power, so your PSU will need a 6pin power connector. Most generic PSUs that come with the cabinet do not have this and hence a new PSU is required. An FSP Saga II 350W PSU would make the cut for this card. It costs about Rs1700 odd. The 9600GT now costs about Rs 5300.
Nvidia GT240 - This card is probably my pick among mid range cards from Nvidia. Its got performance similar to that of a 9600GT, a tad slower though. It however, consumes much lower power and does not require external power connector, so it may run on your generic PSU. Don't get me wrong, I do not recommend that you run the system on you cheap quality PSU, but it is possible and many claim that the system runs without any issues. I would recommend a PSU with at least 18A on the 12V for such cards, check the side of your PSU for these ratings.The card costs Rs5300 for the 1GB variant.
ATI 4670 - This card has been in the market for a long time now , its a pretty good performer, its about the same as the GT240 in terms of performance (a little slower). It has pretty low power consumption and also does not require external power connector, so it may work fine with the generic PSU. A new 4670 costs Rs4100 for the 512MB variant, so its a pretty decent deal.ATI 5670
- This is easy the fastest among the 4. Its performance matches that of the 9800GT and has low power consumption too. Its the only card here that supports DX11 so that's another pro. The card does not require external power connector. It costs Rs5500 for the 512MB variant and Rs 6200 for the 1GB version.
So, if i were to buy a card from the above, it would definitely be the ATI 5670. Its the best performer here, runs cool and consumes little power, it this price point, I doubt you will get any better deal (exclude 2nd hand items). If you have any doubts about these cards, feel free to ask here.