Looking to breathe a teency bit of life back into my aging desktop gaming station and squeeze another year or so out of it. Just started running Age of Conan and the performance sucks rocks on my current rig:
P4 Northwood 3.2GHz HT CPU
2gb DDR400 dual-channel RAM
nVidia 6800GS AGP video
I know that my CPU is going to be a bottleneck even with the graphics updated, and I can't put a new dual-core chip on my board as the chipset doesn't support it. This upgrade is just as I said to stave off a full mobo/cpu/ram/video upgrade for awhile (about a year).
I'm wondering if I should get the Radeon HD3850 AGP card for $218CAD or the Radeon HD2600XT AGP for $134CAD...
Will my system not be able to realize the full potential of the HD3850 due to my CPU and is it thus better to get the HD2600XT? Or will I actually get a dramatic increase in performance out of the HD3850? I have no problem spending the money on the HD3850 if it's going to be head and shoulders better than the HD2600XT, but at this point in time a full mobo/cpu/ram/vid swap is out of reach so I'm not going to be spending more than just one of the two cards listed.
i'd still get the 3850 , but i would overclock the cpu as much as possible so it wouldn't be a bottlekneck. if you're not planning on kaving your system for a while longer, then upgrade to 3850. but if you are not gonna keep you system more than six months, then i would try to build a brand new system. at least new cpu, mobo and ram. hdd you have, psu and case you have. your upgrade wouldn't be all that expensive. think about how long you wanna keep your system.
Definitively, I agree with Col-P-Todd. You'll get a good upgrade with a 3850 AGP, but in 1-2 years you'll be at the same point that you are now, and have to buy a whole new system as the 3850 is the best AGP card available.
I really think that the wise choice is investing on a new system, mainly a good Mobo, a not so bad Video Card, and maybe cheaper other parts that you could upgrade later, as your budget goes.
You should probably wait until G200 and Radeon 4870 are out, so you could build a system that will handle the new GPU that you'll prefer (SLI or CrossfireX). Patience can pay sometime!