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Graphics card advice for older system

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 3, 2006 8:55:11 AM

I've got a PIV 3.0 ghz with 1 gb ram (533 mhz) and ATI pro 9700. Waiting till new AMD and intel platforms come out to buy all new top notch system. Seems that this will take another 6 months to happen.

Meanwhile, is there any card available that will work with my current platform and increase the graphics substancial without spending a fortune? Limitations is see are 250W power, AGP 4x and PCI. More system details below.




Microprocessor

Microprocessor type
Intel® Pentium® 4 microprocessor that runs at 2.0 GHz internally and 400 MHz externally; or 2.26, 2.4, 2.53, 2.66, 2.8, or 3.06 GHz internally and 533 MHz externally

L1 cache
8 KB

L2 cache
512-KB pipelined-burst, eight-way set associative, write-back SRAM



Memory

Type
PC800 or PC1066 RDRAM (non-ECC)

Memory connectors
four

Memory capacities
64-, 128-, 256-, and 512-MB non-ECC

Minimum memory
128 MB

Maximum memory
2 GB for PC800
1.5 GB for PC1066

Memory type
PC 1066 (non-ECC) only on computers with a 533-MHz system clock speed
PC 800 (non-ECC) on computers with either a 400- or a 533-MHz system clock speed

Memory speed


PC800
40 ns or faster

PC1066
32 ns or faster

BIOS address
F8000h



Computer Information

System chip set
Intel 850E

DMA channels
eight

Interrupt levels
15

BIOS chip
4 Mb

NIC
integrated PCI Network Interface with ASF support as defined by DMTF

System clock
100 MHz X 4 for 400 FSB or 133 MHz X 4 for 533 FSB - data rate



Video

Type
AGP 4X, PCI



Audio

Type
Analog Devices AD1981a AC97 Codec1

1 Present only on computers with integrated audio capabilities.



Expansion Bus

Bus types
PCI and AGP

Bus speed
PCI: 33 MHz
AGP: 66 MHz

AGP


connector
one

connector size
172 pins

connector data width (maximum)
32 bits

bus protocols
4x/2x modes at 1.5 V

PCI


connectors
four

connector size
120 pins

connector data width (maximum)
32 bits



Drives

Externally accessible
two 3.5-inch bays
two 5.25-inch bays

Available devices
ATA-66 or ATA-100 Ultra DMA hard drive, CD drive, Zip drive, DVD drive, CD-RW drive, DVD/CD-RW combo drive, and DVD+RW drive

Internally accessible
two bays for 1-inch–high hard drives



Connectors

Externally accessible:


Serial
9-pin connector; 16550C-compatible

Parallel
25-hole connector (bidirectional)

Video
15-hole connector

Network Adapter
RJ45 connector

PS/2 (keyboard and mouse)
6-pin mini-DIN connector

USB
two front-panel and six back-panel
USB 2.0–compliant connectors

Audio2
three connectors for line-in, line-out, and microphone; one front panel connector for headphones

System board connectors:


Primary IDE channel
40-pin connector on PCI local bus

Secondary IDE channel
40-pin connector on PCI local bus

Floppy drive
34-pin connector

Telephony (TAPI)
4-pin connector

Fan
3-pin connector

2 Present only on computers with integrated audio capabilities.



Controls and Lights

Power control
push button

Power light
green light on power button—blinking green in sleep states; solid green for power-on states

Hard-drive access light
green

Link integrity light (on integrated network adapter)
green light for 10-Mb operation; orange light for 100-Mb operation

Diagnostic code lights
four bicolor (amber and green) located on back panel



Power

DC power supply:

Wattage
250 W

Heat dissipation
853 BTU (fully-loaded computer without monitor)

Voltage (see the safety instructions in your Owner's Manual for important voltage setting information)
90 to 135 V at 50/60 Hz; 180 to
265 V at 50/60 Hz; 100 V at 50/60 Hz for Japanese computers

Backup battery
3-V CR2032 lithium coin cell



Physical

Height
42.5cm (16.7 inches)

Width
18.1 cm (7.13 inches)

Depth
44.7 cm (17.6 inches)

Weight
12.7 kg (28 lb)



Environmental

Temperature:

Operating
10º to 35ºC (50º to 95ºF)3

Storage
–40º to 65ºC (–40º to 149ºF)

Relative humidity
20% to 80% (noncondensing)

Maximum vibration:

Operating
0.25 G at 3 to 200 Hz at 1/2 octave/min

Storage
0.5 G at 3 to 200 Hz at 1/2 octave/min

Maximum shock:

Operating
bottom half-sine pulse with a change in velocity of 50.8 cm/sec (20 inches/sec)

Storage
23-G faired-square wave with a velocity change of 508 cm/sec (200 inches/sec)

Altitude:

Operating
–15.2 to 3048 m (–50 to 10,000 ft)3

Storage
–15.2 to 10,670 m (–50 to 35,000 ft)

3 At 35°C (95°F), the maximum operating altitude is 914 m (3000 ft).
a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2006 10:22:36 AM

Quote:
I've got a PIV 3.0 ghz with 1 gb ram (533 mhz) and ATI pro 9700. Waiting till new AMD and intel platforms come out to buy all new top notch system. Seems that this will take another 6 months to happen.

Meanwhile, is there any card available that will work with my current platform and increase the graphics substancial without spending a fortune? Limitations is see are 250W power, AGP 4x and PCI. More system details below.




Microprocessor

Microprocessor type
Intel® Pentium® 4 microprocessor that runs at 2.0 GHz internally and 400 MHz externally; or 2.26, 2.4, 2.53, 2.66, 2.8, or 3.06 GHz internally and 533 MHz externally

L1 cache
8 KB

L2 cache
512-KB pipelined-burst, eight-way set associative, write-back SRAM



Memory

Type
PC800 or PC1066 RDRAM (non-ECC)

Memory connectors
four

Memory capacities
64-, 128-, 256-, and 512-MB non-ECC

Minimum memory
128 MB

Maximum memory
2 GB for PC800
1.5 GB for PC1066

Memory type
PC 1066 (non-ECC) only on computers with a 533-MHz system clock speed
PC 800 (non-ECC) on computers with either a 400- or a 533-MHz system clock speed

Memory speed


PC800
40 ns or faster

PC1066
32 ns or faster

BIOS address
F8000h



Computer Information

System chip set
Intel 850E

DMA channels
eight

Interrupt levels
15

BIOS chip
4 Mb

NIC
integrated PCI Network Interface with ASF support as defined by DMTF

System clock
100 MHz X 4 for 400 FSB or 133 MHz X 4 for 533 FSB - data rate



Video

Type
AGP 4X, PCI



Audio

Type
Analog Devices AD1981a AC97 Codec1

1 Present only on computers with integrated audio capabilities.



Expansion Bus

Bus types
PCI and AGP

Bus speed
PCI: 33 MHz
AGP: 66 MHz

AGP


connector
one

connector size
172 pins

connector data width (maximum)
32 bits

bus protocols
4x/2x modes at 1.5 V

PCI


connectors
four

connector size
120 pins

connector data width (maximum)
32 bits



Drives

Externally accessible
two 3.5-inch bays
two 5.25-inch bays

Available devices
ATA-66 or ATA-100 Ultra DMA hard drive, CD drive, Zip drive, DVD drive, CD-RW drive, DVD/CD-RW combo drive, and DVD+RW drive

Internally accessible
two bays for 1-inch–high hard drives



Connectors

Externally accessible:


Serial
9-pin connector; 16550C-compatible

Parallel
25-hole connector (bidirectional)

Video
15-hole connector

Network Adapter
RJ45 connector

PS/2 (keyboard and mouse)
6-pin mini-DIN connector

USB
two front-panel and six back-panel
USB 2.0–compliant connectors

Audio2
three connectors for line-in, line-out, and microphone; one front panel connector for headphones

System board connectors:


Primary IDE channel
40-pin connector on PCI local bus

Secondary IDE channel
40-pin connector on PCI local bus

Floppy drive
34-pin connector

Telephony (TAPI)
4-pin connector

Fan
3-pin connector

2 Present only on computers with integrated audio capabilities.



Controls and Lights

Power control
push button

Power light
green light on power button—blinking green in sleep states; solid green for power-on states

Hard-drive access light
green

Link integrity light (on integrated network adapter)
green light for 10-Mb operation; orange light for 100-Mb operation

Diagnostic code lights
four bicolor (amber and green) located on back panel



Power

DC power supply:

Wattage
250 W

Heat dissipation
853 BTU (fully-loaded computer without monitor)

Voltage (see the safety instructions in your Owner's Manual for important voltage setting information)
90 to 135 V at 50/60 Hz; 180 to
265 V at 50/60 Hz; 100 V at 50/60 Hz for Japanese computers

Backup battery
3-V CR2032 lithium coin cell



Physical

Height
42.5cm (16.7 inches)

Width
18.1 cm (7.13 inches)

Depth
44.7 cm (17.6 inches)

Weight
12.7 kg (28 lb)



Environmental

Temperature:

Operating
10º to 35ºC (50º to 95ºF)3

Storage
–40º to 65ºC (–40º to 149ºF)

Relative humidity
20% to 80% (noncondensing)

Maximum vibration:

Operating
0.25 G at 3 to 200 Hz at 1/2 octave/min

Storage
0.5 G at 3 to 200 Hz at 1/2 octave/min

Maximum shock:

Operating
bottom half-sine pulse with a change in velocity of 50.8 cm/sec (20 inches/sec)

Storage
23-G faired-square wave with a velocity change of 508 cm/sec (200 inches/sec)

Altitude:

Operating
–15.2 to 3048 m (–50 to 10,000 ft)3

Storage
–15.2 to 10,670 m (–50 to 35,000 ft)

3 At 35°C (95°F), the maximum operating altitude is 914 m (3000 ft).


oh man is that the longest post ever to say "i dont know what all this means so ill see if someone else can translate it" - i have to quote it in reply its so big LOL.

what video card do you have at the moment? and that 250w PSU, dont think that could handle a high end video card - even the old 5800's required a 350+ w psu, id recomend a 6600GT to keep power levels down.
February 3, 2006 12:36:23 PM

thanks! Sorry for the long post, have to get used to the system I guess. I know have a ATI 9700 pro, you think that changing will make a big impact. ready to spend 200$-300$ as long as it generates real improvement. My config says AGP4x, would the 6600 GT still work with that or is that fixable with the mobo?
Related resources
February 3, 2006 1:02:28 PM

Quote:
My config says AGP4x, would the 6600 GT still work with that or is that fixable with the mobo?


A 6600GT should work as long as it's an AGP 2.0 slot that can supply 1.5V.
February 3, 2006 2:04:55 PM

$200 to $300?

Get an X800 GTO. Best value, 12 pipelines & 256-bit memory interface under $200...
February 3, 2006 9:07:28 PM

is there an easy way to find that out? (agp 2.0)
a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2006 11:11:17 PM

You will probably have to dump the 250 watt PSU for any card upgrade. Seeing as X850XT AGP prices have risen a bunch, your best performer will be an AIWX800XT, which has also gone up in price recently. Next best would probably be an EVGA 6800GS AGP clocked 400/1100, rather than reference AGP 6800GS clocked 350/1000.

Buy.com $15 off link, search x800xt gets one for $270 shipped free. No more $30 rebate available though. http://www.buy.com/retail/coupon.asp?prid=88301879&adid...

6800GS 400/1100 $230.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...


While a 6600GT is definately better than a 9700 pro, I don't see it offering enough of an upgrade. If the 9700 pro is letting you down, can't imagine a 6600GT will keep you happy for long.
a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2006 11:22:26 PM

Quote:
$200 to $300?

Get an X800 GTO. Best value, 12 pipelines & 256-bit memory interface under $200...

I haven't been able to find any AGP GTO's in the USA. Would be nice though if the price were right.
February 4, 2006 12:25:15 AM

Forget about the 6600. For 200 - 300 bucks you should be able to do a lot better. I agree (with Pauldh) that a new PS might be in order. A nice brand name PS in the 350 to 500 watt range would only be $50-75.

How about the x1600pro? $140, 12 pipes, 500MHz core, 256 MB of 800MHz memory.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Who is with me on the x1600pro?
February 4, 2006 12:58:45 AM

My advice is to atleast have a 400w standard psu!

as for video card atleast a 6600gt 256mb agp card should be used!
try a 7800gs,6800gt/gs these cards have latest visual features! and increably fast!

good luck with your choice!
a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2006 5:07:08 AM

he's got an Intel 850 chipset - with RD Ram (not that it matters) - thats true 4x speeds and should work with any new AGP cards.
February 4, 2006 6:09:33 AM

Thanks guys just 2 questiosn left I guess

-I have changed graphics cards and sound cards before, is changing the PS as simple?
- Will the suggested cards generate substancial improvement over my ATI 9700pro

thanks
a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2006 6:58:53 AM

simple - yup, just remove the old psu and install the new one

btw your 9700pro is around the performance level of the 6600GT so get something a bit better then that, atleast something with performance around a 6800GT
February 4, 2006 7:34:43 AM

I read this article about the 7800GS, would that work too and make sense you think?
a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2006 5:23:36 PM

"or even a 6600GT "

Indeed, a nice boost over a 9700 Pro...

I formally 2nd that fairly low price point recommendation!
a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2006 5:26:31 PM

"I read this article about the 7800GS, would that work too and make sense you think?"
The 7800GS card is only marginally faster than a 6800GT in most gaming benchmarks, and is overpriced at $310-$340, and not deserving of the '7800' moniker....it is truly crippled compared to a real 7800GT

A 6800GS ($209) or 6600GT ($140-ish) would make a nice jump for a reasonable amount invested in an AGP card...
a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2006 5:27:31 PM

"btw your 9700pro is around the performance level of the 6600GT "

The 9700Pro does not keep pace with a 6600GT.not even close, IMO....
February 4, 2006 6:00:53 PM

thanks a lot, dont want to spend a fortune, sounds like a 6800GT then! I am not a techno kid, can you explane me what the difference of 4x/8x agp is and will the 4x agp of my system bottleneck the improvements or will it still generate significant benefits?
February 4, 2006 6:02:04 PM

I think u shoudl stick with your system. its still pretty mainstream. just wait it out and spend your hardearned moohlah on something more worthwhile.
February 4, 2006 6:55:57 PM

So your saying that I will not experience significant improvement I guess?
February 4, 2006 7:55:18 PM

For this I only have one thing to say to jb77: tmi!
February 4, 2006 8:08:11 PM

guess your right...
February 4, 2006 8:11:28 PM

I mean providing color of lights on your computer...man you are either a total noob or you just have no life. Actually, I think it is both!
February 4, 2006 8:14:17 PM

Noob, sure, color of lights not sure if I follow you buddy, just trying to get some advise as most people seem to do here.
February 4, 2006 8:20:29 PM

Quote:

Controls and Lights

Power control
push button

Power light
green light on power button—blinking green in sleep states; solid green for power-on states

Hard-drive access light
green

Link integrity light (on integrated network adapter)
green light for 10-Mb operation; orange light for 100-Mb operation

Diagnostic code lights
four bicolor (amber and green) located on back panel




ok sorry, just saying it is really long and telling about lights on your computer is just kinda silly/waste of time (maybe you just type as fast as the speed of light)
February 4, 2006 8:36:18 PM

my fault just a copy paste job
February 4, 2006 8:59:02 PM

Sell the computer and buy a new one, because if you buy a 6600GT you´ll loose so much power of the AGP4x...
February 4, 2006 10:29:25 PM

Quote:
my fault just a copy paste job
i feel stupid now!
February 5, 2006 12:52:02 AM

Quote:
Sell the computer and buy a new one, because if you buy a 6600GT you´ll loose so much power of the AGP4x...


Agreed. There's really not much point in upgrading that system again. You can still get fair prices for your parts on ebay if you want to sell them. Or use it mess around with after you buy your new one. :D 
a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2006 11:17:16 AM

Quote:
Sell the computer and buy a new one, because if you buy a 6600GT you´ll loose so much power of the AGP4x...


I disagree. AGP4X is not going to hurt a 6600GT's performance much and his P4 3.06 still has some game in it. I remember testing a 9800 pro in 4X vs 8X and seeing at most a 1-2 fps difference when benching games.
February 5, 2006 11:29:36 AM

Thanks, think I am gonna spend some cash on it. Bidding for a 6800 GT OC at E bay right now (160US). Also buying new power supply unit (350w) Can I buy any power supply unit or are there different models?
February 5, 2006 11:38:11 AM

Quote:
Thanks, think I am gonna spend some cash on it. Bidding for a 6800 GT OC at E bay right now (160US). Also buying new power supply unit (350w) Can I buy any power supply unit or are there different models?


There's no way you're going to get that card for less than $200 on eBay. Pardon my skepticism. But the real bids come in in the last hour or so. Look at the 6800 GTs that are ending now. That's closer to the price you'll pay, if it not more since that's a nice card.
a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2006 11:38:46 AM

I'd certainly open up th case and check that you have an standard size ATX power supply. Some companies like emachines use a small BTX power supply. Other companies like Dell, I believe sometimes don't stick to the standard 20 pin ATX connector on the motherboard.

It's rarely used for a home system, but check and see if your current power supply has a 6-pin aux connector in use. (ie., it's plugged into the mobo and you need one). Many new PSU's including that Thermaltake, no longer include that connector but do include 6 pin PCI-e and 5-pin SATA connector instead.

Don't look at this power supply, but look at the pics of the connectors down below. http://www.highpowersupply.com/product-ps-sic200m2.htm
a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2006 11:41:02 AM

Personally, I would buy the new BFG 6800GS from zipzoomfly before paying the same or more for a used 6800GT.
February 5, 2006 11:54:59 AM

Quote:
Personally, I would buy the new BFG 6800GS from zipzoomfly before paying the same or more for a used 6800GT.


While I agree with Pauldh that a 6800 GS would be a better buy, I still think your 9700 Pro should be good for a bit. Its better than my card and I'm not suffering too bad yet. ;)  That's just my opinion though.

Games I've played on this system recently:
WoW
CS:S
HL2
Fable: TLC
Guild Wars
DDO Beta

The game I have the most trouble playing is Day of Defeat, which probably doesn't bode well for games like BF2 or other military shooters. (Fortunately for me, I've had enough of games like that.).
a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2006 12:01:14 PM

Quote:
I still think your 9700 Pro should be good for a bit.

I agree with that also. Just depends on the resolution/setting he desires.
a b U Graphics card
February 5, 2006 6:15:42 PM

For fun I ran some FARCRY tests on my gaming system. It's an A64 4000+, 2GB RAM, BFG 6800U. Nothing was overclocked and NV drivers were set to defaults. I used HardwareOC's Farcry benchmarking utility to run a 3 test loop at each of these resolutions: 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1600x1200. All tests were run at maximum detail levels with 4X FSAA and 16X AF. The results show setting the AGP bus to 4X in the bios did very little to lower performance in Farcry at any of these resolutions. Maximum difference was under 0.5 fps after averaging 3 runs.

1024x768 Max 4X/16X - 4X AGP = 72.98 fps
1024x768 Max 4X/16X - 8X AGP = 73.43 fps

1280x1024 Max 4X/16X - 4X AGP = 56.47 fps
1280x1024 Max 4X/16X - 8X AGP = 56.86 fps

1600x1200 Max 4X/16X - 4X AGP = 42.74 fps
1600x1200 Max 4X/16X - 8X AGP = 42.94 fps
February 5, 2006 7:26:21 PM

thanks, thats good news. So feels that it will defenitely give me better grpahics. Well, still best bid on the card, keep my fingers crossed.
February 6, 2006 3:35:49 PM

If you're going to waste time on ebay, use this!

http://www.auctionsniper.com/

You're not going to notice any difference between 4x and 8x AGP. IMHO the best price/performance ratio right now for AGP would be the 6800GS. The x850XT and 7800GS will definitely beat it but not without more $$$. A 6800GS is about on par with a 6800GT.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Here's a decent power supply. A bit on the cheap side but not too bad:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
February 6, 2006 6:03:38 PM

Hmmm...do you plan on buying a completely new system next time, or upgrading?

If you plan to upgrade and are going to use your existing case, then I would get a 6600GT and a good new power supply for now. That should tie you over for now and you'll be ready for the upgrade with the new PSU and still keep the price you spend now at about $200.00US. If you feel like you need to spend more money, then go with the NEW 6800GS and a new PSU.

Otherwise, I would just wait 6 months.
a b U Graphics card
February 6, 2006 9:01:28 PM

I linked to the same video card for $199 from zipzoom and that same PSU from Newegg, a few posts up. I guess we agree on the two products. :wink:
February 7, 2006 6:46:56 AM

I am planning to replace the whole PC.

I (think) I can replace a graphics card and probably the PSU, anything more will be a challenge (DIY is not exactly my middle name!) Want to buy a top notch rig in the next 6-12 months that will keep me happy for another 4 years or so. Waiting with the purchase a bit cause it looks like some new technologies are around the corner that I want to wait for.
The new graphics card and PSU improve frame rate and quality for now.
February 7, 2006 8:41:46 PM

Heh, guess I should pay more attention when I click on the links then. :p 
!