My PC could really use a video card that's better than the on-motherboard Intel graphics adapter it shipped with, but whenever I go on Newegg to start shopping around, I get overwhelmed with options.
I'm not quite sure what to ask, and I'm trying hard to avoid turning this into a shopping recommendation question; let me try and come up with a couple of specific questions:
- Besides the basic "more is better," any advice for understanding the relative importance of the various specifications that Newegg throws at me (GPU clock, shader clock, stream processing units, etc.)? (It also looks like ATI and nVidia report their specifications a bit differently, making it harder to directly compare the two?)
- How do I compare video cards with each other? Comparing two brand new cards on Newegg is easy, but how do I decide if, for example, a bare bones budget card is better or worse than my on-board Intel graphics? If a game (Mass Effect 2, for a random example), says it requires a GeForce 6800 or better, how can I tell whether a card on Newegg is better or worse? (It's my understanding from Wikipedia that a GeForce 6800 would be a high-performance card from several generations back; how would that compare to a newer midline or budget card?)
- Any advice for estimating power requirements? Some cards are listed with explicit requirements; some are listed with "recommended"; some give no guidelines at all. In an ideal world, I could get a card that doesn't require upgrading my 350 watt power supply, but from looking at Newegg, that seems unlikely. (I obviously don't expect to get a high end gaming card for 350 watts.)