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Should I upgrade my video card or build a new system?

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May 22, 2006 1:09:50 AM

I'm trying to decide on whether to spend $300 on an AGP GeForce 7800 GS video card or shell out over $1200 to build a new PCI-E based system.

Here are my current system specs:

ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe MB (Intel 875 chipset)
Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz 478-pin CPU
ATI Radeon 9800 PRO 128mb video card
2 Gb RAM (4x 512mb Kingston HyperX PC3200 DDR)
Antec 500W power supply
multiple SATA HDs ranging from 120gb to 320gb

I've been satisfied with the performance until just recently. The first game that really seemed to stress it was FEAR and now Oblivion is also suffering. While both games are playable, I'm dealing with under 30 FPS at 1024x768.

I'm looking at an EVGA GeForce 7800GS CO 256-A8-N506-AX video card. Based on various reviews and comparisons, this will solve my FPS issues. But for how long?

If this card will allow me to maintain over 30 FPS in games for the next year (or longer), then it is worth it. But if games coming out in 6 months will require more power than this card will provide, then I think I'm better off saving for a whole new build.

What do the knowledgeable users on here think? Am I thinking through this logically? I realize that this will in all likelyhood be the last AGP card worth buying, but it gets me by for another year, then I'm willing to spend the money on it.

Mezlo
May 22, 2006 1:26:47 AM

Never buy the 7800gs! I would wait if i were you am2 is out soon and conroe this summer.
May 22, 2006 1:31:43 AM

Quote:
spend $300 on an AGP GeForce 7800 GS

Well it is an EVGA and should be eligable for the Step-up program so if you get a PCIe deal in 90 days, you aren't "stuck" with an old AGP card.

Not to mention your current system rocks. Well except the 9800 pro, which used to rock a couple of years ago - excellent card, I had one and got a 40% overclock and approached 6600gt speeds with the zalman dual-heat pipe heatsink.
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May 22, 2006 1:54:01 AM

If I where you, I would do the $300 AGP card.

I was in the same boat as you 1 month ago.

I ended up upgrading to an Abit SLI Fatal1ty mobo 144 Opteron x1800gto. = $500+ upgrade.

Put it this way, I am not very happy with the upgrade. Games look a lot better, yeah. But still has it's flaws. Everyone made this upgrade like it was going to be SOO much better! A $300 dollar upgrade would have been worth it!

So don't let any make you think otherwise!

If I haddent sold my stuff on Ebay already, I would have waited it out and went for the 7800gs for $300 as you are thinking now.
May 22, 2006 2:03:56 AM

As doolittle said, my current system rocks except for the video card. I know the EVGA 7800 GS card will let me run any game out there today. But will it handle games coming out 6 months or a year from now? That's really the question I'm asking.

Mezlo
May 22, 2006 2:08:59 AM

absoultely not recommended. ur system is still good. try to overclock the GPU, CPU and RAM. u shuld get at least 5-10 FPS more. if i were u, i'll wait till DX10 cards available in stores, then i will upgrade to a system that were compatible with Vista Premium.
May 22, 2006 2:35:40 AM

You would have a better chance on playing games 6 months to 1yr with the 7800gs then if you upgraded your system at a $300 cost factor.
a c 359 U Graphics card
May 22, 2006 2:49:29 AM

That's a tough question. But as many has suggested wait for AM2 or Conroe before upgrading.

AM2 will allow you to upgrade when K8L comes out next year, but offers no real performance boost over the S939 Athlons. But faster Athlons will be only released for AM2.

Conroe is a new architecture and should be able to beat the Athlons until K8L comes out.
May 22, 2006 3:45:34 AM

I agree with the waiting strategies offered. Your setup looks like you are using on-board audio. If so, consider upgrading to the sound blaster x-fi xtrememusic audio card. Playing fear and oblivion, you will certainly appreciate it (I do) and the x-fi will free up the CPU a little to give you a few more FPS. When you're ready to build your new machine, the x-fi goes in it. I got my x-fi for $90 with rebate. There is also the earlier Audigy series but I don't think you will benefit enough from it.
May 22, 2006 6:05:11 AM

Actually I already have the X-Fi ExtremeMusic. I got it last October for $126 from NewEgg. I didn't even think about it when I listed my specs. I also have the Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1 sound system which sounds absolutely awesome. I got it used on Ebay for $199 right around the same time. :D 

Anyway, are you recommending that I shouldn't do anything until the new AMDs come out or that I should get the 7800 now and then upgrade the whole system later?

Mez
May 22, 2006 9:02:15 AM

Quote:
get the 7800 now and then upgrade the whole system later?

I think that is your best bet since it will extend the life of your current build for at least 6 months, then all things conroe and am2 will be mainstream and not to mention cheaper. One of my coworkers did exactly the same thing and he has no regrets since it is close to a 3x increase in gaming performance over his current 6600 - you should see similiar results.
May 22, 2006 10:21:02 AM

Get the 7800. Playing Oblivion on a 9800 for three months will hurt you far more than building a new AM2 rig in two year's time when your current rig will (maybe) begin to fall short.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
May 22, 2006 11:25:02 AM

If looking for a 7800GS variant, look at the Gainward variant if you can find one....

You might also compromise, and look for a 6800GT someone is unloading, they are still quite capable cards, and worlds above the 9800 series...
May 22, 2006 12:05:51 PM

No 6800 :evil:  , No wait :x ,
I Have a 7800GS and Oblivion Maxed out (except for shadow on grass) at 1280x1024, is running flawless, I have an average of 25FPS outside, so I dont know your display, but a 7800GS rocks even at 1280x1024 if you have a Flat 19" Panel, fear is a piece of cake for the GS 40FPS with ALL on, and 16AF, 4XA, look at the VGA Charts so you get an idea, you definitly whant to go for the GS, Dont go for a 6800 they will cost 50 U$D cheaper, and are a generation outdated.-
May 22, 2006 12:11:41 PM

I recomend upgrading your whole system, or at least the mobo, and g-card. I wouldn't invest 300+- into dying tech. But that is just me ;) 
May 22, 2006 2:19:43 PM

I don't think there is any available 16x PCIe boards for Socket 478, and if there is, go for it.
May 22, 2006 3:34:10 PM

if you can find this board , you can still use your CPU for a while ...
Asus P4V800D-X , a 478 pin MB with both PCIexpress and AGP (so buy it , use current set up, them get PCIexpress vga ) ...


But may be hard to find in US...
May 22, 2006 3:37:44 PM

That would be a pretty good idea, that processor isn't that bad.
a c 359 U Graphics card
May 22, 2006 4:41:45 PM

If you buy the 7800GS you may be able to keep your current system for up to a year or maybe a little bit longer. But that depends on how good you want your games to look.

As far as I know Oblivion and F.E.A.R. are the two most GPU intensive games (Oblivion being #1). Hopefully they are not starting a trend where you need an expensive GPU to play games at reasonable graphics settings. Otherwise people may look to the XBox 360 or PS3 as an option.
May 22, 2006 4:53:50 PM

It may not be a good $300 spent if you are going to upgrade within a year though.
a c 359 U Graphics card
May 22, 2006 5:12:06 PM

Quote:
It may not be a good $300 spent if you are going to upgrade within a year though.


Less than a year, yes I agree. But if upgrading more than a year then it may be worth it. Exactly 1 year is debatable.

A year from all i965 and i975XBX mobos should be mature and most bugs squashed. 45nm Conroe CPU will be out, and so will DirectX 10 video cards. Also by then K8L should be out and all socket AM2 mobos should also have many of their bugs squashed as well.

The only thing holding back the OP's system is really the AGP GPU. The 7800GS is expensive for the performance you get. But it will also give some time for the OP to save up some money.

Oblivion is especially rough on those who own anything less than a premium GPU, but I can't see all games in the future that will "punish" gamers for not having a $250+ GPU.
May 22, 2006 5:46:43 PM

Maybe a new system would be the better option, for $300 you could get a nice start on a S939 system and reuse older parts(HDD,DVD,RAM,case,etc.)
a b U Graphics card
May 22, 2006 5:48:56 PM

If I was you I would split the difference and get some thing like this :

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

basicaly x800gto card they cost about 150-170 they are much faster than you 9800pro. It has 256 memory (like the 9800) 256meg ram and 4 more pipes than the pro. This should be able to hold you off until your ready to build a new PC
May 22, 2006 6:04:44 PM

The x800gto is a good agp card and almost half the price of the 7800gs.
May 22, 2006 6:42:27 PM

Go for the video card. Upgrade your system in about 2 years. I'm not comfortable with so many people in these forums advocating that everyone should "wait for Conroe or AM2" before doing almost anything to their system. These chips aren't even out yet, and as such, are still unproven. They will also initially come at a premium price. Your system is still good for at least another 1-2 years with a better video card. If you "wait for Conroe" and then upgrade immediately, 6-12 months down the road when things are cheaper and any bugs are worked out, you'll be sorry you upgraded so fast.
May 22, 2006 6:42:56 PM

Overclock the heck out of ur 9700, that should hold you over till am2 and dx10.
May 22, 2006 6:44:05 PM

Go for the video card. Upgrade your system in about 2 years. I'm not comfortable with so many people in these forums advocating that everyone should "wait for Conroe or AM2" before doing almost anything to their system. These chips aren't even out yet, and as such, are still unproven. They will also initially come at a premium price. Your system is still good for at least another 1-2 years with a better video card. If you "wait for Conroe" and then upgrade immediately, 6-12 months down the road when things are cheaper and any bugs are worked out, you'll be sorry you upgraded so fast.
May 22, 2006 7:04:25 PM

This person does have an older computer but it is good enough to "wait for Conroe and AM2".

The X800gto might give them some extra $ to be ready for the AM2 and Conroe :mrgreen:.
May 22, 2006 8:14:09 PM

:p  I have an older AGP system & was ready to upgrade to a s939. Did a whole lot of research on my own & ended up buying the agp 6800gs & unlocked the extra pixl &shdr units with the riva tuner. i could be happier with this set up right now. i play Fear, Doom, & COD2 with everything turned on. this is paired with a barton 3000+. for a mere $200, I am good for 6-9 months til i go into a full upgrade.
May 23, 2006 12:34:23 AM

I want to thank everyone for their input. I've decided to upgrade my video card and hold off on upgrading my system. Now I just have to decide what card to get.

Looking at the Interactive VGA Charts here on tomshardware.com, even the lowest X800 card outperforms the 7800GS AGP. I realize these are probably PCI-E versions, but still this really doesn't make much sense.

Thanks again,
Mezlo
May 23, 2006 3:37:00 AM

Despite the VGA tests on tomshardware, every other review I read said the 7800GS was superior to the X800 and X850 series cards. Because of this, I decided to get the best card I could find, which ended up being the EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GS CO SUPERCLOCKED (256-A8-N509-AX). The best price I found was from Directron for $314.99 and free shipping.

Thanks again for all the advice and opinions,
Mezlo
May 23, 2006 4:31:57 AM

Yeah its better not to waste 1.2k on a new system that will just depreciate faster than your old system (if you know what I mean).

It just goes to prove that AGP isnt quite dead yet....
!