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Looking for an AGP Vidcard Upgrade

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 3, 2008 1:51:12 PM

Another "Which Card should I get" plug. Sorry, I know these are beat to death but it seems the answer is dependent upon system specs.

I'm trying to find a replacement Vidcard for my aging AGP system and have had little luck getting anywhere. I'm somewhat of a novice with the latest technology and could use some expert help. I'd like to keep the system I currently have without going to PCI-E just yet. This card would be a last ditch holdover to get my computer up to speed until I build a new rig in a year or so. I'd like to get as big an improvement as possible over my old card (Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB) without breaking the bank or getting to the point where its just cheaper to build a new computer (maybe $250-$350 range with power supply-maybe the 6800 GS?).

My problem with the selection process boils down to "system bottlenecking." I know there are numerous high end cards out there for AGP but I have read they won't reach full potential on older systems due to this problem. What I want is the best card I can get that WILL reach full potential (or very close to it) with my system and provide a considerable boost in performance over my old one. Specs are:

Pentium4 2.54 GB Processor
2 GB RAM
Windows XP (SP2)
120 GB Hard drive (always less than 20% full)
Radeon 9800 Pro (128MB) Vidcard
250W Power Supply (to be upgraded based on replacement Vidcard)

(This computer was an off the self Compaq 6320 from CompUSA that has had RAM and Vidcard upgrades over the last 6 years or so. It was already upgraded over the standard 6320 when bought.)

I play flightsims for the most part which take alot from a Vidcard (Lock-On, IL2 and FS2004)and do some work on it every now and then. I'm not a hardcore gamer however I do like the eye-candy turned way up (FSX capable with pixel shaders and DX9/10 complient would be nice in a replacement). I know Newegg is the place to go and I've looked there but I just want to do some homework before buying. Any help with this would be great. Thanks in advance.

As a side thought, is it possible to re-use old components (CPU, RAM, Hardrive etc) and just by a PCI-E MoBo and Vidcard and come out cheaper then getting AGP? I think my RAM may not work as I believe its SDRAM but I don't know (computer was bought in 2002). Any thought on this route?

Stretch

More about : agp vidcard upgrade

June 3, 2008 2:12:06 PM

the best card is the HD3850, depending if change your PSU. The HD3850 will consume 65W max. An upgrade to a 450W PSU is a good idea.
After you can pick an HD2600PRO (DDR3 version) and nVidia 7600GS without change PSU.

If you're planning to upgrade all system, if your CPU isn't a LGA775, you cannot re-use CPU and RAM (because it's DDR1 gen). Hard drive will be reuseable. After you can pick a good video vard for less than the AGP version.
June 3, 2008 2:26:55 PM

With regard to the HD 3850, will my system be able to push it without problems (given a new PSU of course)? I feel, although older, my computer is resonably fast but I don't know if "bottlenecking" will be an issue with this card. In all honesty the HD 3850 is what I was looking at along with the upgraded PSU. Any thoughts on this?

Stretch
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a b U Graphics card
June 3, 2008 2:28:42 PM

If you build a new system, you will have to replace everything.
Socket 478 is dead. AGP is dead. PATA is dead. DDR1 is dead. PSU is too weak.
For you it is better to build a new system, rather than sinking money in a dead system.
June 3, 2008 2:40:29 PM

3850 will be severely bottlenecked but you will still see a big difference. I think there is a 2600xt agp???....that would still be a big step up and wouldnt be bottlencked so much...whats more it will be cheaper and might even be able to get away with your current PSU???...check<.

I agree with everyone else tho....its time for a new system if you want to play recent games. If you wanted to ever play the latest flight sims you would be dead in the water no matter what you do.
June 3, 2008 3:34:43 PM

With that CPU, the 2600 XT is the best you'd want to get. Anything more will be very bottlenecked by the platform.
June 3, 2008 3:36:47 PM

Could probably scrap that system and get an entirely new one for around $500 depending on what parts you keep and what you replace. Then you'd have a system that's at least twice as good as what you have now.

Here's what I think
- New CPU
- New Mobo
- New GPU
- New PSU
- Maybe new RAM (if it's not DDR2)

Everything else you can keep with no problems (more than likely).

Also, now that I think about it, if you're not too hung up on gaming, but still want a decent graphics solution, you could try for one of the semi-new 790G motherboards from AMD. They come with an integrated HD Radeon 3200 and it kicks the ass of every other IGP on the planet (so far). Plus you can OC it and almost double its clock. It won't do that great with today's games if you like all the eye candy, but if you're playing older stuff (like what I assume runs well on your current system), then it should do you fine. I'd imagine it performs as good, if not slightly better than your Radeon 9800 Pro, but don't quote me on that since I don't know how comparable it is to today's stuff.
June 3, 2008 4:31:41 PM

got to agree with most here...if you're gonna keep on with the AGP, no need to go higher than the 2600xt. but thats $130....these days, 130 could be your new mobo and half your new processor, too!
still a small wait for 790g boards to hit the channel, so you might consider the 780g...gigabyte makes a full-ATX board with ds3 designation (all solid capacitors...much more stable!) for around $105 shipped, and it has a (hidden) bios menu with a near-enthusiast level of tweaks and overclocks. throw in an AMD 5000+ BE, 2gb of good ram ($50 gets you low latency timings these days), new psu (of all brands, logisys makes an incredible 575w psu thats a paltry $30...best cheap psu i've ever owned! runs 24/7/365 going on two years now!)...
all i'm saying is...when you said above that you could spend up to 250 on just an agp card and psu, you opened a lot of doors! 250 is mobo, processor, and mem off the boat. throw an extra hundred in, and you add your psu, and if you wish you can throw in an hd3450 for hybrid crossfire (your IGP and GPU work together, only when needed)....
boom....you spend a hundred more than you were thinking, and you're up to date.

heh...i used to hate when people said "i know what you WANT, but here's what I WANT YOU TO HAVE"...and lookie what i just did!
but as i'm typing this on an aging socket 478 sys (same P4 with frakkin' RD-RAM!!!)...i'm sympathetic to your plight!

no matter what you choose, i wish you the best! hopefully, soon i'll be wishing you the best from a new sys, though!!!
June 3, 2008 5:20:11 PM

cleeve said:
With that CPU, the 2600 XT is the best you'd want to get. Anything more will be very bottlenecked by the platform.

+1, or what mrsbytch said, depending on short-term/long-term planning (short term would be the 2600XT)
June 3, 2008 9:22:19 PM

Thanks for the info everybody. I guess I'll just try and build a new rig as most suggested. I believe I can keep my case, hardrive and all my disk/CD drives and just add the things mentioned by MathiasSchnell and dario77. After looking around it does appear possible to build a new computer for around $400. Guess I'll start a new thread on what I think I'll buy. Thanks again.

Stretch

PS-I need an OS though, is Windows XP available anywhere for cheaper than $100?! All I have is XP on a system restore disk for Compaq computers. Can I use this?
June 3, 2008 9:45:42 PM

If you want a super-cheap upgrade that's better than what you already have...

GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard with integrated Radeon 3200 (about as good as your 9800 PRO, but the integrated graphics overclock like crazy): $90

Athlon X2 4600+: $66

A-DATA 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model ADQVE1B16: $40


There. For under $200 you have an extra CPU core, more powerful graphics than your 9800, and what's more important - an upgrade path for both your CPU and PCIe graphics card.

Not the most powerful solution, but it's a great system for cheep. I built one of these for a poor buddy of mine and he's blown away at how much more powerful it is than his old Athlon XP 2500+ and 9800 PRO... especially for gaming.
June 4, 2008 1:05:05 AM

cleeve said:
If you want a super-cheap upgrade that's better than what you already have...

GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard with integrated Radeon 3200 (about as good as your 9800 PRO, but the integrated graphics overclock like crazy): $90 Athlon X2 4600+: $66

A-DATA 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model ADQVE1B16: $40


There. For under $200 you have an extra CPU core, more powerful graphics than your 9800, and what's more important - an upgrade path for both your CPU and PCIe graphics card.

Not the most powerful solution, but it's a great system for cheep. I built one of these for a poor buddy of mine and he's blown away at how much more powerful it is than his old Athlon XP 2500+ and 9800 PRO... especially for gaming.


If I went the integrated GFX route is it possible to grab another ATI, say an HD3850, and link them together for dual cards and more power/performance GFX wise (crossfire?)?

Also, I planned to grab an Athlon 64X2 5000+ 2.6Gig as suggested (Anything better for under $100 than this for budget gaming?). Will that board support this CPU? I already have a 2.6Gig CPU in it (old obviously), how muich faster is this new 2.6Gig CPU relative to the old stuff I have? Night and Day maybe? Like I mentioned I'm not very computer savy on the new technology so I've got a ton of questions. Thanks again.

Stretch
a b U Graphics card
June 4, 2008 12:22:14 PM

If you get the GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H you can link the onboard video and an ATI PCI-Express card.
June 4, 2008 12:46:20 PM

evongugg said:
If you get the GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H you can link the onboard video and an ATI PCI-Express card.

Only in the case of the HD3450, HD3470 and HD3650. If you add, say, an HD3850 or HD3870 the on-board graphics will be disabled (because the discrete is so much more powerful than the onboard that it'd probably slow down by activating the hybrid-CF).
June 4, 2008 2:59:24 PM

Hybrid-crossfire linking to get a performance boost only works with anything slower than a 2600 PRO or 3650.
If you use a 2600 PRO or 3650 or faster, crossfire linking it to the integrated 3200 will only slow things down.

It's like linking a corvette to a lada; it ain't going to help the corvette go faster.

If you can afford a 3850, just buy the 3850. It will perform very well. But if you have money to spare, you're better off going with a core2 platform;

I only suggested the GA-MA78GM-S2H because you can get a new, faster system for cheap, and it's upgradable in the future.

If you have extra money you're better served going with Intel.
June 4, 2008 3:18:09 PM

Stretch32 said:

Also, I planned to grab an Athlon 64X2 5000+ 2.6Gig as suggested (Anything better for under $100 than this for budget gaming?). Will that board support this CPU? I already have a 2.6Gig CPU in it (old obviously), how muich faster is this new 2.6Gig CPU relative to the old stuff I have? Night and Day maybe?


Even though the clockspeed is about the same, the Athlon X2 has a much better architecture, and has two CPUs instead of one. The memory will also make a big performance difference, you're going to DDR2.
The overall difference will be huge, even with the integrated graphics.

If you're going this route, extra money is better saved for a discrete videocard like a 3850 or 9600 GSO, not on the CPU. That will make a bigger difference when gaming.


June 5, 2008 12:05:49 AM

Thanks for all the additional input guys/girls. I think I'll go with the AMD 5000+ (2.5 or 2.6) just because it should do what I want and costs alot less than the Intel CPU's (budget minded I guess). I'll get a Mobo that will allow upgrading further so there's room to grow. Also, since the Gigabyte Mobo IPU won't work once I hook up something like an HD3850 I'll just go the cheaper route on one that doesn't have an IPU and save the extra money for an integrated GFX card as suggested.

As far as CPU's are concerned I need to find one that has a heat sink and fan included. I don't see that info listed on Newegg. Where do I find this out. After reading a review for the AMD 5000+ Bribane 2.6 it appears they are not included with this CPU at least (not sure though). Could I just use whats in my comp now (heatsink and fan)?

Stretch
June 5, 2008 12:58:49 AM

It's unlikely that you'll be able to use the hsf that came with your computer. In fact, I'm pretty certain you won't be able to. That said, most CPUs should come with a hsf, but you're really going to want to install an aftermarket hsf if you're getting a 5000+ BE, so that you can overclock the crap out of it.

anyway, gl.
!