Last week I decided to upgrade my computer to a dedicated video card. While I was at it I decided to also swap out my old ViewSonic 19" CRT for a new LCD monitor. Trying to select either of these components can be an overwhelming experience. I started out on Tom's Hardware to get some basics, then on to Newegg to find something I could afford.
First up, a decent video card. I have an Asus motherboard which has an onboard GeForce 6 GPU. That has served me fine for a few months, but it uses shared memory and I've gone back to playing some games and this lack of power shows. Also, with Vista having such insane requirements I wanted something more powerful. I had the following requirements: short card form factor with a small heatsink (since I'm using a really small case), PCI-Express 16x, DVI, dual monitor support (a future upgrade), and under $150. Oh, and it had to be quiet. I've made a lot of compromises to make my computer nearly silent and I didn't want a graphics card that sounded like a jet engine ruining all my hard work.
Combining the advice from Tom's with my requirements and budget I found the Biostar V760GS51. It uses the 7600GS chipset, which isn't the latest and greatest, but it has all the features I was looking for and performs extremely well for the $125 I paid. With 512MB RAM it should not only support Vista Aero, it should do it with ease. It barely fits in my case, with maybe 5mm to spare between the end of the card and my hard drive. It's so quiet I can't even tell I added it, which surprised me. It can be overclocked and even includes special software to do that, but I've never been a fan of overclocking anything and it performs well enough without it. It's also SLI-capable (my motherboard isn't), so if you're in the market for low-cost SLI give this card a look.
Then I went looking for an LCD. This was tougher, since I had specific requirements and I wasn't willing to compromise. I wanted a 19" screen, DVI, at least a 8ms response, and native resolution had to be 1280 x 1024. That's the smallest resolution at which I can still read text comfortably, and running LCD's at a non-native resolution causes blurring or graininess in the picture.
I found the Rosewill R913E, which is a 19" monitor with 4ms response. The list price is $240, which isn't bad, but you can get a $60 mail in rebate if you purchase before 1/31/2007! This monitor for $180 is an absolute steal, so much so I'm considering getting a second one. A height adjustment would be nice, the stand is a little cheap, and it's a little bright out of the box, but overall... ooh la la! No ghosting in anything, ever. The CPU and GPU stutter but the monitor has no problem keeping up.
Here is my current setup:
Case - Antec Aria
Motherboard - Asus M2NPV-VM
Memory - 2GB DDR2-533
Hard drive - Seagate 7200.10 (160GB SATA-2)
DVD - Sony DWQ 120A
Video - Biostar V760GS51
Monitor - Rosewill R913E