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AGP4x/8x compatibility - final answer!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 7, 2011 9:39:37 AM

I've read everything from "all 8x are compatible with 4x slots" to a number of complex voltage-related replies to "it depends" with no further information upon what it depends! I'm really hoping someone can give me a final answer related to this particualr set-up. It's for a 2003 PC so stuff is going to be OLD! I want a card capable of supporting pixel shading, which the current card is not. I'd idealy like suggestions for minimum spec that will be usable and a more recommended spec. The bottom line aim is to play The Sims 3 on this machine if possible - it meets the other minimum specs - just. Not bothered if it's low res, all graphics settings are on low, just that it runs at a playable speed, not a complete slideshow.

Looking for immediate purchase, budget... I don't know, it depends if it's a dead cert or a punt. Nothing over £100 GBP ($130 ish at current exchange plus comparisons of local market prices). I believe all of this information goes with the current card - I haven't really looked into the old one as much as possible replacements, appears current model is NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX440 128MB, but bottom line is that card doesn't support pixel shading, so I don't mind if it's "not as good" but will support shading. Power currently 250W.

It's for a HP XENON4 GL6E S.478 P4 MOTHERBOARD, which I believe goes by other names when not sold by HP, here's its diagram

Running XP Home with 1GB RAM (probably max for this board, some places show it will take 2, but info is variable). Other info I'm not so sure about but the base machine is an HP Pavilion t190.uk and besides the extra RAM and an additional PCI wireless card it's as purchased and unmodified. I want to be able to buy this in the UK, but I can hunt down suppliers if you can confirm compatibility. Resolution not a big deal

Three suggestions I have rooted out which *may* be compatible and it would be helpful if you could confirm or deny compatibility with this setup because then there's no need to go hunting and I know I can buy them:

PNY NVIDIA GeForce 6200 512MB AGP (not sure if "small box" is part of its description or just useful information for deliveries that it will go through your door!)
Asus Radeon HD 3450 512MB AGP
Gigabyte GeForce 6200 256MB, AGP

I'd love to be able to move forward from "AGP 8x is usually OK, it depends" to "This card seems like it will work in your computer". Thanks for any help you can give to move this forward.
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 10:07:30 AM

AFP is set for if it fits it will work. There are a couple of odd possible cases, but to my knowledge no one ever made a card that would only work in 8x. If you have a 4x or 8x board, an 8x card should work. The best AGP card that I know of is the 4650. I hear that higher levels of OpenGL don't work on these cards, so if you want to play games that use OpenGL don't bother with it. Other good cards include the 3650 (or was it the 2600?), and 7600GS. Be careful buying the x8xx cards. They only support SM2, and can't run games that require SM3. (bioshock was the first game that pointed out this problem.)
a b U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 10:52:32 AM

AGP 4x slots accept AGP 8x cards and vice versa (they are both 1.5 volts). Also you won't see any loss in performance (running 8x card in a 4x slot) unless you use a Nvidia Quadro card which benefit using 8x slot.
Related resources
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 11:01:25 AM

A clarification, that's the signaling voltage. The card runs on 12V power like modern cards. It communicates with the board via its signaling voltage. 3.0v for 2x, 1.5v for 4x, and .8v for 8x. An 8x card should use .8v, unless its in a 4x board then it will use 1.5.
a b U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 11:29:26 AM

Yes but it's still refereed to as a 1.5v slot, how much power it draws is dependent on the card and not the slot.
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 11:40:19 AM

Can you show me a link? As I said 8x should be .8, not 1.5.

I've forgot to tell you twice now the strongest card you listed is the 3650. The 6200 is REALLY slow.
a b U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 12:14:37 PM

I'll look, got info from book: Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 19th Edition By Scott William Mueller. I have a few AGP Mac Pros (G3) in storage.

For OP; which ever card you choose make sure your PSU can handle it. The 3650 needs the two 12v 4pin power plugs.
a b U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 12:20:22 PM

4745454b said:
Can you show me a link? As I said 8x should be .8, not 1.5.

I've forgot to tell you twice now the strongest card you listed is the 3650. The 6200 is REALLY slow.

Sounds logical. just like memory DDR through DDR3 required voltage drops.
a c 130 U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 12:23:11 PM

The signaling/key is dictated by the slot.
Quote:
1.5v for 4x, and .8v for 8x. An 8x card should use .8v, unless its in a 4x board then it will use 1.5.

Is correct.
The usage is backwards comparable not forward so this
Quote:
Yes but it's still refereed to as a 1.5v slot, how much power it draws is dependent on the card and not the slot.

Is wrong. Its the Slot that determines the key and not the card. The quote suggests that a 0.8 card would use 0.8 in a 1.5 slot when it would in fact use the native 1.5 of the slot.

Mactronix :) 
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 1:11:19 PM

I guess both could be correct. Technically speaking there is no physical difference between the 4x and 8x slot. The key would be in the same place. I do feel its wrong to call an 8x "slot" 1.5v seeing as the signaling voltage would be .8v.
a b U Graphics card
July 7, 2011 1:25:58 PM

mactronix said:
The signaling/key is dictated by the slot.
Quote:
1.5v for 4x, and .8v for 8x. An 8x card should use .8v, unless its in a 4x board then it will use 1.5.

Is correct.
The usage is backwards comparable not forward so this
Quote:
Yes but it's still refereed to as a 1.5v slot, how much power it draws is dependent on the card and not the slot.

Is wrong. Its the Slot that determines the key and not the card. The quote suggests that a 0.8 card would use 0.8 in a 1.5 slot when it would in fact use the native 1.5 of the slot.

Mactronix :) 

Read this thread; http://www.techimo.com/forum/motherboards/196211-how-te...
and than this; http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/agpcompatibility.htm...
and this; http://www.interfacebus.com/Design_Connector_AGP.html
There seems to be alot of conflicting information.

Edit; I suggest we stick to OP's question. Regardless of 8x cards signaling voltage, bottom line is it will work in his 4x slot.
July 9, 2011 3:28:03 PM

Thanks for the info, couple of things to follow up then, as someone who really isn't a gamer (I've played a grand total of 3 games in my life!) what am I looking for on a game to know if it needs SM3 or OpenGL? It's not something I've ever seen on the system spec, only things like RAM, OS, Directx, etc. Where do I know if games need these things?

The other thing was about the PSU, I've never done anything with PSUs at all, what am I looking at exactly to see if it has "the two 12v 4pin power plugs"?

Basically I've only owned "off the peg" consumer machines until now so when it's come to replacing either motherboards or PSUs I've just replaced the whole thing because more involved updates tend to turn out a total pain. Having also been stuck with mostly laptops I'm new to looking inside computers in any meaningful way.
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 9, 2011 4:31:31 PM

It SHOULD say in the requirements. I mentioned bioshock earlier, lets look at that. Here is where they say it directly.

http://www.direct2drive.com/2/4645/product/Buy-BioShock...

Quote:
BioShock Download Minimum System Requirements

Windows XP (SP2) or Windows Vista
2.5GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent
1.0 GB RAM
Pixel Shader 3.0 compliant video card with 128 MB RAM and floating point frame buffer blending
100% DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
7.0 GB free hard disk space
DirectX 9.0c or DirectX 10


Notice it says SM3. Here is where its listed, but you have to know what to look for.

http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/67708/

Quote:
CPU: Pentium 4 2.4GHz Single Core processor
System RAM: 1GB
Video Card: Direct X 9.0c compliant video card with 128MB RAM (NVIDIA 6600 or better/ATI X1300 or better, excluding ATI X1550).
Sound Card: 100% direct X 9.0c compatible sound card
Hard disc space: 8GB free space
Recommended System Requirements:


It doesn't say SM3, but it lists only SM3 cards. It also correctly points out the one x1xxx card that doesn't support SM3. (I don't think the onboard x1200 "cards" support it either, but then that number is below the x1300.) This lead to some confusion when the game was released because the x800 or x850 is faster then the x1300, but lacks SM3 support. In short, if your not sure, thats why these forums exist.

As for the plugs, you just open the case and look. What you need is up to two of these free. Its the middle plug, or the larger one on the left.

http://www.gttkc.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_i...

You can buy splitters to get you more plugs, but we'd need to know what card and PSU you have to know if its safe.
July 9, 2011 4:57:13 PM

4745454b said:
It SHOULD say in the requirements. I mentioned bioshock earlier, lets look at that. Here is where they say it directly.

http://www.direct2drive.com/2/4645/product/Buy-BioShock...

Quote:
BioShock Download Minimum System Requirements

Windows XP (SP2) or Windows Vista
2.5GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent
1.0 GB RAM
Pixel Shader 3.0 compliant video card with 128 MB RAM and floating point frame buffer blending
100% DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
7.0 GB free hard disk space
DirectX 9.0c or DirectX 10


Notice it says SM3.


Am I missing something? As far as I can see it specifically does not say anything about SM3 - I read it a lot and I even used the search function to see if there was some way I was managing not to see it. :??: 
a c 130 U Graphics card
July 9, 2011 9:20:46 PM

RoseRodent said:
Am I missing something? As far as I can see it specifically does not say anything about SM3 - I read it a lot and I even used the search function to see if there was some way I was managing not to see it. :??: 



Thats because it dosent, what it does say is pixel shader 3.0 compliant. Pixel shader 3.0 = Shader model 3 or SM3.
As you are mainly interested in playing the sims 3 at least thats what your opening post seemed to imply to me,then i suggest you cross referance AGP cards that are available with the supported cards for that game.

Windows Supported Video Cards

NVIDIA GeForce series

FX 5900, FX 5950
6200, 6500, 6600, 6800
7200, 7300, 7600, 7800, 7900, 7950
8400, 8500, 8600, 8800
9300, 9400, 9500, 9600, 9800
G100, GT 120, GT 130, GTS 150
GTS 250, GTX 260, GTX 280, GTX 285, GTX 295

ATI Radeon™ series

9500, 9600, 9800
X300, X600, X700, X800, X850
X1300, X1600, X1800, X1900, X1950
2400, 2600, 2900
3450, 3650, 3850, 3870
4850, 4870

Sims 3 is SM2 by the way so if that is basically all you are worried about, and trust me i know thats feasable, i had to spec a whole system around being able to play the Sims 2 years ago for the wife, then dont worry about SM3 if you may want to play newer titles then its basically a requirement i would say, but if not then its not goping to be an issue.

I dont think anyone can say 100% for sure what will and wont work as its down to teh board being compatable. generally the newer the card the greater the risk of it not working i would say.

Mactronix :) 


July 16, 2011 7:16:57 AM

Thanks, didn't spot that. My husband may want to play a few different games, but then those may be outside the spec of the other components so I think we'll stick with just making it play Sims 3 and be done with it. I'll come back and let you know if we make it work in our price range.
July 18, 2011 5:51:12 PM

OK, new update, I don't have anything left over from the power supply unless you count one 4-pin plug which is lined up for fitting a second HDD in there. It probably wouldn't reach even if it was any good for the job. I doubt that extensions and splitters and all is a sensible idea because it's only a 250W supply and given it came as a complete PC I suspect they will have fitted the lowest one capable of doing the job. Are there any cards in those listed where you definitely don't need spare power plugs? I will be looking to play with my next PC project, but this one is not a project, this is a "minimal investment of time and money to make it work" situation, I don't want to start replaciing PSUs and all that stuff just for the off-chance it might produce a playable game. Particularly interested if you think the Asus Radeon HD 3450 512MB AGP will require any additional power plugs since that is one I can definitely get hold of.

Thanks!
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 18, 2011 6:07:13 PM

That card doesn't need any additional power. If you can easily get it then do so. It's not a gaming card, but as you said this is a "minimal investment of time and money to make it work".
July 20, 2011 7:46:25 AM

Thanks, 3450 it is and fingers crossed. Thanks for putting up with me - I'll be back when I get onto my project PC. Start running now!! :lol: 
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 20, 2011 11:40:15 AM

Let us know how the 3450 turns out.
July 28, 2011 8:15:39 PM

I knew this would throw up more questions than it did answers!

I received the 3450 and the short version is that it works. The long version is, it did need a power plug in it. That wasn't a total dealbreaker because it does fit the one plug I had left over, but I had to take another PCI card out to make it fit because in all my research on the size of the card, nobody mentioned there would be a power plug right there on the underside in the way, the picture in the manual even shows it elsewhere! Just shows no matter how carefully you read everything there's always a curve ball.

So at the moment because the power cable is too short I've had to take the HDD out of its mounting to make the cable reach to test it all. It's still on the mounting bracket but the bracket is no longer fixed down to the case. I don't want to play with it too much while it's like this, I don't want to melt anything.

Which brings me round the long way back to my next question which is if I buy a molex splitter rather than a molex extension but I don't actually plug anything extra into it, does that matter from a power point of view? It's just that a splitter can be had for less than half the price of the extension so I'd rather buy the splitter and only use one side of it, but not if that's going to divide the power to the empty side. The splitter is also shorter, I only need about 8cm of additional play in the cable and extensions are like 42cm long! Did that make any sense at all?
a c 171 U Graphics card
July 29, 2011 1:11:44 AM

Quote:
if I buy a molex splitter rather than a molex extension but I don't actually plug anything extra into it, does that matter from a power point of view?


Should be fine.
!