choosing a graphics card

Hi people,

I'm in the process of upgrading my computer and I was wondering about what graphics card to get.
I'm not really in too much of a hurry as my old 7600gt is still not ridiculously horrible, but a nice upgrade would be cool, as I'm upgrading everything else. (athlon 64 x2 5000+ black edition, going to try to get it to 3.2gHz or so when I get it in the mail, and 4 gigs of ddr2800 ram).

So I was thinking about an 8600, but there are so many variations of it that I really have no idea which one to get. Is ram more important or clock speed more important? What kind of performance can I expect from these cards? Say in like Orange Box or Gears of War or Crysis or CoD4? Also, I've been reading that the ATI cards in this price range are better, but my mobo is meant for sli. Can I still run an ati card no problem? I have an msi k9n4 sli.
finally, are 8800s dropping in price any time soon? I really would not like to spend over 200 on a card right now, but at the same time, I don't want something that won't really improve my rig all that much.

advice? thanks a lot. everyone here is really helpful
6 answers Last reply
More about choosing graphics card
  1. Yes you can use an ATI card on a SLI motherboard, but you can't use two in crossfire since they're not compatible with each other. I would suggest an HD 3870 card if you can find it for $200-220. If not, then you'd just have to wait till they become more abundant. If you can get a good deal on the 8800 GT, I would go with it too. Depends which one you can get for cheaper (probably the HD 3870).

    More video card memory kicks in at higher resolutions only, you won't notice a difference at reasonable resolutions. Core/Memory/Shader mhz and the memory bus are what matter.
  2. oh thanks for the info,
    so the normal 256 megs of vcard memory is usually enough?

    also, the 3870s are listed as pci 2.0, is that newtech incompatible with pcie16 slots? Sorry, I'm still kind of ignorant about these things. learning though.

    so if i were to choose 8600/3850/3870, what brand model of each would you recommend? all the different variations are very confusing
  3. I'm assuming that pci 2.0 works in pcie16 slots, but my motherboard limits each pcie slot to x8 speed because it's for sli. Someone told me that that won't matter at all because graphics cards right now can't fill it up. Is that true? If I get a 3850, would it be slowed down because of the motherboard?
  4. nope. only an 8800gtx loses some power in x8 mode(and thats by only a few frames); anythin other than that card runs full speed.
  5. Im probably going to confuse you even more now (sorry) but its not quite as simple as below.
    Before i start i would like to stress that im not saying Nightscope is wrong just trying to elaborate a bit.

    More video card memory kicks in at higher resolutions only, you won't notice a difference at reasonable resolutions. Core/Memory/Shader mhz and the memory bus are what matter.

    While this is generally true i felt it important to point out that a lot of the newer games are using a lot of textures and this is another area where the extra ram comes in handy, If i was buying a new Graphics card today and was planning on keeping it a couple of years at least i would get 512 as a minimum to allow for future increases in game requirements,it was only a couple of years ago that 128 was considered the norm.
    Also the Core/Memory/Shader mhz and the memory bus advice while again is a good rule of thumb only really works when comparing like for like,, say one make of gt to another or two cards within one series as long as they are built on the same architecture. if you take the old 8800GTS and the 2900XT you will see that on paper the 2900xt should be the better card but it wasnt. This is an example of what i am saying about the card being built differantly, its a bit like comparing apples to oranges it just dosent work.

    Chipset Manufacturer ATI
    GPU Radeon HD 2900XT
    Core clock 750MHz
    Stream Processors 320
    Memory Clock 1650MHz
    Memory Size 512MB
    Memory Interface 512-bit
    Memory Type GDDR3

    Chipset Manufacturer NVIDIA
    GPU GeForce 8800GTS
    Core clock 520MHz
    Stream Processors 96
    Memory Clock 1600MHz
    Memory Size 640MB
    Memory Interface 320-bit
    Memory Type GDDR3

  6. The 3850 would give you a nice increase in fps.
    It has great price/preformance!

    Take a look at this review for the benches
    You can also see the difference in ram and the difference with the 3870
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