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Next-gen Card Confusion! Help a neo-gamer out!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 11, 2007 1:59:38 AM

Hey guys, this is it, I'm jumping into the world of gaming! After seeing my friend playing Oblivion on his PC, I decided I needed a new PC.. I needed a new one anyways, as my old Windows ME dinosaur needed a re-hual anyways.

So, after tons of research, I bought myself a new computer. Its specs are as follows;

Processor- Intel E6550 2.33Ghz
Motherboard- Asus P5K-VM
Memory- Transcend 2GB DDR2 667Mhz
Graphics- Intel 3100 integrated
Hard Drive Western Digital 320GB 7200RPM

Shes also got a 500 watt power supply. The soundcard is some lame-o Realtek integrated garbage, though lucky for me its not the AC97.

And now here's where I come to you guys.

I need a new video card!

For the life of me, I cannot figure out this video-card garbage. I've read most pieces of literature on the Tom's Hardware main site, including the Best Video Cards Sept. 2007, but I still can't figure this one out guys. I don't want one thats overkill for my system, and to be honest I'm afraid of overclocking... I'm not sure if I should go for a DirectX-10 one since I can get an awesome DirectX-9 card for the same money as a "decent" DirectX-10 card.. and I also hear Vista is a real pig! Gaming on XP is the way to go for right now, so I hear. So if I buy a DX9 card today, how much longer till its absolutely obsolete? My rig isn't going to be a powerhouse by any means, I just need her to run Oblivion (oh, and Bioshock catches my eye, as well.. haha!)

Please help me out guys.. and if you have some spare time look at this stores website (http://www.canadacomputers.com/index.php?do=ShowProdList&cmd=pl&id=999) and maybe choose one for me? I'd like to keep my cost below $200 if at all possible, but if there's some incredible value to be had a little above that I wouldn't mind springing!

Thanks in advance everybody, here's hoping this new gaming comp of mine does the trick!
September 11, 2007 2:15:27 AM

I just upgraded to a 8800 GTX which is a DX-10 card but had the ATI 1950 XT and it was great in XP. I couldn't get on your website, kept timing out but here is a site (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... )

BTW Bioshock runs great in XP and most games the difference isn't very noticeable yet, until Crysis hopefully. A friend had the Nvidia 7900 GS which from what I have seen is also a really good DX-10 card.
September 11, 2007 2:16:20 AM

Sorry, typo. The 7900 GS is a DX-9 card.
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September 11, 2007 3:38:10 PM

$200 in Canada should get you an X1950 PRO.

By far your best bet.
September 11, 2007 8:08:42 PM

You guys are nothing short of AWESOME! I found this video card here (http://www.canadacomputers.com/index.php?do=ShowProduct&cmd=pd&pid=014760&cid=999.243.272) and I was wondering how it stacks up for the price? It's relatively cheap (same as the 7950 and X1950pro mentioned), plus it has the ability to run dx-10 so its futureproof, AND it uses GDDR4 instead od GDDR3! Is this GDDR4 thing that much of a benefit that its worth buying over the other two cards? Will this card compete favourably against the X1950 pro? I hear new drivers are always being developed for these DX10 cards, so even though they are relatively slow now, they should be speedy in the future (just like Vista :p )!

I should also mention that I have some sort of bias towards ATI cards.. I've only purchased one graphics card my entire life, and she's a Radeon 9200.. never had a problem with her! Also my friend who has tons of computer experience avoids nVidia like the plague..
a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2007 8:36:03 PM

No such thing as futureproof of course, but it is nice to have the option of enabling DX10 features and the more flexible architecture.

Performance wise those it's about even with GF7950 and below the X1950Pro in Oblivion. Some games will play well to its strengths like Oblivion and such, where the added shader power (especially the ability to do more vertex/geometry work) helps it equal or pass them, but in other older games you'll find the HD2600 a little weak, in large part due to not having enough ROPs to push out massive fps as well as res.

Like the GF8600 the HD2600 does worse in more traditional games, and is competative or surprisingly strong in newer games.

I would still recommend the X1950Pro for general gaming, especially with the X1950Pro 256MB being cheaper, http://www.canadacomputers.com/index.php?do=ShowProduct&cmd=pd&pid=011667&cid=999.243.272 but a GDDR4 HD2600XT does make things more interesting for comparison and it does have some nice additional features.
September 11, 2007 8:39:39 PM

The 2600 XT is a good card, but somewhat overpriced in Canada. The GDDR4 does very little for performance, unfortunately, probably because the latencies are higher than GDDR3.

The X1950 PRO is a much stronger gamer than the 2600 XT or 8600 GT, for only a few bucks more in this country.
September 11, 2007 8:42:49 PM

Heheh same conclusion. Great minds and whatnot...
a b U Graphics card
September 11, 2007 9:05:42 PM

Yeah, well it's a pretty easy call on that.

The thing about the GDDR4 is that there's 2 models plus the GDDR3, I've found that people who have the 1.1ghz GDDR4 models are seeing slight improvements over the 800mhz clocked models (which come in both GDDR4 and 3 models). I think alot of the benchies seem to have the really cheap GDDR4 model against the GDDR3 models, and it's no surprise there's little difference. that's not to say the difference is large even with the 1.1Gghz model, but it is about 5-10% and I notice the min fps actually get the most noticeable positive improvement, especially of course when running AA/AF.

And depending on where he is, if Spadina and Colege in Toronto are within reach, he should check out there, than entire strip has a ton of computer shops that live to try and outprice CanadaComputers. That's where I did alot of my shopping last fall (along with tigerDirect's outlet store) if you rememebr all the stuff I brought back. :sol: 
September 12, 2007 1:20:09 AM

Ok, two things! First of all, you guys are the friendliest group of people ever. Seriously, your awesome. Giving me all kinds of advice and stuff. Especially Apeman over there, your apparent knowledge of this stuff is mind-boggling!

And onto the second thing! I caved and I bought myself a video card! Its one of these http://www.canadacomputers.com/index.php?do=ShowProduct&cmd=pd&pid=011236&cid=999.243.390 and hopefully it'll keep me going until all this DX-10 and Vista instability stuff works itself out and I can buy a proper DX-10 card! I've seen this card on the Best Cards For The Money Sept 07 list, so I figure it should be ok! What a steal!

And now onto my next question. Apparently this card is a crippled version of some other card (forget the exact name!) Some pipelines have been disabled and such.. now I remember seeing a while back things called "softmods" for old ATI cards, is there something similar for my card? Will it be reliable?
September 12, 2007 6:52:01 PM

In Canada, that 7900 GS is a good deal for sure. Congrats!

I haven't heard of a 7900 GS mod to get any more pipes enabled, I'm not even sure there are any disabled pipes on that GPU.

But it'll overclock well though, and should reach 7950 GT performance with a little tweaking.
September 13, 2007 1:07:32 AM

I would have gone with the 7950gt.
!