Buying graphics cards
A great graphics card may not be as expensive as you think! Be a savvy shopper and check deals sites & stores like:
^ Also check out Quidco for cashback. Also:
Add your fave deals sites around the world (only ones you've actually used and have favorable experiences with) to this list.
While there are too many possibilities to describe succinctly, it's generally true that as time goes on, progressively powerful technology gets cheaper. For instance, as of 2008-10-30, GeForce 8800GTs which can run Second Life's graphics at Ultra (the highest) can be found for under US$100 after mail-in rebate. And many capable mid-range cards, like are US$50 or under.
More buying tips
- Yes, card numbering can be confusing — reading hands-on reviews at Tom's Hardware can help clarify which give the best "bang for the buck", like their "Best Graphics Cards For The Money: January 2012" article.
- With Nvidia cards, the second number in their model number is usually more important than the first (e.g., you're better off with a 7800 than an 8400). As such, you can usually find bargains amongst older generation high-end cards, which will outperform newer generation budget cards while being comparably priced or cheaper. Never buy an Nvidia card with a second digit lower than "6" if you intend to run heavy 3D applications (which SL clearly is), unless you have no choice.
- Your graphics card should be part of a well-balanced system. It won't do you much good to have a top-of-the-line card if you have a lacking power supply or small amount of RAM.