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Decisions, decisions... upgrade on AGP or switch?

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  • Homebuilt
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems

What should I do? :-\\

Total: 21 votes

  • Buy interim AGP card, big upgrade next year?
  • 34 %
  • Upgrade motherboard to PCI-E and new gfx card only?
  • 0 %
  • New motherboard, Conroe, new gfx card?
  • 43 %
  • AMD X2 motherboard, X2 4000+, new gfx card?
  • 24 %
August 8, 2006 11:43:03 AM

Hi there - please help a 2nd time builder - who has just realised how little he knows nowadays! I have ~£500 to spend, but want good long term value for money.

I have a P4 3.2 Northwood (socket 478), 9800 Pro AGP system. I'd like to upgrade to get a nicer look at Oblivion - ideally just the graphics card, but since I'm on AGP still, it's tricky to decide:

- In the UK, I can't find a new motherboard to allow me to upgrade to PCI-E... there are some from Hong Kong on ebay, but they cost £12 for p&p and I think you have to pay import tax - nightmare!

- What is a Micro ATX vs ATX form factor? I have ATX case and mobo at the moment. The only PCI-E mobo I can find is micro ATX - will it fit my case?

- I like the look of the new Core 2 Duos - if I am forced to upgrade my mobo then why don't I just upgrade my processor too? that way it will be more "futureproofed" too, rather than buying a dead-end socket 478 mobo for PCI-E only... Or would this be a waste of money? After all my processor works fine still. No processor bottlenecks that I know of.

- If I get an AGP graphics card, I don't seem to be able to find a good 7600 GS for less than £200 in the UK... and since that's a dead-end AGP graphics card, that seems a LOT to pay for me... would you agree? Is there a good AGP graphics card for less than £100 I can get in the meantime?

- There is talk of a new set of video cards coming out - dx10... When are these coming out? They will make everything cheaper clearly... whether I stay AGP or go to PCI-E... But will it suddenly be NECESSARY to have a dx10 card? Surely there are some cards worth buying now?


Lots of dilemmas - your thoughts most welcome. There must be LOADS of people with AGP systems going through the same problems.

Thanks for your help!

Gearoi.

More about : decisions decisions upgrade agp switch

August 8, 2006 11:49:43 AM

AGP... most boards dont even have agp slots anymore.
its going out of style

i actually have a agp system im using right now. but i have never thought to put a video card in it. my pc sucks and upgrading it would be a waste of money.
August 8, 2006 12:53:50 PM

Quote:
AGP... most boards dont even have agp slots anymore.
its going out of style


Yes - I totally agree - my question is whether it's worth trying to get an extra year out of it or to change now - and it's not easy to just change without doing a big upgrade... :-S
Related resources
August 8, 2006 12:57:51 PM

Sticking with AGP will severly limit you. DirectX10 is coming but not here; so you shouldn't worry too much about that (Unless you know of a game you play that requires it).

Keep in mind that your memory is not compatable with AM2 boards you have DDR they use DDR2. A socket 939 uses DDR and has a PCIe slot. The 939 chips have just dropped in price. Also old intel products are discounted as well. I would try to find something that would allow you to use your memory to save money now. You can always upgrade to the latest later. lol Who knows, by the time Oblivion 3 is out you'll be able to upgrade to GDDR4.
Just kidding :wink:

I always try to use my hardware as far as I can take it forward. But I myself have just faced the same dilema, bit the bullet and built a new 939 Nforce4 machine to allow a better graphics upgrade path. I also bought a 6800GT which I could not find in stock anywhere in AGP, i even had 2 orders cancelled because ithey couldn't be fullfilled.

Also ASRock makes a board with both an agp and pcie slots.
ASRock Motherboard
August 8, 2006 1:13:53 PM

Quote:
Sticking with AGP will severly limit you. DirectX10 is coming but not here; so you shouldn't worry too much about that (Unless you know of a game you play that requires it).


Yep - AGP sucks I think I'm coming around to that :)  No - I don't know of a game I want so perhaps I should forget about dx10 - thanks - good point!


Quote:
Keep in mind that your memory is not compatable with AM2 boards you have DDR they use DDR2.


Wow - I didn't know that - I had assumed it was backwards compatible... That means another £150 for memory I guess (gulp!)


Quote:
A socket 939 uses DDR and has a PCIe slot. The 939 chips have just dropped in price. Also old intel products are discounted as well. I would try to find something that would allow you to use your memory to save money now. You can always upgrade to the latest later. lol Who knows, by the time Oblivion 3 is out you'll be able to upgrade to GDDR4.
Just kidding :wink:


A 939 - sounds like a really good value purchase right now - not a bad idea - but I read somewhere else that the 939 is also on its way out - that the future chips will be on AM2 - is that right? Can you upgrade the 939 anymore?

Quote:
I also bought a 6800GT which I could not find in stock anywhere in AGP, i even had 2 orders cancelled because ithey couldn't be fullfilled.


Yes - I can't find any 6800 GT, but I can find 7600 GS AGP on overclockers.co.uk for £111 (BFG - is that any good?) and others. I thought 7600 GS was about as good as 6800GT... but still - it might be money down the drain as I'll have to get a new one when I go PCI-E in the future anyhow...




Quote:
Also ASRock makes a board with both an agp and pcie slots.
ASRock Motherboard


Hmmm... can't find those PCI-E and AGP mobos in the UK at all... that's a real problem for that...

Thanks for those thoughts - much appreciated! :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
August 8, 2006 1:34:40 PM

One of my machines has a 2.4 celeron in it, not overclocked, and had a ti4200, then an ati 9600, and now a 6800gt in it. I can play fear on it, although not cranked way up as on my other machines. A better graphics card would do your setup good. COD2 plays well, and I'm sure oblivion would also..... don't own it, don't want to.

There is a 478/479 board that supports pci-e. Unfortunately it is for a mobile chip, not for your venerable chipset.

Keep in mind, when going for one of those "direct x-10 cards, you'll also have to spend money on microsofts new operating system. There are several versions, and the one you might want will cost you 300 bucks or more.... ?

One of the newer, faster agp cards would be great, IMO...good luck
August 8, 2006 1:36:11 PM

www.scan.co.uk

search for AsRock 939Dual-SATA2 around 39 quid + 10 for delivery if u dont live near preston
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProdu...

u can then use ur 9800pro, though what kinda memory does 478 use?
i forget, if its ddr400 then its fine if not, u will have to buy it.
DirectX 10 hasnt been set for release yet, i think that it 'might' come out when vista is out...or after who knows really.
also I think that the 9800Pro is still better then 6600 and it could be better then a 7600, though i forget if it is or not.
and another great thing about it, apart form being cheap and v. good performance is that u can ^grade with a expansion board to AM2 so hold on to your ram
August 8, 2006 1:47:32 PM

I'm in like the exact same boat, but my GPU is one generation older than yours.

Here is what I would do. Save up some more cash, tighten your belt, and go for a Core 2 Duo build or a AM2-->AM3 build. AM2 is like a transitional socket, but it will be fully compatabile with AM3, I believe.

Throw in a 7900GT or a 7600GT. You want to save around another 300 Euros for a good mid-level build.

If your machine is working good now, just leave it be, and save some more cash for an entire new system, but keep the case, drives, and PSU if possible. That way you can spend more cash on better components. I know it is hard to not uprade when the cash is right there, but believe me: The money is almost as good as wasted if is upgraded.

My system is like yours, but the motherboard, PSU, case, nor CPU fan are not working. Its not like those parts matter, ;)  I've saved around 90 Euros for a new part for each. I'm just getting parts to make it work, tired of this old Dell.

~Ibrahim~
August 8, 2006 1:52:26 PM

Quote:
www.scan.co.uk

search for AsRock 939Dual-SATA2 around 39 quid + 10 for delivery if u dont live near preston
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProdu...

u can then use ur 9800pro, though what kinda memory does 478 use?
i forget, if its ddr400 then its fine if not, u will have to buy it.
DirectX 10 hasnt been set for release yet, i think that it 'might' come out when vista is out...or after who knows really.
also I think that the 9800Pro is still better then 6600 and it could be better then a 7600, though i forget if it is or not.
and another great thing about it, apart form being cheap and v. good performance is that u can ^grade with a expansion board to AM2 so hold on to your ram


Cool - thanks for suggestions -

the asrock is available only for Pre-Order though - no actual availability... are these boards really new then? If they are soon to come out that's the perfect solution for value for money! I'll contact Scan to find out.

Yes I have 4x256 DDR400 RAM at the moment - will work on that ASRock (hmmm - must check how many slots it has though - I need 4...) :) 

my grandmars (OEM manufacturer) 9800 Pro - is pretty old now - it doesn't appear on benchmarks anymore - I'm sure the 6600 and 7600's more than double (probably even triple + ) the performance (I looked a while ago but will do so again).

Wow - you can get an expansion board to AM2 (do you mean DDRII??) - how does that work? Sounds good.

Thanks again.
August 8, 2006 1:56:31 PM

That Asrock board is fricking built for the future. There is a slot on the motherboard in which you plug in a CPU riser board which has an AM2 socket and DDR2 slots. Pretty cool, here is the link for it:

AM2 Riser Board for ASROCK motherboards

I'm willing to bet they're developing one for AM3 as well.

~Ibrahim~
August 8, 2006 2:01:40 PM

Hmm - have spotted a flaw in the plan - I have a P4 3.2 Northwood Socket 478... it's not a 939 like the ASRock model on scan...

:( 

:roll:
August 8, 2006 2:07:35 PM

Oh. I thought you were getting a 939 then upgrading to 65nm AMD later down the road. Yeah, AFAIK you can't upgrade an Intel board to an AMD CPU or vice versa without extreme modding, like *extreme*.

:( 

Also, the AsRock P4Dual-915GL for Sckt. 478 looks good, but the PCI-e port only accepts certain GPUs, :( 

~Ibrahim~
August 8, 2006 2:13:18 PM

a 3.2ghz Northwood you way, i think thats worth a bit of something on ebay. Especially if it is socket 478. now if you had one with a 533 bus, that would be a goldmine.... You could potentially increase your budget but quite a bit if that chip is what i think it is.
August 8, 2006 2:16:36 PM

Quote:
Oh. I thought you were getting a 939 then upgrading to 65nm AMD later down the road. Yeah, AFAIK you can't upgrade an Intel board to an AMD CPU or vice versa without extreme modding, like *extreme*.

:( 


Yes - I should get out some soldering iron and some wires ;)  My computer might get back to being the size of a whole room again ;) 


Quote:

Also, the AsRock P4Dual-915GL for Sckt. 478 looks good, but the PCI-e port only accepts certain GPUs, :( 

~Ibrahim~


Hmm - that sounds dangerous - I can see that board here:
http://www.asrock.com/product/P4Dual-915GL.htm

But it's Micro ATX - is that the same as ATX? Will it fit my case? :-S
And where does it say which GPUs are allowed?

(sounds a bit worrying to me - it's pushing me towards a new core 2 duo rig...)

cheers!
August 8, 2006 2:20:17 PM

Quote:
a 3.2ghz Northwood you way, i think thats worth a bit of something on ebay. Especially if it is socket 478. now if you had one with a 533 bus, that would be a goldmine.... You could potentially increase your budget but quite a bit if that chip is what i think it is.


Someone is trying to sell it for £99 buy it now... I think it's a 800FSB, not 533.

Thanks - I hadn't thought of selling it!

Trouble is - it's a good chip. I'd like to still use it but there doesn't seem the support from the motherboard makers. :( 
August 8, 2006 3:21:54 PM

well sacrifices have to be made in the quest for advancement
problem is that cause ur using AGP there is a hell of a limit on what card you can get.
atleast if u get the asrock you have a choice to stage your upgrade so it wont break the bank and you can use your AGP, then ^ to PCI-E (another cool thing is that you can have 4 screen output 2from AGP 2 from PCI-E)
478 might have been a good socket, and i hear that it's kinda had a resurgence, but i wouldnt count on it for PCI-E simply because not enough ppl what to upgrade and its not really used (i mean sold/manufactured) anymore.

spend 200 on a mobo/cpu combo
100 on ram
use your hdd and others from ur P4
20 quid on a crappy GPU so u can use ur P4 as a server
thats more or less what i did anyway.
August 8, 2006 4:27:05 PM

"well sacrifices have to be made in the quest for advancement "

so true! Made me laugh as well thx! :lol: 

I have little use for a server tbh... but I might upgrade... it really depends on whether I can get one of these PCI-E / AGP boards which can cope with a full range of PCI-E gfx cards or not... - I shall investigate further later at home.

Does anyone own one of those yet? Would be good to hear from you and how you got it (especially if in UK... )

More seller browsing to come ;) 
August 8, 2006 4:47:31 PM

I got my asrock back at christmas cause i somehow burned my NF7. and i ordered it off of scan. cause i had a mate who lived up in preston i went up there to pick it up.
so far they are the only ones to do a proper native AGP and PCI-E
others have done combined but the performance for one or the other has been really shit...e.g. a converted AGP has the same performance as PCI woot!
if scan dont have it then just google it
http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Asrock+DUAL-SATA...
microdirect have it in stock, though i dont know what there reliability is as I've never used them

from my experence the performance of the asrock is rite up there, only very little behind the best that are 80 quid more
have a look at this review
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2524&p=1
..i really should read it but i'm lazy...
what i want to know though (which i'm sure would be one of your questions) is what the performance is when it has an expansion board in it using AM2
August 8, 2006 5:18:18 PM

Here's probably the most uncomplicated suggestion yet. Go to ATI.com and purchase yourself a $119.00 ATI X850 PRO AGP card(YES, they are now instock). Then go buy an Arctic Cooler Silencer 5 Rev2 and overclock the sucker to 540/590-core/mem. That AGP card, overclocked and your current setup should last you at least another year to play even some of the most current games with decent framerates and graphics quality, except Oblivion. By that time the Core2Duo would have been completely ironed out and the prices (should be) lower and you can build a new system around it.

I just faced the same exact problem you do a couple of weeks ago. I have a 64 3000+ 754, 1GB Ram, and 9800 Pro 128. I thought about a new build but the costs are just waaay too up there. With my overclocked X850PRO, COD2 now runs perfectly at 1024x768, High details, 2xAA, Animo, and Full Smoke. Same goes for HL2, CS:Source, Doom3, BF2, and FarCry.
August 8, 2006 6:02:02 PM

I'm in a similar situation, and have been trying to find a good transition path.

Here's one option to spread the costs out.
Motherboard and CPU upgrade

ASRock 775DUAL-880 Pro + Socket 775 processor of your choice.
It has AGP and PCIe-16 slots, so you can hold off on video for the DX10 cards.
It has memory slots for DDR and DDR2, so you can upgrade that later as well.

It's not a perfect fit for you, but if you can eek out a few more months on that 9800 pro, you can upgrade to the new video cards anytime after they're out.
August 8, 2006 6:59:25 PM

Well, no need to be nitpicking, but my currency converter, xe.com, has it showing around $654. That was a Euro conversion. It would be close to $900-100 if he was talking about UK Pounds, GBP...

I really need to get that X850 Pro. I'm sure it'll be an improvment over my GeForce Ti 4600, ;)  Hell of a deal for an AGP card. Not sure how the unlocking is going on it, though. Some people can't seem to unlock those last four pipes!

~Ibrahim~
August 8, 2006 7:07:02 PM

Check out this thread regarding unlocking status for the new X850 PRO.

http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/X850PRO-ship-AT...

So far its been hit and miss. Mine came with a laser cut :cry:  , other's did not. But according to everything else I've read the extra 4 pipes only gives you a 10-15% performance advantage over a similarly overclocked 12 pipe card. So not really a big deal. And compared to your 4600 it will definitely be a night and day difference.
August 8, 2006 7:15:23 PM

Quote:
I'm in like the exact same boat, but my GPU is one generation older than yours.


I was too until I lucked across a ECS 915P-A motherboard for $4.30 brand new from a local retailer. Now instead of looking for a board to fit my old processor, I'm looking for a new processor to fit my dirt cheap motherboard. It also has support for both DDR and DDR2. It's pretty flexible.

Hello? Any Pentium 506's laying around anywhere? Do I need to go Celeron??? (I saw a Celeron D341 for $39 at the same place but I don't know if it's still there)
August 8, 2006 8:26:52 PM

How about an 805 with a good cooler? Should get great OC results.

Thanks for the link, mandark!

~Ibrahim~
August 8, 2006 9:57:13 PM

Think I've settled on keeping on AGP for the next year - and getting one of these:

BFG GeForce 7600 GS OC 512MB DDR2 HDTV/DVI (AGP) - Retail (GX-031-BG)

from Overclockers: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Nvidia_AGP_Graph...

It's only £111 rather than £200+ for the 7800 GS cards, so I get to save more for the big upgrade next year, which might include vista/dx10 etc... or maybe who the hell knows!!! ;) 

Do you think that's sensible???

And one last other (probably paranoid) question - the cards here:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/ATI_AGP_Graphics...

e.g. the X1600 Pro cards - are they any good??? I don't understand why people are recommending the X800XL and X850 seem to be lower in model number than the X1600 but no-one recommends the X1600... Were they just bad or something?

Nearly there I think ;) 
August 8, 2006 11:05:58 PM

People recommend the X800/X850 as they were an extremely fast high-end gaming GPU series a year or so back. They can hold their own in some benches against some/most of the mainstream cards of today. The X850XT PE is a very fast card, a full compliment of 16 pixel piplines, 540Mhz on the core, 1.18Ghz on the memory on a 256-bit bus, and topped off with 6 vertex shaders. If you can get a X850XT/Pro/XT PE, go for it.

I'd say the GS, it has three times pixel pipelines, 12 vs. 4, and one more vertex engine, 5 vs. 4. It does, though, have 100Mhz slower core, the Pro having 500 versus the 400 of the GS. GS also has a slight advantage in memory clock: 800 vs. 780. The 7600GS is also passive to begin with, so it lowers the noise levels...

~Ibrahim~