RAM vs Features

I'm currently in the near-buy phase of a new video card. But I've hit a stumbling block and not seeing too much discussion on it (or I'm missing the discussion - an entirely too real posibility).

There is just so much info out there.

I'm probably mid-range gamer category. I like to see shadows (but god they bog me down ATM), I like nice graphics, but am i going to notice subtle lighting? probably not..

I've seen the X1900 pro vs xt vs this and that. And I almost landed on the x1600 xt 512 card.

Until it occured to me the topic of ram vs features. Are you better off going for the x1900 xt ( I think it was the xt?) with more features and 256 ram than you are the x1600 xt with the 512 ram? The cards, as far as I can tell, are almost identical in price.

What's the long run implications? Will I be hurting for video ram I sacrified for features in the future? Or will going for ram kill me quickly in a year or so when more features (pixel shaders etc) are necessary?

I'm looking at the 250-300$ range. Realistic, down-to-earth opinions are welcome. Another thing I'm running into is that my Dell Dimension 8400 power supplye is 320W and some of these are saying min 400W. I don't mind swapping the power supply, if its not too expensive - but prefer not to - if the experience is significant I will. The x1600 @ 512 doesn't need more power whereas the x1900 @ 256 does. So this troubles me.

I look forward to everyone's opinions. All input into my decision is received greatfully.

8 answers Last reply
More about features
  1. Get the X1900XT 256mb there is no $/performance comparison to it.
    It assumes 400w on a very loaded system. Depending on your HDDs, processors and add on cards youll need to swap it or not.
  2. It's certainly better to have 256mb with 256 interface (X1900 XT) than 512mb with 128 interface (X1600 XT), not to mention the greater number of pixel shader processors!
  3. it is better to have a g-card with 256mb ddr3 ram, 256-bit interface than a card with 512mb ddr2 ram, 128-bit interface.

    also, x1600 range is sh*t, go for a 7600GT if you're staying near that price.
  4. Tom's has a really nice graphics cards for beginner article, you might want to look that over.

    It's been proven that more ram has almost no performance improvement, whereas everything else will offer better performance i.e. clock speed, pixel and vertex shaders, etc.

    256mb is pretty much all you need for most games now. However, there have been rumors that future games will depend on ram sizes more for their higher quality and larger texture packs. As of now though, memory size is negligble compared to other features.
  5. I would get the X1900XT 256MB over the X1600XT 512MB. While the extra 256MB may seem nice, it will not offset the power of the X1900XT GPU. Thus getting the X1900XT will save you money in the long term since you will not need to replace it as quickly as if you were to get the X1600XT.

    If power consumption is a real concern and you absolutely do not want to replace the PSU, then consider the nVidia 7900GT. It offers slightly less performance than the X1900XT, but it power consumption is less than half of the X1900XT (approx 48w vs 108w).
  6. LOL Well, that's pretty much a screaming 'yes' to the 256 vs 512 question.

    The power is a concern, but I'm thinking I may be safe.

    It's the dimension 8400 w/ Onboard sound, it has just the one hard drive (though I do have a spare I've been tempted to plug in), and two DVD drives - one a burner.

    320 watts.. the x1900 xt seems to take the 400 but we'll see.

    Thanks again for the help!
  7. I think your 320W will barely make. I blew my 320 when I hooked up my GeForce FX 5950...granted my system was Oced, 3 hd etc.

    I suggest you find a program to monitor the Voltage your PSU is outputing. They should al the three rail 12V, 5V and 3.3V should be within 10% of that actual value, otherwise you will see instability...

    The problem with dell is that the PSU sometimes have a proprietary format, less common on newer systems but you never know...
  8. I would change out my power supply if i were you. The main question you need to ask is if the power supply is propritary or not. If it is, you might have to buy a new case as well. I don't think this will happen, but it needs to be said, because we've seen it before.

    As for what size, i would recommend a 550watt or greater and a name brand such as Ultra or Antec. Good luck
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