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Help! What card for $300?

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  • Graphics Cards
  • Graphics
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Last response: in Graphics Cards
July 12, 2008 1:36:17 PM

I'm looking to upgrade from a 7800GTX. All i'm playing right is Age of Conan and RPG games. I was thinking about the Geforce GTX 260 for about $330, 9800GTX (G92)$249, or the new ATI 4870 for $300? My motherboard only fits one graphics card so no SLI. What do you guys think is the best for this price range right now resolution 1280x1024?

Or should I hold out for a little longer and get a 24" LCD monitor and get the graphics card later. LOL.


My rig,
CPU: E8400 (oc'd to 4.0mhz)
Mobo: GA-P35-DS3L
GPU:7800gtx
RAM: 2 gig Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR2 800
PSU: 550watt
Case: antec 900 w/Artic freezer 7 pro heatsink


More about : card 300

a b U Graphics card
July 12, 2008 1:47:00 PM

4870. You need 2 6-pin connectors to run it

That seems like the best option for $300

You know that you can check the charts or the most recent "best gaming cards for the money" right here on tomshardware.com
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July 12, 2008 2:13:11 PM

I'd go 4870, even though your monitor is small, you can still enjoy the same eye candy...just not the king sized bar...lol
July 12, 2008 2:15:17 PM

I'll chime in and say 4870 as well. Unless you are allergic to ATI (like I am), then go with the gtx 260 for 30 bucks more.
July 12, 2008 2:19:01 PM

4870 of course. Though 4850 for $165 should suffice your needs since you only play RPG games at low res.
July 12, 2008 2:23:00 PM

Im going to be different and say get the monitor, and then get a 4870X2 later so you can play those games at 19x12.
July 12, 2008 3:05:02 PM

Just buy 7 more 7800's for double quad super sli mode.

Kidding! Your post was only a few sentences, so it was easy to catch the part about how you DON'T have an SLI mobo! Not sure why, but stroll through these forums enough and people are always posting, like a bot, that you should get 2 of those, 3 of these, or 4 of dose, just like the guy above. EDIT: Poster just edited his post to fix his "mistake".

Not sure why people don't consider that not everybody has an expensive SLI mobo (even when you specifically say that you don't) and have an enormous power supply, and are willing to be subjected to extra heat, noise, and various other SLI issues.

Oh, and I caught the fact that you only run at 1280x which is yet another reason why SLI is probably the last thing you want.

At 1280x, if you do have $300 to spend, then I just might have to suggest the 4870. Or even the GTX 260 if you can find one about the same price or cheaper than the 4870. I happen to really like Nv's 2xx cards. I've had the fortune to play around with a few of them and although people just don't like the price, despite the huge price drop, there are other really nice things about these cards that, IMO, make them a better choice than what many people think, or assume. You gotta look for the best deals though.

I was able to find a superclocked GTX 280, with 650mhz factory core clock and 2300mhz memory, for only $460! After my manual overclock has the core well over 700mhz & ram 2500mhz (and still climbing), I have one absolute beast of a card for just $460. You might be able to find the same thing with the GTX 260 and it being in the $300 range or less.

But as far as the 260 goes, I still feel that it has more quality and upside than ATI's cards, such as it having the better driver updates and playing better with upcoming games which are more likely to be optimized for the 2xx cards since they are 2nd gen technology. And it does seem like people are definitely have fewer issues with the 2xx cards.
However you really need to hunt one down that isn't more expensive than the 4870, otherwise I can't really recommend it unless you do upgrade to a 24" and hence need the extra ram that the 260 offers.

Possibly even one with a considerable factory OC, which from what I have seen so far can be OC'ed quite a bit further manually to really take performance up a notch, closer to that of a GTX 280, and definitely make it more worth its price tag.
Also, the real reason I'm going into some detail here about the 260 (as opposed to a 4870) is because you mentioned you might be getting a 24" display. The 260 with 900mb of RAM can really help you out there over the 4870 with nearly half that amount at 512mb.

I know that the 4870's ram is a bit faster with it being DDR5, however, it isn't a miracle worker. The old rule of thumb still remains, which is that more ram is better than faster ram, unless the amount difference is very small, which in this case it isn't.

And when you consider that some newer games out are recommending 512mb currently, regardless of your display, I personally think it is wise to have more vid ram than that because the next step up that we will see for recommended vid ram will be, gulp, either 640mb or 768mb! And again that will be regardless of resolution, even though the lower the rez you run at the less likely that might apply to you.

But if you get a 24" display running at 1920x or so, then you might want even a tad more vid ram than is recommended. Considering that games already have recommended 512mb vid ram, I just wouldn't feel comfortable with 512mb with my 1680x display let alone 1920x, regardless of the fact that DDR5 if faster ram.
I also like to play everything with 16xAF & 8xAA at minumum, which sucks memory like crazy. If you don't use high amounts of either than it again becomes less of an issue, but who doesn't like tons of AF & AA!

Anyhow, having said all of that, if you do stick with you 1280x rez, then perhaps the best option of all would be a 9800GTX and still save $50 or more over a 4870. I think that alone would max out any game at that rez. However, I'd only recommend that if you definitely don't plan to upgrade your monitor. And if you want to be safe and do have the full $300 you want to spend, and again stick with the 1280x rez, then the 4870 is likely the best choice unless you find a really killer deal on the 260.
July 12, 2008 3:37:27 PM

I'll chime in with a recommendation for a 4870 as well. Yes, you could get a 4850 or some other lessor card, but I believe in getting the best that a person can afford, figuring that such purchase will last the longest before it needs to be replaced because its too slow. Besides, if you eventually get a bigger monitor, the 4870 will work fine without being too small.
July 12, 2008 3:54:38 PM

Wait for 4870x2
July 12, 2008 4:15:50 PM

Ya, 4870 is the way to go now and it'll also give you some leeway should you decide to upgrade your monitor to a 24'' display.
a b U Graphics card
July 12, 2008 5:29:58 PM

The 4870. As we saw with the 2xxx series and the 3xxx series, in a few instances when these cards were released, they showed very well. As time went on, the drivers improved these cards in many games. Since we know that the 4870 can even be on par with the G280 in a game or two, I suspect we will see great gains in driver improvements on the 4xxx series as well
July 13, 2008 12:04:13 AM

Wow thank you for the wonderful responses! Especially ROBX46 and fatcat. I think I will get the 4870, since everybody here recommends it. I'll just get a monitor next year.

I really appreciate your responses. Thanks guys!!
July 14, 2008 1:23:39 AM

I just installed my new 4870 last week. It greatly increased the temps of the Mobo and Ram, the thing heats up because it uses alot of Power! Nice thing about it is you can manually increase the fan on it via the Software provided and an easy to find edit in the profile. It comes with adapters from Molex to 6 pin so you dont really have to have 2 6 pin connectors available for the card if you have an extra 4 unused 4 pin molex connectors available. Im happy with the card, but it was a huge step up from a 4 year old card so anything would have been amazing compared to my old card.