Buying graphics cards

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A great graphics card may not be as expensive as you think! Be a savvy shopper and check deals sites & stores like:

North America


^ Also check out Quidco for cashback. Also:

Comparison-shopping tools

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

  • 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 460 than a 520 also a GTX is better than a GTS). 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 a 4-digit model 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. The nVidia 8800 is about the limit on older video cards. The 9800's do a good job. The newer consumer cards are designated as 200, 300, 400, and 500 series cards. The first digit tends to be a generation ID. A 7800 came before an 8800 which came before a 9800 and they all came before a 200, which came before a 300... etc.
  • If you are deciding whether to get a new computer or upgrade existing hardware, get these two free Windows programs:
    • CPU-Z - this will tell you everything you need to know about your CPU to check against System Requirements.
    • GPU-Z - this will tell you everything about your video card. It also shows temperature and graphics load.
  • To learn more about graphics card generations, see Wikipedia's ATI and Nvidia tables.
  • 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.