PNY Verto GeForce GT 520
The GeForce GT 520 is a budget graphics card, no question; at a price tag of just under $60 it’s not intended for anyone who has aspirations of gaming. For people on a very tight budget, however, it has a very attractive price tag, low power draw, and a low heatsink profile.
In terms of gaming, the GT 520 is limited to 1280 resolution and low-medium quality settings at most if you want to achieve decent framerates overall. Further improvements are achievable if you disable antialiasing and ratchet down the eye candy all the way. For someone with an older OEM machine, however, this could be a nice swap-and-drop card, requiring no power supply upgrade or anything else other than a driver update. And make no mistake, there is a considerable market out there for people in this situation or similar. But remember, this isn’t a gaming card in any sense of the word.
There are a couple detractions here though. The first is that the GDDR3 obviously hampers performance, at least on the light gaming front. While it’s fine for HTPC work, the GT 520 won’t be breaking speed records by any stretch, though it’s competent enough for home theater work. The second issue is the fan has an annoying pitch when running at higher RPMs, and this could pose a concern for anyone that has a silent HTPC build. Frankly, with such little horsepower here to begin with, an active cooling fan really isn’t needed anyways; a passive heatsink would have been enough to do the job.
On the upside, there is the potential option of using the GT 520 as a very affordable dedicated PhysX card, and that certainly does offer some value-added benefit here. You could also theoretically run two of these cards in SLI but that’s not really a cost effective solution in our opinion. If you truly want a card that’s capable of some decent gaming then you’re looking at spending about $100, which is a considerable jump up from $60 here. So either go bigger or don’t bother.
The bottom line here is that if you’re on a very tight budget and want a card for home media uses or occasional light gaming, particularly if you have an older PC, then the PNY GT 520 is a respectable option.