"Good performer"4.5 starson by Scott Gardener
Pros: Great price to performance ratio
Cons: So far, fingers crossed, haven't encountered any
Summary: First, a confession: I'm not a die-hard gamer, though that can change, now that I've tasted what an upper echelon card can do. I'm not yet ready to toss my venerable AGP based mother board just yet to build myself a bleeding edge PCI-express SLi or CrossFire system. But, I wanted the best leap forward I could, because I wanted to be ready for Windows Vista's Aero features, and, more importantly, I wanted a huge frigging 1680x1050 resolution monitor, and I knew there was no way I could plug it into anything less than a card that's good enough to get a Half Life 2 player's attention.
I found this puppy on a Black Friday sale for $99, less than half what I planned to spend, but, I will admit, even at its list price, it's good--very good. Yes, ATI and NVidia have even better at several times over the price, but for what I'm doing, this puppy is probably already overkill, which is fine with me. It's good enough that I may end up taking up gaming, now that I've got a card that's up to it.
Installation: I found the process remarkably smooth, with less than 30 minutes worth of troubleshooting and none of it being the card's fault. (Do NOT use VGA connectors for anything that offers a DVI port!) About a year ago, a friend gave me--flat out gave me--an ATI Radeon 9800, and I ran into stability problems when I tried installing it, ultimately forcing me to give up and go back to what I had. No signs of those problems today. (To the old Radeon's credit, I had a cramped micro-ATX case with heat problems, and, more importantly, a dinky 330 Watt power supply--so, again, it probably wasn't the card's fault by any stretch. The case today has better air flow and a 500 Watt power supply, which is most likely the real reason I'm running without a hitch. Duh...)
First and foremost, I don't care how cool or great something is supposed to be if it doesn't work; I'm a stickler for stability. And, this card has delivered quite well; I'm seeing no sign of the stability problems a few reviewers mentioned with theirs. I'll hang on to my receipts and post an update if that changes, but, so far, everything is looking quite nice.
I've got it running via DVI a Gateway FDP2275W, a 22 inch monitor that isn't yet as of November 26th, 2006 listed on CNet's site. I'll post reviews once I see it. The card is handling the challenge of a 1680x1050 monitor remarkably well, with a crisp picture and a sturdy and solid grip of fast-moving windows. It upscales video nicely when stretching Anime video at DVD resolution to an odd "980 and 1/2 p" screen.
And, to the complete and utter astonishment of no one who's ever even heard of OpenGL, DirectX, or video cards with fans and under-dressed action heroines posted on one side, it runs circles around the video port built into my motherboard.