A lot of PC users play games on their computer system. However, as technology gets better, so does the system requirements of a new game. At some point in time, if you do not upgrade your computer, those games will either be running really slow or completely unplayable. And the best upgrade your computer can have is a video card upgrade.
However, if you plan to play the newest PC games available on the market in high quality and excellent speeds, you have to invest on a powerful video card. If you have an obsolete or a low-end video card, even with the best processor or biggest memory, your game will run at a turtle’s pace if you crank up the quality to today’s standards. These powerful high-end cards cost around $300 or more. So for some people, the best way to save money is to buy used video cards. But how will you check if the video card you’re buying is in good working condition? Is the product authentic? Meaning, is the owner advertising the right model or brand? Let me share some tips.
First and foremost, it is imperative that you test the video card. Install the driver and check the display properties by right clicking your desktop then choosing properties. See if the model displayed is the one the person is actually selling. Or better yet, click on Start then Run. In the dialog box, type in “dxdiag” without the quotes and it’ll bring you to the DirectX window. Click on the display tab and check the brand, model, video memory, etc.
You can also do some research before buying the video card. Check the manufacturer’s website and take a look at the design and its specification. It should match the video card that you are buying. Again, this is just to verify that the seller is selling what he/she ought to be selling. If it’s an ATI Radeon 5770, it should explicitly be.
PCI Express is the standard interface between a video card and a motherboard. But if you still have an AGP-only motherboard, I suggest you upgrade your system first and pronto. New games probably won’t even install on your system. If you’re sure your system can use the card, check the ports at the back of the video card. You must be able to connect it properly to your monitor or it would be useless. Most video cards nowadays use either DVI or HDMI output. If you have a monitor that has a D-Sub (analog) connection, make sure you secure a converter.
Those that I mentioned are just to identify the card. Now, let’s go to the real test. Video cards are often abused by some gamers and they overclock these cards to be able to extract some more power to play games faster and in high quality. However, constant exposure to high temperatures and settings beyond the manufacturer’s specifications is dangerous as it can damage the video card or even render it completely unusable.
Now, play some 3D games. If there are graphical distortions like missing colors, unnecessary lines or wrong pictures even in low resolutions (lower than the video card’s optimal resolution and quality) it can be a telltale sign that the video card may be damaged. If you have tools such as MSI Afterburner, you can check if the clock speed and the memory speed are at the default settings. Check the fan as well if it’s running.
As you can see, it can be quite difficult to scrutinize a second hand video card. But if you can only afford to buy a second hand video card then do so. Ask for warranty (it’s much better if it has shop warranty and with a receipt), get the owner’s contact number just in case then test the video card thoroughly. But again, if you can afford a new one, then go for it. You’re assured of the quality and you have security and warranty. It will always be your choice.