Do you have to have a 120Hz monitor (as opposed to a 60Hz) for 3D gaming?
Great question, Chris! This is something that NVIDIA and AMD don't really specify on their boxes, and can be a bit confusing when choosing not only a new GPU, but a new TV or monitor. First up, both companies use different forms of 3D technology, on NVIDIA's side we have 3D Vision, with AMD using HD3D technology.
In order to use NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology, yes, you will require a 120Hz monitor. This is because NVIDIA's 3D Vision uses an active shutter system, where each lens of the 3D Vision glasses operates at 60Hz, giving a better 3D experience, not just for the game itself, but your eyes. NVIDIA's 3D Vision also requires 3D Vision-compatible displays, rated at 120Hz.
AMD's HD3D on the other hand, is a much more open environment. They don't restrict 3D to specific "AMD HD3D-compatible" screens, which makes them a viable alternative to NVIDIA's 3D Vision. AMD just need 120Hz, but the glasses can be from the monitor manufacturer, and not specific AMD HD3D models.
There are some monitors that will reportedly work at 1080p but just 30Hz (60Hz total, screen limit) but this would result in a sub-par experience, not just for frame rate, but the 3D would most likely not look good at all. Our recommendation is to get a proper 120Hz screen. Even if you were to get a 3D Vision-compatible monitor, you're not locked to just NVIDIA's 3D, you can always use AMD's... it just gives you a monitor that has more life in it, and then you can upgrade in 1-2 years time and not have to worry.
I hope that's helped you!
What's the best value for money video card to buy right now? I game on my 46" Full HD TV and play mostly FPS, I'd like to spend less than $300.
Great question, right now you're sitting between a great number of GPU choices from both AMD and NVIDIA. NVIDIA have their great 500-series, and 600-series, so you could scoop up something like the MSI GeForce GTX 570 Twin Frozr II, for just $249.99 from Newegg.
On the Red Camp, you could grab MSI's Radeon HD 7950 Twin Frozr III card, which sports 3GB of RAM for $319.99 after Rebate from Newegg, a little out of your $300 budget, but the performance is worth it, and it would last you until next-gen games arrive. This card sports 3GB of RAM, too, so you could crank the AA and AF in your games without worrying too much of performance loss.
With either of these GPUs, you could run most games maxed out at your TVs resolution of 1920x1080, with the AMD card however, you have enough VRAM to crank the AA and AF settings to max in most games, without losing much performance. This is because the Radeon HD 7950 has 3GB of RAM versus the GeForce GTX 570s 1.2GB of VRAM.
But, you have two choices there - one from NVIDIA, one from AMD. We're not biased, but both video cards perform great and will last you for a considerable amount of time for the future. I'd be leaning more toward AMD, simply because it's a newer card, on a newer architecture, with more features, more RAM and a quieter, better cooler.
But, if you like NVIDIA, the GTX 570 is definitely no performance slouch!