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Best Gaming Cards for the Money: August 2007

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August 6, 2007 11:25:06 AM

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/08/06/the_best_gaming_video_cards_for_the_money/index.html

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, and that's what we're going to show you.
August 6, 2007 2:10:19 PM

Don't know if you can still find it But the eVGA 7600 GT is on sale for 69.99 after $20 Mail-in at Micro Center. Quite the steal.
August 6, 2007 5:11:58 PM

Uh... I don't think the 6800 GT is suposed to be better than the 6800 Ultra. Someone not checking before putting up the article?
Related resources
August 6, 2007 6:32:31 PM

I am currently thinking of upgrading from my old GeForce 6600GT. As per this article, I'm considering going for the 8600GT or perhaps one of the recommended Radeon X1950 cards. However, I have a few questions regarding the resident experts here:

1) Which particular brands/models do you recommend? I see that the price you quote is usually the "bottom of the barrel" price. Is that essentially the option you're recommending for each?

2) I am currently running an Athlon 64 3500+. Is it worth it to go all the way up to the Radeon X1950 XT or will I run into a processor bottleneck?

3) I only have a 420W power supply. It seems like the 8600GT wouldn't be a problem, but I cannot find any information on the Radeon's power requirements. Additionally, I see user comments on New Egg that claim those cards are power hogs. Do you have any information on specific Radeon cards that I could run with my current power supply, or anywhere I can find said information? Even the card manufacturers sites have been unhelpful.

Thanks a lot in advance!!
August 6, 2007 7:22:44 PM

hey jujigatame, Ill try to help

1. I dont think brands really matter as most stick to ati/nvidia's reference design. Evga/bfg tech/His are known for making good cards but you can always check reviews about a particular card on newegg.com

2. I used to have a amd 3200+ and upgraded to a 7900gt from the same 6600gt you have. The fps difference was enormous. The x1950xt is supposedly faster than the 7900gt so you'll see a bigger jump than I did

3. 420W should be fine. Heres a link to make sure though
http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.js...
August 6, 2007 7:42:13 PM

If you are gaming at all 1950 series is the sweet spot for price/performance for your system.IMO don't waste good money on the 8600 or 2600.BTW there hasn't been a lot of change in the charts in the last couple of months and I concur wholeheartedly with the reccomendations made.
August 6, 2007 7:43:08 PM

When something sais prossessor bottlenecked, taht doesnt mean that past a certain point your graphics power doesnt do anything, it just means it doesnt do as well as if there was no bottleneck.

Performance doesnt just magically disapear though. Go for it if you can afford it!
August 6, 2007 7:44:41 PM

jujigatame said:
I am currently thinking of upgrading from my old GeForce 6600GT. As per this article, I'm considering going for the 8600GT or perhaps one of the recommended Radeon X1950 cards. However, I have a few questions regarding the resident experts here:

1) Which particular brands/models do you recommend? I see that the price you quote is usually the "bottom of the barrel" price. Is that essentially the option you're recommending for each?

2) I am currently running an Athlon 64 3500+. Is it worth it to go all the way up to the Radeon X1950 XT or will I run into a processor bottleneck?

3) I only have a 420W power supply. It seems like the 8600GT wouldn't be a problem, but I cannot find any information on the Radeon's power requirements. Additionally, I see user comments on New Egg that claim those cards are power hogs. Do you have any information on specific Radeon cards that I could run with my current power supply, or anywhere I can find said information? Even the card manufacturers sites have been unhelpful.

Thanks a lot in advance!!


The x1950 XTs are the power hogs. The x1950 Pros aren't that bad. The requiremenets listed on the box for the x1950 Pros is a 450W PSU with 30A on the 12V rail (I'm pretty sure it was 30A, may have been 25A). That of course is just a guideline and it will depend on how much other things you are powering. If its a good 420W PSU you should be fine with the x1950 Pro.
August 6, 2007 8:01:58 PM

vip:

Thanks for the help. I'm still a little worried about the power supply, though. That link you provided seemed to show very low numbers when I tried to use it. I'm concerned because I was originally considering this upgrade a few months ago and was looking at the GeForce 7900GS. Some of the models listed a 450W requirement.

Erloas:

Is that standard practice? I personally hesitate to buy a card that says it requires a 450W supply when I only have a 420W. Makes me nervous. My supply only gets 17A at 12V.
August 6, 2007 8:07:28 PM

You may be better off with a 7600GT or perhaps an 8600GT.
The higher end cards would be pushing your system and I don't like to do that.

Amps, however, is where it is all at.

Example - The new Corsair 450w CPU puts out 33amps at 12v and can handle just any card out there with a single power connector.

Meanwhile, bad 500w or 550w CPUs could not do the same.
August 6, 2007 8:14:15 PM

Can I just strongly advise you (from personal experience) STAY AWAY FROM 8600's (although i have a gts it wouldn't surprise me if the gt was **** to) and for that matter the ati equivalent
August 6, 2007 8:16:25 PM

Definitely leaning towards the 8600GT after reading zenmaster's post. I think it should give enough performance for my purposes. I'm basically making this upgrade for Call of Duty 2 and Oblivion and maybe a couple of other games and then will probably get a whole new system in a year or two. Honestly I think 2007 has been a really weak year for games so far, and considering that I'm already like a year and a half behind on my game queue, I'm not worried about having to play games like Crysis on my current system.
August 6, 2007 8:20:25 PM

what res are you going to be playing on?, do you care if you can max the details?
August 6, 2007 8:25:02 PM

I'd be playing on 1280x1024. I'd like to max out as much as possible but I won't die of disappointment if I can't turn the AA way up or anything like that. I already played FEAR with the 6600GT so I'm used to having to turn down graphics options.
August 6, 2007 8:56:58 PM

the 8600gt is really underpowered. Its capable of some really high clocks, but cards like the 7900gs with stock speeds can still beat it.
August 6, 2007 9:20:06 PM

dandano said:
Uh... I don't think the 6800 GT is suposed to be better than the 6800 Ultra. Someone not checking before putting up the article?


What are you talking about? The 6800 ultra is shown one tier higher than the 6800 GT.
August 6, 2007 9:24:25 PM

The 2600xt/8600gt cards arent really intended for gaming.. maybe really low end gaming at 1024/768.

If you want to game im sorry but youll have to fork out more money.
August 6, 2007 9:45:43 PM

Hmmm, no mention of the quietly released 512mb version of the 8600 gts ? Some reviews point to to higher
framerates not to mention that its memory is in the old school 256, 512, versus the 320 ,640 768 builds of
the other 8800 series. Just my two cents.
August 6, 2007 10:12:20 PM

Hatman, it's not the money, it's the fact that the beefier cards may require more power than my PSU is capable of offering. Also, I feel like the 8600GT will be able to play Oblivion decently well, which is probably the most intensive game I'll throw at it.
August 7, 2007 12:36:30 AM

It's your choice but you could SLI two 8600's and it wouldn't make 1 1950 for around 150 after rebate on Newegg.Get a good enough PSU that you could use in your new build.IMHO
August 7, 2007 2:44:34 AM

Thanks for all the replies, guys. Honestly, I would go with the X1950 Pro without a second thought, but the added hassle and cost of a new power supply has pushed me towards the 8600GT. I'll probably go with one of the OCed models. I think it'll do me just fine considering that Oblivion is the toughest thing I'll throw at it and I'll probably replace the whole system in a year or so.
August 7, 2007 11:46:27 AM

jujigatame said:
Hatman, it's not the money, it's the fact that the beefier cards may require more power than my PSU is capable of offering. Also, I feel like the 8600GT will be able to play Oblivion decently well, which is probably the most intensive game I'll throw at it.


I think youll be a little dissapointed with that card for oblivion. My friend has that card and he has to crank alot of the options to medium to low with no aa and his frame rate drops to the teens at times.I would recommend the 7900 gs its a solid card for cheap money and its easy on power.
August 7, 2007 2:58:29 PM

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and pony up a few more bucks or else you are just wasting your time and money.
August 7, 2007 6:03:57 PM

Well don't forget to do the recent MS Windows Vista patch for Crossfire/SLI if youre running in Vista.
August 7, 2007 6:23:44 PM

Hey Stranger how do you like that Armor? I was thinking of using one for my next build.I have a Shark now and it is pretty nice except doors on the front of a case can be a pain sometimes.
August 7, 2007 8:10:30 PM

Any chance of adding a general Linux compatibility index to the gaming cards? ATI/AMD and nVidia are both now supplying drivers for their respective card lines, but I've definitely found my mileage to vary even across very similar cards!
August 7, 2007 8:43:20 PM

Ok, I've narrowed it to 3 options which my current PSU can handle:

8600 GT (OCed from 540Hz to 580Hz) - $110

8600 GT (OCed from 540Hz to 620Hz) - $140

7900 GS (OCed from 450Hz to 525Hz) - $165

If you guys think the 7900 GS is really the best value here, I'll go for it.
August 7, 2007 9:03:54 PM

I would just get an eVGA 7600GT and wait until a decent midrange DX10 card shows up (which, hopefully, will be soon). It really doesn't seem worth it to pay for a 8600 series card when it's performance is on par or slightly worse than a 7600GT. I can pretty much guarantee that a 7600GT will run almost anything you want to run at 1280x1024 at fairly high settings. Plus, they're cheap. As in, you can get an overclocked eVGA 7600GT for $80 after a rebate...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
August 7, 2007 9:23:34 PM

I recently purchased a x1950Pro 512mb and didn't have enough money to upgrade the PSU so i still have the sweex 400w with 18 amps on 12v rail, i game on 1024x768 and haven't had any problems so far. I had the card for a bit over a month now. Hope this helps.
August 7, 2007 10:02:41 PM

Quote:
that would be quite alot of work for something so little used. Also, not much gaming is done on linux if any, a serious gaming machine will for now at least, be a windows one. finally, there are quite a few different distro's of linux, which one should they use?


I love how everyone just ignores a question that is looking for a specific answer and they just make up their own. Kindof irritating when ppl ask "is X or Y better?" and a bunch of posts come up "Q is better" or "W rules!"... lol

Yes, if you look at the charts you would see that the 7900gs is in the same park as the 1950pro except that the 1950 was cheaper and thus the best value in that price segment. (plus it beats the 7900gs in most things) The article mentions it though as the direct competition there. So, if you take that logic and look at the choices you put up... the 7900gs is the obvious choice.

To go back to your original Q though, if you are going to jump on the 7900 the difference in power consumption from that and a 1950pro is pretty much nil so I would not make that your deciding factor. If your psu can handle a 7900 then you are good for anything in that tier and below. Just my 2 (extra) bits.
August 7, 2007 11:47:09 PM

Arg, once again I'm baffled. If both cards have such similar power consumption, why does the 7900 claim a 350W requirement while the X1950 claims a 450W requirement? Man, I didn't realize this was gonna be so complicated. I just wanna order the damn thing and play some games already!!

Also, has anyone else noticed that the 3DMark scores are just as good for the 8600GT as for the 7900GS, even though framerates aren't? What's up with that?
August 9, 2007 12:54:30 PM

Belles_Toaster said:
Hmmm, no mention of the quietly released 512mb version of the 8600 gts ? Some reviews point to to higher
framerates not to mention that its memory is in the old school 256, 512, versus the 320 ,640 768 builds of
the other 8800 series. Just my two cents.


If it's not the money, then upgrade the PSU and vid card both. The PSU is the easiest thing to change in a computer after the vid card. And frankly, if the PSU goes it can take out lots of hardware with it. It sounds like yours is struggling as is. It would be a shame to put in a new vid card only to have the PSU go, take out the new vid card, and your motherboard or hard drive with it. ;) 
August 9, 2007 1:00:35 PM

One other thing to consider might be your OS. Nvidia cards are having a hard time with driver failures on Vista. Google it. :) 
August 10, 2007 12:49:30 PM

What I am missing is the 7950GT in the AGP section.

I have no clue IF it's avaible in America and also not against which price, but according to the old "VGA Charts: Summer 2007" it performs better then the X1950pro AGP.

So a bit weird that it's not mentioned ;) 
August 13, 2007 6:12:53 PM

wowexiled2007 said:
I think youll be a little dissapointed with that card for oblivion. ... I would recommend the 7900 gs its a solid card for cheap money and its easy on power.


If Oblivion is your game, the 7900 GS isn't a great choice. The X1950 PRO will eat a 7900 GS alive in Oblivion.
August 13, 2007 6:15:49 PM

Ikke_Niels said:
What I am missing is the 7950GT in the AGP section.

So a bit weird that it's not mentioned ;) 


I didn't mention it because it's more expensive than the AGP X1950 XT, and the X1950 XT is alot faster.

But funny that you mentioned it... I actually mentioned it's existance in the UK version which I did after the US version. I planned to mention it in the US version as well, it's worth a side note.
August 15, 2007 2:33:47 PM

I'm "upgrading" an old system, and stumbled upon this article, which brought me to a few questions.

I'm stuck with an AGP bus and currently have a Sapphire 9700 Pro, a model with passive cooling. I'm running a AMD 2500+ and a gig of RAM. I don't expect the system to be fabulous, but an upgrade of the video card would be nice.

1. The article didn't mention the ATI x1650, as it apparently came in at a higher price range, but it I can get one for a similar price, would you recommend it or a GeForce 7600 GT.

2. Is there a tremendous performance difference between the 7600 GS and the 7600 GT. The price difference seems to be pretty decent, and any money I save on switching this card out is money better spent on a full system upgrade at some point in the future.

3. Is there noticeable difference between 256MB and 512MB of RAM and DDR2 and DDR3 on these cards?
August 15, 2007 2:57:30 PM

1. The X1650 XT is comperable to the 7600 GT. If they were the same price I'd say go with either.
The X1650 PRO GDDR3, however, is slower - about as fast as a 7600 GS.
The X1650 PRO DDR2 is even slower than that.

2. Unfortunately, yes... the 7600 GS is much slower than the GT flavor. Look at the chart at the end of the article to see where they stand, relatively.

3. The amount of ram isn't all that important in this price segment,. As long as you have at least 256mb you won't notice a practical difference.
August 15, 2007 3:44:17 PM

Sounds like the 7600 GT is my best bet then, given that I'd like to turn this into a Linux box in the future, thanks for the help.
!