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Upgrading onboard Nvidia 6100 with >$130 budget

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June 5, 2010 11:35:22 PM

Hello,

For of all I"m new to Tom's hardware. I've been following a lot of threads on here and have been learning a LOT for questions people have asked. I got into computers after my parents had to pay GeekSquad $500 to get rid of viruses and a year later replace hdd and install OS. Currently I've built my own PC so I'm farily knowledgeable when it comes to pc hardware. However, recently I've been trying to learn more about video cards and they baffle me because there are SOOOO MANY models. Ex- for the 8800s there are GX2 GT and GS. And on top of that there are tons of other cards in the 8 series and now there is also the 9 series and the 2xx series..... AND then there's ATI..... IT seems to me that knowing video cards is harder than learning other pc hardware.

Well after my not so brief introduction I would like to ask a few specific questions.

1- Is there a trick to knowing which video cards is good?? or better?? I know that when it comes to video cards you get what you pay for...but sometimes $100 sometimes only pays for small gains due to diminishing returns in quality. So is there a better way to know besides looking at the price?

2- Very specific (2 questions a +b) -(i'm not sure if my specs will show on my sig but) I have an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.1ghz) that i bought when i first built my computer (about 2+/- years ago? ), 2gb KVR dual channel RAM 667mhz, and a Foxconn M61PMV mobo. Vista HP SP2. The mobo has nvidia 6100 (for some reason nvidia control panel says 6150SE) with 256mb dedicated memory and total available graphics memory 895mb.
a. what does all 895mb total graphics memory mean? It seems like a good bit yet I have to run WOW trial at low settings to get decent game play.
b. What graphics card would you recommend for this system with a budget of $0 - $130? lol I'm not a hardcore PC gamer as I have a ps3 but I would like to once in a while play some modern games on the PC if I so desire. I don't really need maxed out graphics just something that looks medium good. I would also, however, want to eventually add a blu ray player to my system and a new monitor to get a decent video quality. I also have read that HDCP capability is important if i want to play blu rays later on. Moreover, I have read that an athlon 64x2 @2.1ghs isn't that fast nowadays BUT i have also read that Nvidia's PureVideo technology is designed to take load off a CPU and thus make a weaker CPU seem stronger. I do not overclock as I do not know how to (it's on my To-Learn list) + i don't think my mobo will do a good job at overclocking as it cheap nor do i have a store preference as long as its the best price.

Please keep in mind that I do not have much money to spend on this as I am only a student, i love computers but i can't spend as
much money as I'd like to on them.

Thanks so much in advance

PS- I'm planning to buy within a month or two.
June 5, 2010 11:47:25 PM

Rolli,

That's one of the one's i was looking at! I was also looking at the 1GB DDR3 version of that same card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-Would the 1GB be better or would i just be wasting $20 due to the bottleneck effect?
-Also, do you know anything about Nvidia's PureVideo?
-I've also heard ATI is cheaper, is there an ATI equivalent to the 9800GT for a lower price?

I'm pretty sure my PSU can handle it, please correct me if this is not the case. It's an antec 500w earthwatts. This is it: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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June 6, 2010 12:01:20 AM

i started out just like you a few years ago. I agree graphics cards are the most complicated hardware device on any pc. Not only is it hard to figure out which one is good but also the features like shader model, CUDA, Eyefinity, etc.
I recommend getting the 1 GB 9800 gt if your new monitor plays at a resolution of 1280 X 1024 or more, but if you dont play games on high resolution then get the 512 MB one.
Also i checked your PSU and you should be able to run the graphics card since it has at least 30 amps on the 12 volt rail (the most important one).
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June 6, 2010 12:13:58 AM

I would look into the 5750 ($124.99-149.99 before rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
or the 5770 (149.99-219.99 before rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The reason why i would recommend these is because they are the newest set of ATI video cards to come out and are decently priced for their performance. They will also set you forward a little more if you wanted to upgrade the rest of your computer later on.

Here is Toms hierarchy chart that might help out a little more, if you haven't seen it already.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-gefor...
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June 6, 2010 12:34:12 AM

Woah the hierarchy chart is awesome. thanks! I hadn't seen it before. I immediately added it to my bookmarks. I have 2 more questions based on the chart:
1- At what point on that chart would you say "ahh this is a good card"? I've heard that Crysis is the mother of all games in terms of hardware requirements for running it. Starting with what card on that chart can Crysis be played at at medium settings?
2- I assume the Nvidia is side by side with it's ATI equivalent, right?

For the cards drinkingcola86 mentioned:
1-I think i could save up to get one of those BUT it would be a cheap brand. Is getting a cheap brand recommendable? For example, for the 5750s the PCI2.1 PowerColor brand is 124 while the PCI2.0 MSI is $144. PowerColor seems to have newer tech at a cheaper price...I'm afraid it's going to break sooner. or is this not the case?

2- Is directX 11 something that'll be big anytime soon? I've heard people STILL prefer directX 9.0 even though 11 is coming out or is out.

3- The interface for these are PCI 2.0 BUT i'm pretty sure my mobo has 1.0 (not 1.1) and I've heard that PCI 2.0 works well with 1.1 but not always with 1.0. My mobo manual says PCIe x 16. It does not indicate whether it's 1.1 or 1.0 so i assume it's 1.1. Will this be a problem when attempting to run a PCI2.1? or even a 2.0?

Gahh 5 questions lol sorry about all the questions I just love learning about these things but things that I've read online are so contradictory to these things. I've researched most of the things I've asked but I've never found a DEFINITE answer.
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a c 1408 U Graphics card
June 6, 2010 12:40:55 AM

iedgar10 said:
Rolli,

That's one of the one's i was looking at! I was also looking at the 1GB DDR3 version of that same card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-Would the 1GB be better or would i just be wasting $20 due to the bottleneck effect?
-Also, do you know anything about Nvidia's PureVideo?
-I've also heard ATI is cheaper, is there an ATI equivalent to the 9800GT for a lower price?

I'm pretty sure my PSU can handle it, please correct me if this is not the case. It's an antec 500w earthwatts. This is it: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your PSU is great and can handle it and some. That is a good deal on the 1GB card but cards in that performance range are on the brink of utilizing that size memory. They are not powerful enough to turn on eye candy (AA and AF) in newer games where more powerful cards benefit from the extra memory. If you go up a performance level to a HD4850, HD5750 or GTS250 definitely go with 1 GB but with the 9800GT just get the cheaper one.
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June 6, 2010 12:50:45 AM

Thanks! So it seems as though I would get either a 9800GT w/512 mb due to the small performance difference OR an HD 5750 if I decide to save up.

Can anyone help me with my other many questions? lol
"Woah the hierarchy chart is awesome. thanks! I hadn't seen it before. I immediately added it to my bookmarks. I have 2 more questions based on the chart:
1- At what point on that chart would you say "ahh this is a good card"? I've heard that Crysis is the mother of all games in terms of hardware requirements for running it. Starting with what card on that chart can Crysis be played at at medium settings?
2- I assume the Nvidia is side by side with it's ATI equivalent, right?

For the cards drinkingcola86 mentioned:
1-I think i could save up to get one of those BUT it would be a cheap brand. Is getting a cheap brand recommendable? For example, for the 5750s the PCI2.1 PowerColor brand is 124 while the PCI2.0 MSI is $144. PowerColor seems to have newer tech at a cheaper price...I'm afraid it's going to break sooner. or is this not the case?

2- Is directX 11 something that'll be big anytime soon? I've heard people STILL prefer directX 9.0 even though 11 is coming out or is out.

3- The interface for these are PCI 2.0 BUT i'm pretty sure my mobo has 1.0 (not 1.1) and I've heard that PCI 2.0 works well with 1.1 but not always with 1.0. My mobo manual says PCIe x 16. It does not indicate whether it's 1.1 or 1.0 so i assume it's 1.1. Will this be a problem when attempting to run a PCI2.1? or even a 2.0? "
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a c 1408 U Graphics card
June 6, 2010 1:27:04 AM

1.Gaming cards start about the level of HD4650 as a basic casual gaming card.
2. They have been swapping the lead through the years but ATI has the price/performance lead at the moment.
1a. I have had 2 power color cards in the past and they where no worse than others.
2a. DX11 is only supported by Win Vista and 7 it will add visual effects to games that support it but at the same time task the GPU more with loss in over all performance.
3a. The newer PCIe std is backwards compatible with the older std's there have though been people reporting issues with some 2.1 cards in 1.0 slots.
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June 6, 2010 5:01:04 PM

I've never had a issue with maker of the card and neither has some of my buddies that have been building computers longer than what i have been doing.

Here are some things to look at though:
XFX 5750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Has a double lifetime warranty. Which if your every worried about it or are looking to upgrade the warranty passes on to the next person who buys it. (makes a bigger selling point to the next)

Other companies that I will suggest is Sapphire, MSI, and XFX. I've had nothing but Sapphire in my computers for the last 2 that I've built and have had amazing success with them. Right now i have 2 Custom Liquid Cooled 4850's and most if not all games i can play on High to very high detail. I'm limited by my cpu mostly and for a game like Crisis your also going to be more limited on your cpu. Although playing at medium detail with a 5750 or if you save more 5770 you should be alive for a while now.
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June 6, 2010 10:30:13 PM

All this info is great! So now it's between the 9800GT or a 5750. It just depends on the price i find at the time I buy it. But it's most likely going to be the 5750 unless they happen to go up for some odd reason or I can't find one for $130 or less at that moment. The next issue would be my MOBO having PCIe 1.0. I'm going to upgrade that too but not within the next 6 months. So i guess the next question would be; Has anybody tried using these cards in a PCIe 1.0 slot? I know that 2.0 is supposed to be backwards compatible but it sometimes isn't according to Rolli59 and some other online sources. So any ideas on what to look for or what would cause the card not to work in a 1.0 slot?

Another quick question- I might be getting a monitor shortly after I my video card. Currecntly I have an old Sony SDM-S81. This one --->http://esupport.sony.com/US/perl/model-documents.pl?mdl... at its native resolution 1280x1024 (according to Nvidia control panel). It doesn't look bad nor does it have bad quality but I really want something that looks like the stuff you see at stores like when I walk into bestbuy I see the new monitors and they look crystal clear. BUT i've also read that some resoultions will make you get black bars when watching dvds. On my current monitor i use media center to watch movies and I have yet to play a movie that has black bars. But according to someone on a thread I read says that alot of movies are made in different resolutions and so it's almost impossible to get rid of those black bars without actually using a zoom feature on the player itself. Is this true? IF not then what would be a resoultion that would be a decent upgrade from what i have now? Also, based on the resolution upgrade, which of the two cards that I am considering be better, the 9800GT or the 5750 from ATI?

Thanks so much!
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June 7, 2010 3:11:10 AM

After doing a little more research, it appears as though the HD5750 has problems with my motherboard :/  http://forum.novatech.co.uk/showthread.php?t=18817
So it's out of question. The guy on the forum said he tested the HD4850 and the GTS 240. The GTS 240 seems unexistent after looking, there's only the GT240.

So now it's between the 9800GT, HD4850, and the GT240. Judging from Tom's Vid Card chart the 4850 leads, followed by the 9800GT and then the GT240. So it seems as though now it's between the 4850 and the 9800GT.
Does anyone have opinion on which is best, the HD4850 or the 9800GT?
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a c 1408 U Graphics card
June 7, 2010 3:16:38 AM

You got the performance order correct HD4850 the best followed by the 9800GT. Nvidia solution on level with the HD4850 is GTS250
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June 7, 2010 4:00:57 AM

rolli59 said:
You got the performance order correct HD4850 the best followed by the 9800GT. Nvidia solution on level with the HD4850 is GTS250


Thanks Rolli! I think I'm finally learning the card performance orders now.
Could you help me make a final decision?
I have selected 3 cards and my rationale behind choosing them.

1-
9800GT by Asus 512mb DDR3 = $76
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Put this one on the list because (assuming they'll really honor my MIR) it's only about $76 including shipping. It's the cheapest card i've seen that will do great with video playback and medium settings for games under $100.

2-
HD4850 by XFX 1GB DDR3 = $112
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Chose this one because it's higher up than the 9800GT and will probably give me a little better gaming performace.

3-
GTS 250 by ECS 512mb DDR3 = $112
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Nvidia version of the 4850. Gives less RAM so the ATI card above is probably a better buy.

Also, my athlon 64x2 will probably slow down my system and I most likely won't get a new mobo+cpu anytime soon. Maybe 6months from now. Given this, which would you buy?
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June 7, 2010 4:14:15 AM

There is one thing that I would base it on, which is your monitor resolution. If it is 1280 x1024 or lower save some money and get the 9800GT. If monitor resolution is higher (say 1680 x 1050) the HD4850 would be my choice.
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June 7, 2010 8:05:30 PM

I run xfire sapphire 4850 (512mb, liquid cooled) and have yet to ever have a problem with the card themselves. The only thing that i would warn about the 4850 is that if your going to overclock it at all, see if you can find one that has a dual slot on it and dumps the hot air out of the case(one of the big reasons why i went to Liquid cooling.)I would still go for the 4850 since you already plan on getting a new mobo+cpu and monitor

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The compatibility issue with the pcie 2.x to 1.x seems to have been fixed with the new drivers from both mobo companies and ati. I haven't seen a new post (newest i found was from February) and seems to see that most of these have been fixed.

I have a Hansg monitor that i've been using for about 3 years now that runs at 1680x1050 and have really enjoyed it. The black bars that people might be talking about are the formatting bars to show it in widescreen. Your computer might be setup to force full screen. I know with movies now to show the HD format (1080p) it forces the black bars to show at 1080p, usually a little off the top or bottom. So when looking for a monitor just make sure that the resolution that its running at is 1080p and you should be fine.

Hope this helps out.
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June 7, 2010 9:22:50 PM

drinkingcola86 said:
I
The compatibility issue with the pcie 2.x to 1.x seems to have been fixed with the new drivers from both mobo companies and ati. I haven't seen a new post (newest i found was from February) and seems to see that most of these have been fixed.

I have a Hansg monitor that i've been using for about 3 years now that runs at 1680x1050 and have really enjoyed it. The black bars that people might be talking about are the formatting bars to show it in widescreen..... So when looking for a monitor just make sure that the resolution that its running at is 1080p and you should be fine.


I thought that compatibility between 2.x and 1.x was hardware related and thus couldn't be fixed? Also the guy in the forum said that the issue was a 20second black screen before the bios would post and that sometimes the video would just not work. I thought a driver would help the hardware WHILE in the OS, not before. The issue seems to start before the OS starts. Am i incorrect in believing that drivers do NOT affect anything outside standard OS operation?

Thanks for the monitor info! A quick question, would 1680x1080 be the same thing as a monitor advertised to run at "1080p?" and a YYYY x 720 the same thing as a monitor running at "720p"?
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a c 1408 U Graphics card
June 7, 2010 9:35:25 PM


1080P is 1920x1080.
720p is 1280x720
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June 7, 2010 10:58:44 PM

iedgar10 said:
I thought that compatibility between 2.x and 1.x was hardware related and thus couldn't be fixed? Also the guy in the forum said that the issue was a 20second black screen before the bios would post and that sometimes the video would just not work. I thought a driver would help the hardware WHILE in the OS, not before. The issue seems to start before the OS starts. Am i incorrect in believing that drivers do NOT affect anything outside standard OS operation?

Thanks for the monitor info! A quick question, would 1680x1080 be the same thing as a monitor advertised to run at "1080p?" and a YYYY x 720 the same thing as a monitor running at "720p"?


What i had posted was what i was seeing based on other websites in a brief look and what it took to fix it in most situations was a mobo bios updated and then the new drivers installed. Thats just what i saw.

Yes from what you have understood about the monitors is true when it ends in the xxxx x 720 then yeah its a 720p and also with the xxxx x 1080 (or 1050 if the aspect ratio is 16:10) will produce a 1080P picture. My monitor is a 1680x1050 and when i watch a movie theres about a 1/2" to 3/4" black line to adjust back to the 16:9 ratio for a true 1080p picture.
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