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BEST VIDEO CARD BRANDS & VENDORS FOR UPGRADES

Brands for Video Card Upgrades

Approximately 40 different brands of PCIe video cards are available for an upgrade. However most video card brand differences are small and cards of the same model provide similar performance because:

Sometimes the brand logos are the only real difference. But some general criteria can be useful in evaluating brand differences and selecting graphics cards upgrades from the best video card brands.

Criteria

Price – Because video cards of the same model are so similar, many recommend choosing an upgrade card primarily on price and going with the lowest price card, which often might mean finding one on sale or with the biggest mail-in rebate. 

Reputation and reliability – Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive evaluation or index of video card brand reputation and reliability.  Forums are filled with users recommending one brand or another and user reviews general have a mix of favorable and unfavorable comments about upgrading with different brands.  One cynic wrote in a forum “The best video card company is the one that hasn't screwed you over YET”.  Nevertheless, there are companies with favorable reputations earned from a long history of providing top rated video cards, and often other computer components. The best video card brands generally try to protect a valuable reputation with better quality products and service. Therefore I recommend purchasing your upgrade video card from one of these unless favorable reviews and significantly lower price strongly point to another.   These companies include (alphabetically):

• ASUS • MSI
• EVGA • Sapphire
• Gigabyte • HIS
• XFX

Cooling – The heatsink/fan assembly is perhaps the component most often modified from the reference design and does create real differences between brands in temperature and noise levels.  Temperature is the enemy of any computer system or component. It affects the stability and life of components. If an upgrade video card contributes to building up heat inside the system, it can affect other components as well.  Higher temperatures may also limit the ability to overclock components, and require more, larger, or faster case fans to dispel the hotter air, which in turn can contribute to increased noise. Fortunately reviews generally provide test information on both heat and noise levels which should be reviewed carefully when upgrading.

Warranties – Companies typically offer warranties of 2 or 3 years.  At least one, on some cards, offers lifetime and double-lifetime warranties. The “double lifetime” means it transfers with the card to a second user.  Of course, longer warranties are preferable and add value to the video card.

Overclocking – Video cards can be overclocked (OC), or adjusted to fun faster, by increasing the factory set default speeds for the core, shader, and memory clocks. Most recent video cards provide software to make simple changes to increase the default settings. Some care must be taken to change settings in tandem to enure stability, but the software generally provides help with this. Note that in some cases overclocking the cards, or overclocking them too much, may void the manufacturer's warranty.

Alternatively, one can purchase cards that are already factory OC. Some vendors sell several OC cards with different settings, sometimes labeling one as "superclocked". But note that some "supercocked" cards may be slower than just "overclocked" cards from another vendor, so when looking for an OC card it's best to compare actual core, shader, and memory clock speeds. An advantage of factory overclocked cards is that the manufacturer's warranty is still good with factory OC.

 

Online Vendors for Video Card Upgrades

Amazon.com is one of the most reputable brands on the Internet with excellent customer service. It has grown from a bookseller to a diverse company with many product lines, including video cards, for which it has a large product selection and good prices. Among computer enthusiast, one online vendor is renowned for low prices and a high level of customer service: Newegg.com.  They also have the best site navigation system, making it easy to find and compare video cards, frequent sale items, a large selection of products, comprehensive product information, tools to enable direct comparison of similar products, a large base of user reviews, and direct links to product and manufacturer sites. Amazon and Newegg are good places to start your vendor search for graphics card upgrades.

Disclosure - This site is affiliated with Amazon and Newegg and serves advertisements and links to purchase their products .  The site does not recommend Amazon and Newegg because it affiliate with them, rather this site affiliates with the two because it recommends them. We believe they are the best all-around online sources for video card upgrades.

After Amazon and Newegg, you might want to use your favorite online shopping search engine to see if any vendors offer a lower price for your target upgrade card.  Good search engines for video cards include:

Other vendors with good prices, selection, and service for a video card upgrade are:

Once you receive your upgrade card, you are ready to install it – which is relatively easy and covered on the next page.


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