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AGP Platform Analysis, Part 2: New Cards, Single-Core System

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February 1, 2007 11:12:30 AM

We see what the new generation of AGP cards can do for an Athlon 64 3400 .
February 1, 2007 11:55:48 AM

And I see how bad a purchase I made.. :twisted: when I bought my comp and the video card.. :x
February 1, 2007 12:02:47 PM

Comment was made on the second page that the Sapphire was the only 512MB X1950Pro AGP card available you were aware of. HIS offers at least four X1950Pro AGPs; they offer 256MB and 512MB in both standard and their IceQ3 Turbo (overclocked) versions. NewEgg is currently offering all but the 512 Turbo flavors...apparently sold out of the 512MB IceQ3 quickly (I got lucky!)

Great article!!
Related resources
February 1, 2007 12:06:11 PM

Good info and review. You explained the results well imo, many "laymen" should be able to understand exactly what you got from the results. I find in a lot of articles reviewers assume a little too much expertise on the part of the reader. I have several friends who are into gaming yet when I start waxing all technical on specs etc. they give me the "deer in headlights" stares lol.

I am curious of one thing. Since you've had quite a bit of review time with the Sapphire card now, have you experienced any of the problems others have been talking about? I recently installed one myself and it plays great but for one thing. I get occasional lockups. Have to hard reboot to get system back, its usually accompanied by a odd tone through my headset.

I have a feeling I may have damaged my sound card or possibly my brand new power supply but don't have an extra sound card or PSU thats rated high enough for the card. Why I think this is I heard an odd sound when I first booted after install. Like the speaker made a "pop" for a sec then was ok.

Got off on a tangent sorry. Just somewhat hoping it IS the GPU cause it would be easier to RMA.

Anyways, just curious if you had any problems with these cards as it seems to be more the norm rather than the exception.
February 1, 2007 12:23:02 PM

Talon,

I've heard about a lot of issues also with the X1950 AGPs; I was afraid I might be wasting the $300 entry fee I paid. For what its worth, I know the Accelero X2 cooler has been updated with the addition of a VRM heat sink plate, the easiest way to get one is probably off ebay (search under items for sale by seller "arctic-bid").

I got my X1950 2 days ago, I tested it yesterday in a slug system and so far it has been great, but I did notice the fan settings are not nearly as aggressive as I would like, at least according to ATI Tray Tools. This might be unique, however, to the BIOS in the HIS cards--I'm not sure. If you're going to use such a utility, forget ATItools for now. That was always my favorite, but it does not currently support the X1950...

Sorry I can't be more help...
February 1, 2007 12:37:07 PM

I know this keeps getting brought up but it is making more and more sense just to ditch that AGP motherboard.

There are plenty of socket 939 motherboards out there with *PCI express* for <$60. Getting one of those means 939 AMD64 owners can move their CPU and DDR (1) RAM over. They are then free to buy the upcoming 8600 series nvidia cards for best performance:p rice, directx10 support and HDCP support.

I think $60 on a MB and $130-$200 on a 8600 PCIe series card is money much better spent than $150-$250 on an AGP card in this review.
February 1, 2007 12:37:31 PM

Nice but I would like to see a part 3 with them adding some dual core cpu's to the mix. There are a few agp mother boards that will run dual core amd and intell. :wink:
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 1:04:16 PM

I guess my question to everyone is this: gpu manufacturers are phasing out AGP, with only a couple popping up here and there to 'keep the drive alive'. I know its expensive to upgrade components...you basically have to revamp your entire box. But, if you are planning on playing games and such and need the hardware to do so, maybe its time to update to PCI-e. None of the high end gpu's from either end of the table are making it into AGP; only adaptations of mid-range gpu's. I see the idea of just upgrading your card with a $250-$300 top of the AGP hill card will run well on games now and past. But, at the same time, that $250-$300 will get you a smokin' hot PCI-e card that will blow it out of the water. I guess it all comes down to priorities and money for each consumer. I took the leap and have been very happy, but not everyone may be ready to do so...so I understand.
February 1, 2007 1:39:03 PM

This is actually a reply to both rubix_1011 and nemi_PC. You guys are assuming far too many things here.

We’ll start a generalization first (you seem to be in that mode), then we'll cover my situation next. First off, as the article noted, even in the highest end AGP cards, there is essentially no penalty for AGP. If the x1950Pro is enough card for you, it is foolish to go out and spend a bunch of money to upgrade to a PCIe system just for the sake of having a PCIe system. An AGP version of any particular card many be a bit more than the PCIe, but it’s not that bit of a hit in the whole scheme of things. Likewise, is is also probably foolish to "upgrade" from AGP to PCIe and stay at skt 939, since eventually you'll have to replace all that stuff, too.

My personal feeling is that if you're going to make the switch from 939/DDR/AGP to (775 or AM2)/DDR2/PCIe, save your coin and do it all at once. None of that stuff is getting more expensive in the long-term.

As for the DX10 thing, people keep forgetting that DX10 is for Vista, something I have no intention of converting to in the next couple of years. No typical working application will require it for a long time. Even DX10 supported games aren't going to be the norm for quite a while.


Now, for my own personal situation. I have been accumulating pieces/parts for the last few months and was about to put together:

Antec Nine Hundred case
OCZ Powerstream 520W (but may use a PC P&C TurboCool 510 I have instead)
MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum (skt 939)
AMD 64 X2 4400 (plan to do a little OC)
2 X 1GB OCZ PC3200 Platinum Ed.
Creative X-Fi ExtremeMusic
...and an X850XT from another system I have.

I've had the motherboard for nearly a year now, and the X850XT was always meant for it. I am not a gamer but I do CAD and some graphics work, and I love screen "Real Estate." I'd been watching for a SONY SDM-P234, but the supply dried up when I blinked. Meanwhile, I was offered a NIB Dell 3007FPW, with warranty, for $750. Couldn't turn it down!

Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), native resolution on the 3007 is 2560 X 1600, requiring a dual-link DVI connection (not to be confused with dual DVI). Almost all DL video cards are PCIe--few available as AGP. I was planning on going to C2D later this year, once the Quads were more available (driving the C2D prices down), and going to an R600 class video card then (all that stuff is DL). Problem is all this is either bleeding-edge or not even available yet. If I did it right now, I'd opt for an nVidia 8800GTS, but that is strictly a PCIe and it'd drive a COMPLETE system upgrade I am not ready to pay for (mobo, C2D, DDR2, PCIe video). Remember, 8800GTS starts at $375 currently.

I stumbled on the HIS X1950PRO IceQ3 512MB Turbo card at NewEgg for $300. The non-turbo 512 was $275, and the good cooler used on the Turbo version is easily worth the extra $25, even if it didn't clock any faster (Turbo runs @ 620/1480 vs. 575/1380 non-Turbo). I went with the 512MB because of the amount of pixels I am driving, and it was only $50 more than the Turbo 256MB version.

Anyway, bottom line is that I needed this much card to run the monitor, the price to upgrade to this card was less than the PCIe card I would have chosen (to say nothing of the requisite associated hardware), and I've bought myself at least 6-10 months of time. Everybody's situation is different, but I feel high-end AGP stuff will be a viable market for another year or two.
February 1, 2007 1:42:08 PM

Quote:
I am curious of one thing. Since you've had quite a bit of review time with the Sapphire card now, have you experienced any of the problems others have been talking about?


I haven't experienced a single hiccup with the Sapphire X1950 PRO 512mb.

I suspect the card is power hungry though, I have a good PSU but I would be wary of using the thing with anything less. That's just my guess as to what might be causing the trouble though, I have no evidence or anything.
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 1:48:37 PM

Believe me, I know that everyone's situation is different. That's why I didn't want to come off like it was a 'must do' change. Depending upon each person, it may or may not be a viable option.
February 1, 2007 1:55:11 PM

I posted this before:

There are zillions of p4/athlons/whatevers with agp slots, if they keep the supply constrained, as they are like to do. You can dump these x1950pro agp cards on ebay in a year, and get most (if not all) of your money back.
February 1, 2007 1:59:42 PM

Quote:
This is actually a reply to both rubix_1011 and nemi_PC. You guys are assuming far too many things here.

My personal feeling is that if you're going to make the switch from 939/DDR/AGP to (775 or AM2)/DDR2/PCIe, save your coin and do it all at once. None of that stuff is getting more expensive in the long-term.


I agree with your statement above *for a complete new rig*, but I was focusing on the scenario of upgrading of DDR + 939 machine to be a faster gaming PC for the best performance:p rice while staying under ~$250, just like the article.

Ignoring DirectX10 and HDCP , my suggested route (probably) offers them the best directX9 gaming performance for ~ $200, of course I can't say for 100% as I have not seen 8600 benchmarks, but it is looking positive.

The other plus point is they get as a "bonus" DriectX10 and HDCP that they have the choice to use in the future.
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 2:06:56 PM

DX10 will be a while before everything catches up. I know Vista is out, and so are some DX10 cards, but 98% of everyone are still running DX9. Safe to say that you will be fine as long as you can live with your framerates. I have a machine running a Ti4600 right now...still chugs along.
February 1, 2007 2:08:42 PM

I understand where you where going, but the mobos available for the price you quote aren't ones I would want or recommend. Further, when another upgrade becomes necessary, you are upgrading mobo/CPU/RAM, and that is half of the system in terms of price. Might as well save up a bit, while letting prices drop, and pop for the whole thing. Then you also have a complete leftover you can peddle off or part out.

Again, that is only my opinion, and everyboby's situtation is different, both in terms of need and finances.
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 2:25:46 PM

I think everybody should drop $10,000 on a new PC like the guy in the forums last couple weeks. I have no idea why he even threw out the idea...attempt at envy, or inviting mockery?
February 1, 2007 2:38:22 PM

This two part AGP review is very clear to a lot of thought: AGP is still viable given certain CPUs. Two years ago, the "experts" all said dump your AGP platform, there's no reason to stay with your setup...and now they are swallowing their pride and admitting that there are high end cards on AGP and are just fine with no decided difference with PCIe results.
February 1, 2007 2:50:03 PM

I would like to see a top contender from the last round, say ATI X850XTpe, get thrown into the mix.

The you could see which card may be a better match.
February 1, 2007 2:51:49 PM

well spoken, good stuff.
February 1, 2007 2:52:40 PM

I agree, if you have a the ability go with pci-e then do it. I also went from agp to pci-e recently because I have a mother board that supports both so it made it easy. :D 
February 1, 2007 3:00:09 PM

Quote:
I agree, if you have a the ability go with pci-e then do it. I also went from agp to pci-e recently because I have a mother board that supports both so it made it easy. :D 


going pci-e just for the sake of having pci-e is dumb.

That is the whole point of articles like this one, to prove how dumb it is. If you have the $ to go w/ a bigger video card as well as switch, then fine... but like mjam said above, (and cleeve's article proved) a 1950pro is the same regardless of platform. If that is all you are getting, then save $ and get agp.

e-peni$ measure is not what you should go for.
February 1, 2007 3:03:23 PM

Quote:
I would like to see a top contender from the last round, say ATI X850XTpe, get thrown into the mix.

The you could see which card may be a better match.


I've done 7600 GT vs X850 XT tests and they are very close. The PEs not much faster, so the 7600 GT will give you a good idea where the X850 XT would be.
February 1, 2007 3:03:40 PM

Oh I should have stated, when I got the card I dropped in a 700w OCZ Gamextream PSU. Made sure the two molex are running off separate rails etc, have one HDD and 3 optical drives. Should be more than sufficient. So unless something is wrong with the PSU itself it "shouldn't" be a power issue in my case. Shrug, I'm torn between a possible RMA and taking the stock cooler off and seeing if my Sytrin KuFormula Plus 1 will fit the thing, its an awesome cooler with ramsinks but says fits "some" 1900s. LOL Oh well its only $ right?
February 1, 2007 3:06:28 PM

Nice article. Pretty much on par with what I've been experiencing with my new HIS IceQ Trubo X1950Pro.
February 1, 2007 3:06:29 PM

Quote:
Talon,

I've heard about a lot of issues also with the X1950 AGPs; I was afraid I might be wasting the $300 entry fee I paid. For what its worth, I know the Accelero X2 cooler has been updated with the addition of a VRM heat sink plate, the easiest way to get one is probably off ebay (search under items for sale by seller "arctic-bid").

I got my X1950 2 days ago, I tested it yesterday in a slug system and so far it has been great, but I did notice the fan settings are not nearly as aggressive as I would like, at least according to ATI Tray Tools. This might be unique, however, to the BIOS in the HIS cards--I'm not sure. If you're going to use such a utility, forget ATItools for now. That was always my favorite, but it does not currently support the X1950...

Sorry I can't be more help...


Np that was quite helpful. Maybe if this chip is the cause of some peoples problems that don't have power issues then I am leaning even more towards trying an aftermarket heatsink/fan. I have a KuFormula Plus 1 sitting around that I just got finished lapping. IF it fits and I get an extra ram sink on that VRM area then maybe my occasional problem will disappear.

Thanks :) 
February 1, 2007 3:12:26 PM

Good article. Easy to read, confirms what I thought... I have made the correct upgrade decision *for me*.

I was concerned that only having 4x AGP would be a problem, however I am surprised to see almost no difference between 4x and 8x AGP and PCI-e on my card.

The only thing that concerns me is my AGP 7600GT does not overclock well (at all), from what I have read this is due to the bridge chip that translates between pcie and agp. A PCIe card would probably overclock a lot better.
February 1, 2007 3:17:14 PM

I haven't even tried overclocking yet. I know ATITool doesn't work with the X1950Pro yet. Anyone know of something that does?
February 1, 2007 3:37:26 PM

I have the visiontek 1950 Pro AGP 256.

Runs flawless. OC's to 670core. 1600mem.

3dmark06 4658
3dmark05 10470

Atlon 4000+ (OC'd to 3ghz) stock cooler
MSI neo2 plat motherboard
OCZ Rev2 Plat (2x 512)
1950 pro AGP visiontek(stock cooler)
using on board sound

Using ATI Tray Tools to OC.
February 1, 2007 3:37:50 PM

ATItools does not work with X1950, but ATT, a.k.a. ATI Tray Tools does. Loaded and ran it yesterday (didn't use it for overclocking, just to monitor GPU temps, fan, etc.). The program didn't load properly--put one of the .dlls in a wrong folder and the rest of the files in a different wrong folder in Program Files, but once I figured it all out it worked OK and is definitely capable of OC'ing a 1950. You need the plugins to monitor GPU temps.
February 1, 2007 3:57:52 PM

Awesome, I'll use that. I got a lot of work to do this weekend. I plan on overclocking my CPU first, which will take all weekend probably, then I'll start on the X1950. I wonder how much of a performance gain I can milk out of the two?
February 1, 2007 4:11:36 PM

Thanks for the links mjam. I will give it some thought before making a decision. I know a lot of the cards aren't getting much OC headroom in AGP versions but mine doesn't seem to want to OC at ALL without issue, sigh. Will give it a shot and see how it goes :) 
February 1, 2007 4:18:42 PM

So now it is dumb to upgrade to pic-e> 8O

What I said is if you have the ability then go for it............I have a mother board that has an agp slot and a pci-e slot. I needed to upgrade my video card which was an agp card........so I was not going to buy another agp card for twice the price so i went with a pic-e card that was cheaper and faster than any agp card.

You don't just get an AGP card because some article tells you that you should. There are many factors you need to consider. Look and consider carefully then make a decision.
February 1, 2007 4:20:22 PM

It is interesting to note the "overclockability" of the X1900 series. Some devices, e.g. the C2D, tend to oc very well. Others tend not to. It seems some people do very well with the X1900s and others can't get off the ground. I'm starting to conclude that the card can do well inherently, but there are some fundamental issues--perhaps very specific component overheating, perhaps a sensitivity to voltage quality, etc.--that hasn't been fully defined yet. Unfortunately, the people in the most know are probably at ATI, and I doubt they are going to tell us...
February 1, 2007 4:21:40 PM

I've heard that the Saphire cards dont OCvery well, but as I haven't any experience with it I can't say for sure. Try ATI Tray tools and let us know how it goes.

I like that the saphire card has 512 mem. It looks to be clock for clock 5% faster than mine for that reason.

Good luck!
February 1, 2007 4:22:38 PM

I don't think anyone's saying that if you have an AGP and PCI-E slot in your board, go with AGP. What they are saying is that not everyone can afford to drop a grand on a new system so they can upgrade to PCI-E, so the cheaper alternative is to buy a new AGP card that could extend the life of your system for at least another year. No one's saying AGP is superior to PCI-E, it's just more economically viable for us poor people.
February 1, 2007 4:43:13 PM

I have to concur on your points mjam. I keep hearing more and more speculation about the VRM. Maybe its poor heat dissipation, maybe its poor design, or even some other issue entirely. As you say, ATI may know and probably won't tell as its likely not software but hardware and they sure don't want to admit the possiblity that many got out that were in some way defective as to cause instability.


To LittleBigMan:

I actually tried Tray Tools about two days ago. Even when I ramped up the fans in Catalyst much higher than their default ranges I only got 600core/710memory stable for a short period, probably 30 mins or so.

I suspect as many have stated the issue could be heat in some cases. They are using the reference heatsink/fan which isn't the "best" design of the ATI line.

Thanks for the advice though. I will try to tweak with Tools again this weekend when I have time to change my cooling arrangement :) 
February 1, 2007 4:44:49 PM

I agree with you 100% I was just responding to sojrner who said it was stupid to go pci-e just for the sake of it but that is not what I meant/said.

:wink:
February 1, 2007 4:56:16 PM

Quick question guys...I have a x800 xt agp video on my intel 3.2 system...is it worth it to purchase a 1950 pro agp? I run games at 1280x720 (max my tv will play at). Thanks.
February 1, 2007 5:02:55 PM

Look at the benches. Your X850 XT will perform close to the 7600 GT. Your platform will be somewhere between the 2500+ and 3400+.

If the bump from 7600 GT to X1950 PRO looks worth the $$ to you, then it's worth it.

Personally, I'd probably keep that X850 XT until you're ready to go to a Core2 Duo in the future, because it's still a decent AGP card. But if you favor specific games like Oblivion, it might be worth it to upgrade now.
February 1, 2007 5:07:18 PM

Quote:
Quick question guys...I have a x800 xt agp video on my intel 3.2 system...is it worth it to purchase a 1950 pro agp? I run games at 1280x720 (max my tv will play at). Thanks.

I upgraded from an X850Pro and saw considerable improvement in BF2, F.E.A.R and Oblivion. It really depends on what games you play. If you're not playing high graphically intensive games then it probably wouldn't be worth the money, but if you're playing Oblivion and want it to run smoother and look a lot better, then it's probably worth the money. Plus, you could get $120 or more for that X850XT on eBay, so that might be something to consider when deciding to buy an X1950Pro or not.
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 5:07:53 PM

Quote:
I don't think anyone's saying that if you have an AGP and PCI-E slot in your board, go with AGP. What they are saying is that not everyone can afford to drop a grand on a new system so they can upgrade to PCI-E, so the cheaper alternative is to buy a new AGP card that could extend the life of your system for at least another year. No one's saying AGP is superior to PCI-E, it's just more economically viable


I think this post sums up the entire subject quite nicely. I have a lot of guys we game with that still run AMD/P4 rigs with AGP and run pretty well. Again, it is all about personal preference and need/ability to upgrade. Happy Gaming. :) 
February 1, 2007 5:09:26 PM

I'm not a gamer, so I'm really not an authority on this part, but my philosophy is if the need is there, and it is within your budget, then go for it. If, however, you can stand for now and you know you'll be wanting a more major upgrade in the not-to-distant future (say, less than 12 months or so), then hold off and start filling the change jar (see my earlier posts in this thread).

As to the exact performance increase over the X800XT, it is there but I am not in a good position to quantify that because I don't game...
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 5:14:45 PM

What !?! No XGI Volari V8 DUO ?!?

C'mon what kind of test is that !?! :twisted:

Well I guess it would be a good one.

Nice work as usual. :trophy:

Although I still hate the luddites and their AGP systems, as if they are better than rest of us because they have a classic like a '68 Hemi charger or '67 Stingray!
Arrgh !!!

Ooohh look at me cruisin' with my chopped R9500 riding around on fat rubber like I'm an R9700P, OOooohh, AAaaahhh! Ba$$turdz!
February 1, 2007 5:42:08 PM

lol. Gee, I wonder who *that* was a parody of? ;) 
February 1, 2007 6:07:16 PM

Quote:
I agree with you 100% I was just responding to sojrner who said it was stupid to go pci-e just for the sake of it but that is not what I meant/said.

:wink:


I get ya now. I just read what you said earlier wrong I guess. I assumed you were saying to get pci-e no matter what, my bad. No harm, no foul. 8)
February 1, 2007 6:12:49 PM

Quote:
...luddites and their AGP systems...


huh? wth?

[consults internet for definition of "luddites" :oops:  ]

ooohhhh....

[light comes on]

:lol: 
a b U Graphics card
February 1, 2007 6:35:29 PM

Parody? Huh!?! Just because people like to show of their AGP mods doesn't mean it's a parody.

Maybe I need to Yell louder to get my point across, you'll all understand!
Hey, how come this font only goes to 24? I want 72pt !

:twisted:

"Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number, and make that a little louder?"

"Uh, well, see, these go to 11."
February 1, 2007 6:55:37 PM

Quote:
Nice but I would like to see a part 3 with them adding some dual core cpu's to the mix. There are a few agp mother boards that will run dual core amd and intell. :wink:


Yeah--like that board, for example! (c my sig)

Seriously, this article was extremely well-written and beyond useful. It was objective and the author really has the real-world experience with current generation video cards and legacy video cards alike. This is the type of objective article that makes me continue reading at toms.

I will be brutally honest: with the recent Vista SuperFetch article, Tom was really disappointing me. It was, IMHO, the most unprofessional and biased article that had basically already been written before the author actually worked with it. I came very close to giving a "last chance" comment in the notes, but just neglected to click the submit button when my comments were finished.

I have nothing against the author or THG--but the Vista article was just so unprofessional. Keep articles like this AGP one rolling, though, and I'll keep your site on top in my favorites list :) 

Oh, and that bit comparing AGP 8x, AGP 4x, and PCIe x16 was just awesome--I've been wanting to know that stuff for a while, and apparently AGP 4x slots in and of themselves are not bottlenecks (although 4x usually means the mobo/chipset is too old to support the faster FSB/bus speed/HyperTransport layer speed/etc.)
February 1, 2007 6:57:20 PM

Quote:
Talon,

I've heard about a lot of issues also with the X1950 AGPs; I was afraid I might be wasting the $300 entry fee I paid. For what its worth, I know the Accelero X2 cooler has been updated with the addition of a VRM heat sink plate, the easiest way to get one is probably off ebay (search under items for sale by seller "arctic-bid").

I got my X1950 2 days ago, I tested it yesterday in a slug system and so far it has been great, but I did notice the fan settings are not nearly as aggressive as I would like, at least according to ATI Tray Tools. This might be unique, however, to the BIOS in the HIS cards--I'm not sure. If you're going to use such a utility, forget ATItools for now. That was always my favorite, but it does not currently support the X1950...

Sorry I can't be more help...


Np that was quite helpful. Maybe if this chip is the cause of some peoples problems that don't have power issues then I am leaning even more towards trying an aftermarket heatsink/fan. I have a KuFormula Plus 1 sitting around that I just got finished lapping. IF it fits and I get an extra ram sink on that VRM area then maybe my occasional problem will disappear.

Thanks :) 

in my experience, system lockups during gaming can frequently be attributed to overheating video cards. If you have no software to monitor the GPU temp, might be a good idea to try and find one.

I apologize if you already covered that as a possibility, but I am posting this in a hurry in an attempt to suggest something helpful. :) 

btw, this is pretty much the most respectful and calm discussion response to an article I have seen in a while. GJ cleeve covering the bases well, and thanks everyone for respecting eachother and not aggressively arguing. :) 
!