See the next to last paragraph for a comment about your situation - I'm sorry to cut into your topic, but the discussion about video cards lured me in.
I'm interested in non-gaming graphics cards, so 3D's card that FS mentioned sounds like it could be an attractive solution. I read web pages all day long, so 2D clarity is very important. Currently I have an older setup, including a GForce 2 GTX, and that seems to be sufficient for what I do at present. Upgrading will require a new card though.
I do a little bit of graphics in the form of "drawing" fractals, and I'm satisfied with the way they look, but I think that has more to do with the monitor than the card. (Monitor is a 3 month-old Iiyama "Vision Master Pro 454" which replaced an older 17" Vision Master model.) I'm not a professional artist, and don't have commercial intentions, it's just enjoyable to be able to create the images. Aside from that, I think I really don't need all that the even a 5600 or 9600 card offers. The one exception is that there are ways to animate fractals, which I may try to do some day, but the composition of the fractals themselves is mostly a CPU intensive operation. Stringing them together in an animation doesn't really seem to me to require much video processing power.
I'm just trying to scope out what kind of card I'll get for the system I'll build next spring, and 3D's cards look like they may be a real good choice.
I did want to mention to Rick...
Since the discussion turned to these several models of video cards, that you may want to look at Newegg's page for 3D's cards if you happened to not notice earlier. The price ($189) for the VP760 is less than what Future Shock quoted for the VP560! That's not hardly more than half the price of what 3D itself charges! If it would work for you maybe you could save money over the Matrox card. I didn't try to compare features of the two.
As for myself, I'm not interested in gaming or DVD watching, and if a card like, say, 3D's VP560 would be too much, then I suppose other typical Nvidia or ATi cards in the 5600 or 9600 ranges or above would also be totally extravagant. But I will need a card that will work with a P4 motherboard, and I think some of the older ones won't, depending on the board.
What I think is a plus about 3D's cards is what Future Shock mentioned about their drivers. I'm one of those people who has a weakness for upgrading drivers, and with an Nvidia card, upgrading the driver gets to be just about a bimonthly thing. As far as I can tell, after the first couple of 20-something series drivers, none of the later ones really did much of anything besides add a bunch of bloat that I can't or don't even use. Nview is an example.
So I'm curious if people familiar with 3D's cards think that one of them would be a good choice for me.
I wish I could contribute something to jwocky's quandry, but it seems like the only component people haven't mentioned already is the OS itself. Maybe that's an upgrade that would help in the present, and it may be more enduring than any hardware upgrade.
Nice to have found SR btw. I don't know how I missed it earlier (except for there being something like 3 billion websites in "cyberspace")... the info on drives and other topics here is really helpful.
Sorry for my longwindedness; thanks for reading through it.