What video card should I get if I'm not playing video games?
January 11, 2005 5:14 PM   Subscribe

YetAnotherQuestionAboutVideoCardsFilter: I am going to buy a new computer for browsing/photo editing/mp3 playing/excel editing/cd burning. I am _NOT_ going to be playing games on the machine. Does it matter what video card I get? I'm tempted to get an ATI Radeon 9200SE since it doesn't have a fan and I want a quiet PC.
posted by selfnoise to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
get the new Mac Mini!
posted by jackofsaxons at 5:36 PM on January 11, 2005

If you don't want to play games or do things like video editing, literally anything will do fine. Buy the cheapest one.
posted by reynaert at 5:38 PM on January 11, 2005

If you're building the computer, some motherboards come with on-board video. You might as well just get one of those.
posted by SAC at 5:55 PM on January 11, 2005

Agree with SAC. Get a motherboard with the nforce chipset by nvidia -- some of them they have onboard video that doesn't suck. Avoid any of the motherboards that have intel onboard video.

Failing that, the ATI card you recommend is fine.
posted by kaefer at 6:03 PM on January 11, 2005

I agree with jackofsaxons. If you don't want to play games or edit video, get a Mac Mini.
posted by krisjohn at 6:59 PM on January 11, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice; I'll just get a 9200SE-TD then.

The Mac Mini is really freaking cool, but the fact remains that I can get more storage, more and faster RAM, more upgrade options and more OS options on the PC. And I like my computers to have breathing space. I'm not sure I trust Apple to make a reliable machine crammed into that tiny space.

I have this thing with Apple where I like their stuff, but kind of on an emotional level, and there's always this little voice saying "you could get something that's less attractive but more powerful."
posted by selfnoise at 7:36 PM on January 11, 2005

If you are going to be using a CRT, you'll need a video card with a decent RAMDAC if you wish to view high resolutions. 350 Mhz. is a good number. This means no crappy built-in video, but it also means you don't have to have the latest gee-whiz graphics acceleration.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:36 PM on January 11, 2005

Best answer: If for some reason you want to go high end, Matrox is known for the nicest looking 2D output and fastest 2D acceleration in the business.

Not that that is a big deal anymore, but if you have money to burn, what the hell.

Note that my old Radeon 7200 ViVo serves my 21" trinitron monitor quite well, still. C_D is very right about making sure the RAMDAC is quality. A junk one can burn up. Since it's integrated into the card, this can make for an exciting display (not of the card melting, but of the image on your screen output from the card being screwed up).

You will find integrated video a bit limiting if you plan to run at a high resolution. It'll eat away at your system memory and generally will just feel slow when you're using it. Moving 1600x1200 windows around at 32 bit colour is a LOT of memory operations and needs decently fast RAM.
posted by shepd at 11:49 PM on January 11, 2005

I will never buy another product from ATI. Their support stinks, their drivers suck.
posted by Goofyy at 12:23 AM on January 12, 2005

You don't need very high requirements, but you might want a decent card. I've heard it said that in the next version of Windows all the window drawing operations are going to be hardware accelerated, so it might pay to get a decent card. That said, you clearly don't need a top of the line model.
posted by unreason at 7:20 AM on January 12, 2005

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