I will say i've looked at every option available, but i still just cannot make my mind up. I'm pretty sure i want to stay AGP as PCI-e mobos are not so easy to find for 754, i think only Asus make them at the moment. If i stay AGP, where to go? I looked at the 6800 which is solid, and decided to go next step up. The x850 PE XT looked nice but lacking SM3.0 support, the only other option is the 7800GS. XFX, BFG, EVGA, all have the 7800GS at similar speed clocks and specs (16 pixel pipelines, 6 shader modes, 1.2Ggz mem ish & 420Mhz Core roughtly) although the Gainward did something special. They released the 7800GS Gainward Bliss and 7800GS+ Gainward Bliss. The big difference from the other 7800GS cards is the pixel pipelines. While the 7800GS Gainward has 20 pixel pipelines, at stock, which is same as the 7800 GT, the 7800GS+ uses 24 pixel pipelines and the g71 7900GTX chip. Why this is 7800GS+ and not 7900GS+ i don't know. The 7900GS+ at the moment is knocking £270 which is a little rich.
I saw a good deal for the XFX 7800GS Xtreme Edition at clock speeds of 1300/400. Pretty good, still the same old spec as the others. If i got the XFX 7800GS i hear it's highly overclockable, (upto 1500/460) but doesn't have much impact on FPS rate, 5-10 fps increase. I'd happily overclock but i'd rather spend my money on a card that won't need me to overclock. 16 Pixel Pipelines, SM3.0, 6 Shader modes. Not bad really for £195. With that said, i don't know what to do. I'm left with the following choices:
I've pretty much out-ruled ATI almost all their AGP cards rule out SM3.0, which is the future of gaming and already has an impact on current games. The fastest ATI have to offer is the X850 XT PE, which is extremely pricey, around £270, and will quickly outdate as it's now old technology. Although i'm always up for suggestions on ATI. The X1600 is the only card SM3.0 series for AGP (I think....) but doesn't give much performance, not what i'm looking for.
I would be willing to get my self a 7800 from Gainward, which looks the likely pick, but i'm not very sure about it as they're quickly running out of stock and i don't know if the extra 4 pixel pipelines make much of a difference. The other series 7 PCI-E seem to beat the AGP 7800GS. The 7800 GT does get the win on your standard 7800GS AGP card, not sure if it does the same for a Gainward 7800GS+ though!
I would appreciate any suggestion you guys have, as i'm only 15 years old and not the experienced graphical hardware upgrader. It's something i've not done much of. Gone through a MX400, FX 5200, 9600 Pro, and now FX 5900. All very much out dated now i'm afraid.
As a hardcore online gamer, i like to have high FPS, but i like to play my single player games looking glorious as ever. I wouldn't let my fps drop below 30-40 as it becomes rather annoying and defeats the whole object of a mid-top end card.
The 24-pipe Gainward 7800GS is the king of AGP. Then the 20-pipe Gainward. Next down is the 7800GS and X850XTpe with the feature advantage and similar pricing making the 7800GS the better buy. Beyond that, you'd be crazy to think that SM3.0 on a slower card is better and more futureproof than a X850XTpe. I'll gladly trade my top of the line GF6 (BFG 6800U OC AGP) for a faster X850XT platinum edition.
My gut feeling is you may find a PCI-e mobo + 7900GT priced close to the Gainward Bliss and not much over a regular 7800GS. We can't buy the Gaiward over here (without ordering from outside North America), but I can get a PCI-e mobo and 7900GT or X1800Xt for barely more than a much slower reference 7800GS AGP.
I've decided to upgrade to PCI-E, and i can meet my budget for £200
That wou;d've been my suggestion.
The GF7800GS is just to hard to find fully enabled and at a good price, and with the ridiculously low pricing on the X1800 series and GF7900 series (or even full GF7600GT, GS is crap like GB said) then buying a crippled GF7800GS doesn't make sense if you have the option to upgrade just your mobo and keep your CPU/RAM.