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Radeon 3850 AGP 8x or PCI-E 4x

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March 7, 2008 8:39:47 PM

My new rig is one of those Core 2 Duo, DDR2 ASROCK Combo Boards that gave me the chance to use my X1950 PRO AGP Card or a PCI-E card in PCI-E x4. Its a "transition" system to tide the family PC over to Core 2 Duo until I can afford a complete overhaul.

I was thinking of upgrading to a Radeon 3850 card. However I don't know whether to stick to the AGP interface or move over to PCI-E especially considering the PCI-E slot on my motherboard is bottlenecked at x4. Also my motherboard is strict about the type of graphics cards that it will accept in the PCI-E slots, yet it hasnt imposed any limitations on the AGP slot.

So - what shall I do? AGP 8x or PCI-E x4?

More about : radeon 3850 agp pci

March 7, 2008 9:13:13 PM

Not what you probably want to hear, but I'd buy a new mobo and a PCI-e HD3850, 3870, 9600GT or 8800GT. For the price of an AGP HD3850 you could almost have a 9600GT and new mobo. The 8800GS about keeps up with the hD3850 and you could get that for cheap now. Stinks your mobo is PCI-e 4X. I have two Asrock 939 Dual Sata II systems for similar reasons to you, but it is native AGP 8X and PCI-e 16X.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cost less than an AGP HD3850. Or go a bit higher for a better card.

Edit: that rebate is $30 today, making it $120 not $130.
http://images10.newegg.com/uploadfilesfornewegg/rebate/...


March 7, 2008 9:22:28 PM


***** Edit, sorry now see you are in London so I have no idea your prices. ****




Other choices

$155 AR (add to cart there is $10 instant discount)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$150 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$200 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3870 Alot cheaper than the AGP 3850.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Anyway, just trying to give you options to think about. What C2D do you have?
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March 7, 2008 9:54:04 PM

I would get the PCIe version. Even though it's only at 4x now, you will be able to use that card in the new system that you buy. If this system is only a "transistion" system, then in the long run, the money would be better spend on the PCIe card.
March 8, 2008 10:53:00 AM

My Core 2 Duo is an E4500 - it was the fastest I could afford at the time.

There is another fly in the ointment with my motherboard.

http://www.asrock.com/mb/vga.asp?Model=4CoreDual-SATA2&...

None of the above cards that you have mentioned are listed as supported PCI-E cards. Rumor has it that these boards are particular with the cards they support and if it is not listed then it simply wont run!

I have only just got this board and don't have the money to purchase a new one yet. Also I have found it very hard to get a motherboard with 4 PCI slots (I need them for my dual tuner, Sound Card and USB 2.0/Firewire combo card).

If I got a PCI-E card, would running it at x4 be faster than AGP 8x??

Besides by the time I take the system for a complete overhaul I would probably change the graphics card as well.
March 8, 2008 11:46:37 AM

marshahu said:
If I got a PCI-E card, would running it at x4 be faster than AGP 8x??


from what i understand, AGP is slightly faster than PCI-E 8x. So AGP would definitely be faster than PCI-E 4x.
March 8, 2008 2:22:43 PM

Nik_I said:
from what i understand, AGP is slightly faster than PCI-E 8x. So AGP would definitely be faster than PCI-E 4x.


I would just get the PCI-e card, that way it can go with you when you upgrade further. Unless you are watching your 3Dmark scores closely, I bet you wouldn't even know the difference between 8x AGP and 4x PCI-e. The PCI-e card, even at 4x, will still give you good performance.
March 8, 2008 2:33:19 PM

Nik_I said:
from what i understand, AGP is slightly faster than PCI-E 8x. So AGP would definitely be faster than PCI-E 4x.

2100 MB/s vs 2000 MB/s, but PCI-e can tranfer data both directions at once. PCI-e at 4X at 1000 MB/s maybe would limit the HD3850 though. Tough call as the PCI-e version is so much cheaper and could be more useful down the road. yet I'd imagine the AGP one would sell for more used for a quite a while too.
March 8, 2008 3:40:33 PM

i think that if your motherboard supports the HD3850, as you mentioned that not all cards are supported. so if it is, get the PCI-E version. If not, get the AGP version, or possibly get a cheaper card and invest what you saved into a future pc build.
March 8, 2008 9:48:40 PM

I think I will have to get the AGP version of the card. I will probably opt for something better in my next rig anyway, and with the advent of PCI-E 2.0 and DDR3 as well as several new processors coming onto the market it gives me another excuse to hang onto AGP and this board for the time being.

Will a 750W Corsair Power Supply be enough to run this card??

Other components include Core Duo E4500 2x150gb raptors, 2 optical drives, 3 fans and some PCI devices

Oh one more thing - its a Powercolor graphics card - I am usually a fan of Sapphire cards.

Does it matter that its a Powercolor card?
March 9, 2008 5:17:07 AM

I think it would be a mistake to get the AGP version, unless you are happy limiting that card to be used only in this motherboard. The fact that AGP may be slightly faster than PCI-e x4 shouldn't really be an issue for you, especially as this is a transition board for you anyway, and I assume you will be migrating to a x16 board in the future.

Another reason is that PCI-e cards are generally cheaper than their AGP equivalents.

If compatibility is the reason you are worried, I wouldn't be. If you scroll down to the Windows XP section, you will see that they have tested a 3870 (basically an overclocked 3850) in you board, and it works, so it seems that the motherboard doesn't have any incompatibilities with the card you plan to buy, just they haven't tested that combo in Vista yet. Also note they specify at least BIOS version P1.8, and driver 7.11. Don't ignore this, as whenever I have used Radeon HD cards in AsRock combo boards in the past, they haven't worked properly until I updated the BIOS, so that part's not negotiable.

So all in all, don't be scared off by the PCI-e card due to compatibility issues. I can't guarantee for you that it will work, but your chances are far better than you think they are, and you are better off with PCI-e anyway. Maybe get it from a store that lets you return if it doesn't work?

(Oh, and as for your power supply question, the Corsair 750W is WAY WAY more than enough than you will need. I have a Corsair 450W, and it is still overkill for powering my system including an 8800GT, overclocked C2D, 2x PCI tv tuners, PCI sound card, additional PCI-e tv tuner, 3 HDD's, 3 fans, and optical drive, so don't worry about power shortages ;) .
March 9, 2008 10:35:47 AM

marshahu said:
My new rig is one of those Core 2 Duo, DDR2 ASROCK Combo Boards that gave me the chance to use my X1950 PRO AGP Card or a PCI-E card in PCI-E x4. Its a "transition" system to tide the family PC over to Core 2 Duo until I can afford a complete overhaul.

I was thinking of upgrading to a Radeon 3850 card. However I don't know whether to stick to the AGP interface or move over to PCI-E especially considering the PCI-E slot on my motherboard is bottlenecked at x4. Also my motherboard is strict about the type of graphics cards that it will accept in the PCI-E slots, yet it hasnt imposed any limitations on the AGP slot.

So - what shall I do? AGP 8x or PCI-E x4?


My spare system has that board, a couple of weeks ago my Striker was on the blink (again!) so I stuck one of my Gtx's in that just to keep me going, and performance was good. I actually read on these forums that a Gtx is OK on an 8x slot, so I'd guess the other cards will be similar, meaning you won't lose loads of performance.
I'd get the PCI-E card, you can use it in your next board, hence saving some money!
March 9, 2008 11:53:07 AM

Hate to be the fly in the ointment, but the 3850 is PCIe 2.0 standard card so it probably is unlikely to run in that mobo. I should be able to answer this categorically, as I have the 3870 and 2 of these mobo's, but decomissioned them before continuing my upgrade path as I had little faith from my research that I would get any value out of upgrading to a fast PCIe video card on this mobo.

I too chose this mobo to carry my AGP card and DDR RAM, but struck several compatability issues with newer hardware. The board took large performance hits and stability issues all round with the 6320 and 4500 CPU's.

That was a bit disappointing, because I used a similar board to get to 939 from Socket A on AMD platform and found that that platform performed much more on par with its counterparts. In the end I abandoned the C2D upgrade path and went back to the AM2 platform on release of the BE 5000+ as this was cheaper at the time than a 38 chipset mainboard, and needed to get hold of DDR2 RAM either ways.

With Core 2 you really can't afford to skimp on the mobo. With on die memory controller the AMD is less dependant of the chipset used.
March 9, 2008 12:49:02 PM

wait up & aim for pci-e.
March 9, 2008 10:21:22 PM

Hmmmm I never saw the 3870 in the compatibility chart

I cant understand how it cannot work in Vista as it is a DirectX 10 card?!?!

Nevertheless if its PCI-E 2.0 will that not pose some problems for me.

And by using PCI-E at x4 then surely I will be bottlenecking the card severely. From many THG reviews it seems that PCI-E at x4 acts as a real bottleneck esp for the high end cards, and for guys like me that play at native resolution of 19in CRTs the performance hit will be even more noticeable.

TBH if I have to go through the hassle of upgrading the BIOS then surely PCI-E is going to be more headache than its worth??
March 10, 2008 1:31:01 AM

"I cant understand how it cannot work in Vista as it is a DirectX 10 card?!?!"

Um, noone said it couldn't work in Vista, it just hasn't been added to the list because they haven't tested it in Vista yet. While possible that it doesn't work in Vista, I seriously doubt you will run into any issues. That list is a SUPPORTED CARD LIST, not a 'ONLY THESE CARDS WILL WORK LIST', meaning those are the cards that they have tested themselves, and verified to be working, and the fact that the 3870 is working is a pretty good guide that the 3850 should work.

Secondly, AFAIK, PCI-e 2.0 is FULLY backwards compatible with 1.1, so the answer would be no, it shouldn't pose any problems.

The BIOS, well, if u can build a computer, you can flash a BIOS. Easily. AsRock makes it as simple as possible as you only have to download a file from their website, run it from windows, and restart the computer, and while flashing from inside windows is not the most ideal way of doing it, it certainly makes simple, and the entire process will take you about 2 minutes.

I wouldn't worry about the PCI-e x4, the bottleneck isn't THAT bad. From my experience (albeit I was using a lower card than a 3850 at the time), the difference is measurable, but not that noticeable, and besides, if performance is your concern, you can get a PCI-e 3870 for less than an AGP 3850. Hell, you can get an 8800GT (which will blow the 3850 away) for less money than the AGP 3850, so I'm afraid you performance concerns of PCI-e x4 are not grounded in reality.

One last thing to point out. What on earth is the 'native resolution' of a 19" CRT? If you mean a 19" LCD, then the native res is pretty low (1280?) and won't pose much of a problem for any of these cards, regardless of which bus you run them on.

To sum up, it's your choice, but PCI-e would be the right choice (esp if you wanna be able to use it in the future, you don't wanna spend the money for an upper-midrange card which has no future beyond the immediate).
March 11, 2008 12:07:35 AM

So it seems that the 3870 PCI-e is worth getting over the AGP version.

So in terms of framerates how much slower will a PCI-e 4x 3870 be than a 3850 in AGP 8x in a typical game of Far Cry, Crysis, COD4 or any other demanding game at topish settings (High Quality on everything, resolution around 1280x1024.

and yes i meant LCD - my mistake on the previous post
March 11, 2008 1:58:27 AM

Yeah, I'm with tonyp on this one, I didn't initially take notice of what ur current card was, and while the 3870 is a substantial improvement over the 1950pro, it's not an upgrade I would make, as the difference isn't big enough for me to spend money. The only reason that I can see for you to make that purchase is if you want to be able to play Crysis, and you want to play it soon (as the difference should generally be larger in newer, dx10 games).

That being said, if you are certain that you are upgrading your card, the PCI-e route is certainly the way to go, as the ability to purchase a faster card for less money certainly compensates for any performance losses from the bottlenecked bus. Good luck with whatever you end up doing.
March 12, 2008 10:56:08 PM

Well since this system will have Vista and DX10 games I may as well go for it and breath a new lease of life into the spare PC with my X1950PRO.

Now the next problem - to fit the X1950PRO into the other case :-P
March 15, 2008 8:25:13 PM

for refrence

PCI 132 MB/s
AGP 8X 2,100 MB/s
PCI Express 1x 250 [500]* MB/s
PCI Express 2x 500 [1000]* MB/s
PCI Express 4x 1000 [2000]* MB/s
PCI Express 8x 2000 [4000]* MB/s
PCI Express 16x 4000 [8000]* MB/s
June 2, 2008 7:40:04 AM

I'm guessing your Asrock PCIe is v1.0. Will a PCIe 2.0 3870 work on your mobo?
July 12, 2008 5:47:57 AM

This may be an old/dead thread, but it came up pretty high on my Google search so I'm letting folks know.

A x4 PCIe slot does not limit a HD3870 much at all. I ran a 3dmark06 test on two computers that scored nearly the same on CPU specs. The overall scores were 600 points apart. Now the cpu's were not high end. One was a 4200+ x2 AMD. While the other was a Celeron E1600. The over all score for the 4200+ ~8850, and the E1600 was ~8250. The cpu scores were within 25-35 points of each other.

Now 8800 series cards are a different story. An 8800GT will score ~8900 on the 4200+ machine, but it will only score ~7100 on the pcie x4 computer.

So if anyone has one of these boards and wants to go for an 8800 series or a 3800 series card. You won't be limited nearly as much with the 3800 series.
May 8, 2009 10:49:58 PM

I have the same motherboard, a HD3850 scores ~8500 (3dmark06) on a c2d 2.4ghz system, it is about ~1000 pts lower than the benchmarks I've seen online, a moderate performance hit. But with 9600GSO 768mb(rebadged 8800GS) it only scored ~7500, now that is a significant hit, as this card should be in the 9k-10K score range if it was a x16 PCIe.
Apparently Geforce card uses more bus bandwidth than Radeon in this case. Something to keep in mind. And also the more powerful the card becomes, the 4x pciE are starting to show its limitation.
!