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My final AGP upgrade before going to PCI-E, help please!

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December 3, 2007 2:15:04 AM

Hi all, my first post - hope you can provide some advice as I'm trying to weigh up how to spend my hard earned cash.

First my current system;

Athlon AMD2800XP+ (don't laugh)
Asus A7N8X mobo
Nvidia 7800 GS AGP 8x 512mb
1.5gb RAM
Windows XP Pro
Recently upgraded the PSU to something like 500w+.

When I bought the 7800GS a year ago or so it was supposed to be cutting edge but recently I've bought 2 games, bioshock and and crysis, and it's clear it can't cope. Bioshock in unplayable even at LOW, Crysis is just about playable with everything on LOW - it's such a good game I can tolerate the slow downs, just.

I'm budgeting for a new system in Oct 2008 (long story) but I can stretch to a new GPU to let me happily play bioshock and crysis. I see THW recommends these options, the 2600XT, the X1950 GT, PRO or XT. Where I live (Australia), the X1950 PRO is most easily available priced at around $190 US.

So here's the thing, which if any should I go for? I read the the 2600XT is DX10 compatible, good for Crysis, but isn't DX10 vista only? Would the X1950 PRO be a good upgrade from a 7800 GS, is it worth the dollars?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. Cheers! :hello: 

More about : final agp upgrade pci

December 3, 2007 3:02:32 AM

Uh, even with a new video card bioshock and crysis are going to run badly. Your CPU is a huge limiting factor. I'd just save the cash towards your new rig. Any money spent on your current setup is just money wasted.
December 3, 2007 3:06:10 AM

Hi Mutt thanks for your reply. I need to get at least another 10-11 months out of my current system thats the thing. If I can improve FPS by even 20% it would be worth it.

Are you saying that even if I went to an X1950 pro, the bottleneck is so big it won't make any noticeable difference?
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December 3, 2007 3:08:25 AM

why did you say don't laugh after xp 2800+ that think was great still got my 2500+ and overclocking it to 2.2 ghz
December 3, 2007 4:08:06 AM

I definately second what mutt is saying about the CPU bottlenecking the GPU. That being said, if you must upgrade your setup get the x1950PRO. I just got one for about $120 (open box) from newe** and it definately is a good card for AGP users. I have an Athlon 3400+ CPU with 1.5GB RAM on that system, and it runs most games at atleast medium settings. That being said, Crysis and Bioshock aren't one of them and definately won't be one of them. Those games are simply too demanding. I have another setup with a Q6600, 4GB RAM and a Geforce 8800GT and Crysis still kicks its ass, so playing those games with your current setup is definately not looking good.
December 3, 2007 4:56:28 AM

I use an x1950GT AGP on my 2.4ghz P4, it's a great card for the agp platform. Now, if you were using integrated video or an older video card I would say go for it, but you are not going to get enough jump in performance from the 7800gs to the x1950 xx to justify the price.
December 3, 2007 5:44:33 AM

Thanks for all the replies so far. I just ran a 3dmark 2005 benchmark and my current setup scored 5754 on the default test 1024x768. I have read reviews of people with this card getting between 8000 and 10,000 depending on their setup. Even if I only got 8000, this would represent a 37% increase in performance, which sounds pretty good?

I had trouble locating my card on the VGA charts, but reading other reviews it seems to come in a bit above a 6800 ultra, whereas the X1950 PRO 512mb seems to get almost twice the fps in some applicatons.
a b U Graphics card
December 3, 2007 6:36:14 AM

Here is what I'd do. Yes the GPU might improve somewhat, but I'd buy a whole new rig, or at least get yourself into a crossover board with a newer CPU/GPU. You could use your existing GPU and also upgrade to a PCI-e based one later. This is just an idea that I don't know if you like or not. Here is one example:

Mobo - $67 Supports both AGP and PCI-e (x4, I believe not x16) DDR and DDR2, not all at the same time, but you can use DDR or DDR2.
ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2 LGA 775 VIA PT880 Pro/PT880 Ultra ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU - $74 OC's well (close to 3 gig or more) and is cheap.
Intel Dual-Core E2140 Allendale 1.6GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU - Free, if you use your current one, which isn't too bad, just doesn't support some of the newer shader technology.
Memory - Free, using up to 2 sticks of your current DDR
Total - $141 Now this would get you started towards a better system, but you can see there are some limitations.


Another option: Get new CPU/mobo/RAM/GPU, this would be the best situation, but costs a bit too.

CPU - $

Mobo - $67 shipped! Nice solid mobo with lots of options! This is AMD makes up on Intel. AMD based mobo's have more options for the $ than an Intel based one.
GIGABYTE GA-MA69VM-S2 AM2 AMD 690V Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU - $100 shipped! Nice good cheap GPU. For the $ not too bad. Can play Bioshock and Crysis, but won't be on high settings for this kind of $.
SAPPHIRE 100208L Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total - ~$278 shipped! Now I know you have different prices, but for this kind of $ you'd have a much better setup. You could sell off the parts that you currently have that wouldn't be transferred over to this rig and you might be close to the $190 USD mark that you quoted originally. I'd rather do that than put $ into another AGP card.
BTW what make/model is your PSU? Do you know what the amps are on the 12V rail? Not all 500w PSU's can handle a x1950pro video card, BTW. If I were stuck with choosing between a $190 GPU and upgrading to a newer system, for about the same, I'd go with the newer system. That is just my opinion, so take with it what you will.


P.S. you could also get a similar setup with a e2140 and mobo around the same price as listed above.
December 3, 2007 10:39:33 AM

Hi lunyone, thanks very much for the detailed post, appreciate the time it took you to write that.

Thing is, around October 08 I go back to the UK and will be spending money on an uber system, like this one: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=FS...

So really, I don't want to go updating the motherboard and cpu, really just want a simple plug in and go upgrade so I figured an X1950 pro would at least give me better FPS at the lowest graphics settings.

Good point on the PSU, suppose I should make the effort and take it out so I can see what make it is, hard to read when it's in place.

BTW just tried overclocking the 7800GS by 5%, and my 3d mark 05 score went up to 6225, better than i thought.

Another thought on this, the VGA charts have the 2600XT well down on the X1950 PRO, but other threads are saying there isn't much difference, whats the real story? Should I save myself the $100?
a b U Graphics card
December 3, 2007 12:26:27 PM

2600xt is generally a partial step below a x1950pro. Don't remember if there is a AGP version of it, but if there is I'm sure it'll probably be more than the x1950pro.
There should be a sticker on the side of the PSU that will tell you what model/make it is and possibly the amps on the +12V rail(s). This will let us know if we should even recommend getting the x1950pro. If it can't support it than you'd need to get a new one. Don't fret thought, you could transfer the new PSU over to the newer rig later, if you get a quality PSU.
a b U Graphics card
December 3, 2007 12:34:18 PM

Are you running all that at stock speeds? I don't usually push people toward overclocking, but if that was my rig, I'd stretch it's usefull life by OC'in the snot out of it. The 7800GS overclocks well, and most Bartons are good for 2.2GHz anyway. Too me you already have a decent enough AGP card paired with that CPU, upgrading from here on out will only give you partial gains.

Check out Cleeve's AGP charts you'll see you card compared to a X1950 pro on both a XP2500+ and an A64 3400+ back then. Your system is obviously way down near the 2500+ level (don't let AMD's numbers fool ya as XP2800+ does not = A64 2800+)
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/02/01/agp-platform-ana...

Anyway, if you are up to it, OC it and see if you gain the precious needed fps. If not, It's your money of course, so if you are going to make the plunge the X1950 pro is overall better than the HD2600XT.

a b U Graphics card
December 3, 2007 12:38:37 PM

Actually in the USA the HD2600XT is much cheaper than the X1950 pro in AGP. $112 from newegg right now makes the HD2600XT one of the best deals in AGP IMO.


As far as performance, the HD2600XT keeps up with the X1950 pro in many new games like UT3, TF2, Crysis, etc., but ONLY without FSAA. If you turn on fsaa the HD2600XT tanks. No doubt the X1950 pro > HD2600XT overall, but the HD2600XT is really impressive in some new games as long as you don't enable fsaa.
December 3, 2007 8:18:28 PM

Thanks guys, guess I should try the OC route first. Any tips on OC the barton 2800?
December 3, 2007 8:35:32 PM

If I were you, I'd do this:
1) Buy the x1950pro
2) Overclock the xp 2800
3) Consider reinstalling windows

If your computer is all around running pretty slow, a reinstall of windows could do wonders. That computer is probably about 5 years old judging from the processor speed, and probably runs a lot slower than it did when you originally got it.

I can run bioshock at max settings without AA or AF at 1440*900 with the following build: 3800+ x2, 1 GB DDR2, x1950pro. If you take those three steps, you will probably be able to do the same.
December 3, 2007 8:40:00 PM

Now if I were you, overclock the cpu as high as you can. Then wait. Why? The HD3850 might come out as an AGP platform. If it does, it'll be the most powerful AGP card ever released. Probably around 200+ dollars.
December 3, 2007 8:52:28 PM

Guys I just read an overclocking FAQ which says if you have a mobo with an nforce or nforce 2 chipset (like my A7N8X) then the multiplier is locked??

Konut do you mean a complete format everything and then reinstall windows?
December 3, 2007 9:12:09 PM

just get your self a dual cpu at 2,4 ghz and 2 gig of mem.......if i can get normal game play so can you....im play with a ecs nforce3 s939 4800+@stock....2gig mem hyperx at 2.3.2.6 t1 and a gainward glh 7800+@600/1400(and stil uprising in overclocking) and i play allot of games at good to high setting....so do your best to sqeese every thing out off agp.....im am....good luck mate
December 3, 2007 9:12:23 PM

luckyfives said:
Hi all, my first post - hope you can provide some advice as I'm trying to weigh up how to spend my hard earned cash.

First my current system;

Athlon AMD2800XP+ (don't laugh)
Asus A7N8X mobo
Nvidia 7800 GS AGP 8x 512mb
1.5gb RAM
Windows XP Pro
Recently upgraded the PSU to something like 500w+.

When I bought the 7800GS a year ago or so it was supposed to be cutting edge but recently I've bought 2 games, bioshock and and crysis, and it's clear it can't cope. Bioshock in unplayable even at LOW, Crysis is just about playable with everything on LOW - it's such a good game I can tolerate the slow downs, just.

I'm budgeting for a new system in Oct 2008 (long story) but I can stretch to a new GPU to let me happily play bioshock and crysis. I see THW recommends these options, the 2600XT, the X1950 GT, PRO or XT. Where I live (Australia), the X1950 PRO is most easily available priced at around $190 US.

So here's the thing, which if any should I go for? I read the the 2600XT is DX10 compatible, good for Crysis, but isn't DX10 vista only? Would the X1950 PRO be a good upgrade from a 7800 GS, is it worth the dollars?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. Cheers! :hello: 



Don't buy another video card.....I suggest you bite the bullet and put together a new computer.
a b U Graphics card
December 3, 2007 9:20:26 PM

The multiplier being locked is up to your individual CPU. Many barton 2500+'s were unlocked. AMD started to lock them though and you needed to buy the mobile version to get an unlocked one later on. It's simple to check (try changing it from 12.5 to 12 or 11 and check to see if reported cpu speed changes) and if yours is locked you'll have to just OC the FSB. You'll have to check your RAM speeds PC2700 (333MHz) or PC3200 (400MHz). With a locked 12.5 multiplier, it would be very unlikely you will hit a 200 MHz fsb (2.5GHz). So you would be stuck somewhere between 166 and 200. Use the guides and take it slow.

But, I have never used that motherboard. You should research overclocking that mobo specifically. Does it support a 200(400) FSB like the XP3200+? Would you have to flash your bios version? What about locking AGP/PCI bus speeds? Just a few warnings.
December 3, 2007 9:21:09 PM

It's normally the case that the processors themselves are multiplier locked -I know my XP2600+ is locked at 11.5 (same motherboard as you).
I haven't had much luck overclocking though - Windows just flatly refuses to boot at anything over 2019MHz (181 FSB)

It may be worth reformatting and re-installing a lite version of windows (create it yourself using n-lite). Do your research, figure out which services and whatnot you want running, and which you don't.

Google FSAutoStart to shut down everything you don't need running while you're in a game, I use it religiously, especially for background antivirus services.

I can play Bioshock (with Shadershock Patch, as I only have a Radeon 9800Pro) at 1280*1024 (mostly low settings, but textures at medium)
and crysis with everything at low. What's the deal with Crysis' minimum specs if it's perfectly playable on a below-spec machine anyway?

Roll on Penryn.... I'ma commin!
December 3, 2007 9:28:09 PM

yes, he does mean a complete format. You need every ounce of transistor muscle your PC can pull for those games - trust me.

My system is very close to yours, actually. I have a 2800 paired with a x1650xt and 1.5GB of ram too. All of them are overclocked - the cpu depending upon what i need that day, with a max reaching 2.4GHz, and the GPU depending on what game i play, but i don't remember the clockspeeds. I usually run the CPU around 2.2GHz, even for games, and at 2.4GHz for movie rendering, etc. Even with the overclock, the x1650xt is bottlenecked. Honestly, I'd really say stick with what you've got for the year. In all honesty, I've had the x1650xt for only 8 months or so now - until then i had a 9600xt.

If you have to have the extra FPS, at least buy the next card used, though i don't know how much good it'll do. i can get a max of 25FPS on crysis at 1280x1024 with mid-low settings. Playable, and certainly not unbearable, but still hindering. I'm sure though that that bottleneck will be present. I advise against the upgrade. Those high-end AGP cards are for the monster high end CPU's from the 2800+'s day, and the older 939 and pentium d dual cores. stick with the 7800. overclock it if you can.

If you REALLY must have it...then i guess go with the x1950pro. Sell it, or your old 7800, when you get your new system.
No guarantees on that bottleneck, though, buddy.
a b U Graphics card
December 4, 2007 1:09:01 AM

badders said:
It's normally the case that the processors themselves are multiplier locked -I know my XP2600+ is locked at 11.5 (same motherboard as you).
I haven't had much luck overclocking though - Windows just flatly refuses to boot at anything over 2019MHz (181)

Sounds to me like your AGP and/or PCI bus are not locked. Have you looked into how to lock them with your mobo? Manually setting AGP to 66 or 67 MHz for instance and PCI to 33MHz? I've never had a single barton top out at 2.0GHz....it just seems like it's the mobo.

December 4, 2007 2:35:51 AM

Thanks for the tips, I'll give it a go tonight and post the results!
December 4, 2007 11:18:36 PM

Well I tried overclocking my Barton 2800 but no avail, windows wouldn't boot running at 3200+ or 3000+. I have the option of locking the AGP bus, any ideas what setting would suit this, 66 or 67 like above?

Overclocking the 7800 GS is much easier using powerstrip or whatever it's called, I'm running at 467.5 / 1.375 which is 10% up on the stock 425/1.25, so far no artifacts and slightly better FPS in crysis. Also, changed the bios settings on the chipset to 'aggressive', not sure what it did but netted me another couple hundred 3dm05 points.

I heard that there is a shader patch you can get for bioshock, do I need this? I'm pretty sure this card has SM3.0 so not sure if it applies. Cheers

From the orignal benchmark of 5200 I'm now up to over 6700 which isn't bad going I suppose.
December 5, 2007 9:37:17 PM

not bad but im getting 8609 points..but withs vid brand card do you have...my gainward 7800 gs goes like hell(glh) has 20 / 7 pipelines/shaders and is stock clock at 500-1400an now im at 600-1400 and still rising....clocking with rivatuner(great app)but 2 gig mem is better....good luck mate
!