Alright, I'd like to search the forums but i've already done it on countless gaming websites and such and I just don't have the time on Christmas day. What I need to know, and relatively soon (gotta catch some great deals at Frys tomorrow) is the following.
First off, i'm almost positive I'm buying an 8600GT, but if you have any doubts, my specs are as follows.
pent.4 630 3.0ghz with an 800MHz FSB and 2 mb L2
1.5 GB of assorted ram and a decent 200GB SATAHD (7200)
I have no idea what exactly to list as my PS specs, so i'll write down anything relevant.
About a year ago my x800GTO2 (powercolor, with the 12 pipes already unlocked) gave out, believably from my powersupply (i'm quite good with hardware and computers and have tinkered with pretty much everything but PSes) and i've been looking for a card ever since, and I decided I'd give myself a treat for christmas and get something for my FPSes that my 360 cant really satisfy (CoD4beta was orgasmic, but meh, I miss the twitch). I got excellent framerates in NFS:MW BF2 ES4: Obliv and the like, and from what I hear the card I want is even more powerful than my X800. I'm not planning on OCing any time soon ( though i hear its a great card for it), nor playing Crysis (perhaps the demo) until I get more memory, so most likely BF2, maybe Age of Conan, AoEIII.
My main concern is how to approach the card's memory. I'm stuck as to which I want, more memory (e.g 512) with the obsolete DDR2 or less memory (256) and the newer GDDR3. These cards are my choices.
I've also just stumbled upon an HD2600XT that has both the 512, and GDDR3 and is quite cheaper with a rebate, but unless anyone advises me against it, i'd prefer Nvidia. There are also some 7 series for a little more, so if you all could help me decide i'd be very grateful.
Also, I've heard that buying a more expensive powersupply with lower max wattage is actually a better idea than buying a cheaper with more MAX, is this true? and if so could anyone be so kind as to help me choose from these
Bottom line is More mem ddr2 less ddr3 and what card will give me more bang for my buck. I'm planning on completly restoring my computer to it's former glory with a clean boot, so I'll thank you all in advance and check the replies in the morning.
P.S. Any tips on the best way to clean a computer? I'm planning on going to town on my mobo and fan with akimbo dust-off cans, is Pressurized air the way to go? or will it do more harm than good.
I don't normally suggest people get the 8600GT. It is just a hair faster then the 7600GT. Getting the 8600GTS might be nice, but its usually to expensive for what you get. The 2600XT isn't a bad idea. Its usually found priced the same as a 8600GT, but performs slightly better. Like the 8600GT, its still to weak to run DX10 code, but as a DX9 performer its not bad.
If you are looking to run DX10 games, you need to get either the 3850, or the 8800GT. Those are really the lowest cards you should get if you want to run games in the DX10 code path.
I was scratching my head a bit while trying to decipher your PSU info. I couldn't figure it out until I remembered that Dell makes a 305W PSU that has that many amps on the 12V rail. The 8600GT/2600XT should be fine with what you have. The 8600GTS/3850 is starting to push it. If you don't want to upgrade your PSU, I'd probably pick the 2600XT. Performs better then the 8600GT, and is usually cheaper. You sale prices might change that however, but you said you found a cheaper 2600XT, so I'd just go with that.
As for cleaning, I don't use air. Start at the top and remove everything one piece at a time. Use a hobby brush and simply sweep everything down. By the time you get to the bottom of the case, just grab a damp rag and sweep up the pile. Don't forget the powersupply and fans.