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Choosing the right video card for your machine is very important. Choosing the wrong one can result in you not being able to accomplish what you need to and potentially losing a nice chunk of change in the process. The first step is to determine which type of card is needed. There are typically three categories that video cards fall into.
The first category is known as either hardcore or extreme. These cards will be the fastest and best-performing cards, designed for serious 3D video gaming and other visually demanding applications. The mid-range category is known as mainstream. Here you will find more affordable video cards for people who like to do a little gaming and maybe some light video editing or photography. The last category is called value cards. These will be the least expensive and provide you with the basics needed for Internet browsing and the ability to output the video signal to another monitor or television.
In order to pick the right card you must make sure that your machine can support your choice. Hardcore video cards required for serious gaming are going to need a processor speed in the ballpark of 2.4GHz or higher. For mainstream cards don't go any lower than 1.66GHz, although 1.8GHz would be better. Value cards should fall in the CPU speed range of 800 MHz to 1.66GHz.