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The Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money: October 2006

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September 26, 2006 12:09:22 PM

Video card specifications and reviews that really get into the nitty-gritty are great - that is, if you have the time to digest everything. At the end of the day, all a gamer really needs to know is what is the best video card for the money.

More about : gaming video cards money october 2006

September 26, 2006 12:46:51 PM

The link is not working, at least for my machine in the UK.

Rob. Murphy
September 26, 2006 1:07:48 PM

Quote:
Video card specifications and reviews that really get into the nitty-gritty are great - that is, if you have the time to digest everything. At the end of the day, all a gamer really needs to know is what is the best video card for the money.


You guys had better give Cleeve some credit, most of this lines up with his current list! Cleeve's the man! :wink:

Quote:
Prices change and deals come and go on a daily basis. We can't offer up-to-the-minute pricing information, but what we can do is list some solid cards that you probably won't regret buying - if you can find them at the price ranges we suggest


For up to week information anyway, here's a greatlist for future reference, assuming TG Forumz mods don't cut it from my post :D  : http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/Short-List-Gami...
Related resources
September 26, 2006 1:12:25 PM

A very useful article, although basically just a rehash of this forum discussion:

http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/Short-List-Gami...

Was it Cleeve who actually wrote this article? I would guess so, based on the caveats mentioned of changing prices etc, after people really tore into him for his article on sub-$200 video cards.

Well written and brief, I appreciate how straightforward this article is. Although I am not currently planning to buy a new video card, I would certainly point anyone to this article for reference who was. I can easily check the VGA charts myself, but some people seem unwilling to do the work for themselves (which baffles me). These pieces of reference information are infinitely useful for handing off to people asking questions.

edit: LOL Bourgeois, I was typing my reply as you were, sorry for duplicating your comment. ;) 
September 26, 2006 1:33:25 PM

Heh--no problem. I hate it when someone does to me what I just did to you :lol:  :lol:  :lol: 
September 26, 2006 2:04:10 PM

they like to do .com.com for some reason. Just delete one of the coms and your good to go.
September 26, 2006 2:11:12 PM

Quote:

You guys had better give Cleeve some credit

I second this.

Quote:

most of this lines up with his current list!


Almost word-for-word! 8O
September 26, 2006 2:31:36 PM

Quote:

You guys had better give Cleeve some credit

I second this.

Quote:

most of this lines up with his current list!


Almost word-for-word! 8O

It's got to be Cleeve that wrote the article. As others have pointed out, not only is the list of cards very similar, but looking at cleeve's post and the article side-by-side, much of the article is simply rewritten directly from cleeve post!
If it wasn't and he didn't at least get ALL the credit, it would be one of the worst examples of plagiarism I've ever seen.
September 26, 2006 2:39:04 PM

lol... yeah guys, it's me who wrote it. My real name is Don Woligroski.

I haven't updated the thread with the new info yet, I wanted to wait until it was published.

I figured I'm doing it anyway, I might as well make it a monthly feature on Tom's. :) 
September 26, 2006 2:42:26 PM

lol great idea Cleeve. I thought that might be the case, but what threw me off was the name of the user to put the article discussion starter up there. We appreciate your efforts, and obviously more than one person feels you deserve the recognition for them.
September 26, 2006 2:52:54 PM

OK, I don't have much trouble with most of what was said and I'm not the one to say a review had evil reasons behind it (nor does this one) LOL.

But I must say I disagree with their dismissal of the 7900 GS as inferior to the X1900 GT. From what I've read, the OC 7900GS cards, perform better than the X1900 GT from slightly 2-3fps to significant 10fps so I don't understand why THG could dismiss the 7900GS's so fast.

Look here:

Review of 7900 GS OC

Also, here you will see the fight is pretty close (and they aint even testing the BFG & eVGA versions):

7900GS OC not too shabby


So, it's a bit disapointing to read THG say that the X1900 GT kills the GS considering most (LIKE ME...got the BFG version) will buy the 7900 GS OC. So, the jury is out...it seems the X1900 GT vs the 7900 GS OC are either equal or the slight edge goes to the 7900 GS OC.

With that said, you can get the HIS X1900 GT for $205 and the 7900 GS OC (BFG) for $215 so pick your weapon, neither of these cards outclass the other...unlike what THG claims.

I love THG, but disagree with their view. Yes...they probably are talking about the 7900GS standard, but for a few more bucks you can get the 7900 GS OC. Heck...the 7900 GS standard from XFX was going for $180 after rebate originally so maybe that's hands down the champ of them all.

:roll: :wink:

FYI, not a hater either way...I don't swear an oath to either companies...I'm Mr. Bang for your buck, I've tried both over the years and simply give a slight edge to nVidia because of their better drivers. Maybe AMD will fix that.
September 26, 2006 3:20:39 PM

I wrote the article, and I can give you three reasons the X1900 was picked over the 7900 GS:


1. Not all benchmarks tell the same story. At Firingsquad, the X1900 GT consistantly beat even the overclocked 7900 GS, sometimes by a notable margin:

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/nvidia_geforce_7900...

Even in some of the benches you linked to, if you read the whole article - the X1900 GT is neck and neck in moist stuff, but for a few games where there is a significant difference, the X1900 GT is way ahead - check out the Quake 4 benches.


2. Overclocked cards are vendor-specific and do not even have standard clocks between them. I'd have to recommend specific vendors which is beyond the scope of the article


3. The overclocked 79900 GS' tend to be inn the $220 range.
Sure it's only $20 more than the bargain X1900 GTs, but it's also only $20 less than the X1900 XT... who in good conscience would recommend spending $220 for a 7900 GS when they could get an X1900 XT for $20 more?
I even find it hard to recommend the X1900 GT at $200 because of the $240 X1900 XT, and I wrote that in the article.



So there are my motivations. Maybe you don't agree, but at least I hope you can underatand where I'm coming from. But right now, from where I'm standing, it doesn't fit. If the 7900 GS goes down to $180, or the X1900 GT goes up a bit, things will change.

They change all the time now. Come back next month and things might be totally different. :) 
September 26, 2006 3:28:31 PM

Hi Cleeve,

Why is it that on page 7, you list the 7800GS+ as having 660mhz DDR (1000mhz effective) memory speed? Shouldn't it be 1320mhz effective?
September 26, 2006 3:32:54 PM

Yep. :) 
Changed on the forum version soon, the article might take a while.
September 26, 2006 3:45:40 PM

Great work Cleeve. I'm looking forward to see more articles from you on THG. :wink:
September 26, 2006 3:51:28 PM

I hate to have to correct you cleeve, the 7800 GS+ stock memory speed is 1250mhz. Therefore 625mhz DDR not 660.....

Hope you dont mind me pointing that out.

:lol: 

I've been looking into getting this card, as Im still AGP and the benchies show it to be a top performer, along with being very overclockable given its really a 7900.

Was slightly tempted to go X1900XT and new mobo, but right now cant be bothered to rebuild for the sake of PCI-E, potential stability issues (given my machine is 100% solid) on a rebuild so sticking with AGP until Vista, DX10, and games worth buying a new DX10 card for are out. AGP still makes sense to the masses.....
September 26, 2006 3:57:16 PM

Erf.

I'll look into that and change it on the forum version... :p 
September 26, 2006 4:00:40 PM

I understand Cleeve, I see your side of it...it's the old $20 problem that can have a customer who started at $180 end up with a $240 card jumping $20 more each time until you end up not where you wanted to be originally.

I'll have to agree with you on that, the X1900 GT for $205 still is closer to $200 and takes the lead in several areas (while not all of them).

Maybe I'm just mad at you or THG because you wrote this about 2 weeks too late for me, and I got the BFG 7900 GS OC...lol. :cry:  :lol: 

The thing is, it makes less noise that for my HTPC/gamming rig it would have been better. So...dang it man...lol :cry: 

But, I got it for $215 and I'm still waiting for more or better reviews of the BFG 7900 GS OC. From what I hear...the OC in the eVGA can hit huge numbers and increase it's performance by 15%...so they say.

Anyway, thanks for the clear up (for me).
September 26, 2006 4:03:16 PM

;-)

You kinda did get me tempted on the X1900XT but 256mb only keeps it well below £200.

Whats the key difference between 256mb - 512mb cards performance wise, and what games are making use of 512mb? Any idea?

EQ2 is my main game right now, so trying to squeeze every frame out of that on AGP.
September 26, 2006 4:04:25 PM

Nice article Cleeve.
September 26, 2006 4:39:05 PM

Noticed a small error on the last page of the article whenre soecet 754 was writen down as socket 740

Other than that a all round nice article though i wouldnt count the 7800gs on agp as lownly as you did, these things overclock like monsters, though this is out of the scope of this article as you put it yourself. For instance my PNY 7800gs did 480 mhz on the core without any problems on stock cooling and voltage, 100% stable and no artefacts. Ill wait for the winter to see what this thing is really capable of.
September 26, 2006 5:17:44 PM

Yeah, the 7800 GS is a monster overclocker... GW has corrected my thinking on that more than a few times. I don't think it's a bad card, just too much money when you're basically chaining yourself to an AGPm platform you're going to have to upgrade sooner or later anyway.

I just think your average AGPer is better off saving the cash and getting a 7600 GT. Everybody's mileage is going to vary though, especially a modder's...

And hey, a voltmodded 7600 GT can do marvelous things. :) 
September 26, 2006 6:01:29 PM

Those disclaimers weren't because of the whiners but they're pretty important for newbs to know:

- Basically, if you're not gaming you don't need a powerful GPU
- Prices will change faster than the article updates monthy, so keep this in mind when buying
- the list is US-only, so if you're reading somewhere else it doesn't really directly apply to you

I dunno, I don't feel the article is compromised too much because of it. It's directed to people who don't know much about GPUs, so it might have been stretching it to assume they knew this stuff.
September 26, 2006 6:12:29 PM

Does anybody know where I can find a list of the best graphic cards for gaming, broken down by price and whether or not they're PCI-E or AGP?
September 26, 2006 6:42:51 PM

Don't worry, I hate pandering to whiners as much as you do. :) 
September 26, 2006 6:43:34 PM

You're a funny guy, Anoobis... :p 
September 26, 2006 7:13:50 PM

This was a perfectly timed article for me... Just when my already strained budget was beckoning me to upgrade.

Now here's my problem, what about dual card solutions?

I'm fully aware that involving ATI's dual GPU solution and trying to compare it, using price versus performance as the variables... well, it'll make quite a tough article to write. At least, compared to SLI, in which both cards must be identical.

But combining two 7300s (because you're a cheap bastard and you really, really need to upgrade), just how much more horsepower does it give you than the nearest single card solution at comparable price?

That's pretty much where I'm in the dark. I don't mind buying at a later date yet two more cards (as I can shove the old stuff on a second machine). I just need to compare the price/performance ratio not just on single card solutions, also on the duals. I don't blame the writer for the article (as I said, oh how convenient); I'm aware it's a tall order. But a rewarding one, when executed.
September 26, 2006 7:30:49 PM

As a rule... Price/performance, a single, more powerful card is better than two cheaper cards.

For example, a single X1900 GT for $200 would be more powerful than two $100 7300 GTs... and a single $350 7900 GTX is more powerful than two $200 7900 GS'.

Multi-GPU solutions rarely make sense unless you can afford two top-tier cards at the time of purchase, for a level of performance that single top-end cards can't provide.
On the downside, SLI/Crossfire has massive power requirements, and generate a great deal of heat... another reason why single card solutions are alot nicer to work with.
September 26, 2006 7:43:10 PM

Buying two cheap cards at the same time for SLI over a slightly more expensive single card that might be a fraction slower doesn’t make any fiscal sense.
Once you’ve purchased the two cards SLI solution you’ve shot your load.
If on the other hand you buy the slightly more expensive single card now you can upgrade later to SLI after prices come down when new cards come out and add an inexpensive 1-2 yrs service life to your rig. The big down fall to the "Buy one now and SLI later" idea is DX10 may add additional features your current card(s) can’t handle.
September 26, 2006 7:48:00 PM

Quote:
;-)

You kinda did get me tempted on the X1900XT but 256mb only keeps it well below £200.

Whats the key difference between 256mb - 512mb cards performance wise, and what games are making use of 512mb? Any idea?

EQ2 is my main game right now, so trying to squeeze every frame out of that on AGP.


I know GRAW uses the 512 megs... it wont even allow certain features to be enabled w/o the bigger buffer. (you can do it in the .ini file for a nice dip in performance ;)  )

firingsquad did a test on it a few months ago... testing if more mem gave better performance. They showed that GRAW did use ~450 megs, but most others saw smaller benefits w/ it. Too lazy to find it but you should be able to search on their site and get it. Good info.

most games don't use it, but future ones will follow the likes of GRAW...
September 26, 2006 8:02:48 PM

Quote:

ON the downside, SLI/Crossfire has massice power requirements, and generate a great deal of heat... another reason why single card solutions are alot nicer to work with.
QFT. By "heat" we mean "more money," spent on a moboard with the right circulation, expensive case with big fans, liquid cooling for the CPU and GPUs, a PSU that spits out only clean power, UPS to prevent the grid from ruining your rig, and if you get any of that wrong, you have to pay more money to replace the parts that melted/shorted/exploded. Which is why game consoles exist.
September 26, 2006 8:06:16 PM

8O :roll:
September 26, 2006 9:21:36 PM

Nice article, Cleeve. It's great for those who are too stupid to use the "search" feature, and instaed start stupid threads like, "Is a 7300GS for $375 a good deal?" and the like.
a b U Graphics card
September 26, 2006 10:22:06 PM

Hey, Good job Cleeve. I imagine alot of people will be relieved to find such help right on Tom's homepage. Maybe we will have a lull in the "what card should I buy" threads.

I'm Kinda surprised though to see almost no mention of the X8xx series apart form 128MB X800's. I realize this was probably written before the latest possibly short-lived X850XT and XTpe AGP deals, but cards like a $125 AGP X800GTO 256MB and $140 AGP X850 pro have been around and consistently in stock for a while and IMO are better cards than the 6600GT for $125 or $130 X1650 pro & 7600GS.

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

And the X800GTO 256MB PCI-e has been under $100 for a while, which I think deserves to make the list instead of the now somewhat rare 128MB versions. I think the faster 256MB versions are typically within $5-10 of the 128MB ones now. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...



BTW, you may just have to add these in next time as it's good to see the BBA X850XTpe AGP as well as the plain XT are back in stock for $175.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Shoot they have been more available than the Leadtek AGP 7600GT lately. Although it's now back in stock today given 3 great AGP cards to choose from for $175. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Anyway, apart from feeling these good ole X8xx's offer some of the best performance for the money now, I agree with you on all the other choices and think this guide could be very usefull for alot of THG readers.
September 26, 2006 10:36:23 PM

Quote:
Not all benchmarks tell the same story. At Firingsquad, the X1900 GT consistantly beat even the overclocked 7900 GS, sometimes by a notable margin:

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/nvidia_geforce_7900...



you know, not sure if most ppl know this (I know you do cleeve... but others like cubanaso) in that firing squad article, and in all of their other recent reviews they have HQ settings on the Nv cards and not the default that so many others test w/. That removes the crappy texture shimmering and makes the quality on-par w/ the ati cards. With that performance hit they perform much lower than what other reviews show. That might help explain why sites like anand and others show the Nv cards better... they are doing less. ;) 
a b U Graphics card
September 26, 2006 10:56:53 PM

True, and it's good to see more apples to apples compared for a change. But you know, Anand's uses default settings and the X1900GT still managed to beat even the OC'ed 7900GS in most games.

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2827&p=13

I think everyone but maybe ole Game should be able to see X1900GT>7900GS and X1900XT 256MB > 7950GT.
September 27, 2006 12:40:36 AM

Good points Paul, good points.

I'lll revisit these when I do the November article. :) 
September 27, 2006 12:52:23 AM

These articles will be released on a monthly basis?
That'll be a lot of work, for sure. 8O
a b U Graphics card
September 27, 2006 12:59:39 AM

Seriously, you are doing this monthy? That's sweet. What else is on the burner?
September 27, 2006 1:11:36 AM

Quote:
The X1900 GT is based on the X1900 XT core, except it is crippled with some pixel shaders disabled and has a lower clockspeed. There are now two versions: the original 575 MHz core/600 MHz memory version, and the new 512 MHz core/6600 MHz memory version. Both perform similarly.

8O
The new version has 6.6Ghz memory! that must be like some new GDDR6 or somethign? hahaha. Just a small typo there. would be great if true. :lol: 
September 27, 2006 1:24:47 AM

Why does the AGP 7600GS (Page 6) have an SLi connector?
a b U Graphics card
September 27, 2006 3:25:59 AM

Quote:
Why does the AGP 7600GS (Page 6) have an SLi connector?


Not enough money left at THG after all the 10th birthday bashes to photochop it out and overlay the universal AGP connector. :twisted:

Stock images are a pain, I doubt Cleeve picked it, probably someone at the head office with beer goggles on. 8)
September 27, 2006 3:49:18 AM

anyone find a lower price than $249 for the x1900xt on newegg? looking to buy soon
September 27, 2006 9:01:15 AM

Agree, this was a perfectly timed article for me too ;-)

However, still hasnt tipped the balance for me to do a total rebuild to PCI-E and an X1900XT. The extra effort and cost gets out weighed by the fact the 7800 GS+ will see me through until the 2nd batch/run at least of DX10 cards become available.

And it seems I have a buyer for my more than capable X800 XT PE, which makes the outlay on the 7800 GS+ a little easier to swallow.
a b U Graphics card
September 27, 2006 11:40:52 AM

Are you talking the 24-pipe Gainward? How much can you find that card for?
September 27, 2006 2:34:02 PM

Quote:
True, and it's good to see more apples to apples compared for a change. But you know, Anand's uses default settings and the X1900GT still managed to beat even the OC'ed 7900GS in most games.


true dat, totally agree. It is nice that it still beat it, but the anand article did not show the sound thrashing that it gave the gs that the firingsquad one did. I figured that w/ the anand articles and others ppl were thinking that they were more or less = and that is not the case.

Quote:
With the X1900 GT costing only slightly more than a modestly overclocked 7900 GS, the value of these two cards is very close.


I really don't think these are that close at all. 8O The 7900gs is not a bad card, but the 1900gt is just that much better. I think the firingsquad article backs that thought up.

Regardless, I am in agreement w/ ya paul and Cleeve is doing a great job on this info. My whole point was to back him up on the decision for the gt over the gs. :) 
a b U Graphics card
September 27, 2006 2:51:11 PM

Quote:
My whole point was to back him up on the decision for the gt over the gs.

LOL, Gotcha. I totally agree and back Cleeve up on that one. X1900GT currently costs the same as the 7900GS and outperforms in almost all games. The OC'ed 7900GS fairs a little better, but also cost another $20 or so more. And anand always seems to have to get a plug in there for NV in my eyes. Not sure where they get their prices from, but they always seem to price ATI cards much higher than the everyday prices I see online...even just checking Newegg.

It's not a bad a idea to mention other cards in case at the time people are reading the article the 7900GS can be found alot cheaper. NV has a nice lineup of cards, just above the 7600GT they all seem IMO overpriced and outclassed for the same or less money. Shoot, a $50 price drop on 7900GS/7900GT/7950GT would put them in a whole different situation in my eyes. And that was my point with X8xx series, as when they are found at good prices they offer such great bang for the buck.
September 27, 2006 2:57:04 PM

Quote:
NV has a nice lineup of cards, just above the 7600GT they all seem IMO overpriced and outclassed for the same or less money. Shoot, a $50 price drop on 7900GS/7900GT/7950GT would put them in a whole different situation in my eyes. And that was my point with X8xx series, as when they are found at good prices they offer such great bang for the buck.


agreed. 8)
September 27, 2006 4:26:52 PM

I don't understand where everybody keeps seeing the X1900GT and the 7900GS as almost equal. When the X1900GT first came out the Firing squad review didn't look promising for it. However, that's because you could get crazy $200 deals on X1800XTs which beat the X1900GT in most games while the X1900GT was priced initially at $300 making it's price/performance lousy. Performancewise, though, the X1900GT was able to stay close to both the 7900GT and the X1800XT in that review which would make it a threat to the 7900GT if it's price ever came down.

Well, it's price has come down, much lower than the 7900GT's and now it has a very good price/performance ratio but now people see it in the same light as the 7900GS?? It seems like people want to kick the X1900GT in the nutz by classing it with the 7900GS.

Pauldh's right, the only way nVidia is going to compete right now is if they give the 7900GS some cement shoes and drop the prices on the 7900GT because they really aren't competitive at anything above the 7600GT and below the 7900GTX right now.
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