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Complete newbie looking for a new graphics card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 19, 2003 7:15:41 PM

Hi - I'm a heavy computer gamer, and I seem to have terrible luck with graphics cards. Every time I get a new graphics card (which I'm always told is a fantastic piece of hardware BEFORE I buy it) I notice fairly little difference from the last card I was using, and then find out about a month down the road that the card is trashy, and I could have purchased a much better one for much less money.

Right now I'm considering buying a new graphics card for myself, and DEFINITELY want to get a new card for my girlfriend's computer. I'm using a GeForce FX 5200 (64mg) on my computer, a card I purchased over the summer for about $120 to be told on these very forums a few months later that I could have picked up something much nicer for much less. My girlfriend is currently packing a whopping GeForce 2 GTS (32 mgs), which can't even run her new Deus Ex: Invisible War game because it doesn't have a "pixel shader 1.1 or greater", whatever the heck that means.

I'd like to get a new AGP card that might work on either of our systems - it would be great to be able to just get 2 of the same card. I'm also planning on spending about $200 on a new motherboard and processor for my own computer soon, so I would prefer to not spend an absolute fortune...I would be reasonably happy if I could pay less than $100 on each card. A friend recently told me about a site called newegg.com that seems to have really great prices on most things - I'm hoping that I can get good prices from a website like that, and possibly not spend a fortune on new cards.

I really just want to have a couple video cards that can adequately run today's games, and possibly tomorrow's....I'm really, really tired of sinking money into a new video card over and over and over and then finding out that the card is trash, and won't run modern games.

Thank you all in advance for the wonderful help you provide on this forum to silly people like me ;) 

EDIT: Oh, and by the way...how important is RAM on a video card? I was told over and over and over on these forums to try getting a Radeon 9600 Pro, but that has half the RAM of my GeForce FX 5200.

Also, I have $200 to spend on upgrading my MB / CPU, another thing I'm beyond confused about...is the Mainboard forum an appropriate place to ask about those things?

Thanks again in advance =)<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Stormrider on 12/19/03 04:53 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
December 19, 2003 7:37:02 PM

For $100 or less, your best bet is a Geforce4 Ti 4200

Although for $130 or so you can find a Radeon 9600 PRO which is a fantastic card and has more advanced hardware

You can't lose with either, but if you plan to play new and upcoming games, the 9600 PRO is the way to go in the low price range.

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9500 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(hardmodded 9500, o/c 322/322)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>2600+</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 2400+ w/143Mhz fsb)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>4,055</b></font color=red>
December 19, 2003 7:59:10 PM

I'm also very interested in just how MUCH of a difference there would be between my current card and a Radeon 9600 or a Ti4200, which both seem to be the most common suggestions. Would I actually notice a visible increase in performance, and just how drastic would that difference be?

Thanks again =D
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December 19, 2003 8:14:16 PM

Quote:
<i>EDIT: Oh, and by the way...how important is RAM on a video card? I was told over and over and over on these forums to try getting a Radeon 9600 Pro, but that has half the RAM of my GeForce FX 5200.</i>

I'm curious where you got this idea. You said your 5200 has 64mb of ram where as a 9600 Pro has 128mb of ram so why do you say that a 9600 Pro has half what your card has when really its just the opposite? My guess would be that the 9600 Pro would increase your performance on the settings you'd likly use by maybe 40-60% on average.
December 19, 2003 8:26:16 PM

Oops...I must have mis-typed. My GeForce actually does have 128 megs of RAM - but whenever people have mentioned the 9600 to me in the past, they've said it was 64 megs. Of course, I haven't the foggies idea one way or the other =X
December 19, 2003 8:38:10 PM

Fairly close in most instances, especially in DirectX 7/8 titles.

The 9600 PRO would offer maybe 15% better performance with antialiassing & anistropic filtering enabled.

The 9600 PRO REALLY shines against the 4200 in DirectX 9 titles. Not only is the 4200 not directX 9 compliant in hardware, but the 9600 PRO's DirectX 9 shaders are very powerful. In future games like Half Life 2, the 9600 PRO will be, say, 200% faster.

As far as ram, 128 megs is what you want. 256 megs is usually slower RAM and will actually drop performance. No games out there are using more than a 128 meg texture set yet.


________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9500 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(hardmodded 9500, o/c 322/322)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>2600+</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 2400+ w/143Mhz fsb)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>4,055</b></font color=red>
December 19, 2003 10:50:27 PM

Quote:
In future games like Half Life 2, the 9600 PRO will be, say, 200% faster.

Nope.....the Ti4200 will run in DX8 mode in HL2 and will likely be just as fast as the 9600Pro(unless once again...AA/AF is used:) 


<b>I help because you suck.</b>
December 19, 2003 11:22:15 PM

I wouldn't even bother upgrading your 5200 if that's your budget. Save up and buy a better card.

_________________________________________
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December 20, 2003 3:17:14 AM

Well, it would be 200% faster, if the Ti4200 would run DX9.

Um, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9500 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(hardmodded 9500, o/c 322/322)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>2600+</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 2400+ w/143Mhz fsb)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>4,055</b></font color=red>
December 20, 2003 3:31:53 AM

Quote:
Well, it would be 200% faster, if the Ti4200 would run DX9.

But it <b>cant</b> run in DX9 mode :smile:


<b>I help because you suck.</b>
a b U Graphics card
December 20, 2003 3:49:21 AM

Ti4200 and 9600 Pro offer similar performance, the 9600 Pro offers more "eye candy" in DX9, allong with better AA and AF. If you don't use AA or AF and don't care about all those cool reflections and so forth DX9 has to offer, the Ti4200 is OK for you!

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December 20, 2003 2:01:21 PM

Thanks again for all the help =D If it wasn't for Tom's Hardware I would probably be buying computer parts from Staples =P

My GeForce FX 5200 actually is capable of running DX9...if I wasn't going to go for the R9600, would the Ti4200 actually be a step down?

Oh, and my CPU is an 800 mhz P3 that I plan on upgrading very soon, along with my old MB...I have no idea what my MB is, aside from the fact that I'm still using the old type of RAM (SDR). The main reason that my budget for a new graphics card is small is that I'm going to be dropping about $200 on the new MB, new RAM, and CPU. Whatever those happen to be...I asked for suggestions on those as well on the MB forums. I built my own computer, but that was basically a trial-and-error sort of thing. My knowledge of hardware is limited - I was given some suggestions for a new PC a while back, but it just looked like random numbers and letters to me =/

My main concern is that I don't want to spend $200 on a new MB/CPU/RAM, and then spend $100+ on a new graphics card, and not even notice a difference in performance.

If I'm interested in shooting for something even better than the R9600, which from the sound of things might not create a hugely noticable difference in play, what would be the next step up?
December 20, 2003 2:38:26 PM

Quote:
My GeForce FX 5200 actually is capable of running DX9...if I wasn't going to go for the R9600, would the Ti4200 actually be a step down?



no it wouldnt be a step down. why? because teh 5200 is so damn crappy that it can barely do DX8 !! Nvidia lied when they said it was a DX9 card.. it is no way capable of doing DX9 except on paper. that card is nothing but marketing, designed to rip off average computer users like yourself (not trying to insult.. computer hardware isnt everyone area of interest)

a TI4200 will blow teh freaking doors off it. even tho its DX8.. theres more to the picture than DirectX compliance. theres things like fill-rate (how fast a video card can draw pixels).. and theres some DX7 cards that have much more fill-rate than teh 5200. and also, when 3D scenes are created most things are made up of triangles...well the triangle engine has a huge impact on it too. and teh TI4200 is substantially faster in this area as well

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December 20, 2003 4:07:55 PM

Quote:
that card is nothing but marketing, designed to rip off average computer users like yourself (not trying to insult.. computer hardware isnt everyone area of interest)


I understand - and I can relate. It's amazing to me the extent to which people get ripped off in the computer industry because they just don't understand what they're buying...I know people who have spent thousands of dollars on Dells or Gateways which hardly rival my machine that cost me under $500 to make years and years ago. In truth, I shouldn't have trusted the people that told me the FX was a great video card - I should have just come here ;) 

Ok, so I understand how the Ti4200 would be a significant improvement over my current card despite the fact that it's only capable of DX8...everything you said makes sense. Now, in comparison to the Ti, how does the R9600 fare?

Thanks again - I'm already lightyears ahead of where I was at the beginning of this thread.
a b U Graphics card
December 20, 2003 6:12:05 PM

The 9600 Pro will be slightly faster than the Ti4200, and allow you to see DX9 features that wouldn't be displayed by the Ti4200.

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December 20, 2003 10:42:57 PM

Stormrider, I noticed you keep saying R9600 while everyone else talks about the R9600 Pro. SO just in case you didn't know, there is a difference. The 9600 is probably worse then the Ti4200 where as the 9600 Pro is likly better then the Ti4200. Likewise the R9600 is cheaper then the Ti4200 where as the R9600 Pro is more expensive then it.

The next step up from the R9600 Pro in my opinion would be the R9600 XT and the FX5700 Ultra or possibly the FX5900XT or SE version.
December 20, 2003 11:09:41 PM

The Radeon 9600XT is quite a bit more expensive than 9600 PRO and the speed boost is marginal, if any.

I really think that a Radeon 9600 (normal, PRO or XT) is the best bet for this guy. It is fast and will render all the latest features correctly. Besides, nVidia is not at their best in this price range.
I moved from a GeForce2 Ti to a Radeon 9600 a couple of months ago and I can say I just love this card. Runs every game and the image quality is great.

P.S.: changing an FX5200 for a 4200Ti is not a step back because the first is pure marketing. It features DX9 but can't deliver it at usable speed. Even 5600 has speed difficulties on DX9.
December 20, 2003 11:55:38 PM

Quote:
Stormrider, I noticed you keep saying R9600 while everyone else talks about the R9600 Pro. SO just in case you didn't know, there is a difference. The 9600 is probably worse then the Ti4200 where as the 9600 Pro is likly better then the Ti4200. Likewise the R9600 is cheaper then the Ti4200 where as the R9600 Pro is more expensive then it.


I probably would have figured that out eventually, but I'm glad you mentioned it...you never really know, heh, I might have ended up blowing money on yet another video card that I didn't have a use for =/

It sounds like the 9600 (Pro!!) is the way to go...and even if I get the 4200Ti, I'd be doing much better from the sound of things...I'll probably go for the Radeon just based on how pissed off I am at NVidia right now after purchasing the FX, not to mention one of their MX series cards. I probably should have learned my lesson with NVidia after the MX ;) 

Thanks again for all the help! Now, I just need to go figure out what Motherboard and CPU I'm going to get =P
December 21, 2003 1:41:24 AM

Quote:
It sounds like the 9600 (Pro!!) is the way to go...and even if I get the 4200Ti, I'd be doing much better from the sound of things...I'll probably go for the Radeon just based on how pissed off I am at NVidia right now after purchasing the FX, not to mention one of their MX series cards. I probably should have learned my lesson with NVidia after the MX ;) 

LOLO.. your not the only one my friend.

and yes, the 9600(pro!) is definately what seems the be the sweetest card for the price at the moment. in current games, it will be slightly faster than a TI4200....

in 4 months from now, itll more than just slightly faster because new games will utilize its DX9 capabilities more ..otherwise youll end up having to turn teh detail down if you buy a TI4200, which is what I currently own, and already I am running into that

the TI4200 does indeed have massive fillrate, so i can run games at high resolutions most often. the current game I play is Starwarsgalaxies, and it has quite a bit of newer effects like pixel shaded water (DX8 effect), bump mapping and alot of vertex shaders-which are used for the grass and trees to make them look smooth to sway nicely in the wind. now.. i gotta turn most of that off (basically running in DX7 mode) to get decent performance. and yes, i know its not my CPU thats bottlenecking because with those off my framerate stays above 50fps. turn on pixel shading, drops to 35.. turn on bump mapping, goes below 25. so the TI4200 does indeed have a great weakness and that is its future-proofness

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