Hey, perhaps someone can help me with this query. A year or two back I got a new computer, and it came with a nVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 video card (128mb). The card has worked just fine. The only real video card centric things I ever do is stuff like sending the output to my TV screen and that kind of thing, no big whoop.
Jumping ahead to the now, a friend of mine wanted me to play some game that he said was da absolute bomb. But the game wouldn't load because, as it turns out, the GeForce4 MX 440 card doesn't include some kind of pixel shading support that games are apparently starting to require. I could get over missing out on the game, but I can't help wondering if this pixel shader business might cause problems for me down the road somehow.
Said friend, though, told me he could swap out my card for an nVIDIA GeForce FX 5700LE (128mb) that he happens to have laying around. He knows what he's doing and everything, so that's fine with me. But he's not really up on the tech aspects of this new card, he just knows that it has the pixel shading that the MX400 lacks. So what I'm wondering IS: would swapping to this other card result in any unforseen problems for me? Does it have any hidden pixel-shader-ish type issues that I could run into while trying to send a video out to my TV screen or something? And what's the difference between a FX 5700LE and just a FX 5700?
Naturally, I tried to obtain the answers to these questions using the internet, but the results I got were very confusing and made me cry. I'm hoping this goes a little better.
Not necessary reading, but if you're curious. I'd recommend AnandTech and HardOCP as decent sites to read for hardware reviews.
As far as "issues," I can't think of any. Hardware is, in general, pretty swappable. Plug it into your machine, download the drivers, and you should be good to go. As far as your TV out, just ask your friend if the card he wants to give you supports it. Most newer cards do, in my (limited) experience.
Edit: Hey, your thread title is a play on words, isn't it?
The primary difference between those cards is generational. The 5700 is part of the GeForceFX series, which was the successor to the GeForce4 series and the first to support the DirectX 9 extensions that have become popular: anisotropic filtering, full-screen anti-aliasing, and pixel shading (those were the big three, as I recall; just don't ask me what they mean). The 5700 is from the first generation of DX9 supported nVidia cards, and is the better one (the 5200 was the lower-end model and support was "there" but not useful). Your friend probably has it laying around because he's a gamer and went with one of the ATI cards that were kicking nVidia's ass at the time (or he's recently upgrade to one of the scary new XT cards).
Seeing as they both have 128MB of RAM, you're not losing anything in terms of size of screen or number of colors supported. Otherwise, the feature set is probably identical. Make sure it has two connectors, and that your friend (or you) has a DVI-SVGA connector (unless you have a flat panel) and the breakout box doohickey for your TV-out (the one from your original card might work with the new card too).
The only other potential issue is card quality. But, since the 5700 was the "high end" of its day, you're probably getting a better quality card than the one that came with your PC (which, being a "budget" chipset would likely have been a "budget" card).
I say give 'er.
Edit: I'm torn on whether to even recommend reinstalling your video drivers. nVidia distributes drivers for almost all their cards in the standard "detonator" driver package. You might not even have to reinstall your drivers. If you have problems, though, do reinstall (uninstall, reboot, install, reboot). Doesn't hurt to get the latest drivers as well.
I've been having issues with the latest sets of nVidia drivers (everything past 56.64 causes corruption when changing resolutions), but I'm still running 98SE. Your mileage may vary.
"When people make outlandish claims, without evidence, we stop listening to them--except on matters of faith. I am arguing that we can no longer afford to give faith a pass in this way. Bad beliefs should be criticized wherever they appear in our discourse--in physics, in medicine, and on matters of ethics and spirituality as well. The President of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. Now, if he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ludicrous or more offensive." -- Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason
There is almost no scenario for the home user where upgrading RAM will not help. Especially if you're running a reasonably modern OS on it (i.e. Windows 2000/XP). But even if you're running Windows 98 or Millenium, 128MB RAM is nowhere near enough.