Upgrading my GPU

I recently signed up to a great online game called Eve Online. Unfortnately, only a few weeks after signing up, the did a major update of the game which has rendered my current GPU (ATI Radeon 9250 256mb AGP) obsolite. This is because the new minimum requirement for the game is now Shader Model 2.0, something my card isn't capable of. So if I want to return to this game that I've grown to love, I'll need to upgrade.

The question is, will upgrading my GPU be worth it? As you can probably tell by the fact I'm still on AGP, my system is quite behind the times, especially for gaming. However, I don't have the funds for a new system so it seems a GPU upgrade is my only option.

Here's my current system's spec...

P4 2.4GHZ - 533FSB
ATI Radeon 9250 256mb AGP

I'm looking at upgrading the GPU to an "ATI Radeon x1950 - 512mb or 256mb" or an "ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT AGP 256mb". What I'm really wondering is if I'll see much improvement in performance by going to one of these newer cards, or is my system really so old that no improvement of GPU power will actually improve overall performance of the machine.

Before this Shader Model 2.0 update, my computer ran eve okay most of the time, but suffered with low frame rates in the more processor intense parts of the game, such as fleet combat or during times where it was having to render "cloudy" or other complex objects and effects. I've been told that the new premium graphics engine makes more use of GPU power whereas the old classic one barely used GPU, so maybe I may see some improvement on that front as well. There are a few variables here so I'm aware it will be difficult for anyone to give any definitives, but if anyone has had experience upgrading the graphics of a system like mine to handle shader model 2.0 standard games, I'll be very grateful for your input.
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  1. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131141

    I threw that in my parent's P4 machine. Runs cool and I think it's the fastest AGP card you can buy.

    You will notice an improvement in games. SM2.0 is old technology so if your current card doesn't support it, you'll definitely see an improvement with a SM3 card like this one even with a 2.4GHz P4. I would also look in to upgrading your RAM to at least 1GB and maybe even going to 2GB, even if you're running XP.

    What is your budget? I suppose that should have been my first question ;)
  2. My budget is very low at the moment so I'm looking at getting a card second hand on Ebay.
  3. Sounds good. Then, any upgrade will help you out.
  4. Okay cool. Thanks for the advice. Will be nice to get more gaming life out of this machine.
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