I'm not sure about SM3, Ive read about it and without seeing it, I cant really predict its benefit.
There are benefits to SM3 like better lighting effects, but if you are a gamer then I would not substitute FPS for a little more eye candy.
can you not wait for the x1950pro AGP ?? (not sure of AGP price though)
Good advice! This card should take the AGP performance crown and still cost around $200. Also it supports SM3. It would be the best choice but the only down side is finding one. I'm sure they will be available in the coming weeks.