I'm planning on buying TESIV: Oblivion and my current video card just won't do. I'm looking to spend no more than $150 for a new card.
Here are some of my specs:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor
2046 MB RAM (though if I get Oblivion I think I'll double the RAM)
Radeon 9200 SE
Windows Vista Home Premium
300W Power Supply (I may put in a better one if necessary)
So what would be a good video card for my PC? I've looked at a few such as the EVGA GeForce 9500 and the BFG GeForce 9800 GTX. BTW both of those are PCI-E 2.0 even though I only searched for PCI-E.
I have a PCI-E port (I don't think it's PCI-E 2.0). I understand that a lot of cards are reverse compatible. Would there be any point in getting a PCI-E 2.0 card for my PC? Or should I just get a regular PCI-E card?
Would I need a higher power supply for a PCI-E card?
I've seen PCI-E cards and they seem quite large. Do I have enough space in my PC? (see below picture)
My PC has DDR2 RAM. Could I get a card that has DDR3?
This is mainly going to be for Oblivion. I'd like to play on the highest settings possible. The only other game I'm planning on buying is Starcraft II, though I may get a new PC by the time that it's released.
Your power supply will be a stumbling block, although youprobably could handle a ATI HD4850 or nVidia 9800GTX (at the most). And don't worry about what version PCI-e slot you have; unless you are running a dual-GPU card (like a 4870X20) version 1.0 has all the bandwidth you will need. (All new cards are v2.0, and backwards compatable anyway.)
A 9800GTX should be outstanding for the games you have listed, and nVidia has a LOT better driver support for new game titles as soon as they are released. Get an overclocked and/or extra memory version if you can afford it-shouldn't be a problem in your price range. Good luck, and have fun. (And buy a quality power supply soon-at least 600watts so you don't have to worry about it for a couple of years- I run a 700watt FortronSouce.)
Also, you have two slots open-that will be fine, as most new cards' coolers take up that much space. However, you will need room for at least a ten-inch long card. That's important because many performance cards are at least that long. If you don't have it, you can probably find a shorter ATI card, but not nVidia. Most nVidia are 10 inches standard, because they use the same design. If you need to, compare pictures (NewEgg.com is a great site to buy from) and read the user review sections there.
And make sure your new card comes with a 4-pin molex-to-PCIe adapter for your PSU (most of them do). You will probably need it.
The 9800GTX is like 4x faster than the 9500GT. Of course the thing is you would need a better PSU for any 9800 series card. If you don't want to upgrade your PSU, then just get a Radeon 4670 as that should be a pretty decent upgrade for you. Anything better will mean you need to, or at least should, get a new PSU to power it.
I should also point out that if you have a low CPU speed (like a 3800X2) then anything faster than a radeon 4670 would be pretty held back by your CPU.