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Can someone explain PCI-ex and AGP?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 30, 2008 10:50:30 PM

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?


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September 30, 2008 11:06:44 PM

AGP is for people with really old computers. Don't even worry about it.
a c 142 U Graphics card
September 30, 2008 11:08:47 PM

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.

Any way, that's my take on it.

-Wolf sends
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September 30, 2008 11:14:59 PM

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.
October 1, 2008 5:07:55 AM

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.
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