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The Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money: May 2007

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May 1, 2007 5:48:45 PM

Detailed video card specifications and reviews are great - that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best video card within a certain budget. It's time for our update for May 2007, so read on to see what's new.
May 1, 2007 5:50:39 PM

The link isn't working.
May 1, 2007 5:54:45 PM

They rarely seem to when a new article is posted.
Related resources
May 1, 2007 6:37:12 PM

Hasn't changed much from last month, I doubt the 8600 cards will find their way on it anytime soon...
May 1, 2007 7:28:29 PM

Cleeve, the hierarchy chart does not have any 8600/8500 listed.
Are you waiting further tests to see where it would fit? :?:
May 1, 2007 7:33:08 PM

I did add them. I just checked and they are on the chart...

8500 GT is on the same tier as the 6600 GT

8600 GT is on the same tier as the 7600 GT

8600 GTS is on the same tier as the 7900 GS.
May 1, 2007 10:37:20 PM

I must be blind. :lol:  :lol:  :lol: 

There, I saw them. I was expecting to see the 8600GTS on par with the 7900GT, but oh well, whatever. :) 
May 1, 2007 11:17:33 PM

Right now I have a single 6600GT 128MB running Win64-bit.

What is a decent upgrade for this card or should I just get the second card and run them in parallel?
May 1, 2007 11:33:23 PM

Quote:
Right now I have a single 6600GT 128MB running Win64-bit.

What is a decent upgrade for this card or should I just get the second card and run them in parallel?

What are the rest of you system's specs? More importantly what is your budget?

Since you mentioned running 2 in parallel, I'm naturally assuming that you have PCI-E slots. The only thing I can say for certain right now is getting a second card isn't worth it.
May 1, 2007 11:49:55 PM

Quote:
Right now I have a single 6600GT 128MB running Win64-bit.

What is a decent upgrade for this card or should I just get the second card and run them in parallel?

What are the rest of you system's specs? More importantly what is your budget?

Since you mentioned running 2 in parallel, I'm naturally assuming that you have PCI-E slots. The only thing I can say for certain right now is getting a second card isn't worth it.

I have an Asus a8n32-sli deluxe with an amd x2 4800+ and 1 gig of ram. you are correct in your PCIe assumption. I play Oblivion and WoW mosty
May 2, 2007 12:15:18 AM

I agree with SEALBoy. Buying a second 6600GT will definately improve your FPS, but you'll probably do even better to sell your old card (not sure what you can get for it, maybe $50?) and put that money and the money you would have spent on the second 6600GT into a single, better card. Speaking of money, what is your budget? I think the 8800GTS with 320MB is a pretty good performer for the price, and it will run DX10 when those eventually come out.
May 2, 2007 1:12:23 AM

Budget? And what resolution do you game at?
May 2, 2007 8:56:57 AM

I've seen that in the Spring 2007 VGA Charts there's no 8600's. Why is that? I remember that an article ("DX10 for the masses") was written and there were some tests in it...


And another thing... should I expect a good level of performance from the 8600 GTS (cause it's cheaper) in DX10 games? I mean, does anyone know whether i'll be able to play Crysis in 1280X1024 with all eye candy turned on?


can anyone guarantee that? Or i'll have to switch to the 8800's...and maybe then I'll be sure (-200 extra $)...
May 2, 2007 9:07:26 AM

Quote:


And another thing... should I expect a good level of performance from the 8600 GTS (cause it's cheaper) in DX10 games? I mean, does anyone know whether i'll be able to play Crysis in 1280X1024 with all eye candy turned on?



Dont buy the 8600 GTS, its a scam. Instead buy the 8600 GT or the 8800 GTS.
May 2, 2007 2:42:05 PM

The 8600GT is as big a scam as the 8600GTS. In it's price range, you can get am X1950GT, an X1950Pro, or an X1950XT, all of which outperform it considerably.
May 2, 2007 2:51:57 PM

How much longer before the ATi mid-range 2xxx cards launch? I've been hearing these should be very good. If it's only two weeks away, it might be worth the wait. Nvidia might even be lowering their prices if the 2xxx put on the pressure.
May 2, 2007 2:52:35 PM

Quote:
And another thing... should I expect a good level of performance from the 8600 GTS (cause it's cheaper) in DX10 games? I mean, does anyone know whether i'll be able to play Crysis in 1280X1024 with all eye candy turned on?


can anyone guarantee that? Or i'll have to switch to the 8800's...and maybe then I'll be sure (-200 extra $)...


If an 8600GTS barely keeps pace with an X1950Pro in DX9, it's not gonna fare very well n DX10.

As far as Crysis goes... please get me some of whatever you're taking. Crysis is likely to give SLi 8800GTX's trouble at full detail. The 8600GTS is gonna run that game when my builtin 6100 does.
May 2, 2007 2:59:40 PM

Will Crysis be that much of a problem at the 1280x1024 resolution he was asking about? I'm not saying that the 8600 will let you turn on all the eye candy, but I haven't come across many benchmarks that give a single 8800GTX a hard time at 1280x1024, let alone two of them.
May 2, 2007 3:35:02 PM

It might run it at low detail, but at full, no way.
May 2, 2007 3:49:50 PM

Quote:
Budget? And what resolution do you game at?


My budget is around $200 for one or two cards, but that figure is flexible. As far as resolution, I think WoW is set to 1024x768, but I can't be sure
May 2, 2007 3:56:23 PM

I'd say take your budget (definitely get the single card), and go to the THG article that this thread is discussing. Find the card recommended at that price point (I think it's the 1950xt) and go from there: check out how that card performs in the games you use. The only drawback to that card that I can see is that it's not DX10 compatible, but to get a halfway-decent DX10 card you really need to move up to the 8800GTS/320MB. The next batch of ATi cards that might be out this month may change the score.
May 2, 2007 7:28:54 PM

This X1950XT is arguably the best card out there in the $200 range. Significantly faster than any other card (except its rare big brother) until you hit the 8800GTS 320MB, which is about $100 more than this one.
May 2, 2007 8:01:55 PM

Quote:
This X1950XT is arguably the best card out there in the $200 range. Significantly faster than any other card (except its rare big brother) until you hit the 8800GTS 320MB, which is about $100 more than this one.
Totally agree, and that's a killer deal.
May 2, 2007 8:10:28 PM

Quote:
This X1950XT is arguably the best card out there in the $200 range. Significantly faster than any other card (except its rare big brother) until you hit the 8800GTS 320MB, which is about $100 more than this one.


Will I have issues with Win64?
May 2, 2007 8:23:09 PM

Quote:
As far as Crysis goes... please get me some of whatever you're taking. Crysis is likely to give SLi 8800GTX's trouble at full detail. The 8600GTS is gonna run that game when my builtin 6100 does.
You're exaggerating. When Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 came out they ran perfectly on the existing high-end hardware, and particularly HL2 scaled extremely well on older hardware. If Crysis is well programmed and optimized, which is probable, we should be in a similar situation. Absolute full detail will certainly make most cards cry, but it's a safe bet you will find perfectly acceptable performance for little sacrifice in quality on most of the mid and high-range hardware.
May 2, 2007 8:31:09 PM

Quote:
This X1950XT is arguably the best card out there in the $200 range. Significantly faster than any other card (except its rare big brother) until you hit the 8800GTS 320MB, which is about $100 more than this one.


Are these the same card?

ATI product page

and

Saphire product page
May 2, 2007 9:49:10 PM

Yeah, it's the same card, except one is built by ATI, and the other is built by Sapphire. No real performance difference. And the built by ATI cards are hella expensive.

And you shouldn't have any more issues with Win64 with the X1950XT than you will with nVidia.
May 3, 2007 7:11:38 PM

The Xpress 1150 is listed twice: 4th and 7th from bottom rows on the hierarchy chart (last page of article). Which is correct? Both?

Where would the Xpress 1250 go?

I also happened to notice that the Go 6200 is also on two different tiers: 5th and 7th from bottom. What does that mean?

I ran into this while trying to verify the conventional wisdom that you are a little better off with a $50 graphics card than integrated graphics. I'm thinking about upgrading/replacing my computer. I'd do little if any gaming, but wouldn't want to rule it out entirely.

Just quickly looking at cheap cards at Newegg, it looks like the cheapest (almost) are X1050s at $35-51 before rebates, while the 9250s are about $10 more expensive (ignoring AGP models), yet the X1050 is several tiers higher on the table. (Actually the 9250 isn't even on the table, but I'm guessing it would be close to the 9000 and 9200 - 5th from bottom). Does this make sense? It could be that there are a lot of X1050s around that the card manufacturers are trying to dump, I suppose. Or maybe my guess about the 9250 was wrong.

I didn't look at the nVidia cards much yet.
May 3, 2007 7:35:50 PM

Good catches:

THe Go 6200 should be on the 4th tier from the bottom, not the 7th. I'm erasing the 7th, not sure why it was there. As far as I know those are 64-bit parts only, dismal.

The Xpress X1150 on the 8th tier from the bottom should be the Xpress X1250... two birds with one stone taken care of there.

If the X1050's you see are clocked at 400 core / 400 memory (800 effective), and have a 128-bit memory interface... then they should be about as good as the 9600 XT... much, much better than the 9250, which is essentially a 9200.

The 64-bit X1050 cards will suck though.
May 3, 2007 10:38:32 PM

Quote:

The 64-bit X1050 cards will suck though.

That figures! Naturally the $37 ($27 after rebate) card was 64-bit (no info on core speed). It looks like the all of the 128-bit 400 MHz X1050 cards are just above $50 (before rebates).
May 4, 2007 11:17:13 AM

Says in the article here:

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/2007/05/02/the_best_gamin...

Quote:
On the higher side of the scale, the X1950 XT will pretty much always beat the 8600 GTS, and can be bought for as little as £135 / €195 online!


Where can the X1950XTX be found for just £135?

Considering that it is over £200 at the three cheapest shops in the UK...

[code:1:161d25f376]http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(14802)Sapphire-Radeon-X1950XTX-512MB-DDR4-PCIE.aspx[/code:1:161d25f376] = £203.04

Aria = £223.19

Novatech = £229.13

Sorry I had to put the Micro Direct link in code tags because it won't
display properly with the (brackets) in the URL.
May 4, 2007 1:42:36 PM

Quote:

Where can the X1950XTX be found for just £135?


Couldn't tell ya. I write the article in US pricing and the UK fellows modify it for the market...
May 7, 2007 10:34:36 PM

That's what i have right now... same card Evga 7800GS CO Edition 430/1300 stock OC @ 480/1400 and games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. run pretty slow on my Computer. Now i wonder will the ATI X1950Pro AGP8x 512MB DDR3 575/1380 stock will help me get some more performance cause me too would like to wait a bit before upgrading my rig to PCI-E.

Any advices anyone?
May 7, 2007 11:16:18 PM

Now, this is starting to look good... If it only had a $20 rebate... :wink:

Nevertheless, it's a good sign.
May 8, 2007 12:03:33 AM

It's not worth buying unless its cheaper than the X1950Pro, and they run for around $150 nowadays.
May 8, 2007 1:08:51 AM

hey Cleeve, nice article there........
I dont wanna be mean, but I found this when I read the review....


Now let's examine the Geforce 8600 GT, which falls in the $150 to $170 price range. Like its GTS brother, it's a decent performer - and also like its GTS brother, it's priced too high to be recommended. With only slightly better performance than the 7600 GT and X1650 XT - both of which can be bought for about $100 online - the 8500 GT is a bit tough to justify. In addition, the X1950 PRO is priced similarly to the 8600 GT, and offers much greater gaming performance for the dollar.

I think it should be 8600.
Although not a devastating error but I thought maybe I can be of some help to this great forum......
And again, I appreciate your work and I in no way wanna show any disrespect to you.
Now going ahead with the article... :wink:
May 8, 2007 2:19:56 AM

Quote:
This X1950XT is arguably the best card out there in the $200 range. Significantly faster than any other card (except its rare big brother) until you hit the 8800GTS 320MB, which is about $100 more than this one.


I agree, In fact I bought this card a few months ago in my new build.
May 8, 2007 1:56:55 PM

Quote:

I dont wanna be mean, but I found this when I read the review....


That's not mean at all, thanks for pointing it out!

If nobody points out the mistakes I can't fix 'em for the next monthly issue. :) 
May 31, 2007 2:32:37 PM

Hello all!

Yep, another newbie posting for free advice never to be seen or heard from again ;) 

Hey, at least I'm honest :D 

Current system:
Intel P4 2.8ghz
1GB RAM
Geforce 6600 256MB DDR TV DVI PCI-E

Now, my current system copes with just-about any game I throw at it; including HL2 and NFS:MW (my all-time fave driving game!). However, taking MW as an example, I have to reduce the picture quality (not the resolution) to be able to play with a decent FPS. Strangely I can't remember having any such problems with HL2 but it was a while ago when I played it and my memory isn't great!

When I try to play the newer, demo of NFS:Carbon, I have to reduce both the GFX quality and resolution (to half my LCD screens 'native' res. and it looks bloody awful!)

Anyway, I want to be able to play GTA4 when it comes out, plus it would be nice not to have to reduce the GFX quality just to play the game.

I'm not after an FPS in the hundreds; anything above about 50 and I'll be perfectly happy, as long as I can get full GFX detail out of it. Not sure I can afford a £200+ card.

I'd always thought that, given the same spec. card, one with 512mb VRAM would be preferable to one with only 256MB. Would it make that much difference? You see, I'd kinda settled on a Geforce 8600GT as mentioned in the article but I can't find one with 512 on it; only 256 and, given that my current card only has that amount, was wondering if the card would really be any better.

I do know that the other components (on the card) make a difference but although I know the jargon, I don't know what it all means and what the differences are.

Your expert comments would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Addendum:
Actually, looking at the passage quoted in the post a couple above mine about the 7 series, would this be the better card?
May 31, 2007 3:00:22 PM

First (this is a general rule): MORE MEMORY DOESN'T MEAN SQUAT. Ok? :wink:

That 8600GT would beat the living cr@p out of the 7600GS, specially that awful DDR2 version.

There are certain things you have to check when looking for a new video card to buy. I'm not going to explain all of those things here, because Cleeve would do a much better job explaining all that, for sure, and maybe I would confuse you more instead of help you. :oops: 
May 31, 2007 3:54:09 PM

Quote:
First (this is a general rule): MORE MEMORY DOESN'T MEAN SQUAT. Ok? :wink:

Okay. Got it. No need to shout 8O That said, it's got to mean something or they wouldn't put more memory on some cards, would they. :?

Unless you actually mean it's important but not as important as I assumed? :) 

Quote:
]That 8600GT would beat the living cr@p out of the 7600GS, specially that awful DDR2 version.

Fair enough. Can I assume it would also be a little better than my current 6600 then?;) :p 

Quote:
There are certain things you have to check when looking for a new video card to buy. I'm not going to explain all of those things here, because Cleeve would do a much better job explaining all that, for sure, and maybe I would confuse you more instead of help you. :oops: 

That would be good.
May 31, 2007 5:22:33 PM

Quote:
Okay. Got it. No need to shout 8O That said, it's got to mean something or they wouldn't put more memory on some cards, would they. :?


You got it? Great. 8)
That said, I'll explain this a little bit more.
More memory would make a difference IF the GPU could handle resolutions of 1600x1200 and beyond with AA and AF activated.
As a low midrange GPU as the 7600GS is, it won't handle current games at that resolution, even less with AA and AF.
Such amount of memory (or more) is worth in high-end GPUs, like a HD2900XT, 8800GTS/GTX, etc etc. Midrange GPUs won't benefit from having 512 MB of RAM.

The only benefit of releasing a midrange video card with 512 MB is marketing, just that. As you thought before, "if it has more memory, it has to be better, right?". Wrong. :wink:
May 31, 2007 5:35:16 PM

Well, More memory on a card does help in a few games, like oblivion and morrowind, were the extra memory can be used to pre-load more area's so that moving from area to area is not as noticeable.
May 31, 2007 10:43:24 PM

Well I won't be playing either of those so I should be okay :p 

So, what about that 8600 I linked to earlier then? Will that enable me to play most recent games at full detail?

On a related note (and I suppose I should be asking this in another Forum) but will upgrading my CPU help much? Maybe a dual-core? But then again, that would only help with games - and other apps - written specifically for dual-core processors, right?
May 31, 2007 10:47:52 PM

It all depends on the resolution you're playing at.
The 8600s perform decently up to 1280x1024, with some AA and AF in some games.
Anything beyond that, and you should be considering a 8800GTS 320.

And yes, your CPU is kinda weak by today's standards. And you should be getting another gig of RAM.
A Dual Core CPU would increase performance in multithreaded apps, obviously.
May 31, 2007 10:50:42 PM

Consider the 640mb GTS for resolutions over 1600 x 1200. 1680 x 1050 is probably the limit for any higher level of detail for the 320mb.
June 1, 2007 6:24:30 AM

Quote:
It all depends on the resolution you're playing at.
The 8600s perform decently up to 1280x1024, with some AA and AF in some games. Anything beyond that, and you should be considering a 8800GTS 320.

There's that word "some" again ;) 

I won't be playing in higher res. so I think the 8600 would be fine, but then again I'd hate to get it and have the games I play fall into that "some" category :( 

Not sure I can afford or justify paying twice as much though.

Quote:
And yes, your CPU is kinda weak by today's standards. And you should be getting another gig of RAM.

I had that thought too, though I am unemployed and therefore on a limited budget.

Quote:
A Dual Core CPU would increase performance in multithreaded apps, obviously.

Of which games usually aren't :) 

I might just get the GFX card and see how that goes first :) 
June 1, 2007 2:45:12 PM

Quote:
Of which games usually aren't :) 

I might just get the GFX card and see how that goes first :) 


Well, there is Quake 4 (with a patch) and Supreme Commander. I can't remember any other game with multicore support, but they're only a handful.
Anyway, good choice. Go get that shiny new card! ;) 
!