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What graphics card do you recommend and why?


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#1
NCWaterfowler

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I currently have an ATI 7500 (AGP) and am looking to upgrade it. I enjoy playing some 3D games and would like to put ~$150 +/- into a new video card that will let me play my games. I realize that a bigger budget would be better, but hope that I'm not being too unrealistic.

Here's my basic system info if it helps....

Compaq EvoD300s
Itel P4 @ 1.5mhz
512 RAM (hope to be adding more soon)

Anyhow, it needs to be: NVIDIA GeForce 3/4/FX/6 series (Geforce 4MX series not supported) or ATI Radeon 8500/9000/X family cards or newer. I'm putting together a list of cards to consider and figured that folks here would probably have a good idea about what I should be looking at.

So far I've only got just a couple of cards on my list:

Diamond Viper 9600XT 256k (but it says 128k mem interface? huh? help!)
Core @ 500mhz
Mem @ 600mhz
~$150

ATI Radeon 9800Pro 256k
Core @ 380mhz
Mem @ 680mhz
~$180

Hope you'll help to add others or tell me ones to avoid. Post up your thoughts and recommendations, SOON...I've got a new copy of SH3 that I'm itching to turn up the settings on, at least a little. :tazz:

Edited by NCWaterfowler, 18 August 2005 - 08:49 PM.

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#2
austin_o

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Hi. I would suggest doing some searching with google, and reading reviews. Since you know how you intend to use you computer, you can apply the information you find accordingly. Then you can make an informed decision on your own.

The 256K or 128K usually means how much memory (RAM) the video card has available to use, independent of system RAM. Just like system RAM, more is better and also translates to more $$$
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#3
SomeGuy05

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Personally I would go with a RADEON 9600XT. It's been a solid card for me for some time (as well as some friends). Just make sure it's not the "All In Wonder" version, they sacrifice gaming power for bells and whisles you're probably not going to use. It retails for about $170, probably much less online.

I would not recommend the 9800 Pro for your setup. It'll cost you a decent amount more than the 9600XT, but won't give you a noticable difference in performance. The reason being; From other techs and users I've talked with, you need about a 3Ghz+ CPU to get the full potential out of the card. But if you can get a great price on one and plan to upgrade CPU/RAM sometime soon, it's your call.
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#4
NCWaterfowler

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I would not recommend the 9800 Pro for your setup. It'll cost you a decent amount more than the 9600XT, but won't give you a noticable difference in performance. The reason being; From other techs and users I've talked with, you need about a 3Ghz+ CPU to get the full potential out of the card. But if you can get a great price on one and plan to upgrade CPU/RAM sometime soon, it's your call.

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:tazz:

My 9800 Pro got here yesterday. HUGE improvement from where I was. I may upgrade CPU as well, if not, card may find a home in new system in a year or two.

Thanks for the input, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on a new card. :)
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#5
warriorscot

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I would definatley get yourself a better cpu.
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#6
SomeGuy05

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:)

My 9800 Pro got here yesterday.  HUGE improvement from where I was.  I may upgrade CPU as well, if not, card may find a home in new system in a year or two.

Thanks for the input, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on a new card. :)

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No problems at all there :tazz: If you got a good deal on it, you just have to grab it, especially when you're really itching for a new VGA (been there). You're not going to get any worse performance with yours than a 9600XT, it's just a little overkill for your CPU though. Back when I had the dilema about which of the two to chose, the 9800 Pro was still $500, so I was left with little choice. You made a good move though, the 9800 Pro has been a notoriously popular card with gamers, and obviously has made a huge difference regardless of whether or not your CPU is unlocking its full potential. I'd check the specs on your board and see what the capacity is for CPU's just for kicks. P4 2.66Ghz chips are only about $140 retail now, and I've seen (and bought) a 3.0Ghz on sale (Fry's Electronics) for $170. If you're at all interested in putting up any more money on your setup for some more speed, you may find that upgrading your CPU a Ghz or so may really start to unlock some of the serious power in the card.

Anyway, good choice, and good luck :)
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#7
NCWaterfowler

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Talk to me about CPUs and what requirements I need to meet so that I don't have to replace my board.

Here's some info on what I've got...

P4 1.5 mhz
400 fsb
478 Socket
854 Chipset



Here are some questions I have...

1- I have to buy a 478 socket, right?

2- Any FSB size is compatible, correct?

3- Is a card with HT an option, or feasible?

Is this a good option: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819116175

Thanks for any additional info & input.
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#8
SomeGuy05

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P4 1.5 mhz
400 fsb
478 Socket
854 Chipset
Here are some questions I have...

1- I have to buy a 478 socket, right?

2- Any FSB size is compatible, correct?

3- Is a card with HT an option, or feasible?

Is this a good option: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819116175

Thanks for any additional info & input.

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1. If your motherboard is a socket 478, then yes, an Intel socket 478 processor is all that will work.

2. ATI lists no FSB requirements for their 9800 series cards (or any other models that I've seen). But that's just another one of those things that affects how much performance you are getting compared to how much perfomance you could be getting from that card. 400Mhz is a bit outdated however, especially for gaming. An 800Mhz FSB is generally the standard these days, though militant gamers demand at least 1033Mhz. I have no glaring issues at 800Mhz.

3. HT is always an option, and feasible. Most P4's over 2.5Ghz are HT. You can get several different opinions on how much of a difference HT actually makes, but I've never heard it considered a bad thing.

The thing to keep in mind if you're looking at a new CPU (you linked the one I currently use coincidentally), is the CPU capacity of your motherboard. I took the liberty of looking up your PC's specs and upgrade ranges since 3Ghz seems a bit high for a PC that, stock, has a 1.5Ghz CPU and a 400Mhz FSB. It appears 2.2Ghz is the maximum that particular board can handle, so the 3.0Ghz chip you linked would not work on that motherboard.

Bottom line, if your current setup is running all your favorite apps to your satisfaction, you're doing ok. If it's still not fast enough for you, it may be time to start thinking about a few upgrades. That obviously comes down to avaliable cash. A significant motherboard upgrade usually means you'll need the new CPU as well, a different type of RAM, a higher wattage power supply, better cooling (case fans, heatsink, etc). New motherboards generally require quite a bit more than just a new board and chip.

Just some things to think about.
(I know, probably frustrating, believe me I've been there)
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#9
NCWaterfowler

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I took the liberty of looking up your PC's specs and upgrade ranges since 3Ghz seems a bit high for a PC that, stock, has a 1.5Ghz CPU and a 400Mhz FSB. It appears 2.2Ghz is the maximum that particular board can handle, so the 3.0Ghz chip you linked would not work on that motherboard.

Bottom line, if your current setup is running all your favorite apps to your satisfaction, you're doing ok. If it's still not fast enough for you, it may be time to start thinking about a few upgrades. That obviously comes down to avaliable cash. A significant motherboard upgrade usually means you'll need the new CPU as well, a different type of RAM, a higher wattage power supply, better cooling (case fans, heatsink, etc). New motherboards generally require quite a bit more than just a new board and chip.

Just some things to think about.
(I know, probably frustrating, believe me I've been there)

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Upgrading to 2.2 from 1.5 would help, I'm sure, but I'd rather jump up a little bit more. Is there a board/chip combo that I could get that would allow me to use my existing RAM (133 SDRAM) and possibly not have to make all of the necessary upgrades such as power, fan, etc. I'd like to increase my speed/power, but do it at a reasonable cost.
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