AGP Platform Analysis, Part 2: New Cards, Single-Core System


In Part 1, we wanted to see if an Athlon XP 2500+ would bottleneck today's newest AGP cards. The answer was a resounding "sometimes," depending on the game: some will bottleneck early, and others will give powerful cards like the X1950 PRO some legroom before limiting the maximum frame rate.

The story has changed quite a bit when we consider the results we have seen with a newer single-core Athlon 64 3400+. Hardly cutting edge, the Athlon64 was still able to provide the X1950 PRO cards with the juice they needed to really pull ahead of the slower Geforce cards. Higher resolutions that were unplayable on the older platform were viable on the newer Athlon 64.

The bottom line is obvious, but I'll recite it anyway: if you're considering upgrading the video card on a contemporary single-core system with an AGP bus, prospects are looking good. You will see sizable gains with powerful AGP cards like the X1950 PRO, while you do not need to upgrade to a PCI express system to have a viable gaming machine.

Author's Opinion

There are those who will question the longevity of an AGP card with more and more DirectX 10 cards arriving. However, I don't believe this will prevent the X1950 PRO from remaining a good gaming card for a year or two.

Those of us who remember ushering in the DirectX 9 era will no doubt recall how many people were convinced that their DirectX 8 cards would be useless in six months; history showed that would not be the case, with many game engines supporting DirectX 8 code paths even today. Remember, developers have to make games that run on the lowest common denominator hardware in order to reach the largest buying audience. To require a DirectX 10 card would limit a developer's potential market so much that it would be suicide until there is a sizable installed base.

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