System Builder Marathon: Day One

Video Card: XFX Geforce 7600 GT

XFX GeForce 7600 GT 256 MB

Let's face it: a good percentage of people will be gaming on a budget, putting together the best system they can on as few dollars as possible so they can play the newest titles. In this regard, our low-cost system will not disappoint.

The venerable Geforce 7600 GT is a respectable video card with 12 pipelines of power, and can be had for about $120 online. The card is a very solid performer for that price, matching the performance of top-of-the-line cards from the Radeon X850 XT and Geforce 6800 Ultra generation.

Another option with similar price and performance is the Radeon X1650 XT. We tried one of these cards first, but had an issue with the card that caused the machine to reboot on POST. We didn't have time to do an extensive investigation of the cause but thought we'd mention the card because the Radeon X1650 XT is another option in this price category. It appears that there is a conflict between the motherboard and the card and we're waiting to here from MSI about the problem.

Graphics card in place

There are those who might complain about the lack of DirectX 10 hardware in the video card we have chosen in the low-cost PC. To those people we say, look to history. Even in titles like Half Life 2, the difference between DirectX 8 and 9 output is very difficult to notice. Publishers will be supporting DirectX 9 code paths in their games for a few years to come at the very least. Perhaps most importantly, the only $100 DirectX 10 card available - the Geforce 8500 GT - performs dismally compared to the 7600 GT and X1650 XT from what we have seen.

  • I built the May 8, 2007 $500 system and was well pleased with it. I went with 2 GB ram but the rest was from the article. In 2011, the video card died from ruptured capacitors. I really miss that card as it was impressive.
    Now, I am considering going with 4 GB ram and upgrading the power supply to support a 22 amp video card. Maybe a processor upgrade also.