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Choosing the best card for an old system

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Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 3, 2005 6:03:16 AM

Help !

I am at my wits end with the graphics card options today. I need the help of the experts. So here we go.

My system :
Gigabyte GA 7VKML mboard
AMD Athlon XP 1800 +
640 MB PC2700 RAM
MSI FX5200 T128 Gfx Card

Ok. So obviously I dont have a top machine, but it has faired well so far. I am looking to buy a whole new machine at the end of this year.

My problem is the ability to play the games that are being released from now until the point that I upgrade the lot. I dont even bother to install my copy of far cry or chronicles of riddick, and i am reduced to playing cs:source at 800X600 or i suffer more head shots than a amatuer boxer.

so I am thinking I need to upgrade my video card ? the rest of my machine spec meets most minimum and a lot of recommended requirments for games. but what card to buy.

my board has a 4X agp slot (bummer). so my question (after this long winded description) is the following;

Is it worth getting a higher end card (nvidia 6600gt/ati x700) on my machine or should i rather settle for an older card (nvidia fx5900xt/ati 9800 pro). or shouldnt i even bother with these types of cards, get something lower (fx5500/ati9550) that will play the games i want, and save the cash for the total upgrade later.

help !

More about : choosing card system

March 3, 2005 6:24:15 AM

I think you'd be surprised with the performance and IQ if you went for a 6600GT for ~$180 or so.

I bet if you splurge for that guy, you'll feel you wont need to upgrade as soon as you think you want to right now.

If you want to go cheaper, pick up a radeon 9600 Pro for like $80-100.. but I'd take the extra jump to the 6600GT personally.
March 3, 2005 6:29:07 AM

If you are running that xp at stock, it will become the bottleneck.
Changing platforms usually does best with a clean OS install, so I would rule out the Ati cards. The 5k series from nvidia were pretty much crap, so that leaves only the 6600gt. If you can find one for cheap enough, it will put a smile on your face.
In your shoes, I would probably get <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti...;/A>
Related resources
March 3, 2005 6:36:30 AM

amd at stock? i assume you would recommend an overclock ?

never done that before, but am interested to try. what would be my best options.

i would really like to get the best out of what i have for the rest of the year.

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my DOS the most !
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2005 8:03:39 AM

The GF6600GT is a good choice because you can quickly turn around and sell it while the other cards will be noticeably older by the time you sell them.

Your biggest issue will be finding a good price. The AGP versions still usually sell for more than the PCIe, but you may get lucky. Long warranties are of no interest so some cards lose their major advantges.

I'd suggest Gainward for quality, but considering you'll likely turn this card over in a year, it won't matter much so look for the best deal you can get. XFX seems to OC just fine according to <A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?nam..." target="_new">TAZ's thread</A>, so don't listen to Game, he doesn't own one (but likes to rag on people who don't own the card they are dising) so you never know what's going on with him :evil:  .

Seriously, whateve you buy is a 'just for now' solution. Really whatever you can play now will likely be what you can play for the next year or so, because there won't be much groundbreaking until UnrealEngine 3.0 games hit the market, even the anticipated Stalker doesn't look too stressful, and it keep getting delayed anyways, so you may see UE3 games before that!

BTW, the dig at Game's expense is not for his advice, it can be very good, but just a prior criticism that's come back to bite him in the A$$, much to my entertainment. :lol: 


- 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: 
March 3, 2005 8:51:38 AM

My hint is to avoid the nVidia FX5000-series, its performance is very poor in new games. FarCry, Half Life 2 etc. are catastrophic with it. I've just replaced my FX5900XT card (what a blunder I made when I bought it...) to a 6600GT, which is now the best choice for AGP systems in my opninion, if you don't want to spend $400 or more for a card. Unfortunately ATi ignores AGP in the mid-sector. From ATi the 9800PRO is the only option, but only if you can get considerably cheaper than the 6600GT.
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2005 9:02:30 AM

Quote:
Unfortunately ATi ignores AGP in the mid-sector.

And you ignore the current situation.

<A HREF="http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/video/display/200502280844..." target="_new">http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/video/display/200502280844...;/A>

ATI already has the R9800series and X800SE series in the upper mid-range and R9600Pro/XT on the lesser mid-range; and now they have the X800 coming. Soon the GF6600GT will have new comeptition and will have alot of trouble keeping up with an 8 pipe 128bit 128mb card. It's like when the FX5900XT came into the midrange and displaced the R9600XTs as top dog.

EDIT: Fix link that somehow became blank (but the link address text was still visible? Silly !!!)


- 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: 
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by TheGreatGrapeApe on 03/03/05 05:57 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
March 3, 2005 12:07:56 PM

Well if you want my advice mate, that 1800+ should mod to a 2000+ with very little trouble, then to save cash get yourself a used 9700 PRO on ebay for ~$120 - or a new 6600GT if you have the $200. Either is a great choice for your platform.

Far Cry and Riddick will run fine on your platform with those cards, 1024x768 at very good detail. (certainly not maxed out mind you, but that's for your next platform).

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9700 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 332/345)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>3200+</b></font color=red> <i>(Barton 2500+ o/c 400 FSB)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>5,354</b>
March 3, 2005 1:31:04 PM

Ok cool.

Now what is the best way to o/c it. I have never tried, so I am nervous to mess around. anyone got a good site i could visit. Or some hands on advice for the best route to take.


Of all the things I've lost, I miss my DOS the most !
March 3, 2005 2:30:50 PM

First off, search google and do alot of overclocking research before jumping in blind. But here are the basics:

Every CPU has an internal multiplier. If you multiply that by the FRONT SIDE BUS SPEED (called FSB) on the mohterboard, you get the speed of your CPU.

In the case of your AthlonXP 1800+, the multiplier is 11.5
The FSB speed of a 1800+ is 133 mhz, so it's actually running at 1530 Mhz (11.5x133=1530)

Therefore, to overclock, you would have to change your FSB or your multiplier. Multipliers are often locked, so overclockers usually start with the FSB.

The FSB can be modified in your BIOS. (not every motherboard has this capability, but yours does)

So you are currently running your CPU at 1530 Mhz (11.5x133=1530).
The AthlonXP 2000+ runs at 1596 Mhz (12x133=1596)

So, to get your 1800+ to run as fast as a 2000+, you'd have to increase your FSB to 139 instead of 133.
(11.5x139=1598 Mhz)... get it?

You have to know a few things before you try though. First of all, selecting a FSB that is too high may prevent your computer from booting at all. In this case, you have to know where the CMOS reset jumper is on the motherboard, so if it refuses to boot, you can reset the BIOS with the jumper and allow the board to boot up at stock settings.

Secondly, just because your computer boots up at a higher FSB doesn't mean it's stable. If you successfully boot at a given FSB, you should run a stress test to see if the computer can handle that overclock for any length of time without crashing. There are free programs to download to do this... sisoft sandra is one, Prime is another, some people use 3dmark. Look around and get one.

Thirdly, PAY ATTENTION TO TEMPERATURES! High temperatures will SEVERELY limit your overclocking success. Get motherboard monitoring software and find out your CPU temperature... if it's more than 45 degrees before you've overclocked, cool that system down before overclocking to get the best success. Case fans are important because no airflow will trap air inside your case. A good CPU cooler helps, too. Record your temperatures before overclocking, then see how high they get after overclocking. Find out how hot your CPU should be running stock (should be less than 45 degrees right now... if it's not, get some airflow). For testing purposes, take the side off of your case and blow a fan on it to see how much better your results are.

Fourthly, you can increase your CPU voltage to help it take the overclock. This is another setting in your BIOS, don't go too high until you know what you're doing. But feel free to try the lowest voltage increase your board allows. in your case, 5%)

There's tons more to look into - like how your system RAM and PCI/AGP cards can affect/limit overclocking (they also run off of the FSB, so if they are pushed too far they can make the entire system unstable), but this is a good primer to start. Now go try a moderate overclock, and do some more research! And good luck.

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9700 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 332/345)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>3200+</b></font color=red> <i>(Barton 2500+ o/c 400 FSB)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>5,354</b>
March 3, 2005 6:42:08 PM

The key word was "AGP". Try finding a mid price AGP ATI card other than the 9800.
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2005 7:47:42 PM

And the key is to click the link and edjucate yourself.

Read what I wrote, read what the link says, and understand that there are cards in that segment already like I said (X800SE just isn't common enough to be a 'value' but it was always there) so they aren't being ignored as was ignorantly stated previously.

Best value on the shelf this second, probably still a cheap 256mb GF6800s which is even better than GF6600GTs, but not if the plain X800 reaches it's price target, then it becomes a more open situation. The GF6800 and 6600GT will still be cheaper (at first at least), but like the FX5900XT versus R9600PRO/XT, there will be perfromance benifits that will come into play and be hard to ignore when buying/recommending.

The advantage this second about the GF6600GT is that it's a cheap entry price and will be able to be rolled over quickly for upgrading to that new system (with a Volari Duo V12 of course :lol:  ). Also it's questionable as to whether the benifits of the GF6800-256 over the GF6600GT will be noticeable on a limited system, hence why complicate things?


- 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: 
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2005 9:29:54 PM

I read somewhere that X700 was coming to AGP with rialto also, making it look to me like there will be a $200 X700, $250 X800, $350 X800XL. Although I'd sure like to see them just drop 9800 pro to $150, make X800's $200, and X800XL's $300. That would give them a full line of AGP for every price range, with R9600 pro at $100.



<A HREF="http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k3=3400555" target="_new"> My</A> <A HREF="http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=8268935" target="_new">Gamer</A>
March 3, 2005 10:14:30 PM

What the heck are they going to charge for the X850 PRO, I wonder?

$275? Who wouldn't spend the extra $25 for a X800XL?

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9700 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 332/345)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>3200+</b></font color=red> <i>(Barton 2500+ o/c 400 FSB)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>5,354</b>
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2005 10:38:16 PM

Yeah I'm not sure.

Personally I prefer the X800vanilla to the X700anything (even XT'PE' which were speced[probably even built a few] but never sold thanks to the XT's cancellation).

The X800s come with AWESOME memory potential (shipping with the same memory as X800XL/X800XT/X850XT), and really these cards are mainly memory limited IMO.

They could have quite an extensive line-up to choose from, but really they should've had them at X-mas time, it's running just a little late, especially for the X700Pros, I can see a vanilla X700 selling for like $125, but not a pro at anywhere near the X800 price (like Cleeve said, pay a little more and look what you get, in this case 12 pipes over 8, and 256bit fast GDDR3 over 128bit slightly slower memory).


- 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: 
a b U Graphics card
March 3, 2005 11:33:14 PM

I don't know what they are going to do. X700 doesn't excite me, but rather scares me that X800 AGP will start higher like $250. Who knows. Pass on the info if you see pricing released from ATI.

The X850 pro will probably be $400. Don't they charge more for the PCI-e X850 pro also even though the X800XL is the better card?




<A HREF="http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k3=3400555" target="_new"> My</A> <A HREF="http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=8268935" target="_new">Gamer</A>
March 4, 2005 7:31:20 AM

Right, why complicate? The original question was about buying a new card, so a really practical question. An announcement from ATi is still not equal to graphic cards on store shelves (see e.g. ASUS or MSI homepage - none of the new ATi-based AGP cards can be found, and here in Europe built by ATi cards cannot be bought). Of course, Psykro can wait several weeks to buy the new card, but obviously nVidia will react, so wait again some time and so on...
a b U Graphics card
March 4, 2005 12:38:03 PM

But you should pick your words more wisely.

ATi doesn't ignore the segment they already have 2 strong contenders they can't make enough of R9800 and X800SE, and you can buy those right now. The biggest problem is that they aren't CHEAP to fab like the X700 and GF6600 series.

So what you said is completely false. 3Dlabs and Intel are ignoring the mid-level, not ATi. That there were changes in demand and thus a greater than expected need for AGP parts and a Rialto bridge solution is not ignoring them, it's not being able to get enough product out to them. Remember that while the R9800Pro is no longer sexcy and weak competition for the GF6600GT, it still was selling more than they could make.


- 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: 
March 8, 2005 10:30:05 AM

Well, All I can say is thanks to everyone for their input. I went and did it, got the 6600GT (it was in my price range) and I am more than happy. Far Cry detects my machine as medium, but I can run the video at very high settings with almost no hitches, high settings run very smoothly. Thanks to everyone for their help, you have made this gamer VERY happy.

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my DOS the most !
March 8, 2005 10:32:15 AM

Cleeve. Must respect and thanks for your help. Your post was informative and VERY helpful. I am going to try it out. I understand the dangers, so I am going to try and be careful.

again thanks


Of all the things I've lost, I miss my DOS the most !
March 8, 2005 12:50:14 PM

Great to hear you're happy with the 6600GT.

Good luck on the OC!!!

________________
<b>Radeon <font color=red>9700 PRO</b></font color=red> <i>(o/c 332/345)</i>
<b>AthlonXP <font color=red>3200+</b></font color=red> <i>(Barton 2500+ o/c 400 FSB)</i>
<b>3dMark03: <font color=red>5,354</b>
March 9, 2005 9:13:19 AM

Thanks

Just two last questions. What is the maximum temp I should be aware of. i have read that the cpu should not go higher than 80C, and i bud of mine is running his 2500+ at 75C (oc to 3200+) is 75C acceptable? Also how much of a difference does an extra case fan make, or should i be looking at a better cpu fan ?

tried the oc last night, very nervous. upped my fsb multi from 133 to 134, cpu heated up from 54C to 61C. wanna try this properly.

cooling suggestions ?

Also I just want to thank anyone who has been willing to help a noob out with this. I really appreciate it.

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my DOS the most !
March 9, 2005 10:16:52 AM

I was using a ThermalRight SI-97 on my old XP. Great cooler, but probably overkill for you :smile:

I suspect you probably have a palomino core. Download CPU-Z and that can tell you what core you have. A palomino core XP on a VIA KM266 chipset is not a good overclocking combo, unfortunately. a Thouroughbred B would be much better, and would probably have an unlocked multiplier which would be very useful.

I doubt you'll be able to get much past 1.6Ghz or so, due largely to your motherboard chipset, but have a go anyway :smile:

Check the overclocking forums. There's some overclocking guide posts in there.

If your Case airflow is bad, it doesn't matter how good your CPU cooler is, it'll still get warmer and warmer. I would suggest 1 intake fan and 1 exhaust fan.

---
A64 3200+ Winchester @ 250x10= ~2.5Ghz, ~1.41 Vcore
1Gb @ 209Mhz, 2T, 3-5-5-10
Voltmodded Sapphire 9800Pro @ 450/350 w/ modded VGA silencer 3.
March 9, 2005 10:20:35 AM

Hmm must check. Used to know, but I've forgotten. I'm pretty sure it isnt a Pally tho. I currently have one side case fan.

On that note, should the one fan suck air in or out for better cooling. i am thinking i can get away with adding one fan at the front.

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my DOS the most !
March 9, 2005 10:26:07 AM

I've got XP1800+ as well & O/C it a bit while waiting for my A64 upgrade.
mobo is cheap ECS K7S5AL with BIOS updated to last stable o/c Bios (only FSB tweak available)
RAM is Elixir 256Mo pc2100 CL2.5

So what i say is just some precision about what Cleeve allready said about O/C :

<b>System runs stable until FSB 143mhz</b> (x11.5 = AMD XP @ 1644mhz)
@ FSB 147mhz (AMD XP @ 1690mhz), Windows get quite unstable, actually it hardly boots, but Linux has no prob booting & running.

I've kept original AMD fan
<b>Temp is 43-47°C</b> from idle to full charge, room is 17°C

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