Non-gamer: Best 2D Dual-Head card?


Mar 15, 2004
I'm trying to find the best card for a non-gamer. That is, what I do on my PC (other than web browse, write letters, etc.) is video and photo editing. I also run dual monitors.

I'm not looking to drop $300-500 on a CAD/CAM-type card, and I'm not interested in the bleeding edge 3D stuff. I've already had suggestions of the GeForce FX5200 and 5700, various Radeons (9000, 9200, 9800), and even a Matrox G450. Any additions or comments are appreciated. Thanks.


Dec 8, 2002
Save some money and get an ATI 7500... I assume you do not need the card to capture video...

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Best 2D and Multi-head cards are Matrox.

The P650 is a great dual head card best suited for video/image editing.

And it can be upgraded to triple monitor later if need be.

Otherwise the ATI R7500 or the nV FX5200 would be fine for your needs.

Antything below the R7500 will have mediocre 2D and accuity, and anything below the FX5200 would be the same.

Likely your most common options will be an R9200SE and an FX5200SE/XT. Either would do, but the Matrox is really made specifically for the two needs you are asking about.

A G450 is older and at best would equal the quality level of the ATI cards, and the P650 would be significantly better.

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Aug 2, 2002
I agree with <b>TheGreatGreatApe</b> that Matrox cards are the best for 2D and video editing, pghotoshop, etc... Their 2D signal quality is better than most card on the market.

The Parhelia cost might be prohibitive for you, but this card have 3 output. This mean you can run 3 monitor with this card, quite interesting in editing.

If you want to go cheap, I would prefer a Built By ATI Radeon 7500 with dual output. Because most GeForce 5200 are made with "cheap" components that might degrade the video signal quality. I would feel safer to get a Built By ATI Radeon. BBA cards are made with good components and usually have a better signal quality.

Don't forget that if you get a low cost Radeon or GeForce manufacturers have to cut somewhere to offer these cards at low cost.

My choice would be :
1. Matrox Parhelia TripleHead (if you have the money)
2. BBA Radeon 9000/9200 or Matrox G450 DUAL (about the smae price)
3. BBA Radeon 7500
4. GeForceFX 5200
5. Anything else that have 2 output!

It's tricky to use words like <b><font color=green>AMD</font color=green></b> or <b><font color=blue>Intel</font color=blue></b> in a signature some users could think your are biased.
The Parhelia isn't necessary but is very nice, and a P650 (the entry level of the new Matroxs based on the Parhelia) while starting off as dual head is upgradable to triple head at anytime. You get similar component strength at a fraction of an actual Parhelia's cost. I only mention it because someone who looks up Matrox and Parhelia in something like NewEgg/Pricewatch will get far more sticker shock than looking up the Matrox P650.

Definitely sound advice, especially about the quality of the maker, cheap board partners compromise parts and you will notice the difference like you say.

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Former Staff
My 9600 Pro is more than adequate for everything I do in Solidworks. I'd probably go with a 9600 if I had to buy, because they're cheap.

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While a lot of people seem to always suggest the mainstream cards like the 7500 or such, for a non-gamer you really want more compute power than graphics power. This will speed up everything that has to do with rendering, lighting, etc much better than a standard card. Just look at the review for the GTX Titan on here too!

So you really should look into a workstation graphics card if you are in need of some hardcore power for that type of work, and you can get them for under $200 too! I would spend more than $100 in any case myself but....

HOWEVER, I did notice that you said you were only interested in: "video and photo editing. I also run dual monitors." and the other standard tasks we all do.... In that case I would say are you really sure that an upgrade to an Ivy-Bridge processor wouldn't be better? My sister does a lot with graphic design for her job and has no trouble running Photoshop and After Effects off a Intel HD 4000 IGU....not to mention that a good CPU has a lot more to do with your tasks than a GPU actually would. A lot of the processing in the newer versions of these programs can take better advantage of the CPU these days too....

A few of the newer motherboards also have dual DVI or one DVI and one HDMI port these days not to mention that HDMI is generally more versatile.