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Best card under $50 (flying under wife's radar)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 2, 2010 4:25:37 PM

Hi guys,

Is there a quick answer for the best card under $50? I am looking to upgrade because my fear is that my 6600GT wont support an 1080p monitor (which i am also purchasing). I would like to buy something cheap that won't get me in trouble with my wife (ie. she doesnt know). I have been out of the pc build community for a while so I've lost touch on what is good. I do some gaming but nothing major.

Or is there something else i should be upgrading before vid card?

my setup:

3200 amd
OCZ 550
1 gb ram
Neo4 platinum nforce4 ultra (w/ pci-e x16...will this work with pci-e 2.0 card?)
6600gt

Thanks for the help!

More about : card flying wife radar

a c 197 U Graphics card
February 2, 2010 4:45:10 PM

Your single-core S939 CPU is going to hold you back no matter what you get. For modern games at 1920x1080, you're probably looking at a complete rebuild.
What resolution have you been using, and what games?
That said, you can probably pick up a HD4650 for around that amount, and see some improvement. Yes, a PCIE 2.0 card will work in a 1.0 slot. Unfortunately, if you decide to rebuild, the HD4650 isn't something you'd want to keep. If you can get your wife to accept a $500-$600 budget, you can build something a lot nicer. Let us know.
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February 2, 2010 5:11:58 PM

thank you...very helpful.

i actually dont expect to game at that resolution...i mostly play the <2006 titles (HL2, RBR, BF2) anyway... but i wanted to be sure that I wouldnt sputter when playing movies at that res...?
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a c 197 U Graphics card
February 2, 2010 8:59:45 PM

I'm not sure about movies, but I think you might have problems there too. I'm not certain, since the HD4650 (or even a HD4350) offloads some of the decoding from the CPU.
A HD4350 should be < $40 now. For games though, it is no better than your 6600GT.
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a c 106 U Graphics card
February 2, 2010 9:14:01 PM

The 4650 would be best. It's main disadvantage is it's slow RAM (DDR2). The faster GDDR3 of a 9500GT would allow it to pass a 4650 with DDR2 in many cases, especially where the 4650 is limited by bandwidth, but of course the 9500GT with GDDR3 s running a bit higher in the price range.
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a b U Graphics card
February 2, 2010 9:22:28 PM

Definitely the 4650 for that price range.

Better option is to build a new system and tell the wife to EABOD. You could put together an acceptable gaming machine for the $300-$400 range if you go with an AMD triple-core CPU/motherboard combo deal.
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February 3, 2010 2:29:40 AM


Have it your way. Myself, I'd take a 128-bit DDR2 9500GT over a 4650 with 64-bit DDR2 any day. I'm not an nVidia fanboy; I run crossfired 4870's. If you look on the heirarchy chart, these two share adjoining lines when running DDR2, but my guess is that the 4650 was a 128-bit. 64-bit just isn't much room for data transfer.

Besides, the 9500GT is $20 cheaper.
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a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2010 2:51:02 AM

Your CPU and your 1G of ram will limit you from a nice HD experience as well.
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a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2010 3:03:34 AM

A 4650 or 9500GT are your best options in this price range.

Don't get a low-profile card unless you really have to--since they are just compressed versions of the same components. I don't have proof, but personally I think they are hotter and more likely to fail.
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a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2010 3:40:06 AM

mjam said:
Have it your way. Myself, I'd take a 128-bit DDR2 9500GT over a 4650 with 64-bit DDR2 any day. I'm not an nVidia fanboy; I run crossfired 4870's. If you look on the heirarchy chart, these two share adjoining lines when running DDR2, but my guess is that the 4650 was a 128-bit. 64-bit just isn't much room for data transfer. Besides, the 9500GT is $20 cheaper.


The 4650 with DDR2 is actually equal to a 9500GT with DDR3, and easily beats a 9500GT with DDR2.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,...
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February 4, 2010 11:35:06 AM

So with either of these cards will i experience a significant performance gain over my current setup? I want to get a new monitor but I am afraid that my 6600GT will hold me back from playing my old games (at a decent res) or using the entire monitor resolution when watching movies. I also use my PC for p90x videos (yes, i have workout tapes :)  ) and currently and it dogs when i switch between the video and excel.

this is the monitor i am looking at: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b U Graphics card
February 4, 2010 3:16:32 PM

As long as you aren't playing newer first-person shooters the 4650 should be able to handle that resolution just fine. I think its a good choice for a temporary card that you wont keep with your new system.



*Or if you randomly find some more money this is a great value at $68. :-)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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February 7, 2010 4:31:34 AM


I don't know if anyone is following this post anymore; I just happened to stumble upon it in my browser history.

In this thread I suggested a particular 9500GT video card that was on sale for $35 ($30 after MIR). I felt then, as I still do, it was the best value at the time. It has now gone back up to $50.

What disturbed me is the short-sightedness of some very well intentioned individuals. They were choosing to compare 4650's generically to 9500GTs generically. One must always practice due diligence when doing their research! These individuals kept providing links to the hierarchy chart (I am very well acquainted with it), and to the "best card for the money" articles, without paying attention to the fact that the card they were recommending was neither 128-bit nor DDR3 as recommended in the article. That's an apples and oranges comparison I was very careful to account for.

With the price on the 9500GT back up, I don't know that it now represents the "bargain of the day". Under the pricing constraints for the date I posted, I still stand by my assessment. There is the possibility that another card mentioned in the sub-$50 or $55 bracket that particular day might perform a bit better, but the difference wouldn't be noticeable (reference the hierarchy chart comments about adjoining levels, and make sure you have the cards correctly identified!).

The bottom line here is that people can too easily get hung up in numbers: amount of GDDR RAM without considering the type, model number of the card without considering the memory interface, etc. The "Best Graphics Card" article posted each month is an absolutely wonderful tool, but the devil is always in the details and it is only as useful as the attention you pay to it.
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