Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Best hd capable video card for the money!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
Share
August 15, 2007 10:04:38 PM

I saw the best gaming video card for the money so I have to ask what's the best hd video cards for the money?

Currently I have a p5wd2-e with 2gb ram, 3.0ghz processor (not duo) and a geforce 6800 GS (256mb) video card running vista. I can play some hd content @ 720p but if I try 1080i/p it basically becomes choppy and unwatchable.

I want to upgrade to a hd ready video card that can do 1080p, blu-ray/hddvd but I don't want to spend too much money to do so. I wanted to ask if anybody can recommend a decent enough video card that can do 1080i/p preferably around $200. I would prefer it do hdmi but at that price I doubt it.
Is there a list I can find on this site or a previous post covering because I have not been able to find one?
a c 363 U Graphics card
August 15, 2007 10:28:29 PM

Any ATI 2400/2600 or nVidia 8500/8600 will do. Just be sure to check that they have HDCP capabilities. All 8600GTS has this capability while select 8600GTs and 8500 will have this capability. Not sure if all Radeon 2600XT has HDCP, but I suspect they should.

The Geforce cards are arguably better at image quality than ATI, it used to be the reverse with the GeForce 7xxx and Radeon X1xxxx series and prior generations.

When decoding HD video, the GeForce 8500/8600 has slightly higher CPU utilization then the Radeon 2400/2600 series, but you are only talking about 2% - 4% higher CPU utilization.

While I have not seen any power consumption measurement of both series, GeForce cards traditional uses less power than their Radeon counterparts over the past 3 generations of video cards. That includes the 8800 GTX vs. the 2900XT. Lower power consumption generally means less heat.

August 15, 2007 10:47:15 PM

He wants a Gaming card, something that none of those cards can do (Not even that POS known as the 8600GTS), If you have DDR2 800 memory, you should try to get a X1950XT 256MB, a cheap $50 mobo, and a X2 3800+ (A bit overbudget, but it will greatly improve your experience overall)

If you don't have DDR2 800 memory, try to get a X1950XT 256MB and the fastest Pentium D you can find, because that's the only way you'll get some decent performance. (Yeah.. I said Pentium D :S)
Related resources
August 16, 2007 11:52:37 AM

I do not want a gaming card. I use my pc for gaming so randomly that I wouldn't worry about that "feature". I do have ddr2 800. I've been looking at the ati cards, I think the 2600 shows as true 1080p, blu-ray and hd dvd, av1, x264 decoding built into it...
which seems perfect. Anybody use this card just for that feature (hd viewing)?
August 16, 2007 3:08:25 PM

freeballer said:
I do not want a gaming card. I use my pc for gaming so randomly that I wouldn't worry about that "feature". I do have ddr2 800. I've been looking at the ati cards, I think the 2600 shows as true 1080p, blu-ray and hd dvd, av1, x264 decoding built into it...
which seems perfect. Anybody use this card just for that feature (hd viewing)?


Ati's 2400 & 2600 will accelerate HD in Wwindows XP as well as Windows Vista; the Geforce 8500/8600 cards will only accelerate HD in Vista at this time...

The 2400/2600 is the way to go if you're running XP. They are great cards for video acceleration, truly. And they even come with an HDMI out and integrated sound chip, which is nice.
August 18, 2007 11:32:26 PM

jaguar, what is your source for this comment?:
Quote:
When decoding HD video, the GeForce 8500/8600 has slightly higher CPU utilization then the Radeon 2400/2600 series, but you are only talking about 2% - 4% higher CPU utilization.


Also, I assume you're talking about Vista?

I 'm wanting the same type of function freeballer wants, a HD/video playback/encoding video card so I am considering the same cards.

cleeve, how is the ATI drivers for XP for the HD 2xxx series? Or does anyone know? Any owners of these cards reading this thread?

I had the impression that it didn't matter whether you had the Nvidia 8600 series or the ATI HD 2xxx series, there were major drivers issues with either.
August 19, 2007 12:07:03 AM

lol, as it was the 2600 xt 512mb card is on sale ($150 off) at futures*op here in canada to make it $200. So I will try this card first over the nvidia. I will try the card and leave a little info about playback and such later on. I would like to hear if anybody had issues with drivers, vista/xp, etc...
August 20, 2007 6:21:31 PM

I have some 2600's here for testing, and from what I've seen the new 7.8 driver makes tham a bit more attractive than before in the gaming arena.

But if you want to decode HD in XP, you really don't have a choice yet as the Geforce cards don't accelerate XP yet.
a c 130 U Graphics card
August 20, 2007 6:55:57 PM

Oh cleeve you tease :kaola:  so whats a bit more attractive supposed to mean then last set of tests i saw month or so ago now prob, had the 2600xt firmly in the lap of the 1650xt are you talking like the diff between the pro and xt again or dare i hope foe more.
Reason being i have been keeping an eye on the performance as i have an old rig that will become a htpc quite soon and had half an eye on it being a semi gaming machine,had an eye on the gemini 3 as well any news?
Mactronix :D 
August 20, 2007 8:02:35 PM

so in other words, you are right to get the 2600 just whatever you do don't expect to game on them
August 20, 2007 8:11:39 PM

Deffinetly the 2600xt.
August 20, 2007 8:25:48 PM

I'd better clarify: The 2600XT doesn't get a quantum leap performance jump but it does a little better than it did before the driver update, is all.

This is just a preliminary impression of mine though, I will be handing in a review soon that takes a close look at the new 2500/2600s and 8500/8600s though.

But for HD video on XP: the 2500/2600's are the only real choice at this time.
August 20, 2007 8:45:06 PM

thank you mactronics for the link, it seems like the ati can unload alot of the decoding off the cpu so that should work fine for me... hopefully

I watch a ton more stuff on my computer than game myself, if anything I enjoy the old classics or arcade games more than the latest and greatest. So this is a great upgrade for now until either I built a gamer pc or a new console. I just can't justify running over $300++++ for something that can do both or a gamer card that can also do hd
a c 130 U Graphics card
August 20, 2007 9:18:20 PM

Um cleeve you do mean 2400 dont you or is there another one out now? :D 
Yes freeballer thats about the size of it one of these cards will do you great and given your budget unless your pricing is way diff to mine a 2600xt should come in way under budget :D 
Enjoy
Mactronix
a c 363 U Graphics card
August 20, 2007 10:17:19 PM

Canuck1 said:
jaguar, what is your source for this comment?:
Quote:
When decoding HD video, the GeForce 8500/8600 has slightly higher CPU utilization then the Radeon 2400/2600 series, but you are only talking about 2% - 4% higher CPU utilization.




Anandtech:

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3047

August 20, 2007 10:42:15 PM

Why cant you use 2600xt for gaming? On mid settings on like 1280x1024, maybe 2 or 4x AA, whats the problem? Most benches ive seen shows it'll run fine like that.

So many people are lost in their own world that it has to be all be at max to be playable :D  Which in my opinion it does tbh.. but not everyone is too picky :D 
August 20, 2007 11:12:42 PM

What is playable to you? For me having a max of 30-35 fps is not playable (and neither it is for most gamers), I need to run around 40-50avg spiking to the 60+ very often.
August 21, 2007 4:19:59 AM

What does anyone think of these conclusions?:
1) The main difference is in VC-1 decoding. ATI's HD cards are slightly better at it. No difference with H.264 decoding. This is applicable to Vista so far.
2) Both guru3d and anandtech believe that Nvidia's hardware is a bit better especially when it comes to noise reduction and video picture quality. You can tweak noise reduction and the picture more with Nvidia's card compared to ATI's.
3) Both seem to have driver issues (especially in Vista) when you read the card users' experiences with them.
4) *If Nvidia's Forceware 163.44 allow PureVideo HD decode acceleration for the 8600 series of cards or soon (meaning within a month) leads that way, I think the 8600 cards would be a better choice (for me, anyway) since image quality is important to me.

I also see the option to use the 8600 card in my Linux box whereas the HD 2600 can only be in a Windows setup at this time.

So, 8600:
1) image quality is better (supposedly)
2) *Finally, Nvidia seems to be getting close to supporting XP with hardware acceleration
3) Linux compatibility (right now) with 8600 series of cards

*Big if. Any preference or decision to go Nvidia depends on development of XP drivers and whether ATI continues to not offer any drivers for Linux. I also think that the XP support is crucial since not everyone wants to jump to Vista right now.
a b U Graphics card
August 21, 2007 8:01:13 AM

Canuck1 said:

1) The main difference is in VC-1 decoding. ATI's HD cards are slightly better at it. No difference with H.264 decoding.


Actually VC1 decode require 1/3-1/4 the CPU usage on the HD2K series, and in H.264 it's also one sided, but with much less of a margin.

Quote:
2) Both guru3d and anandtech believe that Nvidia's hardware is a bit better especially when it comes to noise reduction and video picture quality. You can tweak noise reduction and the picture more with Nvidia's card compared to ATI's.


Interesting that they give ATi's noise reduction low marks, yet people like Bjorn3D and TheTechReport gave them 25 point to Anand's 15, prior to nV's HQV drivers;
http://www.bjorn3d.com/read.php?cID=1122&pageID=3622
http://techreport.com/reviews/2007q3/radeon-hd-2400-260...

TheTechReport prefered the HD2600 series' Noise reduction abilities, and gave them the 100 and the GF8600 the 95 based on that.

So how reliable are their numbers since it's a subjective test?

The question for me is whether or not the ability to disable NoiseReduction is dependent on the playback method the way it was in XP for SD content on the X1K series. Like last generation I expect alot of back and forth in the quality realm from test to test.

As for Linux, it's definitely an nV advantage, but neither one has HD acceleration in Linux yet, so not sure how important it is. For what limited gaming there is, it's a consideration.


PS, Looks like the PureVideoHD drivers finally arrived for XP;
http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_2k_163.44.html
August 21, 2007 1:50:48 PM

Good questions and comments. But, guru3d and anandtech said that the nvidia settings for the noise reduction have to be adjusted to improve it and ultimately, video quality was slightly better than the ati cards. It could be subjective but all of them were eventually able to get the HD-HQV working with Nvidia's cards.

Even then, I still cannot conclude which one is best to get. I'd be using XP probably so the Linux part would be mostly useful for switching the card over to another computer using it. I don't think any of those cards are very useful for gaming and that's not what I'd be getting it for anyway. Picture quality and least amount of issues/problems/bugs is what I am aiming for. Up-to-date drivers are good but if they aren't working properly or present a multitude of problems, it really cancels out. Hopefully, Nvidia and ATI's drivers optimize hardware acceleration for XP because that would make it a choice in which either is good. I could then decide on less critical factors (whether I want Linux support etc.). Much of it will depend on the operation of the drivers and how well they work.
a b U Graphics card
August 21, 2007 4:16:02 PM

Canuck1 said:
Good questions and comments. But, guru3d and anandtech said that the nvidia settings for the noise reduction have to be adjusted to improve it and ultimately, video quality was slightly better than the ati cards. It could be subjective but all of them were eventually able to get the HD-HQV working with Nvidia's cards.


I understand what you're saying, but why do they give ATi 15, and the rest give them 25, is it the subjective, well we have to give someone a win somewhere because we don't want them to both be 100? The TechReport gives the HD2600 series 100 and specifically mentions issues with the GF8600, then Anand gives them a 100 and specifically mentions Noise reduction, so IMO it means the differences are all in the eye of the beer holder, and close to each other. Considering that the Gf8600 had more time to work on drivers and such, I'd say any cmparsion involving beta nV drivers be given the same understanding that this option to turn on/off noise reduction may be in future drivers too. To me it seems that 25 as a score in that realm instead of the 15 that Anad gave would change the results and reduce the main concern they have. given their history I'm not inclined to note any subjective tests from Anand. I'm personally waiting for an update from Cleeve, and also B3D and FiringSquad. I've enjoyed the thoroughness in the past and I want more information as well as demos of the fifferences, where Anand just doesn't have the built up credabilty and background for this.

Quote:
Even then, I still cannot conclude which one is best to get.


And to me that's the thing, I think it's very situation dependant. Right now both solutions are relatively young, so I would say focus on the tasks you do (in your case Linux may play a big role) and then buy for that. My only concern is when boiling down conclusions and such, get a little to general, especially since it varies from class to class within the architectures.

Quote:
Much of it will depend on the operation of the drivers and how well they work.


Yeah, and that's such an ever evolving thing for these relatively new cards, especially in their 'non-gaming' tasks. Considering how long it took ATi and nV to get PureVideo and AVIVO working well the first time around, I think there's still more on offer, and both offer a ton of possabilities for improvement with the programmability of their architectures.

What did it for me was the XP support (since I would like to keep my Audigy2ZS at full capacity, not hobbled in Vista) so I chose based on that and one efficiency (since it's a laptop), but we'll see how things improve, because even since the start of the thread the GF8600 XP situation changed, so it's far from finalized.

I do think though if Linux is a big component of your decision either now or as a future role then nV is likley the way to go. XP/Vista is a toss up, but Linux is a clear choice IMO. Things may change by the time you transition the card, but you can't rely on that kind of thing, currently ATi/AMD has some work to do in that area and there's no guarantee anything will improve.
August 22, 2007 2:41:26 PM

Quote:
I'm personally waiting for an update from Cleeve, and also B3D and FiringSquad. I've enjoyed the thoroughness in the past and I want more information as well as demos of the fifferences, where Anand just doesn't have the built up credabilty and background for this.

How often do they update?

Quote:
What did it for me was the XP support.....because even since the start of the thread the GF8600 XP situation changed, so it's far from finalized.

Yes, but, I can't figure whether the problems are due to people being careless or uninstalling/installing incorrectly or due to development and introduction of poor drivers on Nvidia's part. The 163.44 drivers seem to have a mixed reaction but I've read plenty of posts in various places regarding issues.

Quote:
I do think though if Linux is a big component of your decision either now or as a future role then nV is likley the way to go. XP/Vista is a toss up, but Linux is a clear choice IMO.

Agreed. But, Linux is still a big can of worms and I'm basically a noob when it comes to it, unfortunately. Thefore, I want to go with whichever option is easiest and working the best in Windows. It is such a complicated hardware-based / drivers-reliant process that it makes sense to go with Windows until the Linux developers are able to make use of drivers that gives the same advantages (e.g. hardware acceleration and various decoding options).

Thus, I am looking at compatibility and least amount of issues applicable to either XP or Vista. I'll go with what works best or gives the least amount of hassle. Of course, the other intangible is image/picture quality and if one of the companies leads there, that can push me in that direction, too. I only mention Nvidia's 8600 since it has traditionally held the video quality lead and is more compatible with Linux. It would be good if someone who has tried out both cards could comment on picture quality and if tweaking Nvidia's really makes it any better than ATI's. In addition, how is the 2600XT in XP v.s. Vista? Likewise, the same question for the 8600GT/S.

Oh yes, before I forget, I am asking the questions and commenting on the cards from a video manipulation/editing perspective, not gaming at all. I am buying or considering a card based on it's HD and video editing/decoding capabilities and not gaming prowess. Thus, when I ask how the card is in XP v.s. Vista, we're talking VC-1, H.264 and HD video playback etc. I should make that clear even though that was implied since the start of the thread.
August 22, 2007 3:19:27 PM

If its compatability with all windows versions you want then the 2600xt is your choice.

Ati update their drivers every month.

The 8600 series doesnt do hardware VC-1 decoding but its not that cpu intensive so its almost irrelavant. As for H.264 decoding there performance is almost indentical +/- ~ 4%.

Also the picture quality's are also almost identical. You will only find a difference if you go searching for it. And even then you will have to have both systems set up in front of you. The picture quality is also limited by a lot of other factors. What type of cable will you use? What quality of cable? Length of the cable? Is it going into an AV reciever first? Is a tv or monitor? What resolution? How good is your tv/monitor? Even if the signal from the card is amazing if your tv/monitor is **** thats what you get.

Canuck I wouldnt worry too much about the little differences in quality. I would base your desicion on other factors.
August 22, 2007 6:15:22 PM

Canuck1 said:

Quote:
What did it for me was the XP support.....because even since the start of the thread the GF8600 XP situation changed, so it's far from finalized.

Yes, but, I can't figure whether the problems are due to people being careless or uninstalling/installing incorrectly or due to development and introduction of poor drivers on Nvidia's part. The 163.44 drivers seem to have a mixed reaction but I've read plenty of posts in various places regarding issues..



Well, the last time I talked to an Nvidia rep for the review I'm doing, they told me that XP isn't supported for HD acceleration...

So I don't think it's an installation error. ;) 
August 23, 2007 3:13:41 AM

cleeve said:
Well, the last time I talked to an Nvidia rep for the review I'm doing, they told me that XP isn't supported for HD acceleration...

So I don't think it's an installation error. ;) 

I see. Then why does Nvidia release BETA drivers insinuating or even downright stating that there is XP support for HD acceleration?

The fact that it's BETA gets them off the hook?

gpippas, the cable and HDTV shouldn't effect things much. I'm only decoding and watching playback of video. It will be a factor if I use a PVR and record HDTV programming (from satellite or digital cable). But, a task of decoding files and HD playback is a process involving the video card and CPU for the most part as far as I know.

I have a LCD monitor that is pretty good and if I have any issues with a LCD HDTV, I can always go back to using the monitor.
a b U Graphics card
August 23, 2007 8:21:19 AM

2 more things to consider;

Not all is rosy in Linux Land;
http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=41845

and

Not all Vista tests are the same;
http://www.elitebastards.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=445&Itemid=27&limit=1&limitstart=9

And remember, for alot of video editing the GPU will not play a major role. There is more and more use of GPGPU style assisting being developed, but alot of it is very early, and on Linux pretty much non-existent.

I was just investigating a soon to be launched beta and it's hardware assist for real-time compositing which looks pretty cool, but they are very specific apps, like that one happens to be for Final Cut & Motion right now, therefore Apple only.

So I wouldn't worry about the editing part with these cards yet, and HD acceleration isn't really involved either, if anything future advanced will bypass the UVD and nV Purevideo and simply exploit the SPUs directly.
August 23, 2007 11:14:20 AM

Like Ape said editing doesn’t make any difference which card you use.

If the playback is only going to be on the monitor unless you have very large monitor you wont be able to see the difference between what cables you use or which card you use.

If you are going to use a large HDTV there are a lot of factors that make a difference to the picture quality. Yes all the decoding is done by the gpu and cpu but there is a lot more to good video quality than that. That’s why DVD players range from $20 to $2000.

What I'm saying is if "perfect" video quality isn’t that essential to you disregard it in the decision as to which card to choose. The picture will be amazing regardless of which of the two you choose (depending on the source). You have to know what you are looking for in the picture and then specifically find its downfalls. It doesn’t sound like you will be bothering to do this.

When you remove the picture quality from the decision you really aren’t left with much. Just minor compatibility issues features. 8600 series only offer hardware decoding in XP with beta drivers. The 2600xt seems to cover all bases except Linux. But that is a minor issue you will never ever probably worry about.

I'm AV fan. I can’t watch Divx because I think the quality is awful. I can tell the difference between an original dvd and the copy. I don’t like it when my surround sound isn't on with a crisp digitally encoded signal going through it. I watch everything in the highest quality picture that my means allow.

If things like this don’t matter to you either card will do.
August 23, 2007 2:36:54 PM

Canuck1 said:
I see. Then why does Nvidia release BETA drivers insinuating or even downright stating that there is XP support for HD acceleration?


Speak of the devil. An NVIDIA rep emailed me this morning and said the new 163.44 beta drivers support hardware acceleration in XP.


August 24, 2007 5:38:05 PM

Too bad it still doesn't work. Just read the reviews. I'd say 80% of Nvidia 8600 series card owners have no picture at all and a blank screen (some have sound, some don't).

So, how long until the next update? Let me know if you're told.

Btw, what is the update on these cards' HA (Hardware Acceleration) and HD Decoding in Vista? Similar story or is there any progress? I am not sure on the status there but Vista Home Premium is under $150 and although I don't want to buy an OS, I was curious if anything works anywhere.
August 24, 2007 7:11:23 PM

VIsta HD acceleration has worked on the 8500/8600s since very soon after their release, I believe.

I've tested it a while back in Vista and it works.
August 25, 2007 5:32:34 AM

Which Vista? 32 and/or 64 bit? I think getting it to work in XP should be a priority for Nvidia, imho. I'm interested in discovering which version of Vista it works on, though, whether it's both or one (32 or 64). I suspect it works on 32-bit, at least, as most hardware manufacturers and even software writers try to get their products to work on 32 bit. Am I correct in assuming that?
!