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Questions On Upgrading To A Better Video Card


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#1
Webslinger64

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I'm wanting to install a good video card on my PC. Currently everything is "onboard" and the gaming I do, which isn't much, kinda blows. I've gotten into Unreal Tournament 2004 and want to find a good video card that would support gaming nicely.

I have been looking locally for a used video card as it seems like there are lots for sale. The one thing I'm noticing in these ads is that all of the video cards listed for sale require PCI Express slots. I have an old Pentium 4, 1.8GHz 512MB/533MHz with 2 GB's of RAM with 6 empty PCI slots (no PCI Express). I'm using this PC as a means to become more knowledgeable about hardware upgrades and such. So with all the empty PCI slots and 1 AGP slot, there's room to grow.

I guess PCI Express is the latest/greatest for video cards, but being that mine are PCI slots, can anyone recommend a good gaming video card? Also, do they still sell video cards for PCI slots, or has that gone the way of the dinosaur? I'm totally a rookie when it comes to video cards, is it wise to purchase a used one locally or can I find a good one for under $50.00 brand new? I'm seeing quite a few used video cards for sale for about $15.00-$25.00. I see a lot of ads for Radeon and GeForce video cards, are they the most popular brands?

What are the important specifications to look for in a video card that would support gaming, movie/video watching, etc.?

Also, I've heard it's important to have a power supply unit that's 400 watts. Mine is 300 Watts. Should I look to upgrade that as well?

Thanks,

Greg

P.S. just to provide an example...I've found a used ATI Radeon 9600 Pro 256 AGP Video Card for $30.00. Would that be a good choice?

Edited by konakula29er, 07 January 2009 - 12:46 AM.

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#2
Troy

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Hi Greg,

There still are some decent AGP cards around - and manufacturers do make some new cards on this interface. Run a quick search on Newegg for AGP graphics cards and you'll see what I mean.

Then compare to the hierarchy chart found in this review (last page), and you should be able to pinpoint what's decent for you.

A graphics card needs clean, stable power. How much depends on each specific card. If your 300W PSU is just a cheapie job, I would look at upgrading it anyway.

The 9600 Pro is a basic card, check out where it is on the hierarchy chart... and then try and find one that's higher up for similar pricing.

Cheers

Troy
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#3
Webslinger64

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Hi Greg,

There still are some decent AGP cards around - and manufacturers do make some new cards on this interface. Run a quick search on Newegg for AGP graphics cards and you'll see what I mean.

Then compare to the hierarchy chart found in this review (last page), and you should be able to pinpoint what's decent for you.

A graphics card needs clean, stable power. How much depends on each specific card. If your 300W PSU is just a cheapie job, I would look at upgrading it anyway.

The 9600 Pro is a basic card, check out where it is on the hierarchy chart... and then try and find one that's higher up for similar pricing.

Cheers

Troy


Hey Troy,

What an excellent resource the hierarchy chart is going to be for me as I shop for a video card. I believe I'll determine a video card or two for my purposes then buy a PSU based on their requirements.

Also, does it really matter whether I get a video card that's AGP or PCI - ex: is it better to purchase an AGP video card than a PCI video card)?

Thanks for the information. Very helpful!

Greg

Edited by konakula29er, 07 January 2009 - 10:25 AM.

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#4
Troy

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Yes, AGP cards are a much better option.
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#5
Webslinger64

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Yes, AGP cards are a much better option.


AGP video card installed. Man, what a difference. Thanks for the help :)
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#6
Troy

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Great news. :)

If you don't mind me asking, what did you get?

Troy
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#7
Webslinger64

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Great news. :)

If you don't mind me asking, what did you get?

Troy


Well, I actually got a ATI Radeon 9600 Pro from an friend of a friend. Didn't have to purchase it, he gave it to me. It's not top of the line, that's for sure, but for what I do and what I had, it's a big difference.
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#8
Webslinger64

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OK, now I've gone and done it. The ATI Radeon 9600 Pro I mentioned above has been removed. I intend to put that into my wife's computer.

This morning I bought a GeForce 6600 256MB DDR AGP from a guy here locally. This video card is virtually brand new. I fitted the video card into the AGP slot and when I turned on the computer to boot up, it immediately began emitting a loud and constant high pitch tone. Thoughts?

Greg
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#9
Webslinger64

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OK, now I've gone and done it. The ATI Radeon 9600 Pro I mentioned above has been removed. I intend to put that into my wife's computer.

This morning I bought a GeForce 6600 256MB DDR AGP from a guy here locally. This video card is virtually brand new. I fitted the video card into the AGP slot and when I turned on the computer to boot up, it immediately began emitting a loud and constant high pitch tone. Thoughts?

Greg


DOH! Nevermind...just realized the video card has to be plugged into the power supply unit. Plugged it in, turned PC on and it's fine. Phew! :)
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#10
Webslinger64

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Great news. :)

If you don't mind me asking, what did you get?

Troy


Troy,

I've been doing some additional searching for a good video card and using your Graphics Card Hierarchy link to determine which ones I might consider. That link has been tremendously helpful for me. Initially, I ended up purchasing a Radeon 9600 PRO, which you initially said was a basic card. I ended up getting a GeForce 6600 a few days later. I put the 9600 PRO in my wife's computer and the GeForce 6600 in mine. The difference was obvious. The 6600 was a much better card.

However, I'm still wanting to find an even better video card than the 6600. I have a few in mind. A couple are GeForce and a couple are Radeon. My question then is concerning the Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart. It does a good job of breaking down the various cards into tiers, but if I'm looking to compare a GeForce 7600 GS to a Radeon X1600 XT, can I assume their classified fairly equally because they are in groups that are side by side in the hierarchy chart?

I talked with a guy the other day who is selling a GeForce 7600 GS. I mentioned the hierarchy chart to him and he said that to find an equivalent Radeon card I should look directly across from the GeForce 7600 GS grouping to the Radeon side and then look two tiers up. So in essence, he's saying that the Radeon cards in the grouping that contains these video cards,

X800 XL, X800 GTO2/GTO16, Mobility X800 XT, HD 2600 PRO, Mobility HD 2600 XT, 3650 (DDR2), Mobility 3650

would be equal in performance to the GeForce 7600 GS. Is that how I should read that hierarchy chart?

Greg

Edited by konakula29er, 14 January 2009 - 08:49 PM.

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#11
Troy

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Tom's Hardware have tested them and put them side by side as approximate equals... But it is just a guide.

I guess it depends on the guy who's selling the 7600GS, really... I think he's just trying to make a sale.

Troy
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#12
Webslinger64

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Tom's Hardware have tested them and put them side by side as approximate equals... But it is just a guide.

I guess it depends on the guy who's selling the 7600GS, really... I think he's just trying to make a sale.

Troy


LOL, you have a good point there. It's good to know that they are listed side by side as equals. That makes for a better chart to learn from. Thanks for your input Troy.
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#13
Webslinger64

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Tom's Hardware have tested them and put them side by side as approximate equals... But it is just a guide.

I guess it depends on the guy who's selling the 7600GS, really... I think he's just trying to make a sale.

Troy


OK, so a few more questions about video cards as I've done a bit more research. My computer is a Pentium 4 1.8GHz/256k Cache/400MHz FSB. I'm in the process of upgrading my CPU and just ordered a Pentium 4 3.06GHz HT/512k cache/533MHz FSB. As I look at AGP video graphic cards - and I have found a couple of sites/forums that list the top 5 AGP video cards - one of the things I've noticed is the core clock speed on these cards, can I also call that bus speed? As an example:

If the Sapphire Radeon HD 3850 100228L Video Card has a core clock speed of 668MHz and the HIS IceQ Turbo Radeon HD 2600 XT Video Card's core clock speed is 820MHz is that overkill considering my top FSB speed for my CPU is 533MHz?

Do I need to look for an AGP graphics card that has a core clock speed of 533MHz or less? Also, is it the core clock speed or the effective memory clock speed that I should compare to my CPU's processor speed (533MHz)?

This link here http://www.tomshardw...ard,2118-6.html

shows the two best AGP video cards from the link you provided earlier in this post, but both cards have 800MHz and 670MHz core clock speeds respectively.

This link here http://compreviews.a...tp/AGPVideo.htm

shows a top 5 list for AGP video cards. The only one listed that has a core clock speed less than the 533MHz FSB of my CPU is the GeForce 7600 GS 512MB AGP. So, based on my research it looks like that would be the best card for the choice based on my mobo and CPU's capabilities. Would you agree or am I getting things confused with the core clock speed and FSB speed of my CPU? :)
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#14
Webslinger64

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Just looking for opinions on the following two video cards based on my system specs.

System: Pentium 4/3.06GHz/512k Cache/533MHz FSB.

The two cards I'm looking at are:

PNY GeForce 7600 GS 512MB/400MHz AGP

and

Sapphire Radeon X1650 PRO 512MB/450MHz AGP

Just curious!
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#15
Troy

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Well they're on the same tier... So there'd be negligible differences either way, but nothing you'd notice.

Get whatever's cheaper. :)
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