A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Digital Darkroom > Best video card for photo...

Featured Equipment Deals

The Human Face of Climate Change Read More

The Human Face of Climate Change

Climate change is a topic that interests many activist photographers and Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer, his wife and photographer partner, are no exception. They have created a compelling...

Latest Learning Articles

Featured Member: Katarzyna Gritzmann Read More

Featured Member: Katarzyna Gritzmann

Photo.net featured member Katarzyna Gritzmann talks about photography and portfolio of images.

Best video card for photo editing with duel monitors?

Bill Koenig , Feb 20, 2006; 11:57 a.m.

I know this question has been asked many times, but what video card would you recommend for running photoshop with duel monitors? Also, what if one monitor is a CRT and the other LCD, do I need two different cards? I know that I don't need one of those gaming cards full of ram, I just need a card that will give me the BEST results for photo editing, and color management. Ok, just to cover all of the bases, lets say I want to do some modest gaming down the road, then what am I looking at?

BTW. In regards to the Photo.net search engine. When I did a search for the above question, it came back with info two to three years old. this happens all the time when I'm doing a search. What am I doing wrong? Things are changing so fast, that any info even a year old is out of date. Thanks for any help.


    1   |   2     Next    Last

Dave Nelson - Atlanta, GA , Feb 20, 2006; 01:28 p.m.

ATI or NVIDIA current gen cards will meet all of your needs if you read the box/web page carefully before buying. Check out Newegg.com and just spend about $200 making sure that your computer supports the bus (AGP/PCI Xpress/PCI/etc...) and the card supports duel monitor.

Here is a link to ATI cards at Newegg

Paul - , Feb 20, 2006; 04:45 p.m.

Most threads I have run across on this subject conclude that any current video card, including cheap on-board integrated video, is good enough for photo editing. For dual monitors, you can use a card with 2 outputs, or even use whatever you currently have installed, plus another single output card. I am happy with a dual output GeForce FX 5500.

Gaming, on the other hand, is a whole different ballgame, on which I have never spent a penny or a minute.

Photo-editing money is usually better spent on more RAM than a better video card.

Michele Berti , Feb 20, 2006; 04:55 p.m.

Unless you are interested in doing some videogames with your workstation I suggest you to get a cheap one.

Serge Cashman , Feb 20, 2006; 08:28 p.m.

It's not an easy question to answer. Personally I've used Nvidia a lot and I think without exception their analog video output quality is either inconsistent or consistently bad. That includes midrange Quadros and Gegorces from the last several years.

My current main card is an AGP GF 6600GT made by PNY ($110 or so). I bought it mainly because of the dual DVI output capability and entry-level 3D capabilities (it replaced a dead Quadro in my rather old system)... I would only consider dual-DVI cards if I was buying a card right now. And normally you'd have PCIe, not AGP...

My 6600GT analog quality is substandard (as was Quadro's) compared to a very old Matrox in my older PC used with the same monitors (dual Dell 2001FPs). DVI quality is very good but the colors on two DVI outputs (as opposed to the same ports used with VGA converters) are different, one is yellower... I'm not the only person who noticed this with 6600GT cards.

I still need to try hardware calibration (I would like to buy an Xrite calibrator but can't aford one) but the good news is under XP dual monitors can now be calibrated with the help of the XP color control panel applet that came out last year...

So I don't know... ATI has better reputation as far as display-quality goes, but I haven't used them. And I don't know how their monitor-management works. Nvidia has better reputation in DCC which is very important to me - like performance in Maya for instance. Matrox has great analog output and I suppose decent DVI but are useless for 3D...

Matrox and Nvidia have very mature monitor-management options, that allow you to treat monitors as if they were attached to two different cards - which you would like to have when your monitors are not identical. I'd expect ATI to be able to do the same but can't tell you for sure.

Karsten Anderson , Feb 20, 2006; 11:38 p.m.

it's a hit and miss game. i had a 6600gt that i sold in favor of a cheap $20 card that is too blurry to use, which i am in the process of replacing. i've heard the 5500s are blurry too. you'll get a headache if you get a bad card, test one out first is my only advice before buying. my best advice would be to get a used ti4200, they'll only set you back about $30 and are excellent cards.

Rich B , Feb 21, 2006; 01:02 a.m.

I went throught this process a year or so ago, except that both my monitors are CRT's. I went for the inexpensive Diamond Stealth S80 ATI Radeon 9200SE and it works very well. Probably not available anymore, but I'm sure there'd be something similar

As others have stated, unless you're also doing gaming, no need for an expensive card.

Scott Eaton , Feb 21, 2006; 11:03 a.m.

I've gone through three video cards on my main system the past month. Not because they broke, but because I was testing the cards for friends who were having problems with them.

First, I was unable to distinguish much difference in analog quality between the cards with a 19" LCD. Perhaps the ATI 9800 was a hair crisper than the 6800 GS, but it didn't make up for the fact ATI writes the worst video drivers in the history of civilization. Unlike NVidia, with ATI you often have to download additional utilities to remove old drivers before you load new ones, or your system might crash. I've had great luck with integrated ATI video chips on servers, but I'll never touch an ATI AGP or PCIx card again.

The Nvidia cards have two things going for them. First, Nvidia writes better drivers. Next, Nvidia has a neat little tweak in their calibration panel called 'vibrance control' which allows you to tweak the saturation being pumped by the video card's DAC. I've found this adjustment to be a lifesaver when it comes to dealing with commercial labs and profile issues outside the scope of general color management.

Otherwise, I'd stick to a midrange 5xxx series NVidia card while avoiding the 5200 because it's a dog, or stick to Matrox.

zee andersunn , Feb 21, 2006; 11:26 a.m.

Like Serge, I've also experienced poor performance with Nvidia cards, so I can't recommend them. Matrox and ATI are both great for dual monitor setups, but I give ATI the nod because there is a noticeable difference in text quality (text is much sharper using my ATI cards on both CRTs and LCDs), image quality is slightly better too imho, ATIs are top notch for gaming (Matrox, not so much), and the drivers are more aggressively updated.

Right now I'm using an ATI X800 on my main workhorse and a Matrox Parhelia on my second station. The second computer used to have an ATI 9800 Pro, but that card crapped out after 8 months of use. I think that was my fault though; almost as soon as I bought it, I changed the stock fan on the 9800 out for a quieter model. Even though it was a highly rated fan, it died after a few months, so I put the original fan back on, but it eventually gave out as well.

Anyway, both towers sit under my desk and are hooked up to a Samsung 243T and a Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070 SB. Recently, the Mitsubishi has been sent to the shop for servicing, but that's my usual setup. Both can handle Photoshop CS2 and the other graphics programs I run on dual monitors very well, but again I prefer the ATI for the reasons cited above. AGP technology is on its way out, so you may save some money buying an AGP videocard. If you go with the newer PCI stuff, you'll probably also need a new motherboard and new RAM. Personally, I don't like to scrimp on monitors, videocards, motherboards or RAM; stability, speed, and color fidelity are the most important things to me so that's where I concentrate my funds. When upgrading, I tend to buy a bit more than my current needs and use the equipment as long as possible. This method also guarantees that I have quality backup parts if something poops out.

A few sites you might want to do some research at are:




Happy hunting! :)

Robert Bourdet , Feb 21, 2006; 03:11 p.m.

"I know that I don't need one of those gaming cards full of ram..."

Think again.

I have just upgraded my video to the ATI 9550 AGP with 256 MB of on card DDR Ram - cost ~100.00 US. The amount of video ram makes a huge difference in processing speed when working with large digital photo files in Photoshop or other photo programs. Most "cheap" cards these days come with only 64 MB (which is what I had previously). If you stick to just jpeg files then 64 MB is enough but tiff files sized for high quality printing can easily reach 80MB or beyond and will choke any 64 MB card.

I also have had problems with nVidia cards in the past and have consistently stayed with ATI since. Unfortunately my second monitor has died so I have not been able to try the 9950 in dual head mode.

Signature URL removed. Not allowed per photo.net Terms of Use.

    1   |   2     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses