Best Video Card for $150???

I absolutely hate limiting my spending on a video card, but this build is for my father, and is going to be a media pc, hooking up to HDTV's in our house, so I just wanted to know what card is at or under 150 that would be good. Or if it would really be worth it to go to 200 for a 8800GT. Gaming while fun for me will not be high priority for him except for the occasional playing.
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  1. One more thing, I will personally be playing counterstrike source on this, so i would like it if it could play HD at full settings, or even just 1280 1024 at full
  2. Do you already have a board and CPU?
    If not, a board with the new 780G AMD chipset and a cheap energy efficient Athlon would probably be a good buy. :)
    I think I'm going to build an HTPC with one of these!
  3. I concur with KPO
  4. Hmm, I like that 8800GS choice as the best gaming card for the buck, even bought one myself and a second for a customer already. But it's downside is that it is somewhat loud for a media PC and if noise is any concern, it would need something like a VF900 added to the budget to silence it. But although it's just a 2-pin fan header and runs full speed, it not nearly as loud as an 8800GT on 100%. Without comparing directly, I'd say it's like a reference 8800GT (my BFG) at 65-70%.

    Anyway, I still think the card is an amazing buy for $130, and I'd buy a third or forth if pricing stays the way it is. But just wanted to mention the fan as one concern. I would not be happy with it in my HTPC without a different fan. (edit: And the VF900 is too tall for my antec Overature case) But otherwise it's not really too bad and not as bad as some of the newegg reviews warn.

    I'd add the MSI 9600GT or 8800GT as quiter, faster, but also more expensive options.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127333

    Just went up $12 though -
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127329

    edit:
    All three of these cards may be more than you need even for CS:Source, but why not have the extra gaming power for the future. The HD2600XT and 8800GT/S quite a huge step down from the 8800GS. But you could look into them if you/he want(s) to stay under $100.
  5. yeah HD3850's are an option too, but the 9600GT will beat it for same/even somewhat lower price (than that one). I'll be testing the 8800GS vs a 256MB HD3850 in the coming days. It should beat this $130 GS more often than not, but not smoke it by any means. Shoot, the higher factory clocked 8800GS can beat the HD3850 and trade blows with the 512MB version:
    vs 256MB - http://en.expreview.com/2008/01/21/review-palit-8800gs-384mb-768mb/?page=22
    vs 512MB - http://en.expreview.com/2008/01/21/review-palit-8800gs-384mb-768mb/?page=24
  6. I don't have a 512MB version, but did edit links to that up above before reading your reply. edit: lol now you took out that question. :)

    DOn't have an 8800GT 256MB either though. But I will have a X1950XT 256MB and 8800GTS 320MB thrown in too too see how all these popular low ram cards compare.
  7. i believe there's a passively cooled 8800GT. that might suit your needs perfectly. it's quiet, and it still has some good performance.
  8. kpo6969 said:

    Several buyers of the card reported that it had an excessively loud fan... not exactly ideal for an HTPC setup.
  9. I don't think you are going to get a single slot cooler to run quietly. There isn't enough metal to conduct the heat therefore it heats up faster and the fan has to cool it down more. The 2 slot coolers have the advantage. I know my 8800GTS 512 can get a little loud at higher temps but really isn't all that bad. At idle and moderate temps it isn't noticeable.
  10. rodney_ws said:
    Several buyers of the card reported that it had an excessively loud fan... not exactly ideal for an HTPC setup.

    I mentioned that above in detail and also stated I personally don't find it nearly as loud as some of those Newegg reviewers did. It runs 100%, and is not a quiet card, but much, much quiter than an 8800GT on 100% (no comparison). Believe me, noise is a big concern for me, and while not a quiet card, it's no leaf blower by any means.
  11. I agree Jay. Just take your average 7600GT or even HD2600XT (actively cooled) card, and this thing is no worse than those.
  12. pauldh said:
    I agree Jay. Just take your average 7600GT or even HD2600XT (actively cooled) card, and this thing is no worse than those.

    Correct. no wonder so many of these companies are putting better coolers on the normally single slot cooled cards, and obviously charging more. I'll stick with my 8800GTS that apparently some people think I paid to much for just cooling reasons.
  13. You can always rewire the fan for 7volts if the fan is too loud.
  14. you could get an Nvidia 8600GT with 512Mb of ram for 150 or less
  15. Yeah if it cools enough at 7 volts. May have to rig it to a switch, 5 or 7 volt for 2D and 12v for gaming.

    You can also rig in a couple silicon diodes and reduce that 12v to about 10.5 volt. I've done that to take the edge off a noisy fan.

    I actually bought a 2-pin to 3-pin adaptor so I don't have to cut the factory GPU fan wire. Just remove it from the card, plug it into the adaptor, and then you can do whatever you want, like use diodes or a Zalman fanmate to control the voltage/rpm. Best thing, if need be (say RMA) just remove it and plug the stock fan connector back into the card and it's exactly like stock again. I have not tried it with the 8800GS yet, but it will work like it has on other cards.
  16. my vote is that you add on a few more bucks and go for the 9600gt. you will be glad you did!
  17. pauldh said:
    Yeah if it cools enough at 7 volts. May have to rig it to a switch, 5 or 7 volt for 2D and 12v for gaming.

    You can also rig in a couple silicon diodes and reduce that 12v to about 10.5 volt. I've done that to take the edge off a noisy fan.

    I actually bought a 2-pin to 3-pin adaptor so I don't have to cut the factory GPU fan wire. Just remove it from the card, plug it into the adaptor, and then you can do whatever you want, like use diodes or a Zalman fanmate to control the voltage/rpm. Best thing, if need be (say RMA) just remove it and plug the stock fan connector back into the card and it's exactly like stock again. I have not tried it with the 8800GS yet, but it will work like it has on other cards.


    I run my card @ 7volts. If you run it at stock you shouldn't have problems at all. It's these overclocked specs that calls for better cooling. Usually the ram needs to be certain temperature if you want to run it faster.

    GPU should have no problems running as high 95C. My GPU runs about 80C with 7 volts.
  18. doubletake33 said:
    my vote is that you add on a few more bucks and go for the 9600gt. you will be glad you did!

    Not a bad Idea for him. I actually like that if he can spring it.
  19. marvelous211 said:
    I run my card @ 7volts. If you run it at stock you shouldn't have problems at all. It's these overclocked specs that calls for better cooling. Usually the ram needs to be certain temperature if you want to run it faster.

    GPU should have no problems running as high 95C. My GPU runs about 80C with 7 volts.

    I'm actually surprised and impressed 7v is enough for gaming. I wouldn't like 95 degrees, but 80 under load and 7 volts is lower than I'd expect even on a 8600GTS. You must have a decent cooler on that thing. Single slot or dual?
  20. It's a dual slot. It's way too loud @ 12volts and keeps it slightly under 70C if I run it @ full speed. My fan doesn't do PWM either.

    Heck I even have it overclocked @ 7 volts. :P
  21. Didn't know about the fan noise on the GS, thanks rodney_ws
    I know this would add to the cost but whatever card you would get:
    put a VF900 cooler on it ($32.99), comes with fan mate controller. Powered by 4pin molex off your psu, use this adapter:
    http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E16835999104

    I did this with my 8800GT and when just surfing the net or watching a movie, with the fan on low you can bearly hear it. Even on high my cpu fan is a little louder. Just a thought.
  22. kpo6969 said:
    Didn't know about the fan noise on the GS, thanks rodney_ws
    I know this would add to the cost but whatever card you would get:
    put a VF900 cooler on it ($32.99), comes with fan mate controller.

    :sarcastic: Why do I bother posting?


    BTW, Read my first post if you ? why I say that. You and Rodney Obviously didn't do that. ;)
  23. marvelous211 said:
    It's a dual slot. It's way too loud @ 12volts and keeps it slightly under 70C if I run it @ full speed. My fan doesn't do PWM either.

    Heck I even have it overclocked @ 7 volts. :P

    Yeah, that is a nice card. I don't know why MSI didn't include a variable speed fan though. A buddy of mine has the dual slot GDDR4 MSI HD2600XT, and it's the same way...100% all the time.
  24. Hey thanks for all the posts everybody. So my basic question now is...
    What card will be quiet enough for a HTPC when running movies, and powerful enough to play CSS at 1080P at a nice 40 FPS with maxed out settings?? How loud is the MSI 8800gt?? I might spring the load for that if it will be that much better than the rest and hopefully quiet
  25. There are lots of Quiet versions out there, some even with passive cooling. A little too pricey, but here is an example:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102720


    Can personally vouche for it, but Fudzilla tested the MSI 9600GT and claimed it was quiet. The card is $165 AR on Newegg, and here they talk about the fan design. In this review they mention that MSI core center may be able to run the MSI 8800GT silently until the fan is needed.
    http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6023&Itemid=40&limit=1&limitstart=0

    One concern is airflow and physical size in your case though. My Antec Overature HTPC can't fit the majority of the quiet versions as they are too tall for the case. Make sure you have clearance above the slot bracket for these type cards.

    I'd think a HD3850, HD3870, 9600GT or 8800GT are all you would need to run that at 1080p. The His iceQ cards are very quiet. I'd imagine you'd want one that has audio out through HDMI. (integrated HD audio controller).
  26. pauldh said:
    :sarcastic: Why do I bother posting?


    BTW, Read my first post if you ? why I say that. You and Rodney Obviously didn't do that. ;)

    Speaking for myself only, I appoligise for all the inattentive and visually impaired.

    "Hmm, I like that 8800GS choice as the best gaming card for the buck, even bought one myself and a second for a customer already. But it's downside is that it is somewhat loud for a media PC and if noise is any concern, it would need something like a VF900 added to the budget to silence it. But although it's just a 2-pin fan header and runs full speed, it not nearly as loud as an 8800GT on 100%. Without comparing directly, I'd say it's like a reference 8800GT (my BFG) at 65-70%.

    Anyway, I still think the card is an amazing buy for $130, and I'd buy a third or forth if pricing stays the way it is. But just wanted to mention the fan as one concern. I would not be happy with it in my HTPC without a different fan. (edit: And the VF900 is too tall for my antec Overature case) But otherwise it's not really too bad and not as bad as some of the newegg reviews warn.

    I'd add the MSI 9600GT or 8800GT as quiter, faster, but also more expensive options.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814127333

    Just went up $12 though -
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814127329

    edit:
    All three of these cards may be more than you need even for CS:Source, but why not have the extra gaming power for the future. The HD2600XT and 8800GT/S quite a huge step down from the 8800GS. But you could look into them if you/he want(s) to stay under $100."

    Sorry about that
  27. Alright, now I can sleep better knowing you aren't ignoring me. :p
  28. Once again thanks for the posts.
    So from the sound of it i think i will go with that 9600gt because of audio through hdmi. Once more question, wrong area of forum but since i have all of you attention.
    Would you say that i should get a nice soundcard for this system if it will be hooked up to a receiver??
    And also the case we are using is a p182 so hopefully enough airflow for what i need
  29. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think NV has an on-board audio controller on the 9600GT either, but some may have audio connectors to pass sound through from a sound card. If you go with an ATI HD3870 or 3850, it's integrated in, so you don't need a sound card. Just connect an HDMI cable to the HDMI adaptor and then to your Receiver or HDTV and you have video and sound right from the Radeon card.

    I think you are fine with that case. If you had a Fusion, you may have height limitations like my Overature. it seems the fusion has an extra 1/4 in height above the card slots, which would make a big difference but still rule out most passive heatpipe models.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowImage.aspx?CurImage=11-129-030-10.jpg&Image=11-129-030-02.jpg%2c11-129-030-03.jpg%2c11-129-030-04.jpg%2c11-129-030-05.jpg%2c11-129-030-06.jpg%2c11-129-030-07.jpg%2c11-129-030-08.jpg%2c11-129-030-09.jpg%2c11-129-030-10.jpg%2c11-129-030-11.jpg%2c11-129-030-12.jpg%2c11-129-030-13.jpg&S7ImageFlag=0&WaterMark=1&Item=N82E16811129030&Depa=0&Description=Antec+Black+Veris+Fusion+Black+430+Micro+ATX+Media+Center+%2f+HTPC+Case
    http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=15740
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