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Looking for a new card...

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 17, 2007 1:58:51 AM

I am a rather new user to the forum and everyone here seems to be very knowledgable, helpful, and friendly so here it goes...

Instead of custom building, I bought a HP a6230n desktop as I am a busy student. I am merely a casual gamer, mostly playing Source games, Hitman games, and trying out new fps's, etc. Another reason I'm looking for a card is for watching movies, which on my school's server are sometimes 1080p (supposedly) or close. My budget was originally about $100 but I am easily persuaded and it has gone up to $200 at the most. I was looking at the 8600 GT or GTS but tom says that for a bit more a 3850 is a big step up, with performance close to that of cards over $200. Can anyone provide some confirmation for the 3850 being a good choice or suggest any alternatives with a comparable or lower price and similar performance suitable for my needs? Also, the wimpy power supply HP provided is only 300W, so I am guessing it would have to be replaced. Is this true and what would I have to spend to find one to match my HP supply?

Here are my specs:

Athlon 64 X2 (W) 5600 @ 2.8 GHz (89W) 2000Mhz FSB 2 MB L2 Cache
Asus M2N68-LA
400 GB SATA 3G
3 GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM (PC2-5300)
HP w2207 Display (1680x1050)
Integrated Nvidia 6150 graphics (yuck)

Thanks guys!

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December 17, 2007 3:00:22 AM

The 3850 probably would be a good choice for you. Should run most games very nicely and they are priced very well.

And yes, you probably should upgrade your power supply. You will want to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-60 USD to get something solid. Power supplies are one of the things you should be really careful about reading customer reviews for. If your power supply breaks, it can often take the rest of your computer with it.
December 17, 2007 5:47:51 AM

I just found a 8800 GTS G80 at Best Buy for $210.....might wanna consider it.
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December 17, 2007 1:18:48 PM

If you want to polay new FPS like Crysis, the 3850 is the minimum you'll want to consider if it's not too expensive for you. You will need a new PSU though. For sure.

A Geforce 8600 GT or Radeon 2600 XT will serve you well gaming at resolutions 1280x1024 or below. Newer titles like Crysis will see you lowering detail quite a bit for smooth framerates, but it'll be playable. Although a 300w PSU might even struggle with those. With your power supply, you might be pushing it with a 8600 GT or 2600 GT.

If you want to play it safe, the 2600 PRO is very power efficient so you shouldn't need to upgrade your PSU, and will still kick ass playing source based games and hitman. You'll have to really lower the detail on Crysis, but a lot of cards do. Plus, it'll have good HD video playback support. Might be a good fit for you unless you have the cash to go 3850 + PSU.
December 17, 2007 1:38:56 PM

I'll reinforce what the others have said and suggest the HD 3850 if you want a pretty nice gaming rig.
a c 143 U Graphics card
December 17, 2007 2:33:10 PM

I also recommend the HD 3850, it's far better than anything under $200 as far as I know.

Some benchmarks:
http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2007/11/27/low-gpus-leave-lot-desired
(Note the Inquirer is usually unreliable, but these numbers look plausible and they do match what I've seen in other reviews.)

If you need a good PSU that fits physically inside an HP box and doesn't cost much, look at the OCZ StealthXStream 600W. Measure your current PSU first. If it's 15 cm wide x 14 cm long x 8.6 cm high, then the StealthXStream will fit too.

I've just run 3dMark06 on my work PC, it has a Q6700/8600GT combo. It kept saying things like 11 fps or 20 fps. You wouldn't enjoy playing on the 8600GT, I think.
December 17, 2007 3:30:00 PM

Quote:
If you need a good PSU that fits physically inside an HP box and doesn't cost much, look at the OCZ StealthXStream 600W. Measure your current PSU first. If it's 15 cm wide x 14 cm long x 8.6 cm high, then the StealthXStream will fit too.


..and if your HP case won't accommodate it... get the dremmel tool out and make it fit! :p 
December 17, 2007 9:30:58 PM

djlazlow said:
I just found a 8800 GTS G80 at Best Buy for $210.....might wanna consider it.


Considering the XFX 8800 GTS for $210 and the 3850 for $170...who wins?
a c 143 U Graphics card
December 18, 2007 2:07:14 AM

In some games at some resolutions and some settings, the HD 3850 is actually a bit better, not just cheaper.
This is Oblivion at 1600x1200 and max quality (my favorite benchmark, closest to what I actually do).
http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html?modelx=33&model1=1061&model2=778&chart=297

Another one at random also showed HD 3850 better:
http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html?modelx=33&model1=1061&model2=778&chart=281

Try them all (keep changing the third dropdown list) and then decide. My feeling is that the HD 3850 would be a better deal even at the same price. It's kind of normal, 55nm tech vs 80nm.
a c 143 U Graphics card
December 18, 2007 8:11:06 PM

The 512 MB version is totally worth it if you can get it. Every year games demand more and more ridiculous amounts of video memory. I had good experience with Sapphire so far. I'd pick this one:

SAPPHIRE 100226L Radeon HD 3850 512MB, $206 including shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102715

December 18, 2007 8:17:40 PM

512 is worth it on 3800/8800 class cards.

Below that, not so much.
a c 143 U Graphics card
December 18, 2007 8:21:48 PM

How about Sapphire, Cleeve, what's your experience with them? Would HIS be better, or Diamond?
December 18, 2007 8:27:01 PM

Reviewed all three, don't have a bad thing to say about any of them. All pretty close to Ati's reference from what I can tell.

I'd have a look at the bundles and pick based on that.
a b U Graphics card
December 18, 2007 10:56:09 PM

Quote:
I was looking at the 8600 GT or GTS but tom says that for a bit more a 3850 is a big step up, with performance close to that of cards over $200. Can anyone provide some confirmation for the 3850 being a good choice

Sure, check this out: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3151&p=8
!