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AGP 8x -- New Graphics Card Needed

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February 27, 2008 5:22:41 PM

My previous graphics card was the 256MB Radeon 9550.
It seemed to do the job quite well but unfortuantely has reached the end of its life and no longer works.
I am currently running off the onboard graphics card until i choose a new one.
What graphics card do you suggest as an improvement to the Radeon 9550 256MB.
My motherboard has an AGP 8x slot which I normally use for the graphics card.
I do have 2 PCI Slots but they are used up by an Ethernet and Audio card.
I was thinking that a new graphics card might mean a new power supply which is another added expense.
I was trying to avoid purchasing another PSU so here is the specs of my current one-
CTK Switching Power Supply
Model: LC-B400ATX
It also has a pink sticker stuck to it reading-
Please do not attach a 3.3V AGP card on the AGP slot of this M/B.

So, what graphics card do you recommend i purchase?
I am not looking for anything as expensive as £100 and it is just to keep me going and upgrade a bit.
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 5:47:05 PM

What type of CPU do you have?

Even without knowing that, though, I would guess you would probably want something in the ATI x2600 series, though I don't know much about the whole 3.3v AGP thing. I think you will likely want a new PSU too.
February 27, 2008 5:48:37 PM

You might aswell use your onboard for a while until you can afford a whole new system.

Upgrading old PCs by adding components that are not in mass production anymore can be an expensive affair.

DDR Ram costs twice that of DDR2, AGP cards cost 1/3 more than PCI-Express ones for the same model etc etc...

You'd find it cheaper to sell your current machine and use £100 - £150 of saved up money to buy a

Intel Pentium Dual Core 1.8ghz - £40
2GB DDR2 Ram - £30
PCI-Express Motherboard - £40
nVidia 8500GT graphics card - £35

and for them who think im an Intel/nVidia Fanboy

AMD X2 CPU - £40
AM2 Motherboard - £30
ATi Radeon HD3650 512mb - £45

Most of your old components will work with this new setup, ie: Hard Drive & DVD Writer etc etc, but using the money from your old machine you can buy a new Case, 250GB Hard Drive & DVD-Writer for around £60-75.

Not so expensive when you look at it that way, and you've a futureproof PC there which wont cost alot to upgrade on.
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February 27, 2008 5:51:49 PM

basketcase said:
What type of CPU do you have?

Even without knowing that, though, I would guess you would probably want something in the ATI x2600 series, though I don't know much about the whole 3.3v AGP thing. I think you will likely want a new PSU too.


I was trying to keep cost to a minimum by not buying a new PSU but i guess i might just buy a whole new system as upgrades can often turn out to cost more. My CPU on that PC is a old 1.4Ghz single core i think. Something rubbish like that!
February 27, 2008 5:57:35 PM

Sabre definitely go the whole hog, you'll be happier in the long run.

And when you come to upgrade old parts people are less inclined to buy your old from you. Whereas selling off a modern spec component to upgrade, is easier because more people have the similar slots in their PCs etc.

You'd definitely be happier with a new machine.

No modern card would be worth the investment if your CPU is incapable of playing any modern games. A nice spec PC can be built up for little over £200 that can accomodate your needs.
February 27, 2008 6:06:37 PM

Sabre_X said:
I was trying to keep cost to a minimum by not buying a new PSU but i guess i might just buy a whole new system as upgrades can often turn out to cost more. My CPU on that PC is a old 1.4Ghz single core i think. Something rubbish like that!



Yup, go for the whole deal. A 1.4ghz processor is too slow to take advantage of any better of a video card than you already have. It would be a waste of money.

Good luck!
February 27, 2008 6:10:27 PM

Okay i have decided it would be best to go for the whole deal.
Do you think that -
Intel Pentium Dual Core 1.8ghz - £40
2GB DDR2 Ram - £30
PCI-Express Motherboard - £40
nVidia 8500GT graphics card - £35

Would be okay for a decent spec then?
I just want it for basic computer games really, thats when it will be pushed at most. I have another computer for games like Crysis on maximum settings but I'm interested in just a basic one. The screen only gets to around 1024*768 resolution anyway so graphics cant be pushed too far.
Would i need to purchase anything else?
I have 1GB DDR (I think) in it at the moment but i guess as its DDR it should just be scrapped. The 2 DVDRW Drives can be put into the new one and i would definately need to put the hardrive over aswell. As i would be doing that would that save the hassle of having to reinstall all the OS and instead just redo-ing all the hardware drivers?
What sort of PSU would you suggest?
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 6:17:29 PM

The only thing I would even think to recommend for that system would be an x1650pro

Powercolor x1650pro @ Newegg $69.99

I'm just using Newegg as a baseline, you would definitely want to shop your appropriate etailers.

NOTE: This is ONLY recommended as a last resort for that system, as I feel you would be bottlenecking the card with your current CPU.

As everyone else that has responded, I HIGHLY recommend that you save up a bit and go for a rebuild of the system with an Intel C2D or AMD X2 as a minimum.
February 27, 2008 6:24:34 PM

Sabre_X said:
Okay i have decided it would be best to go for the whole deal.
Do you think that -
Intel Pentium Dual Core 1.8ghz - £40
2GB DDR2 Ram - £30
PCI-Express Motherboard - £40
nVidia 8500GT graphics card - £35

Would be okay for a decent spec then?
I just want it for basic computer games really, thats when it will be pushed at most. I have another computer for games like Crysis on maximum settings but I'm interested in just a basic one. The screen only gets to around 1024*768 resolution anyway so graphics cant be pushed too far.
Would i need to purchase anything else?
I have 1GB DDR (I think) in it at the moment but i guess as its DDR it should just be scrapped. The 2 DVDRW Drives can be put into the new one and i would definately need to put the hardrive over aswell. As i would be doing that would that save the hassle of having to reinstall all the OS and instead just redo-ing all the hardware drivers?
What sort of PSU would you suggest?
Thanks,
Sabre_X


You ninja'd this on me while I was researching/responding.

This is definitely the best decision, going with a whole system upgrade.

Now, if you can give us a few more details, we can help you spec out a build.

What is your budget for this system upgrade? (This is very important)

What will you be using this system for? (applications and games you will be using are helpful in determining your needs)

What is your location/region? (this helps us know when to look for your parts)
February 27, 2008 6:34:57 PM

I live in Birmingham UK.
Budget, ermm well i'm not entirely sure on the prices it costs for not Top Range Spec PC's. Because i recently bought my PC which the one i use for top end gaming such as Crysis which cost (For just the PC) about £850 but thats from Trade Shops aswell. It's 640MB 8800 GTS and Q6600 Processor with 4GB
February 27, 2008 6:37:41 PM

I live in Birmingham UK.
Budget, ermm well i'm not entirely sure on the prices it costs for not Top Range Spec PC's. Because i recently bought my PC which the one i use for top end gaming such as Crysis which cost (For just the PC) about £850 but thats from Trade Shops aswell. It's 640MB 8800 GTS and Q6600 Processor with 4GB RAM and the likes.
The PC i'm looking for has to be quite basic.
Its going to run Windows XP SP3. But should be all Vista ready.
Lots of Multi-tasking but on basic applications, word 07 and the likes.
Games were talking are basic strategy games.
Age of Empires, Age of Sail, Pirates of the Carribbean maybe.
Would making it 'World In Conflict' compatible push up the price a lot?
I'm looking to spend around £250 at tops really, but i'm unknowledgable to that low-end of the spectrum.
So maybe i need to be spending more?
What do you recommend?
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 6:51:23 PM

Ahhh, now the picture becomes a little more clear.

So, you already have a gaming box, and this is a secondary/workstation box. Is that correct?

I'm not as familiar with UK etailers, but am looking through a few to try to put a list together. If anyone with more experience with UK etailers can list me the 'newegg's of the UK it would be appreciated.
February 27, 2008 6:59:45 PM

Well you see i do have a seperate one designed for bigger games and more challenging things for a computer to deal with.
However there for two different people.
The powerful expensive computer is for the person who enjoys his top-end graphics and first person shooters.
The computer i'm upgrading/replacing is the computer used by the person of the household who does an awful lot of work related tasks with basic microsoft office applications however enjoys playing casual games as a spare hobby.
If you get where i'm coming from?
It wouldnt need to be an extremely powerful PC, but not for the reason that we already have one, but more for the reason that it is unnecessary as the tasked performed on it would not require such power.
I guess you could refer to it as a Kid's Powerful Computer for all the gaming and a Dad's work computer who enjoys a bit of games.
But as I spent alot of time looking into the powerful computer and hardware i know quite a bit about the higher end of the scale but am unknowledgable in the lower side of the spectrum.
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 7:52:58 PM

Intel E2160 1.8ghz CPU - £45
MSI Neo P31 Motherboard - £45
2GB Corsair XSM2 DDR2 Ram 675mhz - £35
nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra 512mb - £40
250GB Maxtor SATA2 8mb Hard Drive - £35
Pioneer DVD-RW Drive - £20
Antec Tru-Watts 380W PSU - £30

Reason I chose this spec, the E2160 CPU can be easily overclocked, with the right motherboard. The MSI board offers 1333mhz FSB which will allow your CPU to easily jump from 800 FSB to 1200+ FSB, giving a minimum overclock of 2.8Ghz per core. NICE :) 

Next, the Ram is cheap and of good quality and comes supplied with heatspreaders (I have 2GB of this Ram, brand new & unopened for sale. £30)
The graphics card, whilst not a great performer by todays standards, is still more than capable of handling older games with ease, such as Half Life 2 etc, and can adequately play Crysis at Low/Medium settings which is more than what alot of newer cards for the same money can say. It's still great bang for buck.
The HDD is perfect for the cost, as is the DVDRW. With the PSU, I've gone for quality over quantity.
380Watts is more than enough for this system as stock clocks, and even overclocked shouldnt pose any problems.

All these prices are from www.ebuyer.com , You'll not be disappointed with a system like that (Its identical to my Dads system, thats why)....
It plays Call of Duty 4 fairly well, and no problems with 90% of games from 2006/07 and perfect for all 2005 games and earlier.

I hope thats helped you out somewhat.
February 27, 2008 8:00:15 PM

Thanks for all the information!
I'm not into, well have never really look into, the whole overclocking thing.
Any advice as to complications, whether its worth it, or anything?
1.8 Dual would be adaquet anyway!
The DVDRW Driver and Hardrive are unnecessary as i would use the ones from my old computer.
Putting my old hardrive in, would that mean i wouldnt have to reinstall all the OS and things? And instead just sort out all the drivers?
So thats £195 exc DVDRW and HDD so that seems quite good pricing.
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 8:06:25 PM

You would need to reinstall the O.S, since its a different motherboard you're moving onto.

The only time Ive ever been able to use one Windows install on 2 different motherboards was by accident and Windows Vista reconfigured itself to work with the new hardware, it took a while but it did it :) 

A fresh install of XP / Vista can never go amiss. I reinstall my Vista once every month or two to keep it running tip top... I keep all main data on other drives so its just an hours worth of reinstalling every so often. Just a ballache reinstalling games.
February 27, 2008 8:07:38 PM

Who said 9600's werent out for AGP :p 
February 27, 2008 8:13:59 PM

Oh okay.
Just the hassle of reinstalling games and everything!
I have all documents and files stored on external hardrive though fortunately. Just the applications/programs on the internal hardrive really.
So whats your opinion on overclocking?
Considering it's ease of use for someone inexperianced in the field and the imporvement i would get?

Annobis,

http://cgi.ebay.com/ATI-RADEON-9600XT-256-MB-AGP-Graphi...

Definately seems quite a good buy!
Looks quite large but would probably fit in my case.
Would my current PSU support it, and CPU?
(Mentioned above)
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 8:30:31 PM

Its a mid-end card from the same era as the nvidia 6 series cards, except the 9600's didnt do SM3.0 i dont believe, which makes them much less compatible with current games. Good solid card however.

As for overclocking, its something you can learn yourself. Go into the BIOS and find the O.C settings and just tinker with the CPU FSB or Frequencys till you get a good stable overclock... 2.7ghz would be a nice start, and plenty enough punch for what you'd need it for.

Even at 1.8ghz though, its more than enough for everyday tasks.

As for games, try backing up the save game files so you can put them back into the folders once you've reinstalled windows / games...
February 27, 2008 8:34:20 PM

Ok, I've been putting together a list on www.scan.co.uk

I'll try to give an explanation for each part.

Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2160, S775, 1.8 GHz, 800MHz FSB, Allendale Core, 2x 512KB Cache, Retail £43.65 Inc VAT
Intel Core 2 architecture dual-core CPU should meet your needs at value pricing.

Gigabyte GA-P31-S3G, iP31 Express, S 775, PCI-E (x16), DDR2 1066/667/800 MHz, SATA II, ATX £45.81 Inc VAT
Gigabyte makes good motherboards and the P31 chipset should provide what you need, again at value pricing. This board has one IDE controller, so as long as you are bringing no more than 1 optical drive and 1 HDD from the old system, this should be fine. I am assuming you will not be overclocking. If you do intend to OC, we'll need to look at a P35 chipset board.

2GB (2x1GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800), 240 Pins, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 5-5-5-12 £33.65 Inc VAT
2GB RAM from a reputable company, value priced, of course.

450W Corsair VX Series PSU, ATX, PS/2, UK Version, 80 PLUS® certified £44.05 Inc VAT
Efficient power supply, ensures compatibility and some room for upgrading again later. (I included a PSU in the build because I fear your older power supply may not be suitable, not in capacity, but in connectivity. It's *possible* that you might be able to use the old PSU and use the money for this one elsewhere.)

512MB Palit 9600GT, PCI-E 2.0, Mem 1800MHz, GDDR3, GPU 650MHz, Stream 64, 2x DL DVI-I £117.45 Inc VAT
This is by far the most expensive part of this build. The reason I chose this video card is because you have said that this computer will be used for casual gaming, and particularly because of your mention of 'World in Conflict'. This card will be able to handle WiC as well as any other casual/strategy type games now and for some time to come (within reason). This is also the area of the build with the most leeway to adjust for your budget.

TOTAL with parts listed: £295.23 (this includes carriage and VAT)

Now, while this is a bit over your budget, this is an example of a quite capable workstation/casual gaming computer. You can bring the total price down to your budget of £250.00 easily by switching the video card I listed for any of geforce 8600/8500 or ati 3650/2600 models. All of those can be had for £50.00 or less. This will still run most casual/strategy games, but games like World in Conflict would suffer.

I hope this gives you ideas/direction to go with this build.


February 27, 2008 8:52:37 PM

As far as overclocking goes I will probably leave it for now and experiment with it a later date. The 1.8Ghz Dual sounds fine for the sort of tasks that the computer will be doing.
Save files are already backed in the 'My Games' section within 'My Documents' which is my external hardrive.

Thanks for the list mtyermom. Looks like a decent piece of kit priced well! Probably won't be requiring such a good graphics though however it would definately last for a while so i will check my financial situation as i guess that is an issue purely dependable on my overall budget.

Is it common for most custom built PC's for people to not bother with audio cards. I don't have one in my best gaming computer, i've always though them unnecessary as i feel that sound quality is purely dependable on the speakers themselves and differences between onboard audio and pricey audio carbs is extremely small.

Would the issue of World In Conflict really push up the graphics cards requirement then? My gaming computer as described above handles it perfectly on maximum settings, DirectX9.0c however.

Thanks for all the information, i just need to check up on budget issues now.
Thanks,
Sabre_X
February 27, 2008 8:52:50 PM

It handles it that well because of the 2.4ghz speed of the q6600 and 8800GTS 640mb.

You can get away with a lower end video card in the new system and the lower speed processor, but you would need to tone down the settings in World in Conflict quite a bit. Anything lower than a geforce 8600gt(s) or ati 3650/2600 would really strain your ability to run WiC at reasonable settings/resolution, in my opinion.
February 27, 2008 9:07:21 PM

Sabre_X said:
Is it common for most custom built PC's for people to not bother with audio cards. I don't have one in my best gaming computer, i've always though them unnecessary as i feel that sound quality is purely dependable on the speakers themselves and differences between onboard audio and pricey audio carbs is extremely small.


Regarding audio cards, it is much less of an issue nowadays than it was when few motherboards came with onboard audio capabilities. Now, the audiophiles out there will tell you that onboard audio is absolutely unacceptable, but that is beyond the scope of this build, IMO. To a point, it is more about the speakers you're using (as you said), and unless you are using some seriously high quality speakers the onboard audio on most motherboards today will suffice. Personally, I don't intend to buy another audio card until 1.) I experience unacceptable sound from onboard audio; or 2.) I invest in some serious audio equipment for my PC (which is doubtful to happen, as any high quality audio equipment I purchase goes to my home entertainment system)
!