I'm a novice builder, I have a few very basic questions regarding graphics cards:
Can someone explain me why there are still AGP cards on the market if PCI-express is much faster?
The newest cards support PCI-ex 2.0, it doubles the transfer rate? Are all motherboards/chipsets supporting it?
Why not until now? I read somewhere that 2.0 has been around for almost two years and 3.0 is arriving soon?
AGP graphic cards are still being manufactured for people who have older systems and don't need to upgrade their CPU. My S939 AMD X2 4800+ will still run any game on the market with the possible exceptions of Supreme Commander and Microsoft FSX (it does run Crysis though). Also, not everyone is a gamer. Some people just need a graphics card so they can hook up a second monitor
A (newer) motherboard will have either a PCI-E 1.0 or a PCI-E 2.0 graphic card slot(s). You can use a PCI-E 2.0 graphics card in a PCI-E 1.0 motherboard slot (I believe). You can use a PCI-E 1.0 graphics card in a PCI-E 2.0 motherboard slot.
Yes, PCI-E 2.0 does double the transfer rate, but few cards (if any) have reached the limitations of PCI-E 1.0. I don't believe PCI-E 2.0 has been available to consumers for more than a few of months and I view PCI-E 3.0 like I view DDR3 RAM; completely unnecessary at this point in time.
First, PCI-express is denoted as PCI-e, not PCI-ex. Some people may get confused if you say that; PCI-e is used to generally refer to PCI Express, whereas PCI-x generally refers to PCI Extended, a version of PCI ports with an extended bus.
AGP cards are still around for those people who don't have the cash to upgrade their entire system to PCI-e, but still want to game better than the cards they have currently. For instance, on my desktop now I have an HD 2600XT AGP, which allows me to play Crysis and COD4, whereas the card I had before (before my x1650xt upgrade), a radeon 9600XT, would not.
You're right, PCI-e 2.0 doubles the transfer rate. I'm pretty sure that every new chipset supports PCI-e 2.0, except in niche markets that don't require it. Overall, there really isn't much of an improvement (correct me if I'm wrong) between the two - kind of like DDR2 versus DDR3 performance...little increase. 3.0 is on it's way, yes...and I doubt anything radical will happen with it. The interface is (at this time) a lot more advanced than the cards themselves - the cards have to play catch up.
Even when PCI-e first debuted, top AGP cards couldn't fill up the AGP bus. PCI-e cards were doing the same until a little while ago.
Yep. I think it's only this last generation of cards, and maybe the 9800GX2 that actually might be limited slightly by PCI-e 1.0. PCI-e 2.0 is on its way to becoming the norm, but it won't be used fully for another two years at least (Opinion). So....PCI-e 3 is useless for quite awhile.
Oh! And with PCI-e 1 & 2, cards are completely interchangeble. PCI-e cards run in a PCI-e slot, doesn't matter which generation for either.