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My current specs are as follows:

Motherboard: ASuS P5NSlI
Processor: Pentium D Dual Core 2.8Ghz
RAM: 2GB DDR2
Video Card: XFX NVidia 9400GT

I am having some video performance issues in my PC games (low framerates) on my machine even on a freshly installed OS with all latest drivers. How can I pinpoint what is causing the trouble? According to the recommended specs for some games, I need at least a 7800GTX card. I have a 9400GT, isn't that better?

Do I need to upgrade my video card? If I do, what things do I need to keep in mind when purchasing a new video card? There are so many different models and brands that I have no idea what is better/worse.

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You need to stop posting questions asking specifically about games/gaming, as those are forbidden specifically in the FAQ. Rephrase/retitle this question to be about "buying a video card" in general, rather than specifically about games. –  phoebus Jan 27 '10 at 0:17
    
Also, as I said in your other question, your NetBurst-based Pentium D is likely a bigger bottleneck than your video card. What sort of price range are you looking at for the card? –  phoebus Jan 27 '10 at 0:18
    
I'm using a game as an example. I still need information about the video cards. What's with the attitude everyone is giving me. :S –  Papuccino1 Jan 27 '10 at 0:24
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Just guessing, but likely because of all user-level topics, gaming is the one with the most prolific enthusiast sites, with loads of info that this site could never hope to duplicate. Also, gaming is the topic most likely to ignite flame wars of epic proportion;) –  phoebus Jan 27 '10 at 1:11
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Please note. Stop spending hours debating whether gaming questions or questions related to gaming is allowed or not. The FAQ is clear. It is NOT allowed. The site has a specific target and audience, and the moderators are going to be much more agressive with regards to cleaning up and removing these questions. If the question cannot be asked without involving a game, it should NOT be asked on SU. Period. The End. –  Diago Jan 27 '10 at 8:43
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2 Answers

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,2521.html

Tom's Hardware has done a lot of the work for you and release a monthly publication on the best video cards for the money and how they compare with each other. They go over many of the price ranges and what kind of performance you can get with that much money. They have charts that compare many popular applications at different resolutions and Anti-Aliasing levels. You can get a decent feel for what the current market offers and where to focus your money.

And one of the useful parts of each of these is one of the final pages of the reviews is the Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart, which puts all the chipsets together and shows you which ones are similar in performance with Nvidia and ATI cards. This helps clear up some of the confusion on what is on par with what.

See where the 9400Gt ranks? It is 7 levels below the performance of the 7900GTX. The 9400gt is not a powerful card and will bring you basic performance. Performance will vary greatly depending on the resolution of your monitor also. Just because a video card has a higher model number does not mean it is more powerful.

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+1 for good info. –  phoebus Jan 27 '10 at 0:39
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Do I need to upgrade my video card? If I do, what things do I need to keep in mind when purchasing a new video card? There are so many different models and brands that I have no idea what is better/worse.

This Wikipedia article may help clarify why a "9400GT" is not automatically "two generations" better than a "7800GTX". In the case of Nvidia, series 9 is generally newer/better than series 7, but x400 is not as good as x800. But this is somewhat apples-to-oranges because of the difference in series.

Note, I'm not disparaging the 9400GT. Just hoping to point out that there's marketing involved in the choice of model numbers. For example, the Pixel and Texture fill-rates on the 7800GTX are significantly higher than the 9400GT. In comparison, if you look at the data for the 9800GTX, it blows the doors off the 7800GTX.

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This is the same reason why back in the day I continued to use my GeForce 2 Ultra 64MB even into the days of GeForce 4000-series cards. It didn't have new features, but it had some crazy raw power. –  phoebus Jan 27 '10 at 1:12
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