Graphics card confusion - I am not sure on the limitations of my PC

  malynx 18:23 04 Oct 2011

My PC will not work and the graphics card is the chief suspect. My priority is to buy a cheap graphics card that will hopefully solve the problem. But, of course, I would like to buy the best value card for my budget and aging system. And I would like it to be a considerable upgrade to the nVidia GeForce 6800 GT (350MHz clock, 256MB DDR @ 500MHz, 16 pixel pipelines) previously installed.

My PC specs are currently: Mobo: ASUS A8N SLi Deluxe (with 2 x PCI-Express x16 slots) -
PSU: 550W -
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.2GHz dual-core (1MB L2 cache) -
RAM: 2 x 1GB DDR 400MHz (PC3200) (although I am considering upgrading to 4 x 1GB) -
OS: Windows XP Professional (32-bit) -
Monitor: HD, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 24" diagonal, with DVI and HDMI inputs.

My needs:
Photo-editing (a lot!), some video-editing, casual playing of older games.

I have seen well-reviewed cards (eg Radeon HD 6670) at prices just above my intended budget. These may be very appealing but I don't know if my system can run them, nor if they are too over-spec for my system that a card at half-the-price will perform just as well? At the other end of the scale, I have seen very cheap cards that appear sufficient for my needs, however due to the interface discrepancies I am not sure how much it will affect performance - is it possible that I could end up with too little performance?

I would really like to know what are the likely best specifications of a graphics card that will (cost-)efficiently perform in my system?

How much will my motherboard's PCIe slot affect a PCIe 2.0 card? My system uses DDR RAM, does it matter if the graphics card has GDDR2 / DDR3? Will I see any benefit from a graphics card with 1GB memory, instead of 512MB? Can I use a card with a 64-bit memory bus with my 32-bit OS?

Thanks in advance, I apologise for this awkward post, but I am at my wit's end after spending a week trying to research this matter on my own.

  northumbria61 15:51 05 Oct 2011

GDDR -- common to Graphics cards -- is not the same thing as DDR memory installed in PCs & shouldn't be confused for one another. And a GDDR3 card will work just fine in a machine equipped with DDR system memory, insofar as the expansion slot (AGP/PCIe) on the machine will support the type of card.

The memory on the video card does not need to match the ram on the motherboard. You could have DDR3 memory on a geforce 6600gt card even if your motherboard has DDR1 memory. It definitely does not matter.

BUT just make sure your Power Supply Unit gives enough power for the card you use

  chub_tor 16:04 05 Oct 2011

Best Graphics card for the money September 2011 will give you a good guide except for the USA pricing

  gengiscant 16:38 05 Oct 2011

And your budget is???????

The radeon HD4670 is a small, and fairly powerful card. Definitely a lot faster than a geforce 6800. It also doesn't need much power so you won't even have to worry about a possible psu upgrade.

  malynx 17:03 05 Oct 2011

Thank you gengiscant and thank you for the link chub_tor.

My budget is approx. GBP30 - 40. So those recommendations do fall within my budget.

My PSU is 550W so I think it should comfortably cope with any of these cards.

I am guilty of repeat-posting this issue, just now, in the Games forum - although I think I explained myself more clearly there:

I was about to ask the mods to possibly close the thread on this board when I saw your replies.

  malynx 17:33 05 Oct 2011

And thank you northumbria61!

On closer inspection, the cards I have just searched (Radeon HD 5560, 5570, 4670) are not actually available at the prices Google initially found. And the Radeon HD 4670 is well-over at GBP 67 :(

  chub_tor 17:50 05 Oct 2011

Then how about the HD4650 from Amazon at £36.50

  malynx 18:19 05 Oct 2011

@ Chub_tor :

That looks a promising find at a nice pice, thanks.

However, I have just seen an EAH5450 for the same price at PC World:

Is that an even better option?

PC World supposedly had a 512MB version of the EAH 5450 at gbp 25 - (no longer available though). What is the payoff between the memory sizes and clock speeds? Would a slightly faster card with less memory be better than a similar priced 1GB card? Or should I be forgetting about anything less than 1GB these days?

  chub_tor 19:06 05 Oct 2011

Would a slightly faster card with less memory be better than a similar priced 1GB card? Take a look at this explanation from Tom's Hardware and if you want to compare the 5450 against the 4650 then take a look at this chart

  malynx 19:52 05 Oct 2011

Thanks again chub_tor - your link to the explanation doesn't work though.

  chub_tor 20:01 05 Oct 2011

sorry about that, try this instead

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