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Best Gaming Graphics Cards For The Money: AGP Interface

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: Jan. '09

Now, at the beginning of 2009, AGP motherboards are all but extinct. Indeed, AGP options are becoming fewer and fewer with no new AGP cards on the horizon, so I suspect this will be the last month that we will offer AGP recommendations. The 2600 XT AGP and 3850 AGP cards have remained the viable options for the AGP platform and will likely remain that way until they are discontinued.  In the spirit of the new year, we say so long AGP. You served us well.

Best AGP Card for Under $100 :

Radeon HD 2600 XT
Codename: RV630
Process: 65 nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 8
ROPs: 4
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1,400 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

The 2600 XT can be found at a much cheaper price of $65 lately. This is a decently fast DirectX 10 card available for AGP, and it surprisingly offers a great deal of performance for an older machine. Previously reported driver issues seem to have been worked out, so the 2600 XT can be recommended for older AGP machines without reservation.

Best AGP Card For over $100

Radeon HD 3850 512 MB
Codename: RV670
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 670
Memory Speed MHz: 833 (1,666 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

The Radeon HD 3850 is, frankly, a curiously powerful card for the aging AGP bus. It’s a bit too powerful, in fact, to be properly utilized on the single-core CPUs that are typically paired with this platform.

Regardless, this is the most powerful AGP card you can get. Perhaps you have an AGP gaming system you just can’t bear to part with or an older system with both a dual-core CPU and AGP slot. Whatever the reason, you can’t get better than an AGP 3850, and if anyone ever releases a more-powerful card in the future for the dying bus, then we’d be incredibly surprised.

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