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Buying a new video card

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May 31, 2006 3:34:10 PM

Hi, my old video card (ATI RADEON 9800 PRO) is appearantly fried because i was reluctant to clean the fan for about 2 years, so I need to buy a new video card... Im willing to pay 200-300 dollars for it, and so far I really like
ATI Radeon X1600 Pro AGP 512MB Video Card

Is there some specific things i should be looking for? For example i made sure that the card is compatible with Vista, i think it has some PixelShader 3.0 technology or something, HDR support.... Is there anything more i should be considering?

My current PC is Intel Pentium 3.0 GHz, 1 GB DDR ram

I basically want a good card, for a good price, and I want to definatelly make sure that there will be no need to switch to a new card for at least about 2 years.

edit: also, please, can someone help me out on this - Futureshop claims the card is worth 299 dollars, but many sites there have it for 220-260 dollars. Im considering going to some cheap shops in downtown and getting the card in there, because i might get it much cheaper than in Futureshop. But im worried that I'll get screwed over somehow... What is the best way to buy a card then?

More about : buying video card

May 31, 2006 3:58:15 PM

NCIX.com is a canadian etailer that has X1600's for $150 Cdn.

You might even be able to find them cheaper. Tigerdirect.ca, or your local computer discount store.

Futureshop sometimes has good deals, but most of their stuff is grossly overpriced. If you're willing to spend that much you could get an X800 GTO, or maybe even a used X800 XL or 6800 GT which would be much faster.
May 31, 2006 5:01:26 PM

Hmmm thank you for input... I went to ati.com and compared x800 XL and x1600... By the way, this is really confusing to me - why is x800 better than x1600, if 1600 is twice 800 ? lol, i think this just confuses the customer who knows nothing (or close to nothing) of video cards like me.

Memory Amount (MB) 256 512
Memory Type GDDR3 DDR2
Memory Interface 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Clock Speed (MHz) 490 390
Engine Clock Speed (MHz) 400 500
Pipelines 16 12

where x800XL is first number, and x1600 is the second number. So x800XL has twice less memory, but some fancy GDDR3 memory type, which means absolutelly nothing to me... It has twice more mem interface, more clock speed, more pipelines, but LESS engine clock speed, whatever that is also.

thanks for the sites though, ill check it out, but it makes me feel uncomfortable that you can get the same card for 50% price then what futureshop has it for? Whats the catch? Also, ncix.com has 'Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro' for 160 dollars - maybe this is not the same card as the one i want - it says Sapphire, which is not mentioned in the description on ATI page
Related resources
May 31, 2006 5:38:53 PM

the X800 has a faster memory interface and is faster in genral...BUT the x1600 has the latset version of DirectX
May 31, 2006 5:40:23 PM

WoW! stay away from the x1600 if your gonna do anything game wise.

i fell into this lil trap also, the x1600 pro 512mb card is the biggest rip off ever!!!!

the reason y your seeing that the x800 is better than the x1600 is because the x800 will stomp the other card. ill explain it a lil better to you.

the x800 has a slower clock speed yes, but GDDR3 is way better than DDR2, it has a 256mb memory interface, and 12 pixel pipelines.

now the x1600 is just a liar,
it has a faster gpu speed but only a 128bit ram interface which makes its 512mb or memory useless since it can only access 128mb at a time. Lol. and the biggest kicker is the x1600 does not have 12 pixel pipelines. although all the reviews say it does and its printed all over the box.

if you look at the reviews on newegg.com you will see that the x1600 only has 4 pixel pipelines, yes only 4!!!!!! making it weaker than a 3yr old video card. rofl.

now they are saying that it has 12 pipes because the card contains 3 vertex shaders per pipeline so by ATI's math, 4 pixel pipelines X 3 vertex shaders = 12 pixel pipelines? yeah i dont think so either.

if you dont beleive me check it out for your self, i was actually fdoolish enough to buy one of these to replace my 6600GT.

the x1600 scored 2000 less points in 3dmark03 compared to a 6600GT! which is a much older card. i basically installed the x1600, benched it, and took it right back to the store.

i hope this saves you from making the mistake i did, 4 pipelines HA!
May 31, 2006 5:45:44 PM

No the 800 series cards are better than the 1600 series cards because the 800 series where last generations high end cards but are now older. The 1600 cards are budget cards and are not really compareable to the 800 series the 1800 series were the next advancement from the 800 series cards.

There were 600 series and 300 series just like the now 1600 series and 1300 series.

It makes things quite confusing for end users and ATI should probably change the way of branding their cards.
May 31, 2006 5:49:51 PM

good point nick,

the x1300 and x1600 cards are both cheap ones, both have 4 pixel pipelines the x1600 just has a few more goodies.

the x1800 and x1900 are deffinate high end power houses.

and the x800 and x850 were both power houses when they came out, now they are just a lil aged but still can kick some butt.

if i were you id prob be looking at a 6 or 7 series nvidia card, or
the x800 or x850 ATI cards.
May 31, 2006 5:50:02 PM

Quote:

the x800 has a slower clock speed yes, but GDDR3 is way better than DDR2, it has a 256mb memory interface, and 12 pixel pipelines.



Actually, at the same clockspeeds DDR2 and GDDR3 perform identically. The big thing is to pay attention to clockspeeds, and memory interface.

The X1600 is crippled by two things compared to the X800: it has 4 TMUs (compared to the X800 XL which has 16), and it has a 128-bit memory interface (the X800 has 256-bit, twice the bandwidth).


Why is X800 > X1600?

Don't look at the whole number as a performance measure. In both ATI & Nvidia cards, stuff that ends with 100-500 is a low end part, stuff that ends from 600-700 is a mid end part, and stuff that ends with 800-900 is a high end part.

So the X800 XL is a high end part from the last generation, the X1600 is a mid-end part from the current generation.
But high end will often still beat mid-end when it's only one generation apart.
May 31, 2006 5:54:48 PM

Quote:

the x1300 and x1600 cards are both cheap ones, both have 4 pixel pipelines the x1600 just has a few more goodies..


The new Radeon's aren't really well described by the word 'pipeline'

'Pipeline' usually means a pixel processor (shader) dedicated to a single Texture Management Unit.
The new X1x00 series of radeons have detatched the TMUs from Pixel Processors.

The X1600 has 12 pixel shaders, but only 4 TMUs. It has been described as both a 12-pipeline and a 4-pipeline card but it is somewhere in between.

Similarly, the X1900 has 48 pixel shaders but only 16 TMUs. It's been described as both a 48-pipeline and a 16-pipeline part, but it's neither.

The X1300 has 4 TMUs but only has 4 pixel shaders, so it's pretty accurately described as a 4-pipe card.
May 31, 2006 5:55:02 PM

i meant that GDDR3 can reach much higher clock speeds than DDR2.

and i was under the impression that DDR2 had higher latencies than GDDR3.
May 31, 2006 5:58:30 PM

aside from the word "pipeline" my point is vertex shaders or "shaders" are not the same thing as TMU's, so calling a 4 TMU card with 12 shaders a 12 TMU card is flat out inaccurate.
May 31, 2006 6:00:03 PM

First of all NEVER buy anything from Futureshop unless it's a smoking hot deal. The reason NCIX and other online retailers (canadacomputers, bigfootcomputers, memoryexpress... etc) can charge less is that they don't have a huge store to run. Just a warehouse and a few guys entering orders and a shipping staff. They also don't do any advertising which costs huge bucks. Think of all that crap in the store you don't have to pay for, all overhead costs (displays, sales people, lights... etc) get tranferred to the customer one way or another. Also, don't listen to those idiot sales people, they work on commision and will sell you anything, even if you don't need it. Most of them have no idea how to build a computer themselves.

Sapphire is just a manufacturer of video cards using the ATI GPU, it probably follows the reference boards from ATI fairly closely. If you consider NVidia, makers like Asus, BFG, XFX... etc do the same as Sapphire, just for NVidia GPUs.

In terms of performance, don't get fooled by the amount of ram, quality and speed are much more important.

The other difference is that the X800 was once the top end card for ATI, the X1600 on the other hand was released as a mid range card to the top end X1800.

For $300 CDN I would suggest either one of the following.

http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=&page=file&memx_menu=EmbedProductDetail.php&DisplayProductID=7870&SID=

or

http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=&page=file&memx_menu=EmbedProductDetail.php&DisplayProductID=5784&SID=

or

http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=&page=file&memx_menu=EmbedProductDetail.php&DisplayProductID=7580&SID=
May 31, 2006 6:03:35 PM

Quote:
the X800 has a faster memory interface and is faster in genral...BUT the x1600 has the latset version of DirectX

Both support the latest version of DX, but x1600 also supports ShaderModel 3.0

Quote:

the reason y your seeing that the x800 is better than the x1600 is because the x800 will stomp the other card. ill explain it a lil better to you.

the x800 has a slower clock speed yes, but GDDR3 is way better than DDR2, it has a 256mb memory interface, and 12 pixel pipelines.

now the x1600 is just a liar,
it has a faster gpu speed but only a 128bit ram interface which makes its 512mb or memory useless since it can only access 128mb at a time. Lol. and the biggest kicker is the x1600 does not have 12 pixel pipelines. although all the reviews say it does and its printed all over the box.

if you look at the reviews on newegg.com you will see that the x1600 only has 4 pixel pipelines, yes only 4!!!!!! making it weaker than a 3yr old video card. rofl.

Well... great explanation. Except it's wrong.


However, the x800, even though a generation older, it is still better than the x1600.

Some more cards to consider:
7600GS
x1800GTO
7600GT
7800GS
May 31, 2006 6:03:42 PM

I would go for this card I have had one and they are very good 850XT pretty much the best thing close to $200 or for $300 I would go for this one 7800GS wish you the best of luck shopping around though have fun! :wink:
May 31, 2006 6:07:15 PM

[/quote]
Well... great explanation. Except it's wrong.


However, the x800, even though a generation older, it is still better than the x1600.

Some more cards to consider:
7600GS
x1800GTO
7600GT
7800GS[/quote]

can you explain how i was wrong, i was saying that the x800 IS BETTER than the x1600. not sure what you mean.
May 31, 2006 6:11:28 PM

Actually, DDR2 has better latency than GDDR3. It usually happens that way, new memory has bad latency to start with and gets better over time.


I don't think anyone ever said an X1600 had 12 TMUs. People have said they have 12 'pipelines', however, which isn't necesarily a lie because they have 12 pixel processors.

The problem is, there is no official definition of the word 'pipeline', but when it was coined Pixel Processors were attached to dedicated TMUs.

When it comes to pixel shading in newer titles, an X1600 will process shaders as fast as a 12-pipeline card, it just textures as fast as a 4-pipeline card. That's why it's somewhere in between.
May 31, 2006 6:12:45 PM

Waylander, all cards you have recommended me are PCI-E, and i think ill have to get a GPA card because i think all my slots are just PCI... The reason why i think its this way is because all my 4 PCI slots look the same. Usually a computer could come with 1 PCI-E slot, and it would look different, but all my slots look same. So, GPA only :( 

the RADEON x850 XT looks yummy, i think ill go for that one. im happy i posted my concerns on this board, i would have been ripped off bad - thanks a lot
May 31, 2006 6:15:32 PM

Quote:

it has a faster gpu speed but only a 128bit ram interface which makes its 512mb or memory useless since it can only access 128mb at a time.


Not picking on you, but just clearing the air, this statement is entirely incorrect.

How many 'bits' a memory interface is doesn't affect the total amount of RAM it can access. If that was true, 512mb cards would be useless because the top-end cards only have a 256-bit memory interface.

The memory interface, measured in 'bits', really indicates bandwidth - which in the final analysis has more to do with it's speed. It has nothing to do with the total amount that it can access.
May 31, 2006 6:23:30 PM

Sorry dude you are in a pickle then, AGP will be dead very soon, I'm not sure I'd pay anything for an AGP card right now. I don't know whether you can afford it but since you have to replace the vid card anyway you might want to consider an upgrade to am2, new mb, new cpu, new gpu.

If you can't afford it then...

http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=&page=file&memx_menu=EmbedProductDetail.php&DisplayProductID=7219&SID=

or if you can spend just a little more the

http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=&page=file&memx_menu=EmbedProductDetail.php&DisplayProductID=7435&SID=

check out this page with agp cards only

http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?minorcatid=108&subminorcatid=49

BTW, based on Toms interactive video card charts the 7800GS gets 50% higher score on 3DMark06 and almost 100% more FPS on FEAR than the X1600.

http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics.html?modelx=33&model1=305&model2=297&chart=108
May 31, 2006 6:26:08 PM

Cleeve, thank you for clearing up the latency issue.

now i have a really hard time beleiving this one,

if the x1600 with 4 TMU's and 12 shaders is outperformed by a 8 (pipeline or "TMU" if your prefer) card, then theres no way the x1600 can perform at a level between 4 and 12 "theoreticle pipelines". it only performs as it has 4.

x1600 pro AGP 512mb - 3dmark03 = about 7000

6600GT with 8 "pipes" - 3dmark03 = about 9000

tested on my machine, specs are in my sig.

if the x1600 card did actually perform as you say with those extra shaders to bump it, then y does it score lower than a supposedly weaker card?
May 31, 2006 6:37:26 PM

Quote:

if the x1600 with 4 TMU's and 12 shaders is outperformed by a 8 (pipeline or "TMU" if your prefer) card


This sentence highlights the reason you are having trouble understanding:

A TMU is NOT a 'pipeline'.

A 'pipeline' is a Pixel Processor attached to a TMU.

The 6600 GT could be considered an '8-pipeline' architecture. It has 8 pixel processors and 8 TMUs.

The X1600 is neither a 4-pipeline or 12-pipeline architecture, because it's pixel processors and TMUs are detached. It has 12 pixel processors and 4 TMUs.


Your 3dMark comparison doesn't really explain the situation because the memory clockspeed of an X1600 pro is very low compared to an 6600 GT. (the X1600 PRO has 390 mhz memory, while the 6600 GT has 500 Mhz memory!)

In fact, the X1600 XT has very fast memory and will beat a 6600 GT easily in 3dMark 05.
In 3dMark 06, both the X1600 PRO and XT will beat a 6600 GT!

The problem is, 3dMark05 is a very shader intensive benchmark and this is where the X1600 excels because of it's 12 pixel shaders.
In real life, many of today's games will be limited by the texturing capabilities of the videocard, NOT the shader power, and that is why in most games the 6600 GT will beat the X1600 PRO, despite it's pixel shader advantage.

It is possible that future games that use intense shaders may perform better on an X1600, but by then they will be so complex than neither the X1600 or 6600 will be able to handle them satisfactorily.
May 31, 2006 6:49:42 PM

Quote:


Your 3dMark comparison doesn't really explain the situation because the memory clockspeed of an X1600 pro is very low compared to an 6600 GT. (the X1600 PRO has 390 mhz memory, while the 6600 GT has 500 Mhz memory!)

In fact, the X1600 XT has very fast memory and will beat a 6600 GT easily in 3dMark 05.


what????????

just to clear something up, when i used "pipeline" in the previous post i was refering to a TMU attatched to a shader, meaning the 6600GT would have 8 complete ones, and the x1600 would only have 4 complete ones plus 8 extra shaders, allowing it to be more powerfull than a 4 "pipeline" (TMU + Shader) card, even tho they are not attatched to echother. but it is still out performed by a 8 TMU + Shader card.

(we were saying the same thing) and yes i understand what TMU's and shaders are. even on the RAEDEON web site they state on the front page that the x1600 has 12 pipelines. and they use the forbidden word "PIPELINE"!

now we both agree that a pipleine has to include both a TMU and a Pixel Shader. so for RAEDEON to be able to call the card a 12 "pipeline" card, as they do on the box, and web site, then its missing the other 8 TMU's to obtain the title that they are throwing around. you helped me prove ,my point and why im angry with this lil bit of false advertising.

now can we be friends? 8)

i was jsut angry because i felt decieved by the information given to me online and on the actual box of the vid card.
May 31, 2006 6:56:11 PM

Quote:
the x1600 would only have 4 complete ones plus 8 extra shaders, allowing it to be more powerfull than a 4 "pipeline" (TMU + Shader) card, even tho they are not attatched to echother. but it is still out performed by a 8 TMU + Shader card.



The X1600 has NO traditional 'pipelines' because NONE of it's pixel processors are attached to TMUs.

instead of thinking of pipelines, to compare the 6600 GT to X1600, you should think of the 6600 as 8x8 and the X1600 as 12x4.
That gives you a better idea of what's going on, as the X1600 is better at doing shader calculations and the 6600 is better at doing textures.

And as you can see in 3dMark 06 and 3dMark 05, the X1600 can outperform the 8-pipeline 6600 GT in shader-intensive titles. It depends on the app. Neither is the best at everything.

That's why X1600's are so good at running Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. It's a really shader heavy game, and the X1600 will even stand up to a 7600 GT in that title.

For sure we can be friends dude, I have absolutely nothing against you.
Just setting the record straight is all.
May 31, 2006 7:01:54 PM

cool, and i completely understand that it will be better at shader intensive games because it has the hardware to do so, but it will not outpreform the 6600 in everything. makes sense. but if the box says 12 pipelines and it doesnt have 12, thats where i get angry. if it were explained on the box, or a review, or even broken down on the web site i wouldnt have a problem.

thats basically the whole point i was trying to make.
May 31, 2006 7:05:48 PM

I hear ya. Hell, the 6600 GT will outperform the X1600 PRO in 95% of stuff right now.

Like I said, the root of the problem is that there is no central body that has defined the meaning of 'pipeline'. As such, the new X1x00 series challenges the meaning.

You can't really blame the marketers for being sensationalistic about the card's 12 pixel processors. It's just unfortunate that the raw performance doesn't meet the expectation.

If ATi could go back, I bet they'd put at least 6 TMUs in the X1600 core... that'd make it a much better graphics processor
May 31, 2006 7:11:41 PM

true. i bet they would change it too, 4 just seems so small compard to how demanding games are now and even the new games to come. 6 would make it closer to what they advertise it as, but i think the key to this design was bang/buck. they made a budget card and threw in a couple goodies.
May 31, 2006 7:20:59 PM

nice to know about these pipeline things... i really dont like ATI for doing this to the point that i would happily buy nVidia because of this. Why do they screw people over like that... I suppose they all do it - You cannot find a decent company anywhere in the world that would tell you and explain to you exactly what is good and what is bad. Why not attach a helpful note with a link to a site that explains it more? People have to go to these boards and have others explain it.

One more thing though, could someone give me some nice links to retailers preferably in Canada that sell video cards etc.

newegg.com, from what I picked up is one... any more?
May 31, 2006 7:23:43 PM

tigerdriect.com i beleive ships to canada but im not 100%

they sometimes have better prices than newegg.com but not always
May 31, 2006 7:24:18 PM

tigerdirect.com i beleive ships to canada but im not 100%

they sometimes have better prices than newegg.com but not always

sorry for double post i mispelled the addy in the above one.
May 31, 2006 7:27:09 PM

To keep it simple, aren't the two best cards under $300 the ATI x1800XT and nvidia 7900GT?

For PCI-E, that is.
May 31, 2006 7:46:13 PM

omg... i just noticed in my PC that my power supply gives only 305 watts... is that low? i think it is :
May 31, 2006 7:48:50 PM

Quote:
i really dont like ATI for doing this to the point that i would happily buy nVidia because of this. Why do they screw people over like that...


Ati isn't screwing anyone. I don't think any of the official Ati boxes or literature describes the X1600 as a 12-pipeline card.

[edit] I just looked at the Ati site and nowhere does it say 12 pipelines. The X1600 specs on the site show "- Twelve pixel shader processors - Five vertex shader processors", which is absolutely true [/edit]


It's the second-tier sellers who are putting 12-pipeline on their boxes, if anyone is. So their marketing departments are to blame, and maybe their engineers for not making sure the copy is accurate.

But there's nothing wrong with separating the pixel shaders and TMUs. hell, 'unified shaders' is the future, and even Nvidia will be separating pixel processors from TMUs soon. There's certainly nothing wrong with the X1900, and it's pixel shaders are separated from the TMUs.

Like I said, the problem is that the term 'pipeline' isn't properly defined anywhere, if it was we wouldn't have this problem... it's certainly not Ati's fault.


Tigerdirect DOES ship to canada for sure, BTW.
May 31, 2006 8:00:34 PM

Cleeve it DOES say it has 12 pipelines

go to product comparison, select x1600 pro, and it clearly says 12 pipelines
May 31, 2006 8:02:49 PM

you can also try the 6800LE
May 31, 2006 8:13:21 PM

the box that my x1600PRO 512mb AGP came in was an official Saphire Raedeon box and it clearly stated 12 pipelines on the side of the box and on the back.

the ATI site does state 12 "pipelines" which was what i checked before i left the house to go buy one.
May 31, 2006 8:21:18 PM

Yeah I checked that out. Looks like someone put a separate 'pixel pipeline' and 'pixel shader processor' line but then screwed up on the X1600 where they should have left the 'pipeline' listing blank.

In the X1900 listing, they list it as an 8-pipeline, 48 shader part! So are they overadvertising the X1600 but grossly underadvertising the X1900?
It looks to me like the 'product comparison' database on the site is simply maintained by an idiot.

But if they actually put 12-pipelines on a box, I'll be surprised. Although not as surprised as I'd have been before...
May 31, 2006 8:33:41 PM

Sapphire isn't Ati though.

And once again, without a dictionary definition of 'pipeline', they're not really lying. It all comes back to that, unfortunately.
May 31, 2006 8:58:04 PM

Quote:
omg... i just noticed in my PC that my power supply gives only 305 watts... is that low? i think it is :


I think you will need at least a brand name 400w power supply I would go for an antec 550 true power 2. If you are getting a fairly new graphics card they tend to eat power faster than you can supply it. The antec TP2 is cheap, quiet and a good perfomer, if you get a 7800gs or 850XT you need a beefy power supply.
May 31, 2006 9:01:53 PM

I just got an x800 GTO and love it.. I also modified it to 16 pipelines instead of the normal 12. It is a great card. I was considering getting the x1600 like you, but everyone here said 'get the x800 gto' and they were right. Yeah, it is only shader model 2 ( i think) but that is fine for all games and as far as the clock speeds go, you can overclock the memory to at most about 500 ish and the vpu only to 440 before it crashes. Otherwise it's great!! I bought it about a month or so ago off of newegg for $170..
get one!
!