SO I am looking for a AGP card better than what I have that will hold me over 6-10 months. My current setup is thus:
AMD Athlon XP 2100+
2 Gigs Kingston PC2100 RAM
Soyo KT400 Dragon Platinum Mobo
NVIDIA 6600GT 128MB AGP video card
2 HDD totalling 130 gigs.
22" Widescreen Acer Flat Panel running at 1600x1050 native res (DVI out)
Windows XP Pro Sp2 (tried running Vista and it pissed me off so I uninstalled it)
I am looking for a good video card that is a visible and viable upgrade from the one I have now. I understand that my cpu will bottleneck any uber cards somewhat, I am ok with that for now. My current card is pretty awesome with the exception of some random artifacting while gaming (random textures being replaced by the color green) and some pixelating while watching movies. I will be adding another gig of RAM as I found a place that carries it for about 40 bucks a gig. Since I am building a new PC when Vista SP1 is released, I really don't want to spend more than 200 on a card. Any suggestions?
What power supply do you have? look on the side label of the power supply for the 12v rail output. Many of the best AGP cards (X1950XT, X1950 pro) need about 30 amps on the 12v rail(s).
Anyway, your cpu sure is going to hurt the top AGP cards, but a 6600GT(even if issue free) is going to be weak for 1680x1050 gaming.
Top range would be $130ish in the USA for a X1950 pro or 7900GS (if you prefer NVidia). A 7600GT would be a good match if lack the power supply for the X1950 pro. It's all the card you need for the most part paired with that CPU, but the fact it isn't much cheaper than the X1950 pro, makes it hard to recommend if the power
supply isn't an issue.
If you're only looking for something NEW to hold you over for about 6-10 months, I would spend as little as possible. The 6600GT actually uses a bit of power so you're definitely safe with a 7600GT but expect to spend around $130 for it. Anything lower than that and I don't think you will see much improvement for the money. Another card to consider would be an X1650XT. It slightly outperforms the 7600GT but only if the cost is justified meaning you would have to find one very close to the same price as the 7600GT.
However, a quick check on eBay showed several X800XLs, X800GTOs and X800XTs for well under $100. A good X800XL, X800GTO or X800XT for less than a hundred bucks would be an excellent card to hold you over until your next build. No SM 3.0, but considering the rest of the system isn't probably up to par for the few SM 3.0 only games, I wouldn't worry about it.
I also wouldn't bother with the extra RAM. Windows XP doesn't normally use a full 2 GB to it's potential for the average person. You would be better off saving your $40. Buy yourself a new game to play with on your new card instead.