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Graphics card for photoshop/illustrator

Posted on 2009-06-28
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I have an old computer, with a 2.4 ghz celeron processor, 512 mb ram and a GeForce4 MX 420 graphics card. Not sure how much memory the graphics card has, but most likely only 64mb

I use the computer for light photoshop/illustrator work. I am now most likely going to upgrade the RAM.

I am also thinking about upgrading the graphics card. Due to the fact that the computer doesnt have any PCI Express ports, I can only upgrade to AGP video cards. Will there be a significant difference in performance with regards to Photoshop CS4/Illustrator CS4 if I upgrade to a 256MB AGP graphics card? Why/why not? Thanks a lot in advance.
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Question by:p221
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robofix earned 180 total points
ID: 24730884
in terms of photoshop and illustrator performance, you shouldn't expect a major boost from upgrading your graphics card, since both apps are 2D, not 3D. As long as the card delivers the required resolutions you're fine and shouldn't see a performance boost.
Better upgrades would be RAM, CPU and mainboard (newer mainboard --> higher front side bus frequency), in that order. Start with the RAM upgrade, which alone should make a BIG difference, if you don't want to spend on an entirely new PC.
Check the mainboard manual to see, what CPUs the mainboard would fit.
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by:captain
captain earned 70 total points
ID: 24730896
Hi

You will see some improvement if you make use of the enhanced Video card optimisation, but given the spec that your machine is any upgrade to another card is not going to benefit you significantly.

Assuming you want to use this machine and not upgrade all of it, a maximum upgrade to 4Gb will be relatively cheap and will give you the most noticeable benefit.

As graphic processing is depending on RAM to make changes and will use slower swap file space on your hard drive when it runs out, an increase here makes most sense.

I would order online the most RAM your system can take, if you go to http://www.crucial.com/ you can get a matching upgrade by selecting your MB manufacturer and model. Depending were you are it makes sense to order from them or find a retailer closer to you.

If you have still something left in your budget look out for the Sapphire HD3850 AGP graphics card which has had good reviews.

Ideally you would need to upgrade to another CPU (non Celeron, so it is worth checking out if your MB can take a P4 and see if your budget stretches taht far and you will get yourself a nice little setup.

hth
capt.
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by:captain
ID: 24730904
@robofix, Photoshop as part of CS4 is using GC acceleration for its 3D engine, so technically this will use GC driver specific elements. Although at 512RAM and a Celeron I doubt it is much used at present...
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by:robofix
ID: 24730986
@captain,
yes, in fact Photoshop CS4 comes with a 3D engine, but barely anybody uses it. 95% of PS' functionality are 2D.
The author should first invest in a RAM upgrade, since RAM is very cheap these days, or, if he plans to spend more, buy a newer machine or, alternatively, have a more thorough upgrade, changing mainboard, RAM and CPU. In the latter case, you would naturally also change to a newer graphics chip and a pci express card.
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by:p221
ID: 31597661
Thanks a lot guys!
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