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Trying to find an AGP card that will work for me

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
October 18, 2007 7:57:33 PM

Here is my current system:

AMD 64 3000+ (754 socket)
Can't remember the motherboard specifics, but it does have AGP 8X
1 GB Ram (DDR2 400 Dual Channel)
3 100GB WD IDE hard drives
1 750GB WD SATA drive (3.0, but the controller is only 1.5)
64MB ATI All-in-Wonder 64MB
Antec Sonoma case w/ 380W PS

While not state of the art, outside of the video card, my system seems good enough to handle most of the games that I play (don't do a lot of FPS) at reasonable detail levels.

Since I was cheap and got the 754 socket chip instead of a 939 chip, I can't just replace the board with one that has a PCI-e slot (well not reasonably), and since I've gotten married, I've discovered I no longer have free reign to just rebuild my system as I see fit!

I finally ran into a game I want to play, where my system can't handle it, basically because of the video card. The game is Neverwinter Nights 2. So I'm trying to figure out a video card that will work with my system and squeeze out another year or so of life until I can convince the wife of the need for a full upgrade.

I reviewed the following article:

A couple of questions, in the context of the system I am working with:

1) Is DDR3 really that much greater than DD2? I've noticed pretty big price discrepancies between otherwise identical cards on NewEgg.

2) If DDR3 is that important, is it still more important than more memory (There are several 512MB cards with DDR2 for similar prices to 256MB cards with DDR3)

3) How much performance difference is there in the clock speeds of the chips? (IE 575MHz vs. 648MHz on the two GeoCube X1950 models)

4) Is a 380W powersupply enough? I've read that PCI-e doesn't require as much power, so if I have to replace my powersupply to get a better card, it might make sense to go the motherboard route, though I'd still be tossing that money away since I am limited to a 754 chip unless I get a new chip as well.

A couple of the cards I was looking at:

I basically want to find the most powerful AGP card my system can handle without replacing anything. If there is nothing that will work without replacing the power supply, would I be able to replace just the motherboard, go PCI-e and get away with the 380W power supply?

Thanks for your help.

More about : find agp card work

October 18, 2007 8:42:47 PM

Thanks, but what about the power issue? I don't want to buy a card, then find out my power supply can't handle it.
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October 18, 2007 8:46:01 PM

Hi, I'm no expert in this area but I'm kind of in the same situation as you. I've looked quite a lot into the different agp cards available and come to a conclusion that first that the X1950pro/XT cards require (or at least recommends) 450W PSU and the GPU for weaker PSUs is the HD2600XT. The price of the HD2600XT lies between 7600GS and 7600GT, from where I live (Sweden). The HD2600XT will preform better than both the 7600GS and the GT.
While the 1950pro/XT is better than HD2600XT in many ways the price you have to pay to buy both the GPU and a new PSU is just not cost effective on a older system.
The only drawback is that the HD2600XT will ship on 1st dec (info from my local store)... and it's a while until then. If you don't want to wait you can try to find a 7900gs to a decent price.
As for your questions I'll try and answer them the best I can.

1. Short yeah DDR3 is a lot better than DDR2 on graphics cards, you can see that on 7600GT and 8600GT benches.

2. No 256DDR2->512DDR2 isn't much of a increase in performance while DDR2->DDR3 is. (what I've learned from benches/reviews and forums)

3. From the same type of cards, example from one 1950pro to another 1950pro, the card with higher clock is the fastest, you have to find a benchmark or ask ppl with those cards to figure out how much performance gain you'll get. You can't compare two different cards with each other and just compare clocks, example 7900gs and 7950pro, as both have very different architecture and specs.

4. It isn't enough for a 1950pro/XT or 7950GT, it can handle 7900gs if you v12 rail gives enough amps. It can candle 7600GT, 1650XT and the HD2k series.

So having said that I think HD2600XT would do w/o upgrading. If you do upgrade to PCI-e then I suppose a 8600GTS would do but I don't know how much power it requires.
October 18, 2007 9:16:39 PM

Thanks. I hadn't looked at the HD2600XT, I'll check it out.
a c 112 U Graphics card
October 18, 2007 10:37:44 PM

The 1950PRO should run on your psu without an issue....

This is based on a system i built when the Athlon64s first came out(754 was all there was then)

A64 3200+
1 gig of ram
X850 XT(about the same power use as a X1950pro)
3 hard drives
2 DVD+-r(w)'s
WinTV PVR 250
All in the Sonata with its 380 watt psu.
October 19, 2007 12:42:54 AM

@nukemaster: I'm not saying that you're wrong but my friend wanted to upgrade to a x1950pro on his computer but his PSU 400W wasn't enough so he got 7900gs instead. His specs:

P4 3.2Ghz
Asus some 975 chip mobo
2GB DDR2-800
3HDDs (1 raptor 2 standard)
1dvd burner

of cause it was PCI-e but his 400W still couldn't handle it... maybe it his PSU was low-tier but I'm saying that it MAY not be enough. It also say on most x1950pro boxes that it recommends 450W.
October 19, 2007 1:30:43 AM

Hi, just a note to say DO NOT try to run either an x1950 or an nvidia 6800/7800 series card on an antec 380w psu - it has approx 17amps usable on the 12v rail and simply wont cope long term - short term it will make a high pitch whistle noise and then go bang.

Honestly anything more than a 2600 from ati or 7600 from nvidia will be too much for your psu to handle for any length of time so to put it bluntly either budget for a 1950 with psu or a 2600 without as ati will give you a LOT better picture quality and colours than any 6 or 7 series nv card (no ranting please this is a well known and documented fact) and unless you want to wait for the 8600agp then you wont have a lot of choice (and the 8 series only closes up on ati pic quality as it is).

ps.. I am running a 1950pro 512mb on my agp rig and its fine with a Tagan 420w psu with 22amps on the 12v rail - but - was NOT fine with my antec neohe 430w with 3 16amp rails (apparantly).

Please dont make a bad move as it sounds like your nuts are in a vice !....

October 19, 2007 1:40:03 AM

For the 1950Pro, your power supply would be fine unless you're running multiple hardddrives, cd drives, a bunch of pci cards, and an overclocked cpu (take a bit to overload a 400watt power supply). Some have use 300 to 350 watt power supplies to run it.
The 1950XT might be pushing it though. Better for it to have that 450+ ps.
a b U Graphics card
October 19, 2007 2:24:25 AM

I'm running a X1650XT AGP on an Antec TruePower 380W, but it's not a loaded system. That power supply is really too wimpy on the 12v for the X1650XT and X1950's. You would be better off with a 7600GT that uses quite a bit less power.

The HD2600's are also good on power consumption and would be a great option for you, but watch out as most AGP ones are running low clocked GDDR2. (edit: sorry there is a 2600XT AGP on newegg too)

And yeah, GDDR2 vs GDDR3 makes a big difference in the performance because of the clock speeds of the mem aren't close. Take the X1650 pro for example, the GDDR2 versions are running 800MHz DDR speeds, while a real GDDR3 version is running 1380MHz effective speeds.

Look at cards 7 vs. 8 in this PCI-e link and you can compare the HD2600 pro with GDDR2 vs. GDDR3.

As one example, look at this Prey performance chart and you will see the GDDR3 HD2600 pro beating a 7600GT by 6 fps, while the lower clocked GDDR2 version loses to the 7600GT by 5 fps.

Also, AGP vs PCI-e won't matter here, if clock speeds are the same you can assume AGP would perform the same (excluding cpu bound tests). Anyway, my point is look how the 7600GT and HD2600 pro perform in the games that matter to you, check the clock speeds of the HD2600's you can find, and then you have a understanding which is better for you.

edit - for your power supply and system I like the 7600GT like this one or a HD2600 pro. 7900GS or HD2600XT are possibilities also. If going X1950's upgrade the PSU.
a c 112 U Graphics card
October 19, 2007 2:28:44 AM

Here is a list on video card power use

So i think a X1900pro will be fine(since i had a similar system running on that psu.....only changed it because i got a sonata II)....a X1900XT may be pushing it at a little over 9 amps, but it all depends on what everything else takes...

If you have any doubt.....7600GT's are very power friendly...
October 19, 2007 1:49:34 PM

Thanks for all the help guys (and gals).

I ended up going with the XFX PVT73AUDF3 GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 AGP 4X/8X.

From what ya'll posted, it seems like anything more isn't really guaranteed to work. Plus, given that I am coming from a 64MB ATI 7500 AIW, it will be a significant upgrade anyway, so even if it isn't the best card, it should be ok until I can do a complete new system in a year or two.

Thanks again.
a b U Graphics card
October 19, 2007 2:25:30 PM

Glad you got something that will work with your setup and doesn't require too much more to do the upgrade. I think you'll be happy with that video card for a while. Just don't think your going to smoke fps on the latest games, but for NWN2 you should be just fine.
October 19, 2007 3:55:07 PM

The x1950XT is best, but I won't bother. Even if your PSU can handle it. The x1950XT can play every current game well, but thats not the problem. The problem is your CPU. That becomes the bottleneck.
From what I read on this thread, the x1950pro seems best.

I also used a Nv 7800GS which worked well on my old PC. (the 7600GT is also good) Can play Oblivion no less with no AA. My CPU choaked on GRAW1.
a c 112 U Graphics card
October 19, 2007 9:10:23 PM

ncarty97 said:
Thanks for all the help guys (and gals).

I ended up going with the XFX PVT73AUDF3 GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 AGP 4X/8X.

From what ya'll posted, it seems like anything more isn't really guaranteed to work. Plus, given that I am coming from a 64MB ATI 7500 AIW, it will be a significant upgrade anyway, so even if it isn't the best card, it should be ok until I can do a complete new system in a year or two.

Thanks again.

Massive(come on.....7500) upgrade for you......enjoy it....Did you get a new TV card to keep the AIW type features?
October 19, 2007 9:29:41 PM

No, I really don't use it anymore as I've got an HD DVR with Dish Network. I have been using it to record old VHS tapes onto my PC for my wife and my brother, but I'm almost done with that, and anyway, I can just hookem them into my Tivo and get the same quality recording.