Thanks for the recommendations and advice... and I would welcome any more thoughts anyone might share. I have searched the postings here and found a lot of helpful info. All very much appreciated.
But I'm still struck by the scarcity of comprehensive online reviews and side-by-side comparisons for key components as used daily by photograhers. When it comes to cameras, every pixel gets peeped and re-peeped. But nary a peep (from photog POV) about display cards, the latest film scanners, or low and mid-priced LCDs.
Why are new cameras so sexy and everything else so chopped liver?
There are plenty of reviews of mid- or low-priced LCDs that tell you exactly what you need to know as a photographer.
1) That there is variation in the lighting levels across the screen's surface
2) That the contrast, brightness and color representation of the image changes depending on viewing angle
3) How faithful it is to reproducing reds as reds, greens as greens, blues as blues
4) How black is black, and how white is white
If neither of these are up to snuff, then I don't really see the need for a "photographer's review" of the same monitor; it's already failed the basic tests. I guess the only salveagable points are #3 and #4, which could be helped by calibration unless the values are off by too much.
While I don't know exactly what you
mean by "low and mid-priced LCDs", I'm afraid it may be difficult to find monitors that are good
in that segment. Good for gamers, yes, no problem at all. The focus in that segment is more on the number of milliseconds for refreshing the screen than on photographic reproduction.
As for graphics cards, as long as you're using DVI connectors and the bit depth, resolution and refresh rate are supported in DVI mode, it shouldn't make much of a difference.
PCIe, PCI-X, PCI or AGP should be completely irrelevant for a card primarily used for 2D images, though you might want it to use AGP or PCIe, so that it won't suffer from bandwidth contention on the PCI bus from other peripherals.