New(er) Cards for Old(er) Machines?


My present system:
Processor: AMD Athlon 1000 mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA 7ZX (Via KT 133 chipset) with 4X AGP 2.0
RAM: 256mb PC100
Soundcard: Creative Soundblaster Audigy
Operating System: Windows 98SE
Power Supply: 300 watts
Graphics Card: Gigabyte GA-GF 1280 (GeForce 2 MX/MX400 with 32mb RAM)

I have read with great interest Tom’s Graphics Cards Guide Parts II and III.

Part II was particularly useful to me because it showed clearly how a processor speed of 1000mhz (as in my case) affected the overall performance of the cards.

As I can only afford to upgrade my graphics card, it showed me at which point I would no longer get much improvement in real performance by buying a ‘better’ (and more expensive) card. In the Part II guide, the cut off point seemed to be around the GeForce 4 Ti / Radion 8500 level.

Since then however, as the Guide Part III shows, newer cards have been released like the FX Series and other Radeon 9xxx series cards.

I’d really like to know which would be the optimum card(s) for me now, taking into account the newer ones available.

I suspect my choice might also be limited by my existing 300w power supply and the fact that the newer cards appear to be ‘fatter’ than the older ones. I’m concerned that some of the newer cards may not fit into the existing slot occupied by my GeForce 2 MX/MX400 at the moment, but I’m really not sure.

I would very much appreciate any advice or comments anyone might have to help me decide which new cars to consider.

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  1. You will be able to fit any AGP graphics card in the AGP slot on your motherboard, and with your 300watt power supply, unless it's a generic one, you should be able to power anything up to a Radeon 9800(One of the most powerful cards avaible). I haven't read the Graphics Card Guides, so I'm not sure how high you could go.

    screw the signature
  2. Thanks blackphoenix77. Anyone else?
  3. Putting an R9800 in is a little overkill now, but it does give you an ok starting point for later.

    An R9600Pro may be a better 'match' for your components (you do have AGP2.0 4X which is heyed for 1.5v IIRC, so it'll work), but the R9800 will still show ok improvments in some games even with the limitations you have. An should you upgrade your system then you have a good card you can still use that will show significant difference above an R9600Pro. I wouldn't go with an XT or and R9800PRO-256 as that might put stress on your PSU, and is likely ALOT more card than you need now, at a much higher price usually. An R9800PRO would be ok, but if you can save and just get an R9800 then that's good too. Try to avoid an R9800SE as they are tricky to get the most out of, and likely you would get worse performance than an R9600Pro.

    I'd say either is a good choice, with the R9600PRo being the best fit for the money if you ever plan on upgrading, well at least not until you want to upgrade big time later.

    Hope that helps.

    - You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil:
  4. Thanks for the suggestions TheGreatGrapeApe. Helpful stuff.

    One thing I'm a little nervous about though, having read other threads here, is the hassle I might have changing from an nvidia based card to an ATI one - y'know, lock-ups, blue screens of death, must reload Windows etc... GULP!!

    I know the ATIs are generally better cards, but do you think I'd best stick with upgrading to an nvidia based card (an FX series card perhaps) or what?

    Are there any nvidia cards you'd recommend, or is there a sure fire way of changing from nvidia to ATI without the nightmares?

    Thanks again for the help.
  5. I would say that as long as you clean your machine before upgrading you'll be fine. There's alot of threads about preparing to move from nV to other cards. Checking out Rage3D's info is very helpful as is Guru3D and DriverHeaven. Once you've made the succesful switch then the drivers are just as stable as nV. Both have their foible, but neither will give you 'more' hassle on the whole. The question is whether one does a certain game better. That may come into play. You'll hear about specific games giving one or the other more problems.

    The thing is that even an upgrade from nV to nV can cause problems, which is why the instructions for Detonator RIP and that even mention that the old dets cause problems for newer ones. Always good just to clean your system. A full format/install is best, but not always 'practical' for some people. It's really up to you, but whichever you chose I would suggest trying to put your new card on a clean system.

    As for good nV cards, none for the price range will be equals IMO, but the ones that are worthwhile are FX5700Ultras that are reasonably priced (anywhere near the R9600XT or lower), and the FX5900XT/SE/LE/EPV/etc for around $170-$200 is ok, or a plain FX5900 for under $200.
    They will play at levels that will give you max performance with your current rig, and give you close to their competition performance for a future rig.

    Once again, just my two frames worth.

    - You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil:
  6. You might need to update your BIOS, thats what I had to do, but I was installing a Radeon 9200, and I was getting "Not Enough Resources" errors, and when I updated my BIOS (Actually, the new BIOS I put in was an older BIOS, but the new one was one that Emachines installed, and was very restricted) the card installed fine. I can't remember exactly what the problem was, but I know I got a new option in BIOS that I turned on and I think that was what did the trick. You might just have to buy the card and install it, and hopefully it installs fine and works great, but if it doesn't, we should be able to help you. Then again you can always just return it.

    screw the signature
  7. Thanks for the continued feedback guys.

    If I can work up enough courage, here's my plan for the changeover (with Windows 98SE):

    1. Boot up the machine.

    2. Use Add/Remove Programs to remove the existing nVidia software (in my case “NVIDIA Windows95/98/ME Display Drivers”)

    3. Also run some kind of driver removal/registry clean-up software (presumably that’s the Detonator RIP you mentioned TheGreatGrapeApe). Not sure if this should be done before, after or instead of Add/Remove Programs though?

    4. Question - would steps 2 & 3 above cause problems, if the machine is currently using the drivers to run the existing card while I’m trying to uninstall them? - Sorry if that sounds a bit confused, but I think I know what I mean :-)

    5. Shut down the machine.

    6. Remove the old graphics card and insert the new one.

    7. Boot up the machine and hopefully get the good ol' “Windows has detected new hardware” notice.

    8. Install software and drivers for the new card.

    9. Reboot.

    10. Hey Presto! no more UT2004 slide shows :-) ..... I hope!

    Does this sound OK to you guys?
  8. Your plans are just right, and should work fine in that order(I've used Driver Cleaner in past, rather than Detonator RIP, but both work). Windows will just run a default VGA driver if you remove the current one, which will be no problem.

    You will definitely see an improvement, if nothing else, in image quality that Dx9 cards offer(assuming your games can utilize this). I upgraded the Geforce 2 GTS in my old P3 700 to an fx5200 Ultra(and then proceeded to overclock itwell, thank you BFG), and besides getting noticably better frame rates, also got better IQ. Most striking was rendering of the water in Elder Scrolls 3. About 200 times better looking with the new card.

    Course, since then I got my tax return and wasted a grand or so with various upgrades, but that's another story. ;)

    But yep, pick a card, follow through on your plans, and you should be good to go
  9. Many thanks guys for all your advice and guidance. Much appreciated.

    .... now where's that screwdriver? .... ;-)

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