I'm using a 7600GT Video Card after my 6800GT burned out. (Ew to both, I know) I am aware that in the long run it will save me money to just upgrade the entire computer to a PCIe motherboard etc. I will not be able to build a new PC for who knows how long, but I am able to upgrade just the video card so that it can at least run newer games on low settings.
I usually play CoD:BO, Dragon Age Origins, World of Warcraft, and Assassin's Creed. I know that WoW is much less graphically intense than the other three. My current card can manage WoW on slightly above lowest settings, and AC/DAO on lowest. But when I go to play any CoD game it's a no go. Please tell me what the the best gaming AGP cards are so I can keep my dinosaur alive just a little bit longer.
I kept an AGP based system going up until earlier this year for a friend.
ATI Radeon 3850 (AGP) is the best you can do for that interface.
However, if your processor is from the same era as the 6800GT (same as the original card in my friend's system, btw), it's probably going to be bottlenecking the card anyway, especially for something like WoW.
This is what my friend played: there was a noticeable difference from the 6800GT to the 3850, but in the end you still end up with mid-20s FPS in areas with a lot of people or NPCs, like cities or raids, even worse in the flying rock city. Still a good upgrade, especially if you don't raid too much since it really helps when you're off in 5 player dungeons or soloing (mid-50s FPS for my friend @ almost the highest settings, though that may not hold anymore, apparently the graphics have been updated recently, which is why I built a modern system for her).
You said it yourself, though: don't bother and just save for a full upgrade, the difference is like night and day.
I do raid on WoW, even on the 6800/7600. I just turn the settings down to as low as they go and I get moderate frames (20ish). When I'm out in a moderately populated zone I usually hang around 30 on Fair settings and 40-60 on lowest. (Shadows always off)
I already have a new computer ready to be bought/assembled once I get the $550 I need (I'm at $300 now). It is based around the 450GTS and will be amazing compared to what I am on now.
One more question I have is that when I try to play CoD: MW2 the textures in the game flicker no matter what resolution I play on. Sometimes they are empty black outlines that flicker in and out of their normal textures when i move. When I try to play CoD: BO it won't even load up to the main menu, I just get an error that throws me out, and one time my computer restarted itself. My Driver is updated, is this just because of the cards age?
That was basically her experience. To clarify, she raided with minimal settings and addons, and it rarely got better than mid-20s FPS in the larger size raids.
This was with a Pentium 4 3.2GHz, basically no upgrades for it except for the Extreme Edition (aka "Extremely Expensive"), so yeah it's not really the AGP that's holding you back, it's the processor (single core, right?).
Framerates where consistently above 40 outside of raiding/cities though, even on higher settings.
If you're already saving, that's great. But keep in mind that at this point AGP cards carry a scarcity premium, you'll be paying a lot more than they're worth simply because they're AGP, an uncommon interface (same reason 6 year old Pentium 4 EEs sell for hundreds of dollars, even though they're outclassed by recent $70 CPUs). You'll get MUCH higher performance from significantly cheaper PCI-E cards. (Though again, you'd probably benefit from a newer processor as much if not more than from a video card/ram.)
Her new PC was basically 250 dollars: sub $65 mobo, sub $75 dollar processor, 80 dollar GPU, sub $30 dollar RAM, sub $20 dollar sata optical drive, with parts scavenged from the old PC making up the rest (helped that it had a good quality 500w PSU), and it just floored wow on highest settings.
If you took away the 80 dollar GPU, using just the motherboard's onboard graphics, it still ran WoW @ 40ish FPS @ 1680x1050 (though at lowest settings except for medium low draw distance), and that would bring the system below $200. For comparison, the best AGP card you can get is likely to cost around $100.
If the texture issues only happen in that game, and you aren't seeing any other artifacts (outright screen corruption), yes, it's just the card showing its age. Cards that old weren't designed to run these games, and the games weren't designed to run on them. (Black Ops has higher requirements than MW, so it's probably just not going to happen.)