Advice and Thoughts: My next old video card

Hello everyone.

I heard last week that nVidia is making bold claims about being able to source sufficient chips for their video cards later this year. This got me to thinking that my cheap self may be able to pry my wallet open for a newer old video card later this year as the market would soften if new cards are more available.

My computer is an ancient HP 505B Athlon II x4 645 (3.1ghz), 8 gb ram with an nVidia GeForce GT 640 OEM (1 gb GDDR5 ram).

As I see it, my computer is adequate to my use case for the next while. My weakest part is the GPU. I have two monitors: an ASUS VH236H (1080) and an Acer B286HK (2K/4K). The GT 640 can’t smoothly much of anything in 4K so I have both monitors set to 1080 and I can watch two videos full screen at the same time without any apparent issue.

So that leaves me looking at video cards, but the specs really don’t seem to be of a lot of help. Some list max resolution (which is the key for running dual monitors as I see it) and some don’t. I figure I need 5400x2160 resolution minimum. For ram I would think I need more than 2 gb. Obviously, the card needs to have HDMI or DVI for the Asus monitor. The Acer has all the things.

The Narra6 motherboard has a PCI Express x16 slot for the video card. It’s circa 2011, so I assume it is, at best, v2. Possibly v1. I assume I will not be getting all I can out of the video card until I jump ahead with another motherboard in a couple years.

Any thoughts on which used card from the last decade would fit my use case (and cheapness)? I am not particularly wedded to nVidia (The GT 640 was just the best card I could find for $26 when I bought it, and it has GDDR5!) so any other brand would work.

Thanks in advance.


This is a terrific question! Looking forward to what suggestions come from it.

I’m in a similar spot, and also am looking at an upgrade from an OLD nVidia card to something a little bit newer… but not by too much.

@jastombaugh Thank you for boosting this post. I’m hoping some folks with experience of the more modern GPUs will stop by and share. I get lost quickly in the marketing bs pretending to be specs when I go looking.

Is there a site where I can sort cards by max resolution (multi-monitor support), memory (qty/type/etc) and price? The ones I’ve found haven’t made comparing actual capabilities easy. They are focused on gaming stats, which is fair enough, but I’m looking for bang for the buck casual performance capabilities.

Curious what is your budget?

Loaded question alert!!! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Budget around $100~. What’s an upgrade from. An nVidia GTS250 w 1g vram? Dual monitors w DVI connections.

I’m sorta with @jastombaugh on the budget. But: Since I am looking ahead to later in the year, my expectation is that a $175 card on the used market today will be more like a $120 card in the fall. “If”. Always “if”.

The thing I need to crack is figuring out which cards are up to doing what I want and what are the threshold specs.

I was going to search some options that match budget because that’s easier to match than minimum specs. There are many factors to consider. With 4k there is displaying 4k, streaming 4k, editing 4k, gaming in 4k etc. All of these different ways of using your monitor and PC will require different specs to handle. Your CPU is as much of a factor as well along with your motherboards PCIe slot and memory. 4k isn’t very budget friendly if you want to do anything outside of displaying it.

Sticking to the question I would say you need:

  • Min. 4GB GDDR5 to handle most display tasks in 4K
  • This is based on GTX 1050 which is a 4k rated card or the TI version which would be ideal once you upgrade your motherboard with a V3 slot.
  • RX470 or 580 would be AMD equivalents
  • You need a card that states: Multimonitor Yes
  • Max resolution typically means the resolution that both ports can run the monitors at. However some manufacturers are sneaky so you have to validate on an individual basis. Minimum here would be your monitors native resolution.
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@dasgeek thank you for this. I am going to research these cards and see if I can wrap my head around this. As I said, I am not in a blazing hurry and I have time to wait out the market.

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Go here

  • filter the cards on the left
  • sort the cards at the top of the columns
  • select the cards you want to compare
  • click “compare selected”
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Thank you for replying. I have played around on that site before, but I still have to go elsewhere to find the max resolution and other specs. That’s why I am trying to narrow the field to some “known” possibles. I’m staring at a wall of video cards and I have no easy way of excluding the cards that won’t work for my use case. It is quite overwhelming.