Now the graphics card was purchased May 2007 and is a EVGA Nvidia 8800 GTS 320MB.
Over the past few months I have been noticing random graphics artifacts on the screen - most noticeable with toolbars turning in a pixelated/colourful mess. This is generally solved by minimizing/maximizing the window.
Last night while I had VLC running and watching a YouTube video in Chrome, my screen flashed and a warning saying that the Nvidia Driver had stopped and had been restarted. Rest of the display was fine, but I did have to close Chrome as it had turned into a white page.
I thought to myself that this must be a sign that after 5 faithful years of 24/7 service that my graphics card is on its way out (though researching the issue does not confirm that) and it was time to update.
However, this is where I need help -- I have not kept up with graphics card technology and wanted to know in what direction I should head in.
I do not play games on my system, and have a console in order to play games on if the mood strikes. Looking a prices of graphics card, I feel that the need to put a $400+ card into the system are no longer required, however I would rather have a card that has a similar design to my current card (fan on card rather than heat sink). I generally watch 1080p video files on the system, and connect my monitor via DVI.
I have always stuck with Nvidia, but have no reasons not to install an AMD card.
I am also thinking that I would take the opportunity to install an SSD into my system as the main boot drive and reinstall Windows at the same time in order to clean out 2.5 years of clutter and any potential driver issues that my occur with the install of new hardware.
My biggest (but possible insignificant) concern is that new cards require more grunt via the PCI Express port than my current motherboard supports -- I need to find out the exact model, though it was a launch P55 board from Gigabyte if that helps until I can provide the information.
Any assistance or have I made this post to long and boring :-)