My video card just croaked (Radeon X850 Pro 256 Mb). Any saving suggestions or should I relinquish this to my daughters Hanna Montana game??? I am not running any cutting edge games on this particular machine, mostly games made circa 2005/2006.
I appreciate any suggestions on card replacement or other tweaks to keep this running. I am building top notch replacement system piece by piece but am not quite ready to make the switch if there is still a drop of usefulness in this old box. In a perfect world I would like to save as many of the components as practical for the kiddos box.
The top AGP gaming cards would be the HD 4670 and HD 3850. They run about $90-120, which nearly double what you would pay for a PCI-e equivalent. These cards would only be worth it for graphics intensive games and/or high resolution or FSAA. Your CPU should be fine for most 2005-2006 games, but then again will those games push these cards at your resolution? That's something to consider.
Now, below that it's getting harder to match the performance of your X850 pro. Most of the HD 3650's or X1650's have slow GDDR2 memory, and aren't that much cheaper than the HD3850. Drop below them, and you are really giving up performance compared to your X850 pro.
Do you have a spare AGP card that could get you by? Would you consider buying used? What PSU are you using? Personally I'd go for a $95 HD 3850, a used card, or pack it in for PCI-e system.
Look at this review and you'll see older single threaded games you could benefit from a 3850, but newer games, you CPU will hold you back. (A64 4000+ > P4 2.8E) Also the 8800GS and HD3850 are pretty similar level of performance, so look at those fps. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-gaming-bench...
Putting in a 3850 would be overkill as it would be severely limited by that weak CPU, not to mention that you would need a new PSU for it. If you're gonna get a used card on ebay then I would say that ideally you should go for a 7900 series GeForce card. The X1900 AGP cards are faster and better suited to today's shader heavy games, but they come with a crap load of driver issues . If your PSU has at least 17 AMPs on a single rail or 14A on dual rails then it should be fine for a 7900 or X1900 series card. If not, then you still need a new, or at least good used on ebay, PSU.