So here's the deal... Last week I bought a new (to me) Dell Optiplex GX270. It was stripped when i got it, only had the motherboard, processor, powersupply, optical drive, and case, but I got it for $25 and thought it would be an awesome upgrade from my (then) current machine, an Athlon 1.33ghz socket A (not an XP) on an ASUS A7N8X board. Here are my built up specs on this "new" machine.
Dell Optiplex GX270
3.0ghz P4 HTT
Radeon 9800PRO 128MB AGP(!)
1024MB Kingston PC3200
120GB PATA HD
Win XP Pro, Ubuntu 7.10, MacOSX86 10.5.1 (got it running, but barely )
So, I like how the machine runs UT2004, but it can't quite handle some of the newer games (UT3 demo has trouble when the detail is set in the middle)... And chokes hard on 3dMark06. This thing already blows my old machine away.
Let me know if this is crazy, but is it possible to get PlayStation3-ish graphic performance out of this thing (no, I don't need to run at 1080p HD, I'd be happy with 1280x1024 or 1024x768)? That's kind of what I'd like to see.
So, what should I do, get a new GPU or just live with what I've got?
well there are ATI 3870 and 3850 available in AGP, which would be the cheaper alternative. But my suggestion would be to upgrade because you're going to want to play newer games then whats out now, and AGP is restricted to 8x.
the PS3 is equal to 2 7800 GTX in SLI. So yeah you should be able to outperform it with an ATI 3870.
Well I dont see why the p4 couldn't push the 3850, I mean, its true you won't get the performance that other cpus will give, but thats because there are dual cores and quad cores that far surpass the old p4s. If thats what you're saying about the p4.
I mean your best bet would be the 3870, the 3850 are weaker than the 70s. Either way its all on how deep you wanna dig into your pockets.
If you really want to upgrade, it'll be about $250. More if you end up not reusing your case, CD/DVD drive, etc...
Anyways, to answer your question, the HD 3850 will pound the living daylights out of your 9800. A Radeon 9800 can barely run Oblivion on low settings, but the HD 3850 runs it on high, with a 2 GB texture detail mod at about 30-40 FPS. Obviously with an AGP slot and a slower system all around it won't be quite as good as that but you should be able to run most games on high-medium high settings on 12x10.
Th 9800 Pro is really out of date and struggles with an old game like farcry and Doom 3. the ATi 2600 XT is a pretty simple card, that was meant for main stream gaming, but didn't really acheive such a high job.
All the cards that you mentioned are alot better than the 9800 Pro. I mean the 2600 XT isn't even a card that reaches midway in current gen games.
As for hardware, like wolfseeker said thats a way to approach the situation, Although I think it would be cheaper for you to just buy a videocard, It would benefit you more to upgrade your hardware.
with the 3870 you should be okay to play current games, and later games at medium and high settings.
There is no AGP 3870 AFAIK. But the HD350 is IMO too expensive to put in that rig. A $100 HD2600XT would be better, or something cheaper than that even like a 2600 pro, x1650 pro, etc.
Firingsquad just benched the HD3850 AGP vs X1950 pro vs a GDDR2 HD2600 pro. They used a P4 2.8C, so it's about like your system. As you can see the HD3850 had a hard time showing off it's abilities paired with this CPU. It should have offered twice the performance if paired on a killer system. Still, with fsaa and 12x10 or above resolution, the 3850 can pull ahead with a slow CPU. Just not worth the $$$ IMO. http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?option=com_content&ta...
When I had a Pentium 4 I had an AGP Radeon x800GTO. I don't know the specifics on GT vs GTO, but my GTO was able to run the Orange Box on decent settings at 1440x900 no problem. I bet it'd be able to do UT3 on at least low settings... I'd recommend another gig of RAM if you can find the 3200 for cheap.
I just recently bought an Athlon 64 X2, a cheap Micro ATX motherboard, and 4gb of ram for about 200 dollars and it beats the SNOT out of my old system. Now I'm just waiting on my 9600gt to come in The only thing I can really check now is Blender which is about 3 times as fast and I have my onboard graphics sucking up system memory and processor cycles...
If you can't run the games you have now, I think you should get a $70 or less Radeon card (2600XT, 3650, whichever is the best bang for your buck when you order it) but if you can wait, save up a little bit of cash and upgrade to PCI Express, because PCIe cards are so much better price for performance.
I am still running a P4 3.0 system. I upgraded from a 9800 Pro to the X800XT. I was then able to play Doom3 on Ultra settings, HL2 with no problems, and Diablo 2 without slowdowns. It also handled FarCry easily. It handled all of the games of that era well.
However, it does NOT support shader model 3.0 (the last one before DX10's 4.0). So, I can't play the latest Splinter Cell game.
I also know that Oblivion would only run on average settings (but haven't tried it yet). I haven't played any of the newer games.
You can look at the older VGA charts here to see how the older cards run the older games.
^ Yup. I still have three X800 series cards and don't recommend them now. Besides SCDA, there is also Bioshock (no official support) and MOH:airborne that are not supported. Still decent cards dirt cheap, but he would be better served with a newer generation card like a X1650 pro, HD2600 pro or HD2600XT.