So you’ve decided to upgrade/build your own pc. You want the best components with all the latest transistors, multiple cores and pixel shaders. However, it becomes immediately obvious that the best components, particularly video cards, can set you back up to $300 and you’ve got other parts to buy. Finding the right cheap video cards is can be quite a hard task with the huge amount of pc component suppliers out there. Finding the right video card for your use is even harder. I was in the same situation last summer. I was a complete pc building noob, too lazy and wanted a sweet custom pc to pick up all the nerd chicks with. Keep reading and see how I did it.
First, DO NOT buy any computer hardware at name brand retail stores like Bestbuy. Compared to stores online, you will see that the prices are inflated and any enticing rebates only bring them back to the regular price. The selection in these stores are also terribly limited. Looking for cheap video cards there is just a bad idea.
Looking for cheap, good video cards online can also be quite hard as prices can extremely vary online and you have to take shipping & handling costs into consideration also. However, you can find incredible deals that are 30-50% cheaper than you will find at a local store. You will be surprised how efficient and quick it is to purchase and receive your products. Hopefully, during this hard economic time you will stop and think of the possibility of buying your pc components off the Internet over the overpriced local alternatives.
First, let’s go over some of the basics. The are two choices for video cards nowadays which is ATI or NVIDIA graphic cards. More often than not you will find an crappy integrated versions of these cards within a motherboard or laptop. Sometimes a laptop video card will come with a very high end laptop computer. Gaming on laptops is generally a bad idea as it is very expensive, you cannot upgrade and maintenance can be a hassle. Stick with your deskstop pc for pc gaming needs.
The ATI vs Nvidia debate has been going on for a long time. It’s sorta like the Coke vs Pepsi except for the video card market. Generally, with ATI expect somewhat better performance specs, faster clock speeds and a slightly higher cost. NVIDIA other the other hand offers better support which includes the ability to force antialiasing, texture filtering and other options in your games, all embeded within your tray control panel. ATI also has this option but you have to do a bit of searching online for the correct methods and programs. NVIDIA cards are also a bit cheaper and generally are known as the best bang for your buck video cards. However, the best Nvidia and the best ATI cards are almost on par with only maybe a dozen frame per second different while running the most graphic intensive games. It would be wise to just ask around on tech sites and building your own pc forums to get more specific comparisons. I recommend Nvidia just because of the neat control panel features.
There are numerous online reviews and spec comparison charts for video cards online which is nice to look at. However, the easiest way to find a video card for yourself is to just go to a computer or build your own pc forum and post a new thread asking them something along the lines of “Noob pc builder here, recommend me a good computer build setup for this price range”. That’s how I build my delicious pc system last summer. Save you tons of research and you won’t have to look at any flowcharts comparing the clockspeeds of video cards. Once you get some responses, then go do some little extra research and look for the cheapest place to buy your video cards and components online.
For most Americans, the best site to buy cheap video cards and pc components would be Newegg. It has great prices, great service, tons of special sale events and a huge selection. There is also free shipping on some items. For Canadians, like myself, the best place for Canadians to buy cheap video cards and pc components would definitely be DirectCanada. The site is based out of Vancouver and offers great deals, free ground shipping and a nice selection. Many Canadian pc builders will find that their options to buy video cards from are quite limited with prices that are much larger than those of their American counterparts (Newegg.ca I’m looking at you!) but DirectCanada offers surprisingly good prices.