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Questions about upgrading to a new (budget) video card....

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December 10, 2005 1:02:59 AM

I'm thinking about upgrading to a newer video card since my fan just bit the dust on mine, as well as it not being able to handle some of the newer games that well.

I currently have a chaintech nvidia fx 5200 w/256meg. I've been looking at video cards below the $100 range to replace it. How much better would a Ti 4200 be? What other budget cards are there that would be an upgrade?

Thanks
December 10, 2005 12:37:59 PM

well dude if your intersted im going to sell my radeon 9800 pro 128mb, 256 bit card. I was planning to put it on ebay for auction but this would be alot easyer for me. I would like to get at least $80 dollars for it. ive only had it less then a year and it still has warinty on it. I want to sell it cause im switching to a radeon x800 256mb card. I have all the booklets and cables as well as the cords, and box. the card runs perfectly, i sent it in to ATI once cause the fan stop working , and thats it. They sent it back with new fan, and it runs like a dream. IF your interested in overclocking not really sure how well it will do. When i first recieved it i overclocked it by 14mhz to see how it would handle then that was it, i put it back to normal speeds and havnt done any overclocking on it. The only reason i did that was cause some people want to know when your selling a card if it will overclock so at least i can tell them it can , just not sure how far. give me an email at narhic_fd@hotmail.com. and of course ill see your reply here. hope to do business with you.
December 10, 2005 4:05:11 PM

$100? I'd buy it myself just to hook up a second monitor at work with it.

:wink:

Seriously, though - it's a good card. Fast, stable, and about 4 times faster than the one you have now. OTOH...

It won't do the advanced shading/lighting effects like Valve and others are doing(DX9 second generation), so you might consider splurging a bit and getting a 6800AGP or 6600GT/GX(whatever the latest version is - it's about 10% slower than a stock 6800). It'll go 3-4 times faster than the 9800 Pro, have the fancy DX9 effects, and maybe cost you $150-$180.

I saw Lost Coast Demo on my friend's machine. Suddenly, games react visually like they should. It just looks 400% more believeable once you've seen it for the first time and realize what it does. I'd gladly trade half of my resolution and play a game with it all enabled at no AA and 800*600 resolution compared to 1280*1024 with all the goodies under DX8.

Comparison... it's like playing Unreal Tournament versus UT2004. DX8 shading looks hopelessly ancient and cartoon-like, much like the original Unreal Tournament did(though gameplay was excellent, it isn't a visual stunner). DX9 with the HDR enabled - gorgeous. Like flipping a "good graphics" switch on the front panel of your machine :) 

Whew. That said, though - if $100 is all you really REALLY have - then the 9800 Pro is a good card for now.
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December 10, 2005 4:22:37 PM

Well technically I don't have $100, but I definitly can't spend more then that. I have a very tight budget and was just looking at cards in the sub $100 range. I'm still looking right now however. I wouldn't mind getting a decent card, but I can't justify to my wife spending so much right now. :( 
December 10, 2005 5:10:17 PM

well dude if you are interested in buying it give me an email. My radeon 9800 pro along with my athlon 64 3000, and gig of ram lets me play need for speed most wanted on max detail , and it rocks. i plan on putting it on ebay in 2 days so let me know before then. if not then by sunday anyone can give me a email at narhic_fd@hotmail.com if they are interested in buying it.
December 10, 2005 6:13:05 PM

Id get a 6600gt if i were on a budget, they can do quake3 (ultra w/ aa and af) at 25fps thats pretty impressive for 110$ if you ask me..
(that info is from the thg artical on top 7 nvidia cards)
a b U Graphics card
December 10, 2005 6:35:12 PM

I've seen a 6600GT for $100 after rebate, that is the best you'd do, although they sold out immediately and are typically more like $140. Otherwise, on a tighter budget, I'd say grab a used Radeon 9700 pro/9800 pro for around $75. (New they are both over $100 now, refurbs about $90 at Newegg). Both are much better than a GF4Ti, although even one of those for say $40 used, would be better than your card. Honestly, I'd grab a $55 Refurbished Radeon 9600XT from Newegg before buying a GF4Ti now.

GF6600GT
Radeon 9800 pro 128MB 256-bit
Radeon 9700 pro
Radeon 9600XT
December 10, 2005 10:44:11 PM

The 6600GT is only $110?(checks) - well, get that instead. It's a bit faster, but more importantly, does the HDR features and all the other DX9 goodies. For $20 more - it's a fantastic deal.

http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/2005/09/14/lost_coast_sc...
A full review of the new technology. It also explains why a HDR card is the best $40 you'll ever spend. It's way more important than AA or Anisotropic Filtering, in fact.

http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/2005/09/21/lost_coast_be...
Benchmarks. Keep in mind that this is SOTA full-bore rendering that makes other methods look like console games.

Of these, the XFX seems to be the deal out there - for only $120-$140, it's worth every penny.

Trust me - you'll see HDR once and your eyes will pop it's such an improvement. Me? I was so used to typical lighting that I didn't realize what was missing. Then I realized just how kludgy what I'd grown used to really looked. Like putting glasses on for the first time - that much of a shocker. "OMG. It looks... (and I sat there and stared for several minutes)"

http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/2005/09/21/lost_coast_be...
And there you go. 46-48fps with the HDR on. About a 25% performance hit. Anything slower will be in the 20-25fps range or require serious drops in features and resolution. The 6600GT seems to be the exact card you need.
December 10, 2005 11:45:00 PM

I've been looking for the 6600GT cards, but can't find any with the HDR thats AGP. Since I'm running an older system Athlon XP 2700+ w/Asus A7V600-x motherboard I am limited to only AGP (or regular PCI) video cards. I'll do some more looking tonight and then talk to my wife about this.

Any more input? I'll check back in a bit before I get all my research together and submit the proposal to the ol' lady (kinda sounds like I'm submitting a business plan or something :D  ).

Thanks
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 12:41:25 AM

To me, HDR on a 6600GT is a checkbox feature you'll likely never use beyond demo'ing it. Forget about it in SC:CT. The card simply isn't powerful enough to handle it without dumbing resolution and other details down. That's my take on GF6 and HDR, as I experiment with it with my 6800U, but even feel the sacrifice of using it on that card is not worth giving up AA and dumbing the res down. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful no doubt, just eliminates FSAA (for GF6) and comes at a large hit in framerates, especially when used along with soft shadows. Anyway, HDR is great, just not a reason to buy a GF6600GT IMO.
December 11, 2005 3:48:11 AM

It's not just HDR - it's all of the effects that DX9 cards will do. Plus, it's just plain faster than a 9800 anything, so it's a win-win.

Look at the Lost Coast reviews and pictures. Seriously. It effectively makes high levels of AA unnecessarry, because the most important environmental effects render perfectly. I notice smoke, fire, light, and so on much more than slight graniness around the edges. It works so well, IMO, that 2xaa is all you need. Aniso filtering can also be bumped down a notch. Not all games use all the features, either. Many games use the water transparency and blooming only - it's not a checkbox feature - you just can't see it rendered properly with an older card. Very much like comparing a DX6 era card to a DX8 when it comes to smoke and fog.

Even then, it still isn't a dog - it gets 48fps @1024*768 with 2xAA and 8x aniso AND all the HDR effects at once. Dropping aniso to 4x should be enough to get ~60fps in most games, which you can't get out of any previous generation card. Without HDR, it lays down times very close to a stock 6800. With everything enabled, it's faster than his current card with nothing at all turned on.

Try playing Fear on a 9800 Pro. It just isn't up to the task without practically turning on line-doubling, yet a 6600GT is if you keep it down to more reasonable settings.

For the price, it's a steal.
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 11:39:02 AM

I agree with you a 6600GT is faster than a 9800 pro and a better buy if priced anywhere near each other. No ? about it. I'm talking about cheaper cards as $100 is pushing his limit and it's rare to ever find a $100 6600GT. I don't think it's a powerful enough card to fully take advantage of it's featuresit's(No GF6 does). How does Splinter Cell Chaos Theory run while using HDR and Softshadows? That's what I'm talking about as all the GF6's could use more oomff to run the SM3 features in that game. How about Farcry?

Lost Coast HDR is different than the rest with HDR and FSAA working at once. PLus it runs on SM2.0 cards and SM3.0 cards giving the same IQ, so the 6600GT doesn't have an advantage there. They couldn't spot an IQ difference between the 7800GTX and the X850XT SM3 vs. SM2. So the faster card is better in each comparison, which may or may not be the SM3 card depending on the price range. But I agree, for around $100, an AGP 6600GT is a steal (I tried to buy the $100 one and will again if a similar deal pops up) and in AGP pretty much unrivaled right now. If he can afford it, he should splurge on a 6600GT for the best gaming expereice that amount of money could offer him. I'd just rather see him do it for the performance than for HDR and SM3 features (which was my point all along as I reacted to the features oooohhing and aaaahhhing.) :) 

But for others, IN PCI-e you can buy a X800 256-bit 12-pipe card for the same price as a 6600GT, or spend a bit more on a GTO. Then the 6600GT with it's SM3 loses out to the faster card IMO.
December 11, 2005 4:52:30 PM

Sure, there are much better cards out there for a little more money or if you have PCI-e. But for an aging AGP system, it's a great card. OTOH, he should probably look for a 6800 series card used. For $100, he could get a used version of the best AGP card made 6-9 months ago.

I guess it's like cars. It's better to get what you want instead of getting something cheap. A Toyota Echo is a nice car but it's just not equal to even a midsize Hyundai or Ford, let alone a used 8-10 year old luxury car. Even new, it's smart to buy the Corolla or Matrix instead of "saving" a few thousand and getting the Echo.

You might just keep the Corolla for a few years after it's paid off. Everyone I know who has an Echo wants a better car as soon as possible. In video terms, the 9800 Pro will be in need of replacement at least a few months sooner, and it's $40 we're talking about here. A tank of gas. Not $150-$200 more like the highest end cards are.
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 11:19:48 PM

Quote:
It's not just HDR - it's all of the effects that DX9 cards will do.


Yes it's just HDR, there is no other supported feature that the R9800 can't do. You seem to be confusing the R9800 with something like the FX5900.

And like Pauldh said, HDR on the GF6600 series is just a checkbox feature.

The reason the GF6600GT is better is the performance, if it were a plain GF6600 then despite all the checkbox support for slideshow viewing, the R9800P would be the better performer in most cases. And it's interesting how soft shadow support never gets brought up despite it's utility being the same as that of HDR on the mid-range GF6s.

Quote:
Look at the Lost Coast reviews and pictures. Seriously. It effectively makes high levels of AA unnecessarry, because the most important environmental effects render perfectly...


You don't know what you're talking about.

I'm sure you think there's a DX9 advanatage you're seeing, but you forget that the R9800 is a DX9 card, supporting all the rendering features including the DUAL implementations of HDR in the example you give. To emphasize this you should read the conclusion of the final scene;
"To our eyes, there is no discernable visual difference between ATI and NVIDIA cards. Although we understand that they are rendering differently internally, as far as we can see, there is absolutely no difference in the quality of the output. The image on the left is a scene rendered on a NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX on the left, and an ATI Radeon X850 XT on the right. Both are at 4x / 16x. If you can spot a difference in quality, let me know! (Images open in a new window)."

Quote:
Try playing Fear on a 9800 Pro. It just isn't up to the task without practically turning on line-doubling, yet a 6600GT is if you keep it down to more reasonable settings.


However the GF660GT doesn't double or triple performance like you imply. It is a better card but your statements are overly exagerated, if anything it' 20-50% better performing depending on the game, as seen in Digit-Life's AGP review (the most up to date of AGP tests IMO);

http://www.digit-life.com/articles2/digest3d/index0511.html

At best you get either a resolution bump or AA bump, but not so much so that you could achieve both.

Seriously your statements better match an FX card than the R9800, but perhaps you confused the two.
December 12, 2005 2:00:23 PM

I'm pretty darn sure that Valve's HDR implementation does *not* require dx9.c.

Lost Coast should run properly with any Dx9 Radeon 9550 or above...
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