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Graphics - bang for my buck

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October 17, 2007 11:12:00 PM

Hi all,

I have been researching graphics cards for the past few days and am having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the entire subject. There is a lot to take into consideration so I thought I would get some advice from pros such as yourselves :bounce: 

I want to spend max of around AUD$250 (approx. USD$225). I don't currently game much, mainly because my PC is ancient but would more than likely get into some mid to high end games with the new PC I am currently spec'ing. I do however play a lot of video, and have duel monitors, apart from that nothing exciting.

What do you think would be the best bang for my buck with the current available graphics out there?

Thanks very much

More about : graphics bang buck

a c 130 U Graphics card
October 17, 2007 11:17:46 PM

Well im in the UK so would have a hard time relating to your pricing but i do know that it would help if you could post some more info.
You say you play a lot of video so probably one of the HD ready cards fron either camp ATI/Nvidea,but we would need to know what you have in mind budget wise for the whole rig.
Mactronix
October 17, 2007 11:34:08 PM

No troubles...thought I would just tackle each piece of hardware at a time but better to look at the big picture I suppose.

Please note I am a novice so please excuse my lack of knowledge.

First of all what I am planning to use the PC for...a 'fileserver' as such and therefore I will want about 1.5 to 2 TB's worth of storage (hoping to put in a Raid5) plus additional HD for windows/games/etc. I will have a VM running off the machine for a secondary firewall (very low requirements). I will use it for day to day surfing, office, music and will also use it as mentioned above as a "multimedia center" to a degree. Will play lots of vids off it straight onto my TV, also planning to (although not initially) get a TV capture to add. Quite a bit of burning etc.

This is what I was thinking so far:
Motherboard - no idea (will need 6 sata however)
CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (I think for my purposes a 'lower spec' quad will be better than higher duo
Ram - CORSAIR TwinX 2gig x 2 (4 Gig) DDR2 XMS2-6400C5 800mhz Matched Pair
PSU - haven't researched this yet
Graphics - I was thinking NVIDIA 8600GTS 512MB DDR3 but really have no idea
HD's - 4 to 5 x 500G or 3 to 4 x 750G + 320G all sata
Other stuff I guess isn't that important for this discussion.

Please feel free to comment on any of the above, in fact the whole system. I am looking to spend around AUD$2000 (approx USD$1800) but am willing to go higher (suspect this will be the case).

Look forward to your advise.

Thanks again
Related resources
October 18, 2007 12:38:57 AM

Is DirectX 10 a factor here? ....
October 18, 2007 2:50:21 AM

Magrippa - I would like this builds lifespan to be as long as possible so since DirectX 10 is the next step in 'evolution' it would definitely be helpful to have DirectX 10 capabilities. I thought that card did though?

Computerte - The quad I am looking at is priced the same as the duo I was considering ( INTEL CORE 2 DUO E6850 3Ghz 4m CACHE 1333FSB LGA 775). Unless I dropped back the quality of the duo I wouldn't have any $$ freed up to get the 8800GTS, particularly since they are virtually double the price. I am in no way a huge gamer, I still enjoy gaming and therefore would like the best quality possible but I would prefer my PC was faster outside of the gaming experience then loosing speed in that realm to enhance game play. Are you 'against' quad processors only from a gaming point of view or do you think they have other negatives?

Thanks for your input so far
a b U Graphics card
October 18, 2007 3:27:35 AM

IMO, see when the GF8800GT and HD2950/HD3800/whatever it's called comes to your neck of the woods.

The GF8800GT is targeted at the $200 US price range, unfortunately being in OZ this may mean the $250US dollar equivalent range. However if it has a slightly underclocked cousin, it would likely make the best bet for you.

It is supposed to be stonkin' fast coming close to the current GF8800s and besting them at times, it will be significantly faster than the GF8600GTS if that's the case.

It is also rumoured to have all the nice HD playback hardware found on the GF8400/8500/8600 series cards. For playback this is definitely worth it, although with a good CPU it'll mainly be need to play back serious HD content, or to keep CPU useage really low when doing milder content.

As for the Duo vs Quad issue, to me it would depend alot on whether you plan on doing much editing with this captured content. If not I'd say get a solid dual core. I love the quad core for long-long term, but it's not like you can't swap out the CPU later once more apps use the quad core, and for now it won't be as used. Some games, like Supreme Commander and UrealTournament3 do however make use of extra cores sometimes more than extra speed, but they are the exception right now.
The best use of multi-cores outside of editing and that limited gaming is multi-tasking, like if you want to rip something while you're doing something else, so the flexability of having those extra cores so that you can rip a DVD while capturing a TV show, etc. may come in handy.

Personally I prefer more cores to more speed, but I'm a multi-CPU user from way back.

So IMO, the nVidia GF880GT is the near term video target, with the ATi counterpart being a 'one to watch', the GF860GTS has a bit to offer as does the HD2600XT, but neither are very capable gamers, but will let you 'play' all the new games, just with some things turned down.

Now if truely you're not going to start getting back into gaming even if you had a new GF8800Ultra or HD2900XT just given to you, then don't spend the extra money, and instead just get the very capable, but very multimedia oriented HD2600 or GF8600 series; either of which will let you get your feet wet every once in a while in all the new games, and for while to come but at reduced settings. However they have great HD video features you can use right away which shouldn't be overlooked.

Everyone likes to think in terms of MAX detail, High Quality, Insane Textures at Ultra-high res and levels of AA when thinking of gaming, however if you just wanna play a few games now and then and burn off some stress, maybe those mid-ranges will do fine. I like to play now and again, and I am happy with my mobile graphics chips, which aren't sexy, but do the job of blowing stuff up and exploring virtual worlds.

So in short, get the soon to arrive GF8800GT if you think you might want to get a little serious about your gaming, or else get the HD2600/GF8600 if you think it'll be something you do once a week for an hour or so.
October 18, 2007 4:00:52 AM

$250AUD is a bot of a gfx black hole really.
Can go ATI 2600 woteva or NV 8600GTS
If u can... wait for the n92 chips which may provide some interesting options.

Or... if u can spend a bit more an 8800gts is a massive improvement.

However id wait for n92 just to see what pans out.
October 18, 2007 4:09:30 AM

yesburg go out and buy (or read it at the News agency). The latest PC Authority has a review on a lot of the latest cards available in Australia. They gave the 8600GT card the best value budget gaming card. (as long as you only use 1280 x 1024)

The 8600GTS OC version is not bad for it's price either (In Australia)
a b U Graphics card
October 18, 2007 5:00:46 AM

mrmez said:

Or... if u can spend a bit more an 8800gts is a massive improvement.


The only drawback of the GF8800GTS IMO is the lack of dedicated HD playback hardware. The GTS-320 is a fine card, but if he's focusing on video playback the GF8600GTS/HD2600XT are better options, and if he want more grunt, man that G92 looks like a nice option if it can come down into his pricerange. The RV670 would be nice too, but not sure what global availability would be like, and I trust the G92 making it down there sooner than the RV670.

Too bad it wasn't last year, I could've brought him one for the mark-up price of a sleep on the couch and a pint of VB. :sol: .
October 18, 2007 5:55:13 AM

Quick Google of Australian Web sights puts the 8800 GTS 320mb at around $360 plus AUD. Above what the OP wanted to spend. :( 
October 18, 2007 5:58:14 AM

In Australia we get less choice at a higher cost. It Also sometimes takes a longer time to get new products in. :( 
October 18, 2007 8:43:15 AM

Yeah I am finding that Marty, little annoying...nice view from your backyard by the way, wish mine was a little more like that and a little less like a 4 lane highway :) 

Thanks for you input all, unfortunately the 8800's are definitely out of my price range, so I am looking into Ape's suggestion of 8600GTS/HD2600XT. Few more questions for ya:
- I had a quick look around and I can get the HD2600XT for around 70 to 80 dollars cheaper than the 8600GTS, thats for both the 256 and 512 versions, what do you suggest is the better choice?
- There never seems to be much talk about the amount of memory in a graphics card, how important/beneficial (particularly to me) would the 512 be over the 256?
- there always seems to be a few OC versions of all these cards out there, from what I read it doesn't usually make a huge difference, should I be considering the OC versions?

Next thing to consider will be the brand...mate it never ends!!

Thanks again
October 19, 2007 5:02:05 AM

I personally bought a Calibre P860 Graphic Card which I've seen it for $229.90. I haven't tested it yet as I'm still building my new system.
I also have sold 2 x MSI 8600GT OC card for 2 customers who are only casual players and the feedback has been good.
I stress I would only recommend these card for mid range resolutions.

I must admit sometimes the people giving advice think that only people who can buy and use the high end cards are computer enthusiasts. WRONG. I have looked at all the reviews and read the forums regarding these cards and for me! I don't need or if I'm serious would use anymore capabilities then this card will do.

Yes I like the view, not quiet that good this year, we've had no real rain for 4 months now, Very dry! :( 

I've had several Sparkle cards and had a good run out of them, Gigabyte and MSI cards seem alright as well.(Based on very few coming back to our shop)
!