Well, I did up my taxes and my wife and I determined there was a little bonus for each of us to get something we wanted. My wife decided to look into a new camera and I went for my new graphics card.
I spent a decent amount of effort looking for a card that would meet all the requirements. My current NVidia GeForce 7300 LE was a model a couple years obsolete, and I knew from Andrew's computer and my work laptop that something in the 8000 or 9000 series would suffice.
I first looked at prices and was considering a GeForce 8400 or even a 9400 but then I found this webpage and realized that they were lower end for casual gamers and regular desktops. While it would have been a big improvement over the old card, I wanted something that could run Dawn of War II with Tyranids on the map.
Finally I found a GeForce 9800 GT on sale in one of the local store's website (so no shipping costs) and while it was a bit more than I was looking to pay, it promised to give me the performance for the foreseeable future that I wanted. I picked it up and spent last night working to install it. There were some difficulties... a secondary heat sink had three prongs in the way, the power cord was too short, Sean and my wife were tired and cranky... but finally I got it in and turned it on.
Of course, it was not perfect. The power cord could not reach the DVD player and video card at the same time (so I'll be looking for an extension today) and the drivers were on a DVD that I could not use... and ASUS' website was down last night... and my download rate was pathetic and took three hours to download the drivers (it only took 7 minutes this morning though, I think windows was updating last night too). Sigh. Finally this morning drivers were updated, card was functioning, my resolution was back to 1920x1200, and I started Eve.
Old Graphics Settings:
NEW Graphics Settings:
Click those babies to get a good look at the differences. Of course, the second picture is with everything turned on, probably more than I require. I'll do some real testing and find the sweet spot in terms of effects and FPS. I'll have to try some Dawn of War II too and see if I can up the settings a bit.