How do I Choose the Best 3D Video Card?

Melissa King

Choosing the best 3D video card is a decision that often depends upon the computer in which it will be used. Start off by asking yourself about the primary purpose for your computer. A computer used for playing the latest video games, for example, will require a more powerful video card, while a computer that is only used for basic Internet access may be fine with a more simple card. Video cards can also vary widely in price and features. Age of the computer is important as well, since many newer cards will not function with older machines.

A gaming video card with high amounts of memory should be used for 3D gaming.
A gaming video card with high amounts of memory should be used for 3D gaming.

If a computer regularly handles only simple tasks, such as word processing, running office productivity software, and/or accessing the Internet, the most basic type of 3D video card will likely be sufficient. These video cards are typically very inexpensive. They are also usually small in size, making them easy to install in almost any computer case. Basic video cards are more likely to be compatible with a slightly older computer.

The average computer user may wish to do slightly more advanced tasks, including watching videos or viewing interactive web content. For these purposes, a very basic 3D video card will probably not produce images of a very high quality. A mid-range video card will typically be adequate for these needs. A card in this range can vary in price, depending upon the brand, but still relatively inexpensive. A mid-range card may be a good option; a very inexpensive 3D video card may not function as well as described, and a pricier card is typically unnecessary for simpler graphical tasks.

A high-end computer designed for playing the newest video games will require a 3D video card of considerable power. Although newer models of video cards are often released every few months, it is usually unnecessary to obtain the latest version. Brand new cards can be somewhat expensive. While they will run the latest games without any problems, slightly older and less expensive versions will often be able to do so as well. You may wish to choose a card that is a few models behind the latest version.

Before choosing a video card, check for compatibility with your machine. If the computer is more than several years old, many new video cards will not be compatible with it. Older motherboards do not have the proper connections for newer equipment. It is often less expensive to replace an older machine than it would be to attempt to upgrade it to accommodate a new video card.

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