I think most any current generation card will be fine, unless you're doing very high resolution like 1600 X 1200.If you're running at a high resolution you want at least 4MB video memory, most cards have that these days. Also if you're using a high resolution like 1600 X 1200 you should have a "high speed DAC" which is 225Mhz or more. This way you get a high refresh rate, which reduces screen flicker. A 60Hz refresh rate causes eye strain and headaches, 75 or more is nice. A minority of cards can do 75Hz refresh at 1600 X 1200. I don't know what res you're going to work at. Hope this helps more than confuses...
For the PC get a Matrox G400 Max 32MB or the 3dLabs Oxygen card. Both should run about $160-180. The Matrox has a 360mhz RAMDAC and provides 2D performance and image quality that are unmatched. Both cards ship with 32MB so you can run a game or two if you like as well...
Something to watch out for. I wanted to upgrade my video card to the 3dfx 3500 video capture card. It would not work on my system. I eventually found out that my motherboard (less than a year old) would not support it, and could possible burn it out. (so said by the mother board manufacturer. I ended up with a generic Nvidia 32mb card which I am happy with.(Though I would have liked that Vid cap TV card)..
Are you going to be running this on a PC or a MACon a PC most pros will recommend the Matroxgreat card. I just ordered 3 new MAC G4s with a gig of ram in each one of them along with dual ATI cards. I currently use both the ATI on the PC at home and it perfoms wonderfully + most of the machines at work have the Matrox. I would highly recommend the Matrox...
Graphic cards, they are all pretty good these day's, in fact probably even a modest card will do (remember you do not need 3d just a good resolution, colour depth and scan frequency). What you you have not specified is the spec of your machine,.
You will need to check wether you have a PCI or a AGP slot in the PC. Suggest matrox G 200,400.450(they offer dual monitor o/p's) or ATI, their new chipset is said to be excellent by my students (A/V students) But these boards are probably only available in a AGP format, PCI cards seem to be getting a little more tricky to find, 2nd hand try to find a Matrox millenium or again the older ATI cards are excellent. But remember you do not need to spend to much, the expense thes days is in the complex 3d rendering, you do not need this! Check out PCMECH.com Have fun Tony Legg..
Tasks always define your graphics card choice. From what I understood, you will be primarily doing the following: downloading files, sorting/organizing, viewing/browsing, editing and printing. These tasks have one thing in common relative to graphicsemphasis on 2D and features. What it means is that you would want the card to provide best in resolutions, refresh rates, color reproduction, 2D speed and features; like Flat Panel support, dual output, etc. These requirements suggest that you don't really need "the greatest and fastest nFinite-pipeline-and-smokin' 3D accelerator." Although contemporary 3D champions typically come with decent 2D, you can have a great card to cover your needs at a fraction of their cost. Matrox has always been known for their superb 2D quality and features.
Even a several years old Matrox card would satisfy your requirements. Their newest Millennium G550 will cost you about US$130. I would not recommend ATI products, simply because of the cheesy ATI drivers that will crash any OS. I've spent 5 years dealing with different PC graphics cards and ATI drivers were among the worst. As a final remark, I'd recommend you get a nicer monitor with high refresh rates at higher resolutions, lower dot pitch and at least 19 inch in size.
Graphics card would not matter, if the monitor does not match. It's like having the greatest hi-fi player with a set of cheap RadioShack speakers. A good monitor will put a smile on your face for years. Happy computing,.