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Looking for New Video Card - Help Please

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 10, 2005 3:55:30 PM

I'm looking for a new Video card for my PC (My current video card was horrible when I got it..as I'm sure you'll see). I can only use AGP, but I have an extra slot open next to it if the card requires extra space for a fan, etc. I don't have PCI-Express or SLI capability. My specs follow. It seems that everything now is PCI-e, so it's getting tough for me to find a good quality AGP card (especially on NewEgg.com). Any suggestions? (**I know that below is an overabundance of info, but I wanted to be thourough). Also, I know that doubling my ram would be helpful. Thanks, I appreciate all of the input!
________________________________________________________________
Mainboard : MICRO-STAR INC. (MS-6728)
Chipset : Intel i865PE
Processor : Intel Pentium 4 @ 3000 MHz
Physical Memory : 512 MB (2 x 256 DDR-SDRAM )
Video Card : ATI Technologies Inc Radeon 9600 (RV350)
Hard Disk : IC35L090AVV207-0 (82 GB)
DVD-Rom Drive : IDE DVD-ROM 16X
DVD-Rom Drive : _NEC DVD+RW ND-1100A
Monitor Type : ViewSonic VP171b-2 - 17 inchs
Network Card : Realtek Semiconductor RT8139 (A/B/C/810x/813x/C+) Fast Ethernet Adapter
Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 5.01.2600 Service Pack 2
DirectX : Version 9.0c
___
Manufacturer : MICRO-STAR INC.
Mainboard : MICRO-STAR INC.
Bios : American Megatrends Inc.
Chipset : Intel i865PE
Physical Memory : 512 MB DDR-SDRAM
LPC bus : Yes
PCI Bus : Yes
AGP Bus : Yes
USB Bus : Yes
SMBus/i2c Bus : Yes
Bus HyperTransport : No
Bus CardBus : No
Bus FireWire : No
___
Processor : Intel Pentium 4
Frequency : 3000 MHz - (current : 3000.13 MHz)
Support : mPGA-478
Data Cache L1 : 8 KB
Trace Cache L1 : 12 Kµops
Cache L2 : 512 KB
Voltage : 1.520 V
Processor Temperature : 44 °C
Processor Fan : 2678 rpm
FPU Coprocessor : Present
Processor activity : : 12%
___
Number of monitor : 1
Number of Video Cards : 2
Monitor Type : Plug and Play Monitor
Video Card : SAPPHIRE RADEON 9600SE Edition
Current Display : 1280x1024 pixels at 60 Hz in True Colors (32-bit)
OpenGL : Yes
GDI Plus : Yes
___
Port installed : ECP Printer Port (LPT1)
Port installed : Communications Port (COM1)
Port installed : Communications Port (COM2)
Port installed : Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D2
Port installed : Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D4
Port installed : Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24D7
Port installed : Intel(R) 82801EB USB Universal Host Controller - 24DE
Port installed : Intel(R) 82801EB USB2 Enhanced Host Controller - 24DD
___
Number of Hard Disk : 1
Number of CD-ROM Drive : 2
Drives Letters : A: C: D: E: F: G: H: I:
Floppy Disk : 3½" HD (1.44 Mo)
Drive C: (Hard Disk) : 33 GB available on 82 GB
Drive D: (DVD-Rom) : 0 KB available on 0 KB
Drive E: (DVD-Rom) : 0 KB available on 0 KB
Drive F: (Removable Drive) : 0 KB available on -4294968 KB
Drive G: (Removable Drive) : 0 KB available on -4294968 KB
Drive H: (Removable Drive) : 0 KB available on -4294968 KB
Drive I: (Removable Drive) : 0 KB available on -4294968 KB
___
Default Printer : hp officejet 4200 series
Printer installed : Microsoft Office Document Image Writer
Printer installed : hp officejet 4200 series fax
Printer installed : hp officejet 4200 series
Universal Driver : Not Installed
Spooler : 0 jobs in queue
___
Type of mouse : PS/2 Compatible Mouse
Type of mouse : HID-compliant mouse
Type of keyboard : USB Human Interface Device
Type of keyboard : HID Keyboard Device
Joystick : 1 connected
Modem : Agere Systems PCI Soft Modem
SCSI Host #0 : 1 Device(s)
SCSI Host #1 : 2 Device(s)
___
Device Audio : 82801EB/ER (ICH5/ICH5R) AC'97 Audio Controller
Audio Playback : Realtek AC97 Audio
Audio Playback : Modem #2 Line Playback
Audio Playback : Emu10Kx Audio [C800]
Audio Playback : Microsoft Sound Mapper
Audio Recording : Realtek AC97 Audio
Audio Recording : Modem #2 Line Record
Audio Recording : Emu10Kx Audio [C800]
MIDI Output : Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth
MIDI Output : Emu10Kx MIDI Port [C800]
MIDI Output : Microsoft MIDI Mapper
MIDI Input : Emu10Kx MIDI Port [C800]
Mixer Device : Realtek AC97 Audio
Mixer Device : Emu10Kx Audio [C800]
Device multimedia : AVIVideo
Device multimedia : CDAudio
Device multimedia : Sequencer
Device multimedia : WaveAudio
Device multimedia : MPEGVideo
Audio Compression : Microsoft IMA ADPCM CODEC
Audio Compression : Microsoft ADPCM CODEC
Audio Compression : Microsoft CCITT G.711 A-Law and u-Law CODEC
Audio Compression : Microsoft GSM 6.10 Audio CODEC
Audio Compression : DSP Group TrueSpeech(TM) Software CODEC
Audio Compression : Microsoft G.723.1 CODEC
Audio Compression : Windows Media Audio
Audio Compression : Sipro Lab Telecom ACELP.net audio codec
Audio Compression : Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (advanced)
Audio Compression : Indeo® audio software
Audio Compression : Lernout & Hauspie CODECs
Audio Compression : AC-3 ACM Codec
Audio Compression : Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (professional)
Audio Compression : Microsoft PCM Converter
Video Compression : Cinepak Codec by Radius
Video Compression : Intel IYUV codec
Video Compression : Microsoft RLE
Video Compression : Microsoft Video 1
Video Compression : Microsoft YUV
Video Compression : Microsoft YUV
Video Compression : Toshiba YUV Codec
Video Compression : Microsoft YUV
Video Compression : Microsoft H.263 Video Codec
Video Compression : Microsoft H.261 Video Codec
Video Compression : Microsoft Windows Media Video 9
Video Compression : Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V1
Video Compression : Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V2
Video Compression : Microsoft MPEG-4 Video Codec V3
Video Compression : DivX® 5.2.1 Codec
Video Compression : XviD MPEG-4 Codec
Video Compression : 3ivx D4 4.5.1 Pro Video Codec
Video Compression : VP60® Simple Profile
Video Compression : VP61® Advanced Profile
Video Compression : VP62® Heightened Sharpness Profile
Video Compression : VP70® General Profile
Video Compression : VP31? Compressor
Video Compression : ffdshow Video Codec
Speech Recognition : Yes
Windows Media Player : 10.00.00.3646
RealPlayer : 6.0
QuickTime : 7.00.03.0050
___
Power Status : Yes
Battery : No
Supply : Main supply
Active Power Scheme : Home/Office Desk
___
Monitoring Chip : Winbond W83627THF
CPU Core : 1.53 V
+3.3V Voltage : 3.18 V
+5V Voltage : 5.07 V
+12V Voltage : 12.52 V
Processor Fan : 2721 rpm
Processor Temperature : 44 °C
Mainboard Temperature : 248 °C
Hard Disk Temperature IC35L090AVV207-0 : 32 °C

More about : video card

December 10, 2005 4:16:16 PM

Video Card : SAPPHIRE RADEON 9600SE Edition
Current Display : 1280x1024 pixels at 60 Hz in True Colors (32-bit)


This is, as you've correctly surmized - a dog of a card. My old Ti4400 was about as fast in real use, so this is almost Geforce 4 in speed, or about what most normal laptops these days do(the non graphics ones that is).

It's a $50 card they drop in the system to get it out the door. No surprizes there, really.

What's your budget?
a b U Graphics card
December 10, 2005 4:22:54 PM

GF4Ti4400 is way better than a 9600SE.
Related resources
a b U Graphics card
December 10, 2005 4:45:04 PM

There are plenty of good AGP cards available, problem is the better deals price wise tend to be PCI-e now. If you want the absolute fastest cards you have to go PCI-e, but the top AGP cards are no slouches by any means.

In order from the best, I rank top AGP cards as follows:

X850XTpe(Platinum Edition)
X800XTpe
X850XT
GF6800 Ultra
X800XT
X800XL/GF6800GT
X850 pro
X800 pro
GF6800



Your mobo/CPU combo are still potent gamers, although 1GB of RAM would be alot better than 512MB now. You can buy 1GB Dual Channel Kit of PC3200 from Newegg for $75 now, and sell/resue you current RAM.

Anyway, back to AGP Cards. Your best high end deal now is going to be a X850XT or ALL-IN-Wonder X800XT. A GF6800GT or X800XL would be next. The X850 and X800 pro are good too if priced right. So the big Question is, what is your budget?

X850XT $250 after $50 rebate is the best High end AGP ddeal I know about now.

Newegg had a AIW X800XT for $259 after rebate, which would be the second best, although the rebate is gone and the price is back up to $300 now:

If you are budget limited to under $150, a GF6600GT would still provide a huge increase over your current card. A X700 pro would be good too. ANd So would a Used radeon 9700 pro/9800 pro for $75. Again, name your price and specify the games you like, and we'll help you find a good card. But if you play games, that 9600se must go. :cry: 
December 10, 2005 6:15:37 PM

yah if you want more proformace gettin 1gb is realyyy gona help you out. But getting 6600gt or 9800pro with 256mb ram would be great also
December 11, 2005 1:44:21 PM

thanks for all of the help guys. I'm into FPS (Doom III, FEAR, Half-Life 2) mainly and City of Heroes/Villains. I'm looking to psend 200-300 (more possibly).
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 4:03:34 PM

Wow, that's a huge budget. If you have that much, grab that X850XT (if still available) and a 1GB kit of PC3200. It will run you about $325 for both after the $50 ATI rebate. If you hate rebates, you might have to settle for a X800XL, GF6800GT, or X850 pro; not a X850XT, but still good choices.
December 11, 2005 5:22:33 PM

I'd personally get the All In Wonder. The Video features rock on it, and it's plenty fast. $305 at Buy.com and that means - hop on over to slickdeals to find a 10% off e-coupon. :) 

512mb - I run everything with 512MB just fine - the trick is to make windows un-fragment the cache and have a good drive.

0: turn off fast indexing and set the trashcan to 0%. Fast indexing basically catalogs every file on your machine as it's running. It's a bloated disk-thrasher that kills almost 50% of your hard drive speed with gaming(lots of small files being written back and forth). Trashcan to 0% is good in any case - saves space(10% is 30 gig on a 300 gig drive!) and also when your games exit, it saves an internal step on disk cleanup(just immediately removes the files).

1: Got to the control panel. - turn off disk cacheing, then ignore the warnings. reboot with no cache. If you want to defragment, then do so in safe-mode and reboot again(not required if you have 20+ gigs free).
2: Set the cache to 512MB or 1024MB in *both* fields. Make both sizes identical in any case!

Reboot. This creates a fixed size, single partition cache file on the drive(it leaves it intact in one place on your drive). Massive speedup in most cases.
3: Get a dedicated soundcard. This can rob you of 20-30% of your speed in busy scenes and cause 1/10th second jitters every time you play high-quality sounds(at least the tfirst time they are played - often death in online shooters) A basic budget Audigy is more than adequate. Even an Audigy 1 would suffice(used).
4:Go to analogx's website. Download maxmem. Windows and many games leak memory, eventually to the point where your cahche is all you are running on. Call of Duty is a prime example - plays fine for 20 minutes then slows to a disk-thrashing crawl. A memory manager fixes it.
5:Get rid of anything palm or logitech related, as well as most clutter-ware in your taskbar. Typical stuff. Palm and Logitech are notorious for controller and I/O conflicts. You mouse working at 50dpi and so on sort of thing.

1Gig isn't required in any case. Plus, $75 on a soundcard will knock your socks off. Instant audio gratification.
December 11, 2005 5:42:31 PM

I would like to thank everybody for their support and advice. I'll be digging into all of this information more in the next couple of days, but thanks. It's nice to come to a forum and not get flammed for not having a ton of information. If you guys have any more advice, please feel free to unload.

It looks like I'm down to the X850XT or the ALL-IN-Wonder X800XT - any thing that I should be worried about with either of those? It seems that I'm reading more good things about Nvidia chipsets vs. ATI chipsets lately (or it is just propaganda?). Thoughts?

As far as ram - since I have 256meg cards, should I just buy 2 more (I have 4 total slots) or would I be better off buying on 512 or on Gig?
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 11:10:57 PM

I disagree with the RAM. Lots of games smooth out going beyond 512MB. BF2 runs like crap with 512MB and you'll even see it smooth out further going from 1GB to 2GB. RAM is so cheap, I'd say 512MB in a gaming system with a X850XT, is a big mistake. If I were him I'd just buy a 1GB kit. I bought 1GB (2*512MB) Cas 2.5 dane electric for $70 last week, and Corsair Value is easy to find for mid-upper $70's.

I'd agree with you a nice Augigy 2 ZS would be a nice upgrade over integrated sound. I rarely use integrated sound in a gaming rig. But given a choice, (unless there is sound issues), I'd put the money into RAM not sound.
a b U Graphics card
December 11, 2005 11:23:02 PM

The X850XT is clocked higher and therefore faster than the X800XT. But the AIW X800XT ads a TV tuner, video inputs, and a remote, while still being very fast. So it all depends on your prices and whether those extra features interest you or you'd rather just have the higher perforiming card. Both are good options and very capable gaming cards.

Anyway, only concern I'd say is you should have a minimum of a name brand 350w/ generic 400 watt power supply with 18A on the 12v rail. I don't recall seeing your power supply listed, but check the label on the power supply for it's specs.
December 12, 2005 1:25:46 AM

OH. You have two free slots? Oh yeah - then certainly fill them up. This also will allow the memory to be interleaved(identical pairs in matching colored slots on most boards) - for a small performance increase.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 4:18:32 AM

You could upgrade to a Radeon 9600! Seriously though, the 9600SE has HALF the memory path of the standard 9600. Who'd have thought it?

So that being the case, a 9600XT would be a HUGE upgrade! And if you want more, there are 9700, 9800 (NOT SE), and X800 cards to look at.

I'd probably go with the All-In-Wonder X800 XT, since it's not only cheaper than the other X800 XT's, but also has a nifty tuner and remote control.
December 12, 2005 11:45:47 AM

A good friend of mine is suggesting a GeForce 6800 GT (Which they just stopped production on). Do you think this would be better/worse then X800 XT or the X850XT? Once again, thanks for all of the help!
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 12:40:39 PM

Performance wise, the 6800GT is behind the X800XT, which is behind the X850XT. The 6800GT is even with the X800XL, although it does depend on the game. In Doom 3 the 6800GT = X800XT. Like Crash said, coming from a 9600se, all these cards are beasts in comparison. They are all good choices depending on price, but a X850XT or AIW X800XT is worth more than a 6800GT for sure.
December 12, 2005 3:20:53 PM

I'm leaning towards the X850XT - is there any real benefit to purchasing the X800XT All-In-Wonder since I don't really have a need for the TV inputs, etc? And the X850XT is more power (even if slightly) then the AIW X8--XT, correct?
December 12, 2005 4:43:36 PM

Yes, the all-in-wonder is useless to you unless you want to watch TV or capture video.

Correct, the X850XT is more powerful than the X800XT.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 5:08:12 PM

Hehe, useless?

The AIW X800 XT has been inexpensive compared to other cards at that level. The card is still great even if you never use the tuner.
December 12, 2005 5:25:41 PM

One huge advantage to it is the ease at which you can output the video to something like, oh, a HDTV set. It also has a cable TV tuner built in, so it'll record TV shows on your HD like a TIVO. And every EVERY so often you want to import a home video - the connections are there, ready to go. Then there's the remote control and other goodies.

It's definately worth the extra few dollars.
a b U Graphics card
December 12, 2005 5:57:02 PM

That's the funny thing, for most of its history the AIW X800 XT was CHEAPER than the standard X800 XT, likely due to slow sales. Often it was much cheaper, as much as $80 cheaper at one time.
December 12, 2005 8:16:48 PM

Quote:
Hehe, useless?

The AIW X800 XT has been inexpensive compared to other cards at that level. The card is still great even if you never use the tuner.


Alright, Alright. I'll rephrase:

"Yes, the all-in-wonder FEATURES are useless to you unless you want to watch TV or capture video.
December 13, 2005 12:06:59 PM

Thanks for everyone's help - I ordered my X850XT yesterday afternoon (Sadly, Microstar is saying it won't ship until the 15th...<grumble>, but I'll live). One last question. I'll probably upgrade my ram to 1 gig. I currently have 512 (see first post) in the form of 2 256 cards. I have four slots, so should I just purchase two more 256s? And, is there anything I should be careful of - it's listed above as: Physical Memory : 512 MB (2 x 256 DDR-SDRAM ) - is that the ony information I need? Do I need any other info when I make the purchase (I've never purchase ram before). Also, where would be the best place to order from - I figured I'd just do it on New Egg, but if anyone knows of a place with really good deals, please let me know.
December 13, 2005 12:07:45 PM

Also, I know this is the wrong forum...but what would be the *easiest* way to upgrade my Bios?
December 13, 2005 11:51:35 PM

Never mind, I figured it out....I'm a little slow sometimes. :oops: 
December 14, 2005 12:08:08 AM

Ram Question:

I have 4 slots, as mentione previously. I'm looking at the following ram:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

will this be usable in my current setup? Should I be looking for something else with different features? Once again, any help is greatly appreciated!
a b U Graphics card
December 14, 2005 12:50:42 AM

That RAM will work fine. In fact, it might even work with the RAM you already have to provide you with 1.5GB total. If not, at least you'll have 1GB of reasonably good stuff and can use the old stuff in another system.
December 15, 2005 5:24:28 PM

I would like to thank everyone for your help. I have ordered both the X850 XT a gig of ram. One question - my power supply is 350Watt...am I in any danger of some other problems creeping up...<sigh>
a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2005 5:53:37 PM

Yes. A good 350W power supply might handle it, but a low-quality model will likely go nuts.
December 15, 2005 7:36:16 PM

What kind of problems could I be expecteing? (I'll check the model when I get home).
a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2005 7:45:44 PM

Instability, maybe a fire, nothing you can't handle.
December 15, 2005 11:45:22 PM

Quote:
Instability, maybe a fire, nothing you can't handle.


heh...um...fire? Well, I'm going to go check my power supply now. Supposing it's a junk 350 - what type of 400/450 powersupply should I purchase (spending the least money as possible).

Also, an even more Noob question:
What troubles can I expect when I install it? I've never done this type of thing before. (I can do the basics - remove the old drivers, Reg entries, etc) - should I expect anything unsual/troublesome while installing the card itself (cables, screws, etc)?
a b U Graphics card
December 15, 2005 11:52:02 PM

Fortron Source/Sparkle Power (same company owns both brands) makes good inexpensive power supplies. These are rated at 70% peak load, so a 400W unit should be enough unless you can find something around 450W for a small price increase.
December 16, 2005 12:14:00 AM

Hello,

If cost isn't a major factor, then try a 6800 GT or X800 XL (AGP version). Make sure your agp port is a 4x and/ or 8x. Both cards are not too expensive due to the arrival of the much newer cards.
December 16, 2005 12:18:30 AM

Quote:
Fortron Source/Sparkle Power (same company owns both brands) makes good inexpensive power supplies. These are rated at 70% peak load, so a 400W unit should be enough unless you can find something around 450W for a small price increase.


I currently have a Turbolink LC-A350ATX 12V power supply...thoughts?
a b U Graphics card
December 16, 2005 12:25:54 AM

I haven't heard too many complaints, I'd think it would be good for at least 200W continuous power and probably not too much fluxuation so long as your local power grid is "clean".
December 16, 2005 12:29:36 AM

Quote:
I haven't heard too many complaints, I'd think it would be good for at least 200W continuous power and probably not too much fluxuation so long as your local power grid is "clean".


Thanks. What exactly do you mean by "clean"?
a b U Graphics card
December 16, 2005 12:58:52 AM

I live in an area prone to power surges/brown outs. Surge protectors aren't really surge protectors, they're spike protectors (a spike is the opposite of a surge).
December 16, 2005 1:14:22 AM

Thanks. Just to be clear though, my power supply should be up to the task of taking on my new card?
a b U Graphics card
December 16, 2005 3:42:43 AM

Nope, I can't tell you whether your power supply will work OK or not. I don't have enough information.

I'll tell you what: A 500W PowMax might not work with that system, but a 300W Fortron Source probably would. It's all about the quality, choppy voltage is a no-no.
December 16, 2005 11:45:02 AM

How difficult would it be to install an new power supply? Also, what should I be looking for (beside wattage)? Any more suggestoins - I'd like to spend as little as possible.
a b U Graphics card
December 16, 2005 2:37:54 PM

First thing is, I've never heard of your power supply damaging anything from being overloaded. So I'd try it. If the system isn't stable, I'd try something else. Guys in here will give you a list of trusted brands, or you can read a bunch of reviews.
December 16, 2005 2:55:50 PM

Thanks! Once again, this site has been most helpful and Crashman, and everyone else has been very informative. My thanks to everyone! I'll post my results once everything is installed.
December 19, 2005 2:32:46 AM

I should have my new graphics card tomorrow sometime. Any tips for instalation? I've never installed a new card before - anything to be weary of or watch for?
a b U Graphics card
December 19, 2005 4:41:23 AM

I'd download Catalyst 5.11 and unzip it first (it comes in an exe which is actually a self-extracting zip file). Pop in the card and instal the new drivers.

Cat 5.12 isn't better than 5.11.
December 19, 2005 8:05:45 AM

HOLYshit..wif dat much info provided,everyones gonna select the very best card for u.
for me...i would choose the ATi x1600 (pro or xt) from gecube *(AGP version)
coz its not too expensive n u get the latest features like SM3 n HDR from ATi

if ur opting for nVidia...i'd say a geforce 6600gt or 6800gs would be nice.. :) 
December 19, 2005 5:21:13 PM

Thanks, Crashman. I'm all set on the software side of things. I'm more concerned about the actual hardware instalation - any tips for removing and putting in the new board? This is what I have never done before. Is it fairly straight forward?
a b U Graphics card
December 19, 2005 7:41:10 PM

Yes, cut the power first. Then take the screw out. Look for a hook/latch near the other end of the slot, and disengage it if needed. Slide the old cards out.

Er, I can't remember what to do after that...
December 19, 2005 8:13:05 PM

Put the new ones in an hook up power! :lol: 
!