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Best card for <$200

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 4, 2008 1:44:48 PM

It's been a year since I built my computer, so it's time to evaluate my system and upgrade. I currently have an EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 card, but it seems to leave a lot to be desired in newer games. For instance, I downloaded Tomb Raider Underworld Demo in hopes that I could play it at the highest settings, but not at all.
Here are the rest of my specs for my system:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz LGA 775 65W
Mother Board: GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 (rev. 1.3) LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX
Power Supply: FSP Group SAGA+ 450R 450W ATX12V
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel
OS: Windows Vista Business Edition 64-Bit
Monitor: Cheap oversized 19"
I will be overclocking the CPU to a nice stable 3.0GHz when I get home later today. The monitor is the next thing to upgrade as I want to use a 22" and the 19" (BTW, is that doable?). What video card would give me the best "bang for the buck" at under $200? I'd like a card that can do an SLI or Crossfire set up for when I upgrade my mother board and CPU in a year or so. I'm planning on keeping this computer for another 3 years with upgrades ~ every year.

More about : card 200

a b U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 1:47:57 PM

ati 4850 would be good

in terms or performance its faster than 9800gt,9800gtx

November 4, 2008 2:05:29 PM

+1 for ATI 4850
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November 4, 2008 2:07:02 PM

You can go another year on the 8800GTS, 19 inch 1280X1024 and the E4300 imo. Those are all good specs. even if they are not latest and greatest. Then next fall you can upgrade to an E8600 and a 4870 or 280 for a song (using same PSU). This will save you a few hundred $$$ with very little sacrafice on games or applications.
November 4, 2008 2:08:29 PM

Yea 4850 is a good card for that price. BTW the 4xxx series don't exactly overclock well. Some people hit a 2.8 GHz wall. I couldn't get my CPU running at 3.0 GHz without an overvoltage. No matter how high I put the voltage I couldn't get it to go over 3.01 GHz. This is with a Gigabyte EP35-DS3L board and an AC7 coooler with 580 watts of power and a single 8800 GT. So don't set your hopes too high.

If ya get 3.0 awesome, but be ready to settle at 2.8.
November 4, 2008 2:16:57 PM

I know for a fact that a 3.0GHz is possible as my co-worker has the same set up and has been running it for close to 4 months now.

Do you think that the result of my test yesterday was because my 1.8GHz CPU is limiting the power of the video card?

Also, what manufacturer is the best for the HD4850? 512MB or 1Gig?
a c 193 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 2:22:57 PM

I hope your total budget is not $200. Check the label on your PSU;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowImage.aspx?CurImage=1.... You'll see that it is 450W peak, but only 400W continuous. That is probably not quite enough for a 4850, particularly in an overclocked system. You'll be running your PSU near its capacity, particularly when you include capacitor aging. You'll probably want to get a decent 500W PSU to be safe.
November 4, 2008 2:23:36 PM

I found some 4850s with 1 gig in the $199 range. The added memory will help a lot for screens 1680+ or with AA. You can CF the 4850 1 gig, but I think you will need another 1 gig card (4870 or 4850).
The GIGABYTE GA-965P has only one 16x PCIe slot and your PSU isn't big enough for 2 high-end video cards. So, you will need a x38 or p45 chipset and a different PSU for effictive CF.

1 gig IS more future-proof and the 4850 is a great card. You just need one 6-pin PCIe power plug. Your PSU has this if you don't CF & O.C..
November 4, 2008 2:30:55 PM

check the 9800 GTx
a c 193 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 2:37:48 PM

FWIW, based on assumptions as to number of fans and drives, I got 379W on the PSU calculator; yes, you could do it, but possibly not for long. I'm not sure the SAGA line of FSP is as good as some of their others, but I can't get to some of the review sites at work.
I used a SAGA PSU a year and a half ago, and it did not seem able to hold up its end of the log, rebooting its host PC. The problem was resolved with a slightly beefier PSU. That's when I discovered that those particular FSPs were listing PEAK rather than continuous output.
November 4, 2008 2:38:05 PM

enewmen said:
I found some 4850s with 1 gig in the $199 range. The added memory will help a lot for screens 1680+ or with AA. You can CF the 4850 1 gig, but I think you will need another 1 gig card (4870 or 4850).
The GIGABYTE GA-965P has only one 16x PCIe slot and your PSU isn't big enough for 2 high-end video cards. So, you will need a x38 or p45 chipset and a different PSU for effictive CF.

1 gig IS more future-proof and the 4850 is a great card. You just need one 6-pin PCIe power plug. Your PSU has this if you don't CF & O.C..


I am planning on upgrading my mother board in about a year or so to a newer gigabyte one with 2 PCI-e 2.0 slots and at the same time upgrade my CPU and power supply and if the price is right add another video card and run an SLI or Crossfire set up. With that in mind, is the 1Gig card better for the future? If I should upgrade my power supply now, what watt should I get to be good even with the future proposed new mother board, CPU and another card are thrown into the mix?
November 4, 2008 2:55:22 PM

daswede1127 said:
I am planning on upgrading my mother board in about a year or so to a newer gigabyte one with 2 PCI-e 2.0 slots and at the same time upgrade my CPU and power supply and if the price is right add another video card and run an SLI or Crossfire set up. With that in mind, is the 1Gig card better for the future? If I should upgrade my power supply now, what watt should I get to be good even with the future proposed new mother board, CPU and another card are thrown into the mix?

It doesn't make sense to buy a PSU now and another one in 1-2 years. A good PSU will last much more than a few years. So just get a good PSU now then you don't need to upgrade it.
The 1 gig cards are better for high-res and AA (like I said before), they are also good with newer games that have lots of textures (like Crysis and Far Cry 2). So, newer releases will keep using more video-RAM.
Here is a link that shows the 1 gig 4870 running nearly twice as fast as the 512 meg version. http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,662238/Reviews/PCGH_Review_Radeon_HD_4870_with_1024_MiByte_vs_512_MiByte_VRAM/?page=6
For the PSU: If you want to O.C. AND get 2 high-end video cards, you're looking at least 750+ watts. (maybe a 650+w of a super premium brand). So, don't take this lightly.
The good news is high-power, high quaility PSUs also deliver a more stable voltage. This will put less stress on the PC components. You also draw only the power you use. So you will not be sucking 750 watts from your house if you're just playing Card Game. (Only draw what you use).

I personally have a C2D OC and a (single) 4870 1 gig using a SeaSonic 700w PSU.
a c 193 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 2:55:45 PM

A quality 650W-750W PSU will be sufficient. Corsair, OCZ, Antec, PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, and Enermax are good brands.
November 4, 2008 3:02:51 PM

Well, I suggest you stick with your 8800 for now, although that limited RAM will slow you down if you play at higher resolutions.

If you want to see what the best videocard is for the money, check this link http://rpgfeed.blogspot.com/2008/10/best-video-cards-for-money-updated-as.html

According to the site, the best card would be a GeForce 9800 GTX+.

I have a 4850 and love it, but I also agree that the 9800 GTX+ is the better, although more expensive card.

November 4, 2008 3:13:24 PM

daswede1127 said:
I know for a fact that a 3.0GHz is possible as my co-worker has the same set up and has been running it for close to 4 months now.


It's not a matter of what is POSSIBLE... it's a matter of what is practical and realistic.
November 4, 2008 3:19:00 PM

Honestly I don't see the 9800+ beating the 4850 much these days. In recent benchmarks the 4850 even wins in crysis which we all know is very optimized for nvidia. Overclocking is hit and miss on both sides. I've seen 4850 that can clock up to 750 on the core, or as low as 675. Seen 9800+ cards that can only do 792 when even some nonplus 9800 cards can beat that at 830-840.

As for power, there's only a 6 watt difference between your 8800 and the 4850 so it shouldn't be an issue.
a b U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 3:44:33 PM

Have to agree with jtt286 on PSU
I have the 4870 (512) and when running GPU at ot close to 100 my system draws approx 310 Watts which is a little close for comfort for that PSU. Not sure how much less the 4850 is.

also the 4870's (on sale are only about $20 above your <200). I paid 225 for my powercolor 470.
November 4, 2008 3:54:46 PM

Ok, so I have narrowed it down to these 3 cards:
SAPPHIRE 100258-1GL Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS EAH4850/HTDI/1G Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
POWERCOLOR AX4850 1GBD3-PPH Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Names aside, ASUS and Sapphire have a core clock of 625 and the Power Color has a core clock of 665, but the ASUS and Sapphire have a memory clock of 1986MHz and the Power Color has a memory clock of 1900. So which one of the 3 is better?
November 4, 2008 4:06:48 PM

Budget for a PCPower Silencer 610watt PSU along with the video card.
a c 193 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 4:25:21 PM

RaidMax PSUs are poopy. OCZ did a video not along ago for an ad showing four (4) RaidMax "500W" PSUs violently blowing chunks when loaded to a mere 350W.

Edit: The one you've linked doesn't even have Active PFC, a sure sign of a cheap, inefficient PSU.
a c 106 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 4:26:52 PM

^ Just say no to Raidmax PSUs

Sure, generally those PSUs are o.k, if they came with the case and you aren't using too much power, but spending money on a seperate Raidmax PSU does not make any sense when you can get something so much better for a few more dollars. If you like to see your computer burst into flames then go ahead and get a Raidmax PSU, or some other crappy PSU.

As for the video card go with a Radeon 4850 1GB and be happy.
a c 193 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 4:32:57 PM

#1 and #3 that sentenced83 linked are good. #2, a Rosewill, is likely not much better than RaidMax. Jonnyguru reviewed a [different] Rosewill PSU and was surprised it passed all their tests. In general the brand is crap.
November 4, 2008 4:44:01 PM

lol i know , i chose it coz my friend had it and its working well and looks amazing , i got teh corsair one (3rd) but still didnt get it .. i got it for the gtx 260 Sc
November 4, 2008 4:45:32 PM

Imagine that I am powering an OC CPU and 2 HD4850 1Gig cards... would this power supply be adequate?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It's an OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI 700W ATX12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply... and it's also a GREAT price at $59.99 after rebates.
a c 193 U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 4:55:40 PM

OCZ is a good brand. That one should be fine.
November 4, 2008 4:59:02 PM

daswede1127 said:
Ok, so I have narrowed it down to these 3 cards:
SAPPHIRE 100258-1GL Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS EAH4850/HTDI/1G Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
POWERCOLOR AX4850 1GBD3-PPH Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Names aside, ASUS and Sapphire have a core clock of 625 and the Power Color has a core clock of 665, but the ASUS and Sapphire have a memory clock of 1986MHz and the Power Color has a memory clock of 1900. So which one of the 3 is better?


Then it's pretty much settled on the PSU, but what about the above question?
November 4, 2008 4:59:02 PM

ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO!!!!!!!

man i miss that guy....lol sorry for the random post.
November 4, 2008 4:59:36 PM

core clock is better than mem clock.
a b U Graphics card
November 4, 2008 5:06:33 PM

ATI Radeon HD 4850 System Requirements

450 Watt or greater power supply with 75 Watt 6-pin PCI Express® power connector recommended (550 Watt and two 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX™ technology in dual mode)
Certified power supplies are recommended. Refer to http://ati.amd.com/certifiedPSU for a list of Certified products.
November 4, 2008 5:31:43 PM

So is the power supply I'm looking at not usable for the card I'm looking at? It might not be certified, but does it still work?
November 4, 2008 6:19:14 PM

I just got a Sapphire 4870 for 192$ shipped with a free 8gb thumbdrive from the egg. It just came today,can't wait to install it.
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2008 11:28:58 AM

Yes, that power supply will be fine.
November 6, 2008 1:41:56 AM

i was wondering if 550watts is sufficient for an 4780?? i recently build a pc with an Corsair 550w
November 6, 2008 6:45:48 AM

I think you mean a 4870.
This has 2 PCIe plugs, but no room for much else.
All depends on how high-end you want to go.
November 6, 2008 10:51:00 PM

with e8400 cpu and 2 hdd, the hd 4870 would run fine? so u r saying it should e ok? right
a b U Graphics card
November 7, 2008 10:44:22 AM

Yes, the 550W or a 500W should be fine.
!