Choosing a Video Adapter

Use the following guidelines when choosing a video adapter:

  • Remember that video is just one part of your system. If your system has only a Pentium III/500 and 64 MB of memory, you’re likely to be disappointed if you install a cutting-edge $400 graphics card. Buying a $150 midrange graphics card instead and spending the other $250 on a CPU, motherboard, and memory upgrade yields much better video performance, and increases general system performance as well.

  • Unless you spend most of your computing time running resource-intensive 3D games, performance is probably the least important selection criterion. Current video adapters, and most older models, are more than fast enough to run standard 2D business applications at normal resolutions and refresh rates (e.g., 1024x768 at 85 Hz). Previous-generation 3D adapters are discounted deeply when their replacements ship, and are excellent choices for most users. These older video chipsets are often used for embedded video on integrated motherboards, and will suffice for nearly anyone. Don’t forget that today’s obsolescent chipset was the leading-edge barn burner not long ago. Don’t get caught up in the horsepower race, and don’t waste money buying performance that you’ll never use.

  • Buy only an AGP adapter, except in unusual circumstances. Check the motherboard manual to determine the type of AGP interface it uses, and then refer to Table 15-1 to determine the types of AGP card that are compatible. If you may later ...

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