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upgrading a graphic card for an AGP based system

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February 21, 2008 4:24:32 PM

Hey there,

I'm considering buying a new AGP graphic card for my 4 years old computer..

my current setting:

Pentium 4 2.6 (single core)
Mother board ABIT - IS7
1GB -DDR
Graphic card Geforce FX 5200
using 17 inch LCD on 1024*768 resolution.
working on Windows XP.

The best options I was thinking of were:
1. Sapphire ATI Radeon X1950 GT, 256 mb, AGP
2. Sapphire ATI Radeon 2600 XT, 256MB, AGP
3. or getting a 2nd hand 7600 gt AGP (couldn't find a new one..)

I want that card to support Direct X9c, and I would mainly use it for older games such as doom3, half life2, battle for middle earth, and dreamfall(which need direct X9c..)

Do you think my current system (with the weak CPU and the 1GB of DDR memory) will be a major bottle neck?
I dont intend to buy a new computer in the near future, but I also don't wanna waste too much money on old technology which might be bottlenecked..

Thanks in advance for any advice!

February 21, 2008 8:20:03 PM

AGP maxxes out at 8x. PCI-e maxxes out at ~10x due to bandwidth issues. Essentially AGP runs 20% slower on a similar car than PCI-e, so it's not a huge deal. And there are still AGP cards being made.

As for speed, 2 gigs is recommended. Big improvement here. The CPU isn't that much slower than the new ones, to be honest - just that it is a single core model, so multitasking is still pretty slow. Still, if you can upgrade to a nex generation hyperthreading CPU for cheap without swapping the MB, I'd recommend it.

(from wikipedia)
AGP 8x
A 32-bit channel operating at 66 MHz, strobing eight times per clock, delivering an effective 533 MHz resulting in a maximum data rate of 2133 MB/s (2 GB/s); 0.8 V signaling.

Since most motherboards run at a true FSB of 667mhz max, that nets you 20% actual increase in speed, as expected.

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...
(note - the thing runs PCI-e at AGP speeds. PCI-e 16x is only running effectively 2x faster in most cases.
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2008 8:34:05 PM

Plekto said:
AGP maxxes out at 8x. PCI-e maxxes out at ~10x due to bandwidth issues. Essentially AGP runs 20% slower on a similar car than PCI-e, so it's not a huge deal. And there are still AGP cards being made.

As for speed, 2 gigs is recommended. Big improvement here. The CPU isn't that much slower than the new ones, to be honest - just that it is a single core model, so multitasking is still pretty slow. Still, if you can upgrade to a nex generation hyperthreading CPU for cheap without swapping the MB, I'd recommend it.

Another option is to get an ASRock 4coredual-Sata2 motherboard. This has AGP on it and runs the very newest processors. You'll need new memory, but the option of dropping in a dual-core and 2 gigs of DDR2 memory is a big plus.

There would be no performance difference between AGP and PCI-e versions of the cards he mentioned (if clocked the same and paired with the same cpu) The cards are not fast enough to play a game and at the settings that saturate the AGP 8X bus. Matter of fact with fastwrites the AGP X1950 pro actually beat the PCI-e version by the smallest(unimportant) margin in an old review at the time the AGP launched. I would like to see if the new 512MB HD3850 performs differently in it's AGP vs PCI-e form; that's possible, at least in some situations, I'd think.

And that processor is quite slow for many new games even though it is probably the 2.6C (800 bus with HT). I have the same mobo as him with a P4 2.6C. Built it back when it was the hot setup although the 3.0GHz P4C was top cpu at the time. Anyway, it actually is below minimum spec for some games, although I'd say right at min spec for the 800 bus cpu as P4 2.6C > P4 2.8A or B. Testdrive unlimited for example barely runs on that CPU no matter what GPU you pair it with. Also barely runs on an Athlon XP3200+. But, it's still a pretty decent system with some gaming life left in it for sure, so it is good enough IMO to put a $100 or so AGP card in it.


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a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2008 8:39:33 PM

OP as I stated I have an IS7, P4 2.6C that had 2GB but now has 1GB in it. Getting slow, but still has alot of gaming life left apart from a few new games maybe. Loved that rig. And you should be able to get about 3.0GHz out of that CPU should you decide to OC it for better framerates.

It depends on pricing, your games, and if you use FSAA. The 7800GS/7600GT is getting weak in some new games (UT3, Crysis, COD4, even Oblivion) Otherwise they are still capable of playing any game at least. But make sure it's far cheaper than the other options. The HD2600XT will keep up with the X1950GT without fsaa, maybe even beat it in some newer games, but fall behind with fsaa. If you are in the USA, the HD2600XT is cheaper and the better bang for buck IMO. If priced the same, and FSAA matters to you, the X1950GT would be the one to grab.
February 21, 2008 8:43:08 PM

I edited my post a bit. That review of that hybrid board shows in a round-about way how AGP is only on average 8-11% slower than PCI-e, even when using a modern CPU and memory. That board is limiting the PCI-e bus to AGP speeds, and yet is almost as fast as the best PCI-e setups. So there's tons of headroom on PCi-e that's just not being utilized and likely never will be.

AGP is fine as a result. 98% of users won't even notice a few percentage points of difference anyways.

Of course, AGP boards don't allow for easy dual-GPU use and other goodies like SATA(normally), so there are a few good reasons to consider upgrading. Plus, a puny e2220 for under $100 will go faster than his current CPU by a large margin once he does get online/there are more than one thing happening in the background.

I'd actually recommend the ASrock 4CoreDual-SATA2 to him. It works and is a cheap path to upgrade with.
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2008 8:53:05 PM

I understand the theoretical performance difference part, but that review did not put pit an AGP X1950 pro vs. a PCI-e X1950 pro. Had they used both of those on that system, I bet they would have seen basically no difference in performance like other reviews saw. I'll have to search through my old links.
February 21, 2008 11:35:22 PM

Hey mates!

Thanks for the quick replies!

My comments:

1. Cool! I didn't know there was such a small performance difference between the AGP and pci-e cards! though, since it IS older technology, they are getting very rare in my part of the world (less and less suppliers have them, and even then it's in the form of left over junk from 4 years ago..)

2. translating to USD, the cost of the cards would be something like:
a. Sapphire ATI Radeon X1950 GT, 256 mb, AGP -203$
b. Sapphire ATI Radeon 2600 XT, 256MB, AGP - 167$
c. or getting a 2nd hand 7600 gt AGP for around - 100$

btw the Sapphire ATI Radeon X1950 PRO, 512 mb DDR3, AGP, will cost about 262$(much more than what I'd spend on it)

3. regarding dropping the FSAA - how much effect will it have on my enjoyment from the graphics of the older games(ie: doom3, half life2, battle for middle earth, and dreamfall)?
I'm not planning on newer games too much - there's enough out there in the history to keep me busy..so maybe in this case the x1950 GT will perform better?(using FSAA?)

4. regarding other improvements to my setting:
a. I never tried OC - I would if I could do it safely, but I dont wanna risk my hardware for a few extra frames..
b. I'm using a SATA2 controller attached to my MB - baught when I baught a new hard disk.is that what you mean?
c. my 1GB of DDR1 RAM is spread as 2 512s taking both slots..upgrading will require to dump them and buy 2 1GBs..can/should you get them used?(or is it too risky?)

5. That MB:
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/for [...] eview.html
looks cool, but I dont wanna replace a MB right now..Is it possible to replace the CPU without replacing the MB??

Thanks again!





February 22, 2008 1:10:56 AM

BTW, I could buy an X1950 PRO, via the net, out of the country, for much less (less then 200USD)..would that be a better choice? do I get any Warranty for it if I buy it out of the country like that?

Cheers!
!