Graphics Cards – an overview
Last month Game Console covered the NVIDIA 8800 series of graphics cards in-depth and put a few of those cards through their ‘paces’ so-to-speak. If you’re interested in upgrading your PC’s graphics card, we strongly suggest that you check out our feature in the April issue. The 8800 series of cards is quite affordable for lower to middle range PC gamers and is a great place to start if you’re new to PC hardware.
The XFX GeForce9 series of graphics cards will be the next big thing to take PC gamers through to the next level of gaming on the hardware front. In March, XFX in conjunction with Playtech NZ launched the GeForce9 series of graphics cards along with the nForce7 series motherboard.
If you’re looking to upgrade your current graphics card, you should consider the GeForce9 series as an option, especially if you’re moving up from the 8800 series of graphics cards.
Aside from the NVIDIA range of graphics cards, there are also graphics cards made by ATI (who are the competition on the market for NVIDIA). The main brand under ATI for graphics cards is the Radeon series of graphics cards.
If you really want to shop around for prices to upgrade your graphics cards, the best place to start looking is product websites and then perhaps Price Spy for local dealers and prices. A lot of demand for PC gamers really comes down to personal choice and your own experiences with certain hardware brands. Unfortunately, to be able to judge that for yourself, you may need to start small and then perhaps look at upgrading to the faster and more expensive graphics cards.
Sound Cards – An Overview
As far as sound cards go, you really can’t go past the Creative Audigy brand for both performance and reliability. I’ve used Creative cards in my PC’s for years after moving tentatively from onboard sound. As every PC gamer will know, once you move away from onboard sound, you’ll never look back.
The Creative Audigy brand of sound cards come in all shapes, sizes and prices to fit your budget just like graphics cards. The most popular cards with PC gamers today are the Sound Blaster brand from Creative. Sound Blaster Audigy and Sound Blaster X-Fi are two of the most popular
cards to date with PC gamers. Jonathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendell, one of the world’s most renowned
professional PC gamers, has made a comfortable living from the pro game circuit, utilising and sponsoring both his own brand of Sound Blaster sound cards and XFX graphics cards for gaming. That’s a huge plug for both the XFX/NVIDIA and Sound Blaster brands.
If it’s tried and tested by gamers the world over (even professional gamers at that) you can be relatively certain that the hardware is worth what you spend on it. And if you’re in the business of selling hardware to gamers, everybody knows that gamers are the toughest audience to please – always.
Many retailers stock both graphics cards and sound cards in New Zealand. Again, your best bet is to inform yourself first by reading as much as you can and by speaking to people who have experience with hardware. The staff at specialist PC hardware stores will have the relevant hardware knowledge to assist you with this area but it’s strongly suggested that you also acquire outside knowledge prior to shopping around.
When purchasing hardware separately for your PC, always ensure that you take the relevant specifications of your PC with you. Otherwise you may find that you have purchased a graphics card or sound card that may not be compatible with your other hardware (such as your motherboard).
This is another reason why inexperienced consumers should acquire as much information about their hardware as possible before committing to buying new hardware. One of the best ways to avoid this happening is to purchase an entire ‘system’ which already has the PC built for you. This option works well if you’re in the market to buy a PC as-is rather than building your own.
Graphics cards can be purchased from a variety of retailers in New Zealand:
XFX/Nvidia GeForce specialist stockist:
PlayTech – Auckland www.playtech.co.nz
Creative Sound Cards specialist stockist:
Morning Star – Auckland www.morningstar.co.nz