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Clueless about my AGP 4x slot

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 16, 2007 2:42:10 PM

Hello everyone -- first post on Tom's Hardware.

I am a total noob as far as video cards. I've been doing some research on them (trying) and I get a slightly different story from each person. I need someone to reply to this post who has a lot of practical, hands-on experience with AGP video cards.

I don't know what information is relevant, so I'll post what I can find:

I have an older system. It's about 3 or 4 years old. A Systemax "Venture" Pentium 4 at 2 GHz, with 1 Gig of SDR RAM.

Here is a link to my system specs:

http://www.supportforyourpc.co.../home.asp?sn=104922314

Here is a link to my motherboard:

http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=U8668


The user's manual for my motherboard says I have the following AGP slot specs:

"The 66MHz AGP 2.0 compliant interface supports 1x, 2x and 4x data transfer
mode."



That is about all I know about my current system. Right now the AGP 4x slot is empty - I have never used it. I have only ever used the onboard 32 MB chip for my video.



So, what I am wanting to know is, given the age and limitations of my system, and the fact that this may be the one and only time I upgrade to a new video card -- what should I put in the AGP slot?


I have been getting a lot of conflicting information. Each person I talk to says something different.

I have heard that you can buy 8x cards and they will work in the 4x slots just fine -- they just "clock down" to the 4x speed.

Other people tell me, that's not true. That you have to be careful. Not all 8x cards will work right in a 4x slot.

It can't be both ways. Do 8x cards work?


Also -- as far as putting an 8x card in the slot -- assuming I can find one that does work right. Can I take advantage of 512 MB of RAM (given my system limitations above) or would that be a total waste of money because my system would not be able to make use of it? Or would I be smarter to go with 256 MB of video RAM given how old my system is?


What about 64-bit vs 128-bit cards and my motherboard.


I've heard that the motherboard cares very little what is on the CARD itself, as long as it is the right card for the slot and the card stays cool.


I hope all of this helps you help ME make an informed decision.

More about : clueless agp slot

December 16, 2007 3:00:44 PM

A few other side notes to mention:

I have Windows XP Home on the PC above.

I will NOT be upgrading the OS, ever. If I ever do that, it will be with a brand new PC and none of the above would apply then.
December 16, 2007 3:04:17 PM

I my opinion you should just get a new computer. With your current configuration I don't think it would be worth it to put an AGP card in it. Now if you don't have the money and you really want to keep your current set up for a while longer that is a different story. But why are you thinking of upgrading your system after 3+ years, specifically the video card?
Related resources
December 16, 2007 3:17:41 PM

I don't have the option of getting a brand new PC right now. Wish I did!

The main reason I want a new card is support for Visual C# "XNA". I tried developing in it and my 32 MB onboard video card (integrated, not in a slot) only supports shader model 1.0 I think. I need Shader Model 2.0 or better for XNA support.

More than that -- I just "want" a better video card than my 32 MB integrated piece of crap. :)  To put it bluntly. :) 

I can spend about $70. I may spend more if a 512 MB AGP card would work in a 4x slot.


December 16, 2007 3:20:24 PM

sounds like you've already done the research. 4x cards aren't that bad, they are noticeably faster than old onboard graphics.

the nVidia MX440 comes to mind. plus they're cheap, couldn't be more than $20.

if you need faster graphics than that, you've either got to take a chance on an 8x card, or buy part of a new system (or a used but faster system, which can be pretty affordable, if it works.)

one option is to go to the local computer recycling center and ask nicely for a used system. they got some good ones coming in.
December 16, 2007 3:37:33 PM

knowlton said:
I don't have the option of getting a brand new PC right now. Wish I did!

The main reason I want a new card is support for Visual C# "XNA". I tried developing in it and my 32 MB onboard video card (integrated, not in a slot) only supports shader model 1.0 I think. I need Shader Model 2.0 or better for XNA support.

More than that -- I just "want" a better video card than my 32 MB integrated piece of crap. :)  To put it bluntly. :) 

I can spend about $70. I may spend more if a 512 MB AGP card would work in a 4x slot.


Tom's has a list of cards they recommend for AGP slots.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/03/best_graphics_ca...

Most of the newer AGP cards should work in your mother board. Like you said your board is AGP 2.0 compliant. The 4X 8X is not that big of a deal and I doubt you will notice any difference. 128 bit memory card is better avoid 64bit. 256mb of memory should be fine. GDDR3 memory is faster than GDDR2 but for what you are using if for you should be ok.

I am not familiar with Visual C# "XNA so hopefully what I have told you is a good guideline to use.



December 16, 2007 3:41:59 PM

Id Get The ATI/AMD Radeon 2600XT 512MB It Will Work In Your AGP Slot, And Provide Enough Power For Most All Games Even Crysis At 800x600, 2xAA And 4xAF Medium Settings In Dx9 Mode Privided YYou Have Enuff RAM And A Decent CPU
December 16, 2007 4:01:20 PM

>>>Privided YYou Have Enuff RAM And A Decent CPU

I have a P4 at 2.0 GHz. 1 Gig of SDR RAM.
December 16, 2007 4:41:13 PM

To get a good idea of what cards will run in your system go to newegg->video cards->AGP 4x/8x. You have quite a selection of cards available. For you convience here is a link:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
There was a Geforce 6800 XE on there for ~ $50. Also the Radeon X1650 Pros looked like a decent buy. If you really want Direct X 10 you can get a 2600XT, but your CPU and RAM will bottleneck it. Really you shouldn't be spending over $130 on your card, as you wont see performance increase with the cards priced above that due to your CPU / RAM.

6800XE
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
1650 PRO
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
December 16, 2007 4:48:04 PM

Now, even if I could afford it, would a 512 MB card be worth getting for my older PC?
December 16, 2007 5:25:57 PM

I don't know much about video cards but would point out that DX10 is a feature reserved for vista. Although, the card you pick might have it, I wouldn't base a decision on it since you said you won't upgrade this ps's os
December 16, 2007 5:37:38 PM

Hi

I think that x1550 card from ATI will work nicely in that system and it is a Shader Model 3.0 card which is good for you. But why do you ABSOLUTELY need 512Mb vram? 256Mb seems pretty enough since 512 won't give any performance boost at all.

I gave a look at newegg for better card than that one for the price but couldn't find a better part. If you really need 512Mb vram then go for it there is no better choice.
December 16, 2007 5:42:37 PM

bc4 said:
I don't know much about video cards but would point out that DX10 is a feature reserved for vista. Although, the card you pick might have it, I wouldn't base a decision on it since you said you won't upgrade this ps's os


The ATI Radeon x1550 card is directX 9.0c Compliant
December 16, 2007 10:41:34 PM

What kind of monitor do you have? The extra memory comes in handy at resolutions higher than 1280 x 1024, but at that resolution and below 256 is fine. Even higher then that 256 usually gets the job done unless you are doing some intense gaming. At the price point you are purchasing at the difference between 256 and 512 is negligible, not to mention your 4x bus will limit how effective a higher end card will be (like the 512 Mb 2600XT)
a b U Graphics card
December 16, 2007 10:59:44 PM

All 8x cards officially work in your board. If you find an 8x card that doesn't work, it's defective.
December 18, 2007 2:40:45 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies so far.

I don't know what kind of monitor I have. I know it can display at least 1600 x 1200.

Do they make "pure" 4x cards that have 512 MB? Or is it only 8x cards that have that much RAM?
December 18, 2007 2:41:38 PM

Regarding DX10. The PC that I am upgrading will never have Vista on it. The highest DX I will ever be using is DX 9.0c.
December 18, 2007 3:28:32 PM

Now, my slot is 2.0 not 3.0 so doesn't the voltage play a part in this?

AGP 2.0 is 1.5V

AGP 3.0 is 0.8V

Right?

What cards will work with 2.0?
December 18, 2007 3:31:25 PM

1. All AGP 8x cards will work in an AGP 4x slot

2. AGP 4x bandwidth is ample for even the X1950 PRO. You won't see a difference between 8x AGP and 4x AGP with, say, a 2600 XT.
December 18, 2007 4:05:26 PM

What games can I expect to play "reasonably" on my older system.

Is "DOOM 3" playable on my system?

Where do I draw the line?

Thanks for the link to the card, btw.
December 18, 2007 4:24:05 PM

Doom3 should be playable with a decent videocard, although the CPU will probably be the bottleneck.
December 18, 2007 4:41:15 PM

coldneutron:

Thanks for the link!
December 18, 2007 6:07:23 PM

Can someone tell me what KIND of AGP slot I have? What shape is it as far as the keyed slots?

I know it is 4x, but is Universal or is it keyed a certain way?

Will ANY 8x card go into it?



Here is a link to my system specs:

http://www.supportforyourpc.co.../ [...] =104922314

Here is a link to my motherboard:

http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=U8668


The user's manual for my motherboard says I have the following AGP slot specs:

"The 66MHz AGP 2.0 compliant interface supports 1x, 2x and 4x data transfer mode."
a b U Graphics card
December 18, 2007 6:12:16 PM

You've already gotten your answer: AGP 8x cards are keyed for 4x slots, you have a 4x slot. AGP Universal is also keyed for a 2x slot, but you have a 4x slot so you don't need an "AGP Universal" card.
December 18, 2007 6:14:28 PM

Okay. Thank you. I guess it just looks like it has a notch at one end. I thought universal slots had no notches.

Anyway...I won't worry about it.
December 18, 2007 6:32:36 PM

Just to add to the others saying it: Any AGP 8x card will work in your machine.
December 18, 2007 6:58:04 PM

Understood.

I'll put to rest my concerns about the slot / notches / etc.

Thanks again!
December 18, 2007 8:00:15 PM

knowlton,

Get a 7600GS/GT, X1650Pro, or 2600Pro/XT in AGP (although I have heard of driver issues with the DX10 cards in AGP form). You should NOT worry about memory size (256MB is fine in your case). Please don't waste your money on a 512MB card just because you feel it is "necessary" (i.e. don't pay extra for a 512MB version over a 256MB version). You probably won't have any performance advantage solely due to your memory size.

Do NOT buy an X1550. It's an old chip (X-00 series) thrown into a new package with a new name. Furthermore, some cards have "Hypermemory" or something that hogs your system memory. And with your memory being older a a lower capacity you can't afford to sacrifice it.

I would go for these (under $70):

GECUBE GC-RX165GA2-E3R Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $55 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HIS Hightech H165PRF512AN-R Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $60 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

POWERCOLOR X1650PRO 512M AGP Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 8X Video Card - $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or if you can stretch your budget a bit:

SAPPHIRE 100209L Radeon X1950GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 AGP 8X HDCP Ready Video Card - $130
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(may be a bit of an overkill compared to the rest of your rig)

EVGA 256-A8-N542-T2 GeForce 7600GS 256MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $80 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(the same card I have)

SAPPHIRE 100217L Radeon HD 2600PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 8X HDCP Ready Video Card - $78
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(you may have driver issues)
December 18, 2007 8:26:39 PM

Kyle:

What games are you able to play with this card:

quote:
EVGA 256-A8-N542-T2 GeForce 7600GS 256MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $80 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814130076
(the same card I have)



Tom
December 18, 2007 8:31:02 PM

A 7600 GS can play anything at 1024x768, and some things at 1280x1024.

If you have the extra money though, the $112 2600 XT is really worth the extra cash... pretty much everything should be playable 1280x1024. Crysis, you'd have to lower the detail of course...
December 18, 2007 9:08:23 PM

cleeve said:
A 7600 GS can play anything at 1024x768, and some things at 1280x1024.

If you have the extra money though, the $112 2600 XT is really worth the extra cash... pretty much everything should be playable 1280x1024. Crysis, you'd have to lower the detail of course...

I agree with cleeve, the 2600XT is really the way to go (so long as you find a way around the driver issues) because of the GDDR3 (note to the OP: big performance advantage of GDDR3 vs. GDDR2). The 2600Pro only has GDDR2, so I think the extra cash is worth it (although that would put you about 75% overbudget after shipping).
December 18, 2007 10:22:57 PM

Your link to the specs didn't work for me. Until we know the quality and rating of your power supply, I wouldn't recommend anything more than a 7600GS.
December 19, 2007 7:44:17 AM

I don't remember who, but I thought somone was asking me what wattage my power supply was.

I cracked-open the case and the sticker inside which lists my system details says I have a 250 Watt Power Supply.

On the Power Supply itself, I could only make-out the following information:

(reading across from left to right:) 

450W

then in the next column it said:

Current
Max Combined
Wattage

then in the next column it said:

213 W | 240 W
430 W

then in the next column it said:

9.6 W | 2.5 W | 10 W
22 W


I'm not sure how all that info equals "250 W"



Tom
December 19, 2007 8:11:38 AM

skywalker9952 said:
What kind of monitor do you have? The extra memory comes in handy at resolutions higher than 1280 x 1024, but at that resolution and below 256 is fine. Even higher then that 256 usually gets the job done unless you are doing some intense gaming. At the price point you are purchasing at the difference between 256 and 512 is negligible, not to mention your 4x bus will limit how effective a higher end card will be (like the 512 Mb 2600XT)



Here is some more (hopefully helpful) information:

When I go to Display Properties / Settings and look at the Screen Resolution in the lower left -- the maz resolution I can set it to is 1600 x 1200. Is that a restriction of my integrated 32 MB video card -- or is that a limitation of my current monitor?

Just thought I would throw that out there, see if it mattered.


I am still trying to figure-out if I should go 256 MB or 512 MB


I notice the cards have different clock speeds? For my system -- which clock speed would be TOO FAST for my system? No sense in getting a 800 MHz card if I can't even make use of 400 MHz, right?
December 19, 2007 1:02:47 PM

knowlton said:
I don't remember who, but I thought somone was asking me what wattage my power supply was.

I cracked-open the case and the sticker inside which lists my system details says I have a 250 Watt Power Supply.

On the Power Supply itself, I could only make-out the following information:

(reading across from left to right:) 

450W

then in the next column it said:

Current
Max Combined
Wattage

then in the next column it said:

213 W | 240 W
430 W

then in the next column it said:

9.6 W | 2.5 W | 10 W
22 W


I'm not sure how all that info equals "250 W"



Tom

Looks like your original PSU has been replaced. I'm guessing at what that means:

3.3V | 5V | 12V
213W | 240W = 430W total
9.6A | 2.5A(SB) 10A | 22A

knowlton said:
Here is some more (hopefully helpful) information:

When I go to Display Properties / Settings and look at the Screen Resolution in the lower left -- the maz resolution I can set it to is 1600 x 1200. Is that a restriction of my integrated 32 MB video card -- or is that a limitation of my current monitor?

It is restricted by your monitor (19-21" crt or 20-21" LCD, I presume)

Quote:
Just thought I would throw that out there, see if it mattered.


I am still trying to figure-out if I should go 256 MB or 512 MB


I notice the cards have different clock speeds? For my system -- which clock speed would be TOO FAST for my system? No sense in getting a 800 MHz card if I can't even make use of 400 MHz, right?

Don't worry about the clock speeds, we'll make an informed descision based on the information you have given us. All the good video cards seem to be fitted with 512MB (except for the 7600GS and the X1950GT), so you should not be focusing on memory capacity as your deciding factor. I would say the best matched card for your system is a X1650Pro. These models are your best bet:

SAPPHIRE 100175L Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $73
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(DDR2 1000 memory, higher rated than all the others - incorrectly listed on Newegg as 1380)

HIS Hightech H165PRF512AN-R Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $60 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you want to spend some more money for a little better performance you should go with either the HD2600XT cleeve suggested ($112), or the X1950GT I suggested ($130) [paying more for proven drivers and a little less performance, lack of DX10].
December 19, 2007 2:30:04 PM

I think I've made a decision:

I think I will order the:

SAPPHIRE 100175L Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X Video Card - $73

this afternoon. Looks like a great card!!!!!


Thanks everyone. If anyone knows about the same card for less money please let me know!
!