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Best AGP Card For ~$270

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: April 2007
By
Radeon X1950 XT (by Gecube)
Codename: R580
Process: 90 nm
Pixel Shaders: 48
Vertex Shaders: 8
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 628
Memory Speed (MHz): 700 (1400 effective)

The X1950 XT - manufactured exclusively by Gecube - is simply the most powerful card to ever grace the AGP bus. This card has no direct competition; in fact, its closest competition is its X1950 PRO AGP sibling, which is much less powerful.

At $270, it is a bit of a tough pill to swallow for a dying interface. I would only recommend the X1950 XT AGP to someone with a very fast AGP system who already has a power supply with enough juice to handle it.

I should also point out that if you have $270 to spend on an AGP card - and possibly an extra $100 for a power supply that can handle it - you might be much better off purchasing a PCI Express motherboard, CPU and graphics card instead. PCI Express graphics cards are cheaper than their AGP cousins. If you upgrade your system to PCIe and sell your old components, you may actually spend a similar amount of money compared to buying an expensive AGP card alone, and get a whole new system for it instead of just a new card.

What About This Other Card?

What About This Other Card That's Not On The List? How Do I Know If It's A Good Deal?

It will happen that you'll find other cards not on the list. In fact, it's guaranteed to happen, because both stock levels and prices change quickly! So how do you know if that card you've got your eye on is a good buy in its price range?

Here are two resources to help you judge if a card is a good buy. The first is the graphics card hierarchy chart, which groups graphics cards with similar overall performance into "tiers." The top tier contains the highest performing cards available, and performance decreases as you go down the tiers from there.

You can use this hierarchy to compare the pricing between two cards, to see which is a better deal, and also to determine if an upgrade is worthwhile. I don't recommend upgrading your graphics card unless the replacement card is at least three tiers higher; otherwise, the upgrade is somewhat parallel, and you may not notice enough difference in performance to justify the cost.

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