Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Cheap tide-me-over?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
Share
May 17, 2004 10:10:29 AM

Long time lurker here…

Anyhow, I’ve recently decided that I’d like to see more than just the floor in my games again… which means it’s time for a bit of an update. The original plan was to build a new system (~$1,000) that would last me a few years, but we’re going to end up buying a house in a few months, so scratch that idea. My last build was somewhere around 1999ish, so a bit has changed. (That build was a 800 MHz Intel, Matrox G400 Max, etc.) Of course shortly thereafter I got the opportunity to get a <A HREF="http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/genericDocument?lc=e..." target="_new"> HP Pavilion 8765c </A> (AMD 900 MHz) for free so I jumped at it and sold off most of my original build, keeping my G400 Max. So now many years (and a wife, and a kid…) later I still have that system with a different sound card (Hercules XP game theatre), and 2 x 256MB ram. Scary huh? :eek: 

Not surprisingly, I don’t play games much anymore. In fact the only games I play regularly are Everquest and Tribes 2. So, my archaic system has been able to suffice for quite some time. That is …err was until DX 9. Now everything is FUBAR. EQ keeps updating their engine so people keep playing, T2 is abandoned, and Matrox has long since abandoned any serious effort into keeping updated drivers for the G400. So, now I have to load one set of drivers for EQ, and another for T2… very fun… on top of that, neither game’s graphics are that good because I need to play with (nearly) all options off. It’s now so bad in EQ, that I actually do have to look at the floor most the time, because I’m out of options to disable to help boost frame rates. :frown:

Anyhow all that long history to basically say that I don’t want or need to spend the big bucks. I’m no longer a hard-core gamer, nor an avid over-clocker. What I’m looking for now is a low-cost solution ($50-$200 total) that gets me a new v-card so I can actually enjoy my scant online time once again. My intention is to get my $1,000 system around the December-May time period anyhow. So I’d really like any investment I make now be good enough to last 1-2 years (maybe until PCI-express cards are ‘cheap’). I’ve read enough to realize that the card I want is the 9800 Pro (that was the card I was going to get with the new MoBo, etc.), but there are a few issues with that.

First, my current PS is only a 185W (*cry*) so I’m really going to have to get a new one of those. I’m thinking a 300W would work, but if I got a 400W I could use it in my future system. Either way, a new PS (assuming I find one that fits in the tower) is going to take cash, most likely taking the 9800Pro out of my reach. So go for a cheap PS that will last a year, or a dependable one that I can reuse…?

Then I thought I found a solution for my v-card woes… a <A HREF="http://www.atacom.com/program/print_html_new.cgi?cart_i..." target="_new"> $110 9600 Pro </A>. Yes, yes I know that my wimpy 0.9 GHz or my current MoBo will be the bottleneck, but I figure a 9600 Pro could probably make it a year or two (maybe more with my tolerance). So after convincing the wife that I was making a frugal decision I realized that according <A HREF="http://www.ati.com/support/faq/agpchart.html" target="_new"> ATI </A>, the 9600 Pro requires AGP 3.0. Of course my MoBo is a K7M (Some OEM version I’m sure) which according to Asus only has a AGP 1.0 (i.e., 1x/2x). So I opened up the case and sure enough it’s keyed near the back of the MoBo (3.3V). But then I noticed a possible loop-hole after looking at the pictures of the 9600’s. According to ATI’s images, the 9600 card has the key notch for only the 1.5V, but the 9600 Pro has the double notch, making it universal. Yet their specs on the 9600Pro clearly states that it only works with 4x (1.5V) and 8x (0.8V)… So I’m a bit confused here. Is the 9600 Pro really a universal AGP card, that I can run at 2x in my MoBo, or not? I’ve always assumed that if a card can fit in the slot, it will run (just slower)… after-all, that is the whole purpose of keying the slots isn’t it?

Either way, would I be a fool for buying a ‘decent’ card only to have it be bottle necked for 6-8 months? $100 for the 9600 Pro seems like a good deal right now. If I’m going to buy a v-card for 6 months use, I really would prefer only spending $50 on it. Unfortunately none of the $50 cards seem to be DX9 compliant. Which, as EQ’s trend goes, is bad news. Also, the only other ‘new’ game I see myself getting into will be Tribes 3, which I’m sure will make use of DX9 (release date sometime in Q4 of this year). So I’d really like to either have very little invested as a loss, or have a decent card that can run the games (even if at lower quality settings) for another year or two.

Maybe I’m just making too big a deal out of natively supporting DX9, but I really feel that if I am going to have the card for a few years I really should make sure it passes that test… I’m not sure how many of the G400max’s competitors would have made it this far (voodoo 2 I think?). :tongue:

Thanks in advance for any input (and for reading my long ars post)

More about : cheap tide

May 17, 2004 2:43:39 PM

$110 for a 9600 PRO is great and will certainly last you 6 months...

$200 for a 9800 PRO is much better and will last quite a bit longer if you want it to...

But the best bang-for-the-buck is a used 9700 PRO, if you can find one. Much better than the 9600 PRO, and 90% as good as a 9800 PRO, for about $110 to $150 on ebay.

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9500 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(hardmodded 9500, o/c 340/310)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>~2600+</b></font color=red> <i>(2400+ @ 2145 Mhz)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>4,055</b>
May 17, 2004 2:56:26 PM

If I were you this is what I'd do...

First, your right, your going to need a new PS. For about 60 bucks you can get a nice 400w fortron PS. You'll be able to reuse that later in your next system.

Most cards are DX9 compliant, what your looking for is a DX9 compatible card. Compliant means it will be able to run DX9 games but any effects that come with it wont work. Everquest AFAIK isn't a DX9 game. Unless you want to carry this video card over to your new computer 6 months from now then with your processor and amount of money I would get a refurbed Geforce 4 Ti4200. You might be able to find one for 60 or 70 dollars. That is still a huge upgrade from a G400. It will probably run EQ with most details up at a moderate resolution. If you want to carry it on to your next computer then get the 9600 pro but by then a new replacement for the 9600 pro will probably be out.

This will leave you with some money left over, by six months from now you can go for a big upgrade. S939, X800 or 6800 ultra, etc. and you'll already have a PS.

-----------------------
[mind went blank]
Related resources
May 18, 2004 5:28:06 AM

Thanks much for your input guys, but I still haven't been able to decide what to do. I've been searching for refurb/used/new ti4200's and I found <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new"> this $69 one </A> and <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new"> this $75 one </A> at newegg, but otherwise the rest seem to be hitting the $100 mark (even on ebay). Maybe I'm just having bad search luck today... but it makes me question if I should just get a 9600 (NP or Pro) for roughly the same price. (Does anyone have any insite on those two cheap ones?)

Of course after looking at several more images of 9600 (NP and Pro) cards I'm still thoroughly confused if they can be ran on my MoBo. Some cards show images with two notches and say only 4x/8x compatable, while others show one slot and say 1/2/4/8x compatable. I realize that for the second case the card can just run slower, but for the cards with two notches will it work in my AGP 1.0 slot since the 3.3V key will fit? Obviously, if all of the 9600's won't then I'll be aiming for a ti2400 for sure. Anybody have a concrete answer on this? I'd hate to find out the hard way. It looks like every card but the 9600's, 9800's and the newest ones can use the 3.3V on <A HREF="http://www.ati.com/support/faq/agpchart.html" target="_new"> ATI's site </A>, or is that just for bba cards?

If I end up getting a ti4200, do you think it will matter which version I get with my current system (AMD 900 Mhz, K7M - AGP 1.0 MoBo) or will all three of the versions be bottlenecked by the system?

Regarding the selection of a new PS: Since I want to re-use the PS once I build a full system (6ish months), do I need to ensure it states it can be used for "P4 and AMD XP"? For example, <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new"> this </A> vs <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new"> this </A>.

Thanks again for your time. Any input is appreciated.
May 18, 2004 10:35:22 AM

Seems to me the amd chip is the bottleneck - and if you bought a 9600 it'd be wasted a bit. Plus if you buy a new system later, the 9600 prolly wont cut it anymore.

If EQ isnt a dx9 game, then the Ti may well be faster than the 9600 - those GF4 Ti's have a lot of brute power. I think you'd be better off with a Ti than a 9600, even if they are of a comparable price. Plus you know the GF4 will work in your mobo.

XP2000, 512 ddr 2700ram, GF4 MX440, XP Pro
May 18, 2004 5:08:50 PM

My friend has a 1999ish Compaq with a 500MHz Intel P3... his board has an AGP slot, and via my advice, he got a 9600XT... but the card would not fit in his AGP slot... he ended up with... not my advice... a 9200 because the AGP slot was compatible... I have never ran into this problem, but are some of the AGP slots on older boards different than others... will a 9600 card fit in just any old motherboard with an AGP slot?

I even pulled out a couple of my old motherboards to see what he was talking about... all of my newer cards have gone into newer boards, so this difference passed me by...

<font color=red><b>NF7-S/Mobile Barton 2600+
211x11.5 1.808v SLK900A
1GB Corsair XMS PC3200
Sapphire 9500np-Toasted</font color=red><font color=black>
NF7-S/Barton 2500+
200x11.5 1.76v
512MB XMS PC2700
XFX Ti4200
May 18, 2004 5:32:07 PM

That's my $100 question.. are all 9600's keyed for AGP 2.0/3.0 only (notch near the front of card), or are some keyed universal (one notch near front and one near back). Some of the photo's I've seen online show two a 9600 as being universal, contrary to ati's website. Or are some cards key'd for both, but can really only run on one? /boggle

Everquest IS changing it's engine to a DX9 engine, but <A HREF="http://eqlive.station.sony.com/support/tech_support/ts_..." target="_new"> the list of supported cards </A> still shows all geforce cards as being supported. So, when running a DX9 game with a ti4200 card, would my system ignore the DX9 features or dump that workload on my CPU? If it's going to dump it on my 900MHz then it seems it wouldn't be much better than my g400max. If the DX9 bells and whistles are just going to be turned off, I'll be fine.
May 18, 2004 5:51:13 PM

A DX8.1 Ti4200 would just ignore the DX9 requests and move happily along, saving both your GPU and your CPU from even having to think about the DX9 features... people state here every day how a Ti4200 with DX9 ignored will just cream a DX9 card like a 9600 with DX9 features enabled...

If I were in your shoes, I might buy a $30-40 sucky GF4 MX420 or something just to get you by for a while... or even try a $60-80 refurbished Ti4200 from newegg...

<font color=red><b>NF7-S/Mobile Barton 2600+
211x11.5 1.808v SLK900A
1GB Corsair XMS PC3200
Sapphire 9500np-Toasted</font color=red><font color=black>
NF7-S/Barton 2500+
200x11.5 1.76v
512MB XMS PC2700
XFX Ti4200
May 18, 2004 7:58:46 PM

I just bought a pny ti4400 at ebay for a paltry 56 bucks. Thats a good deal as far as im concerned. I am going to use it in lieu of a non pro bba 9600 that I am not overly thrilled with. I also play tribes and tribes2 and the ati cards really perform poorly with t2. Ideally I wouldve rather gone with a 9600xt but most of them were nearly 3 times as much as I paid for the ti4400. Go to ebay and search for one of those, its a less popular ti version and it seems people have forgotten them. Even the less powerful ti4200 seem to get more action on ebay than 4400's you may be able to get one for uner 60$ like I did.
May 18, 2004 8:09:54 PM

I just saw a referbished PNY Ti4200 at newegg for $75...

<font color=red><b>NF7-S/Mobile Barton 2600+
211x11.5 1.808v SLK900A
1GB Corsair XMS PC3200
Sapphire 9500np-Toasted</font color=red><font color=black>
NF7-S/Barton 2500+
200x11.5 1.76v
512MB XMS PC2700
XFX Ti4200
May 18, 2004 9:25:51 PM

I dont know about buying refurbed but newegg is a solid retailer. For 75$ thats probably a good card, but I am still more impressed with my 56$ 4400 :) 
May 19, 2004 3:54:28 AM

You got a good deal, no doubt, but I kind of want to trust a newegg refurbished card over a random ebay used card...

<font color=red><b>NF7-S/Mobile Barton 2600+
211x11.5 1.808v SLK900A
1GB Corsair XMS PC3200
Sapphire 9500np-Toasted</font color=red><font color=black>
NF7-S/Barton 2500+
200x11.5 1.76v
512MB XMS PC2700
XFX Ti4200
May 19, 2004 5:17:09 AM

Thanks again for your input folks.

I tend to have more faith in a refurb than an e-bay special...

So anyhow, over my lunch hour at work today I looked at past reviews, etc and became convinced that once I got home I'd order the <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new"> REFURBISHED: ABIT SILURO GF4 TI4200-8X 128MB OTES TV/DVI </A> for $69 from newegg. But noooo, it can't be that simple you see. I decided I'd go to ABIT's webpage and look it over one last time... which is when I noticed they have a forum. Turns out, that if you do a search for ti4200 on thier forum EVERY thread concerning any of their ti4200's contain several people who have RMA'd thier cards several times... Basically they say that ABIT's ti4200 line are all lemons.

Well now, there goes my simplicity. So far newegg is the only place I can find any decently found refurbs, and now my selections are limited to the <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">PNY</A> ($69) and <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">Powercolor</A> ($107 and may not support AGP1.0) versions of the ti4200. Now, I've never seen anything good about powercolor on these boards and I don't recall anything good or bad about PNY's. In fact, I can't even find the info about the board on PNY's webpage... Should the both be avoided?

I noticed that there are some refurbished ti4400/4600's from leadtek at newegg for $100-$110. I haven't seen anything on leadtek either. Not really sure what to think anymore I wanted this to be a simple "buy this ancient card" situation... I know for $110 I can get the 9600Pro I linked in my original post (IF I knew it'd support AGP1.0). But of course anything over the ti4200 (inclusive I believe) is going to be limited by my CPU anyhow, so why blow $100 if the $69 pony would work.

Ya know, figuring out ALL the parts for a new $1,000 system was easier than this. (Damn saving for mortgage loan...)

Anyone have insight into PNY and Leadtek?

One of the Leadtek's cards have VIVO. Which would be a neat toy if I end up spending $100... Is "ULTA" really going to be better than non-ultra for these cards?
May 19, 2004 5:31:47 AM

my riend had a leadtek 4600 that was crap, just to let you know.

"This Steel ain't stainless, Your bloodstains are all over this steel."
<A HREF="http://www.cameronwilliamson.com" target="_new">-={Messianic Maniac.}=-</A>
<font color=green>{FLM}</font color=green>
May 19, 2004 5:35:40 AM

Ok, would <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">REFURBISHED: ATI OEM RADEON 9000 Atlantis PRO 64mb DDR DVI/CRT/TV out, BULK</A> still be bottle-necked by my system? That's only $50, and ATI's website says it's 3.3V or 1.5V.
Gonna go try to find some reviews on it now...

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by yoss on 05/19/04 01:36 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
May 19, 2004 5:39:03 AM

the 4200ti would be a <b>MUCH </b> better deal d00d.

trust me if that is your price range ($50-$100) get either a 9600pro or a 4200ti man, that will be your best deals and best performance.

"This Steel ain't stainless, Your bloodstains are all over this steel."
<A HREF="http://www.cameronwilliamson.com" target="_new">-={Messianic Maniac.}=-</A>
<font color=green>{FLM}</font color=green>
May 19, 2004 7:59:49 AM

Ok, I've decided to go with:
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">Sparkle 400W $58</A>for a PS
and either
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">PNY ti4200 64M 8X TV/DVI Refurb $69</A>
or
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">LEADTEK GeForce4 TI4600 128M W/VIVO DVI/TV Refurb $110</A>
for a video card.

I know EQ can load a s**t load of textures into RAM, so I *think* it might use of the faster and more plentiful amount on the Leadtek. It's clocked faster(300 vs 250 core, 600 vs 500 ram), but I'm not sure how much that would help with my CPU anyhow. Then there's the "toy" factor of having video in.

Now the price difference is $40. I'll donate 10-15 of it for the toy factor (I'll skip lunch np), which leaves another $25 to account for. There is a chance I'll try to stretch it out for another year instead of 6-months so that PCI-express (and maybe BTX) stuff drops some in price.

Do you guys think the boost in performance I *may* see (by going to the ti4600 instead of the ti4200) is worth it? Or am I way off mark here and miss an option that would be better?

Thanks again.

Edited to clarify

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by yoss on 05/19/04 05:11 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
May 19, 2004 8:37:59 AM

well of course youll see a good jump, as im sure that G400 was seriously slowing things down.. at least youll be able to use normal texture resolutions and stuff, things that dont use the CPU

-------
<A HREF="http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/you.html" target="_new">please dont click here! </A>
<A HREF="http://www.subhi.com/keyboard.jpg" target="_new">This is you, interweb junky</A>
May 19, 2004 1:15:51 PM

From the reviews Ive read PNY and leadtek are both very good board manufacturers and you should be confident in either purchase. Heres a link to an article from right here with benchmark comparisons for almost every card you could possibly want to purchase. Youll be able to see the exact differences in the 4600,4400,4200 over a number of benchmarks. <A HREF="http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20031229/index.htm..." target="_new">http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20031229/index.htm...;/A>
May 19, 2004 5:37:26 PM

I would save the $40 and get the PNY... you will feel better about getting a 9800 Pro or XT later when you rebuild everything...

But let us know what you get and if it works...

<font color=red><b>NF7-S/Mobile Barton 2600+
211x11.5 1.808v SLK900A
1GB Corsair XMS PC3200
Sapphire 9500np-Toasted</font color=red><font color=black>
NF7-S/Barton 2500+
200x11.5 1.76v
512MB XMS PC2700
XFX Ti4200
!