So I'm sure you're sick of this question by now, but I'm in the market for a new AGP graphics card and I'm quite stumped. I've been reading up on things, and looking at other threads asking similar quesitons, and I'm still not sure of what to do.
I have an athlon 64 3200+, and I currently have a 9600XT w/ 256MB of RAM. I'm looking to get something around $200, though I'd go a little higher if it was a good deal. I'm intruiged by the deal for the X850 XT for $250 after rebate, but I'm worried that even though it's quite powerful, it doesn't have SM 3.0. I don't upgrade graphics cards very often, and I'm gonna want to keep this card for at least a couple years. But on the nvidia side, it seems like it's hard to find much in AGP these days.
I would wait until a new AGP product comes along, but I'm getting really discouraged by all the rumors floating around w/ nothing that has come of any of it. I'm beating myself over the head for trying to save some money by not upgrading my video card right away and sticking w/ AGP for this new(ish) system. But I had no idea it'd be phased out so fast. I really don't want to get a new motherboard if I can help it, but I'm starting to feel desperate.
I WISH the rumors about an AGP 6800GS would come true. I'd love to have that card.
Well, do the 6800s unlock fairly reliably, or is it a gamble?
Also, I still haven't been able to figure out how big a deal it is that the ATI cards don't support SM 3.0. I mean, I know it doesn't matter now, but what about a year or two down the road? Since I don't upgrade video cards very often, and next time I do it'll definitely be w/ a system upgrade, I don't want to spend a decent amount of money now for a card that may have a lot of power, but feature-wise is going to be obsolete.
People have to use a microscope to see the differences and in the games that use SM 3.0-only features, like Far Cry's HDR lighting, a 6800 Ultra is too slow to use it.
So unless you're going to get a 7800 based card, don't worry about SM 3.0.
An X800XT would make your rig very quick, and developers will be coding for basic DX9 for a very, very long time. There's no way game developers will ignore the massive non SM 3.0 userbase for a couple years yet.
Given the choice between a 6800GS and X800XT, a person would have to be insane to pick the 6800GS...
I guess I just feel so burned by the way things have gone w/ the transition to PCIe from AGP that I'm more wary of the conventional wisdom. On the other hand, developers learning how to code using a different shader model is somewhat different than cards getting designed w/ a new slot in mind. Hardware development cycles do go much faster than software ones, it seems. So maybe I have nothing to worry about. I hope so, because I'm leaning towards just getting a really fast ATI card and hoping for the best.
Yeah, I think I probably am going to go for that deal...though I'll probably wait until the holidays are over so I have the money to spend on myself! But the rebate form says it's good for purchases between now and 1/31, so I'm not too worried.
Thanks for everyone's help. You've eased my fears some, and certainly pointed me in the right direction.
Hardware development cycles do go much faster than software ones, it seems.
PCIe aka 3GIO was in development for almost a decade, and it was announced over 4 years ago. The writing was on the wall, even if the first boards only appeared a year and a half ago.
Now PS1.1-1.4 to PS2.0 to PS3.0 to has taken less time to adopt and implement in software. so really you have the cycles reversed.
Still seriously, we were talking about this long LONG before you would've bought your last rig (heck before I got MY R9600P) so it's always been out there. People just kept wanting to hold onto the old. It's as if people were pining for ISA slots.
Considering your rig, why don't you just buy a new MoBo that fits that AMD64 and be done with it. Just about any AGP solution you buy will be overpriced, and perform far below the same price PCIe cards. Might as well move now while you can, or else you'll have to get a new CPU (S939 is done by end of next year) and new memory (DDR2,DDR3 and XDR cometh). So either way you're gonna be building alot more if you plan on staying current, and the change from AGP to PCIe is the least of your concerns, especially since there's the ULi PCIe + AGP boards.
You're right. I said that wrong. What I guess I was getting at was that hardware product cycles go faster. I mean, in the sense that even if it's basically the same design underneath, the speeds increase much faster than software is able to fully take advantage of it.
And yes, I was well aware of PCIe before I built my current computer. But I don't think it's fair to compare this to longing for ISA. ISA still was present on motherboards long after PCI became the norm. I wasn't willing to spend the money at the time to upgrade my video card to something respectable, and so I waited. I didn't think it was that unreasonable to expect that AGP would be supported well, at least up into the midrange/upper midrange level, for longer than it really has been. And I know I'm not the only one. It has nothing to do w/ nostalgia. I don't care what kind of slot my graphics card goes in as long as it performs well.
I have been considering buying a new mobo, but considering it hasn't been that long since I got my current one, I'd really rather avoid it until the next major upgrade if possible.
And really, if we're going to talk about price/performance...the only stuff at the level that I'm really looking at seems to be last generation cards like the X800 series and the 6800 series, anyway. Though I guess if I wait a little longer that will change, since X1600 is sort of here, etc.