Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: upgrade video card ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: upgrade video card
Category: Computers > Graphics
Asked by: captdave-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 30 Oct 2002 07:03 PST
Expires: 29 Nov 2002 07:03 PST
Question ID: 93086
I'm a writer. Now & then I need to use a digital marine navigation
system and 2 manufacturers say I need a faster video card. Everybody I
talk to wants me to get the hottest gamer card but I don't do games. I
have Windows 98 2nd edition, 354Mb of memory, a 40MB hard drive, a
600mhz pentium 3, and an 8MB AGP graphics card. What should I get?
Dave Wheeler
Subject: Re: upgrade video card
Answered By: pwizard-ga on 30 Oct 2002 07:57 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Greetings captdave,

When it comes to choosing a new video card there are a myriad of
choices out there. Of course most people will say to go out and get
the "hottest gamer card" and they're not necessarily steering you in
the wrong direction, it's just important to determine what your budget
is and what types of applications you will be using the card for. Even
though many of today's high-end video cards seem to cater to "gamers",
this is simply because today's games require cutting edge features
from graphics cards where in the past it was 3D applications such as
AutoCad and Mechanical Drawing software that pushed these devices to
their limits. Getting a graphics card that performs well for today's
3D games will generally perform well for almost all other graphic
applications, both 2D and 3D (such as the marine navigation software
you mentioned in your question). When it comes to selecting a new
graphics card, it pretty much boils down to a couple of different
factors - Speed, Memory and Features. These things determine the price
of the card. It's going to be difficult to know exactly how your
applications will respond on each of the different cards. I would
suggest taking a look at some of the ones I'm going to recommend and
then contacting the manufacturers of the software you plan to use to
see if they have tested it on any of the cards you are considering
purchasing. In the end, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the
below mentioned cards - they should all give you an improvement in
graphics performance over the 8MB AGP card you have now.

Before I list them, please be aware that while the graphics card does
have quite a bit to do with how a 3D application runs, it's not
entirely responsible. The CPU (600Mhz P3 in your case) also has quite
a bit to do with it. Your graphics card can only do so much. You
really need an even amount of speed from both sources to achieve the
best results.


1. NVidia GeForce 4 Ti4600 (Average Price: $240)
Product Review:

The NVIDIAŽ GeForce™4 Ti graphics processing unit (GPU) is the first
consumer GPU capable of driving complex geometries and character
animations. With its advanced NVIDIA nfiniteFX™ II Engine, superior
NVIDIA Accuview Antialiasing™
techniques, flexible NVIDIA nView™ multidisplay technology, and
support for AGP 8X, the GeForce4 Ti GPU allows end users to experience
radically immersive graphical environments complete with unique visual
effects, and the most realistic, life-like images ever experienced on
a desktop PC. With an amazing 128MB frame buffer; a 650MHz DDR
memory—the world’s fastest; a 300MHz core clock—for unmatched clock
speeds; and 63 million transistors—the GeForce4 Ti GPU delivers nearly
twice the memory bandwidth of the previous highperformance
GPU, and enables end users to run applications at high resolutions
astonishingly fast frame rates.

2. ATI Radeon 9700 Pro (Average Price: $340)
Product Review:

RADEON™ 9700 PRO is the world's fastest* and most advanced graphics
board, featuring ATI's RADEON™ 9700 PRO Visual Processing Unit (VPU).
Through a combination of incredible 3D rendering performance,
sophisticated real-time visual effects, unsurpassed image quality and
cutting-edge video features, it takes the PC entertainment experience
to a totally new level. 256-bit memory interface removes hardware
performance bottleneck and provides end users with faster 3D graphics.
Features industry's first 8-pixel pipeline architecture, providing
twice the rendering power of any currently competing product.


1. NVidia GeForce4 MX Series (Average Price: $99 to $129)
Product Review:

The NVIDIAŽ GeForce™4 MX graphics
processing unit (GPU) brings a new level of
graphics performance and display flexibility to
the mainstream desktop PC. By incorporating
the innovative NVIDIA nView™ multi-display
technology, highly efficient NVIDIA
Lightspeed Memory Architecture (LMA) II,
advanced NVIDIA Accuview Antialiasing™
techniques, and support for AGP 8X, the
GeForce4 MX GPU is the most feature-rich,
cost-effective, and highly integrated GPU
available for the mainstream market.

2. ATI Radeon 7500/8500 (Average Price: ~$165)
Product Review:

RADEON™ 7500/8500 is a powerful and versatile graphic solution.
64/128MB of powerful DDR memory along with the RADEON™ 7500/8500 GPU
provides high performance acceleration of today's demanding 3D graphic
applications. Industry leading DVD playback, support for dual
independent displays, and support for digital flat panel (DVI-I)
monitors meet the needs of a wide range of home and business graphic

There are several other versions of the above mentioned cards that
would fall into the range of "LOW END", but I wouldn't really
recommend any of them unless your budget doesn't really allow for a
card in the $99 to $299 range. All of these cards (as you will read)
are geared towards gamers, but as I said, they will work just fine for
any other 3D application. They do make video cards designed for 3D
modeling and design-based applications, but these cards usually start
in the range of $500 and up and I think would be way overkill for what
you're wanting to do. With your current PC specs, I would probably
recommend going with either a low end Geforce 4 TI series card (like
the Ti4200 or 4400) or the Radeon 8500 or 8500LE. I would only go with
a higher end card if you're planning to upgrade your PC to a faster
processor sometime in the near future. Of course, one of the Geforce 4
MX series cards would also probably work just fine for your marine
navigation application.

I hope I've given you enough information to make a good decision on
your next video card purchase. Please know that everyone has their own
opinion about which card is the best and the fastest. Find out which
one is best for YOU and you'll come out a winner. Talk to the
manufacturer of the software. Read the software reviews. I would also
shop around for the best price. You can usually find good prices at
both MySimon ( and PriceWatch
( Please let me know if I can be of further
assistance on this question. Thanks!


NVidia Display Cards

ATI Display Cards

Matrox Display Cards
captdave-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
How do I pay for this? I don't think anyone has my credit card numbers.

Subject: Matrox
From: dartgeek-ga on 23 Nov 2002 20:46 PST
I would like to expand on the matrox link you provided. I can
understand that they are not mainstream cards but they do pack a very
good 2D punch.

G550MAX: The sibling of the G400. The G400’s are primarily pointed at
the business demographic (the ones who require 3D acceleration at some
point). Excellent 2D. They brought 2 monitor setups to the masses
(simply called dualhead). VERY cheap.

Matrox Parhelia: Expensive? Yes. There should be a valued edition in
the form of 64 meg version coming soon.

The matrox Parhelia is the best 2D desktop I have ever seen. It packs
hardware Font anti-aliasing (which are more soothing on the eyes), and
a high end RAMDAC. [The definition: Short for Random Access Memory
Digital-to-Analog Converter, a single chip on video adapter cards. The
RAMDAC's role is to convert digitally encoded images into analog
signals that can be displayed by a monitor. A RAMDAC actually consists
of four different components - SRAM to store the color map and three
digital-to-analog converters (DACs), one for each of the monitor's
red, green, and blue electron guns.]. Basicly the higher the quality
of the RAMDAC, the better the desktop will look. I would like to make
it clear this card emphasis quality over speed.

I touched about dualhead, but the Parhelia expand on it exponentially.
It provides Triplehead. IT is quite a interesting technology. (Well to
me anyway) From the name you can power 1 large desktop (via 3
monitors). This would be quite interesting to a write like yourself.
You can have a full size webpage open, Microsoft outlook on the other
desktop, and have Adobe illustrator (or PageMaker or quark) all at the
same time. This is quite an expensive option. But the benefits to a
professional like yourself far outweighs the pricetage. (The card + 2
other monitors)

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy