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I need help choosing a graphics card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 9, 2005 3:20:45 PM

Hello everyone,

I need some help. I just purchased a Dell 2405 FPW monitor. I have one at work is it is awesome. I know that I will need to upgrade my graphics card and this is where I need the help since there are so many to choose from. First my system is a Dell Dimension 8200 that I bought in 2002. I believe my current card is a 64mb GeForce4 (Model P73? data off card). Dell tells me I have both PCI and AGP slots. Not sure what type of AGP slot it is. I opened my box it looks like the current card is in the AGP slot. In one of the PCI slots I have an ATI TV Wonder VE tuner card.

I don’t do much gaming, primarly CAD/CAM & 3D graphics programs such as AutoCAD and SolidWorks, watch TV w/ tuner card, & watch DVD’s from my ROM drive. I can spend 2-300$. Dell told me that I cannot put a graphics card on my system over 128mb. Some input would be great.

Should I get just a graphics card or an All-in-wonder. I don’t know if I should upgrade the TV card. Can I play HD content on the 2405 FPM?? or is my current card good enough.

Thanks in advance.

More about : choosing graphics card

December 9, 2005 3:24:24 PM

An ATI X800 AIW card would probably be best for you.
December 9, 2005 4:45:39 PM

I don't think I'd agree with Rich on this one. An All-in-wonder card isn't going to give you any increased functionality over the TV card you already own.

If you do alot of CAD, you'll want to stay with Geforce because their drivers work better with OpenGL pro apps.

So if you're not playing any games, you're probably best off with a cheap Geforce 6200. Frankly though, I'm not sure if you'd see much of a difference over your Ti4200.

Why exactly did you want to replace your 4200?
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December 9, 2005 4:53:49 PM

He has a PCI(non-express) slot and an AGP slot. That limits him to something like a 6600 or simmilar - which is actually a huge step up and is cheap(win-win). I'd focus on the coolest design, though. Going from 64MG to 256MB is going to feel like strapping a rocket to a VW Bug.

The MSI 6600 series seems to run decently cool - about 120F - so it should be fine(Dimmension cases aren't known for good airflow, generally speaking). Add a slot fan and pop open a 3.5 bay cover if the heat is still too high.
December 9, 2005 6:07:19 PM

Quote:
He has a PCI(non-express) slot and an AGP slot. That limits him to something like a 6600 or simmilar - which is actually a huge step up and is cheap(win-win).


He says he doesn't game. How is it a huge step up from a Ti4200?

I doubt he'd even notice a difference in a CAD program.
December 10, 2005 7:24:08 PM

First thanks for the input.
Cleeve:
I wasn't sure if I can support HD type content on this monitor and definatly not with this TV Card. You are right I may do just a little bit of games but not often. Mostly CAD, SolidWorks, GibbsCAM - it uses OpenGL graphics. The main reason I believe I need to upgrade my graphics card is that it does not support the 1920x1200 native resolution of the Dell 2405 FPW.

A few questions I had was is it better to use DVI or VGA connection? I am under the impression from Dell tech support that the largest card my system will support is a 128mb?? Last question is about AGP slots. I am under the impression that the AGP slot is better to use than a PCI (non-express) slot. I don't know what my slot will support or what the difference in AGP slots are. In some specs for cards I see it call out an AGP connection or AGP 4x, 8x, etc. ?

Plekto, I have worried about my unit getting too warm. It has never been a problem before but it is in a cabinet in my entertainment center and it does get a little warm from time to time.

Thanks again
December 10, 2005 11:08:16 PM

Video memory is the card's deal - if it has 1 gig on it, then it has 1 gig on it(in theory at least - IF such a beast existed - lol)

AGP is way way WAY better. Like MFM Hard drives(circa 1990) versus SATA. Thankfully, you have an AGP slot, so life is good :)  Your MB is a standard 8x slot, like most all motherboards since 2000 or so.

As for heat:
1: Rear vents - those fancy grills/mesh areas? - made to look good and satisfy OSHA requirements. Solution? Take out with a Dremel(complete dissassembly required, of course) - and install a proper wire screen fan. 100-300% better airflow. Drops most systems by 5-8C.

2:Slot fan. Two slots away from the video card is ideal(one inch between the two fans is good). Not needed, though, if the video card vents the exhaust out of the system in a simmilar manner. I'd look for a card like this, actually.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/12/02/vga_charts_viii/...
Note the ones with the rear exhaust. For instance, the X700 Pro(though it's not AGP). is a good example.

Otoh, all that matters is that the fans aren't on top of each other and aren't fighting against each other. Slot cooler can lower the graphics card temp by 5-10C.

3:o pen up the front and/or remove the intake fan. Or, cut a hole in a side panel/the top/etc - and mount a fan there to deal with heat. Removing a 3.5 drive cover is probably the simplest of all options. Same airflow as the fan, but pess noise and backpressure. ~5C improvement and one less fan in the case making noise.
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 10:21:31 PM

Quote:
He has a PCI(non-express) slot and an AGP slot. That limits him to something like a 6600 or simmilar


WTF are you talking about? X850XTPE is AGP as is the GF6800U. The X800AIW suggested Rich is also AGP.

Now onto the card recommendation...

I'd agree with Cleeve that the equivalent Gefore cards are usually faster with Solidworks and their drivers have better overall OGL optimized drivers. However since it's not FireGL versus Quadro, I doubt the difference would be that large since the plain Geforce doesn't have the optimizations like MAXtreme. So get the best you can buy.

Also I'd say stick with your tuner card, and add the video card spearately. If you want HDTV tuner then get the ATi HDTV Wonder which is an OTA HD tuner card.

One consideration for your choice of card though is this question;
"A few questions I had was is it better to use DVI or VGA connection?"

DVI is better for LCD panels for the most part. The difference isn;t much but it is better if you have the choice. For that size (res) panel you will be limited in your refresh rate for the DVI on the Geforces. You will be better served by running the panel on the VGA/DB-15 connector to ensure above 60hz refresh rates and the quality of the output (nV has notoriously weak TMDSs). For true dual link DVI either you will have to go with a FireL or Quadro card or you could go with the Radeon 9600Pro PC/MAC edition which is the 'official' PC version of the MAC R9650 which has dual link TMDS to drive max refresh on larger panels.

If it's a pain looking for that model, then the GF6200 or 6600 should be good enough using the VGA connector.

I'd also recommend that you buy a card with a passive heatsink if you can as they are more reliable/trouble-free for longterm use. Also for this kind of 'light' work you won't be pumping out tons of heat so it's not a big consideration as long as you've got good airflow in the case.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 5:06:26 AM

WTF are you talking about? The AGP standard for most systems in 2002 was still 4x, 8x was new, and for 2000 everything was either 4x or 2x!
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 5:09:44 AM

You want a 6600GT for 3D Modeling, it's a great card and actually beats some faster gaming cards in 3D Modeling applications. Specifically, it beats it's big brother 6800GT in roughly HALF of the applications synthesised by SPEC Viewperf.

The 6600GT is clocked faster than the 6800GT but has half the pixel pipelines and half the memory bus width. I believe a portion of the card that isn't "half" is the portion responsible for this good performance, and that portion is clocked higher in the 6600GT.

Another card that might do very well in professional 3D Modeling is the 6800GS. This is halfway between a 6600GT and 6800GT for pipelines, but it's clocked fast like a 6600GT and has the full memory bandwidth of the 6800GT.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 5:12:30 AM

Oh, I fogot to add, Dell support sucks and your system supports graphics cards with up to 512MB of RAM. Not that you'll find one that's reasonably priced and in AGP format. To combine those characteristics, you'll want a 128MB or 256MB card.
December 12, 2005 5:13:18 AM

the 6600gt is a dam good Card in general for its price id recomend it to anyone. Id call it a ti4200 or whatever that realy kewl Gf4 was. And the gf4 still owns and its couple years old.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 6:04:28 AM

The 6600GT is an OK gaming card, but really shines compared to more expensive card in 3D modelling applications.
December 12, 2005 3:40:15 PM

Wow! Thanks to everyone, alot learned is short time. I am leaning toward a 6200 or 6600GT. I found out that my current card is a Nvidia GeForce4 MX420 in a 4x AGP slot. Are Cards such as the 6600GT that calls out a 8x AGP slot compatable w/ a 4x slot? Getting back to the cable used and refresh rate if the card has only DVI connections would I be better to find a card w/ VGA, use the DVI, or use a convert cable from DVI to VGA? Any prefered manufacture PNY Verto Vs. BFG Tech. Last question I know to get the best card I can buy but do I gain alot w/ 128 vs. 256mb. On my work computer I have a 128mb and when I look at the load I am only using about 30mb.

Thanks again
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 4:15:45 PM

Most include either two DVI-I or a VGA and DVI-I connector. The DVI output has extra pins to pass a VGA signal through an adapter, and most cards come with as many adapters as they have DVI connections.

All 8x cards are 4x compatible. And there's no performance difference between 4x and 8x because cards haven't gotten "fast enough" to need 8x yet.
December 12, 2005 5:17:51 PM

Which is why PCIe is virtually identical to AGP in actual useage, as opposed to synthetic tests. The bottleneck on the board's bus speed is the real limiting factor, but that will require a total redesign of PCs to accomplish.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 5:55:12 PM

I've seen AGP cards beat PCI-Express cards by an extremely narrow margin when both cards have the same basic architecture, GPU and memory clock rates.
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