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Best AGP Card For ~$175

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: November 2006

Geforce 7600 GT

Codename: G73, 90-nanometer technology
12 Pixel shaders, Five Vertex shaders, 12 Texture units, Eight Raster Operator Units
128 bit memory bus
560 MHz core, 700 MHz DDR (1400 MHz Effective) Memory

The 7600 GT is an amazing card in this price range, sporting new SM 3.0 technology and very high clock speeds to deliver excellent performance. Its weakest feature is its 128-bit memory bus, but its high memory speeds offset that disadvantage and make it competitive with 256-bit cards like the X800 XT/X850 XT and even the 7800 GS.

The worst thing we can say about the 7600 GT AGP is that the upcoming X1950 PRO shouldn't cost much more, but will outperform its predecessor easily.

Best AGP Card For +$200: None

The reason this AGP price segment is listed as 'NONE' is because the Radeon X1950 PRO for AGP hasn't arrived to market yet. Once it does - hopefully in November - this situation will change quickly, as the X1950 PRO is a powerful and reasonably priced card that will make AGP gaming viable for at least a year or two more.

Until the X1950 PRO arrives, it's safe to say that the fastest AGP card available for over $200 is the 7800 GS*, but it is very difficult to recommend at over $240 because at stock clock speeds it performs similarly to the ~$175 Geforce 7600 GT.

*The Gainward BLISS+ 7800 GS, which is actually a 7900 GT, is also a fast AGP card on par with the X1950 PRO. It is far more expensive and can only be purchased in Europe, however.

With this in mind, if you have the money to spend on an AGP card, you may be much better off purchasing a PCI-express motherboard, CPU and PCI-express graphics card.

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.

For some more help to those out there unfamiliar with relative graphics card performance, here are some charts from Tom's Hardware Guide that summarize the performance of many different graphics cards in many different gaming applications:

If the market changes or you have a differing opinion of my assessment, feel free to offer your opinions and links to online deals in the thread below. Just remember, the market will most likely change before our next monthly update, so keep your eye on prices!

Check the The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money Series Overview for more articles in this series.

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