What's a Good Video Card for a PC?

Discussion in 'Games' started by Spymit007, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. Spymit007 macrumors regular

    Spymit007

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    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #1
    Hey guys, I'm hoping that I can get some help about something:

    Currently, I have a Rev. A 400Mhz Titanium Powerbook which has served me well for the past 4 years. I've been saving up some money so that by the beginning of next year, I will be able to afford a brand new Powerbook. Once I have saved up enough money, I am buying whatever is the top of the line powerbook at the beginning of next year (I'll definitely wait until MWSF).

    In the meantime, my dad has decided to give me his desktop PC because he's converted (through my constant pestering) to a brand new G4 iBook. The PC, aside from the fact that it's a PC, is a decent machine: Pentium 1.4Ghz, 512 RAM, 100GB Hard Drive. The only thing lacking in it is a decent graphics card. I believe currently it only has a 16MB video card. I am interested in upgrading the graphics card so that I can use it as a gaming machine. What would be a good video card for this desktop. The only game I play on it now is Warcraft III but would like to be able to play SimCity 4, The Sims 2, and Unreal Tournament. Money really isn't an issue but I would like to spend no more than $250-$350. Also, because the slots are limited, I would rather not have to opt for the GeForce 6800 Ultra. I would greatly appreciate any input. Thanks a lot!!!
     
  2. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    #2
    you don't want anything to do with a 6800 card, actually...you'd be over-whelming the processor with that card.

    I'd say probably you should look at a 128mb 9600 XT...or possibly a 128 or 256mb 9800 Pro.

    Either of those cards will play any game you want right now, and will outlast the processor by a bit, I'm guessing. The 9600 would be a good "match" for that machine. a 9800 would probably be a little too much GPU for the processor, but it would improve your experience on anything texture or shader-heavy.

    of the games you listed, Sims 2 will perform noticeably better with the 9800 than the 9600...WC3 and any UT before 2004 will actually be totally processor limited, and honestly, you won't notice. You'll have a good experience with a 9600 XT and save a good chunk of money compared to either the 6x00 series or the Xx00 series cards...which just aren't really a good match for a 1.4 Ghz P3...

    Yeah, I'd suggest a 9600 XT or Pro. You'll find nvidia's 100-150 dollar last-generation cards to be sorely lacking in the performance department. Their 6x00 series has redeemed them totally, but the FX 5x00 cards like the 5600 and the 5700, not to mention the terrible 5200, were all sub-par with bigger fans and higher power requirement than their more-capable ATi competitors.

    And there's literally no advantage for you in getting an AGP version of a 6x00 or Xx00 series card (the modern ones) because you probably are at 4x AGP if you're lucky...you won't be winning any races...the newer cards would be overkill. A 6800, for example, would probably run at less than 1/2 its potential in that rig...you don't want to do that to a good card, do you?

    well, if you do, could I mail you my 9600 Pro and you mail me your 6800? :)

    my machine will suck up at least 70% of the 6800's potential.

    happy gaming.

    (6 hours till HL2 is unlocked!!!)
     
  3. AdamR01 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2003
    #3
    I would also recommend the 9600XT. However, getting a more powerful card won't hurt anything. If your games are running CPU bound, then a faster graphics card would let you run at higher resolutions and detail without noticing a speed change.
     
  4. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

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    Mar 30, 2004
    #4
    The 9700 Pro is also an excellent card for the money, and would match pretty well with this machine. I'm not sure how it compares tot he 9600XT, but both are great performers.
     
  5. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    Florida Resident
    #5
    Is the ATI 9200 any good? I was planning to upgrade from a motherboard-based chipset to this ATI 9200 with 128 Mbs on-board memory. I only have games from 3 years and older and only at 1024x768. Is the 9600 XT worth the extra expense? The price of the 9200 is $100 retail.

    I own a cheap PC using a Athlon 2200+ CPU. I only bought it to play all my old games and running Microsoft Access and MS Money. This desktop PC feels slower than my old 600 Mhz iBook and the PC has 320 Mbs of memory. I thought PC's are suppose to be fast! My G5 spanks it.
     
  6. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    Nov 4, 2003
    #6
    Go to Pricewatch.com and type in "128 9600 Pro" or you could replace "Pro" with "XT"

    avoid anything labeled "SE" because it's actually a slower card.

    you'll see they run 120 dollars or less with shipping from most online vendors, tax free. Of course 9200s are like 70 dollars online now.

    but seriously. The 9600 XT is easily 2x the speed of the 9200.

    the 9700 is also an option, but honestly, they are hard to find now, and the prices aren't that much lower, if they are at all, than a 9800. Also, the 9700 and 9800 need to be connected to the power supply, i think...most models do, anyway. almost all 9600s can get by just fine on the AGP-provided power.

    a 9800 non-pro is a great option. easily 70% again as fast as a 9600 Pro...probably 3x a 9200 in most modern games like HL2 and Doom 3.
     
  7. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

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    #7

    For you a 9200 would be a good card.
     
  8. hjhhjh macrumors member

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    Sep 30, 2004
    #8
  9. DanTekGeek macrumors 6502

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    Denver, CO
    #9
    might want to check out the 9800 pro. very nice card.
     
  10. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    #10
    9600 SE

    I saw the 9600 SE retail for $75 bucks. It don't think SE stands for Special Edition. It's more like Slow Edition otherwise it wouldn't sell for that price.

    I noticed my motherboard mentioned I can't place a 3.3V AGP card or cause permanent damage. This probably rule out using the faster cards. Hopefully on the box it will mentioned what voltage they use. I also read that the 9800 requires a 300 watt power supply. My PC only has 250 watts and it's fully loaded with 4 drives and a sound card / firewire.

    It's strange that you can have 128 Mbs on a card that cost $75 bucks but on modern Mac will only have 32 or 64 MBs of memory. I wish Apple would provide better options on their low/mid-end hardware. This makes almost any PC video card a bargin.
     
  11. benpatient macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    #11
    Um...that's a workstation graphics card for doing 3d rendering and the like.

    it has no business in a gaming rig, and probably wouldn't run most of todays games as well as today's 200 dollar graphics cards, if they ran at all.

    Might as well tell a honda enthusiast that they should get an SRT-10 engine for their civic cause it's got more power. but w/e
     
  12. sgarringer macrumors regular

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    #12
    i think he was joking.
     
  13. Spymit007 thread starter macrumors regular

    Spymit007

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    Aug 25, 2004
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    Massachusetts
    #13
    Thanks for all of your advice. Since i first posted, some new developments: my friend just upgraded his PC to an Athlon 64 bit processor and is giving me his old CPU and motherboard (Athlon XP 2Ghz). So now I'll have a faster processor (still 512MB RAM). The video card I decided to get is a 256MB GeForce 5700LE. It was less than $100 on Newegg and with free shipping, I couldn't pass it up. I think it'll work great, especially with World of Warcraft, which I am hopelessly addicted to.
     
  14. millar876 macrumors 6502a

    millar876

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    May 13, 2004
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    Peterhead, Scotland UK
    #14
    i to would go for a 9600 pro, there are lots of places that will tell you how to flach the card upto a 9600XT saving a bit of cash.

    but one thing, whatever card you buy DONT INSTALL the suplied drivers, download a set from http://www.omegadrivers.net/ these drivers are re-engineered versions of the oficial nVidia ATI andeven the old3Dfx graphics card drivers and give a lot more options.
     
  15. Rezet macrumors 6502a

    Rezet

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    #15

    NO. Don't get anything less than a 9600Pro even for 2200 Athlon.
     
  16. rccola70 macrumors regular

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    Oct 28, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #16
    most of these guys recommended an ATi card and you got an nVidia one? lol

    I recommend a 9600 pro all the way to the 9800 XT (meaning anything in between is fine). Or you could wait for the AGP versions of the X600 or X800 whenever ATi chooses to introduce them..but you should read up on the benchmarks over at anandtech.com and tomshardware.com. They test and compare just about everything.
     
  17. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    #17
    dude, "LE" is the same in NV-Speak as "SE" is in ATI-Speak...that is, "Slow Edition"

    the reason that card was under 100 dollars is because it's only marginally (very marginally, as it happens) faster than a 5200 Ultra 128mb card...

    the 256mb is a red herring with a card that slow...and your DX9 performance with the FX chip will be pretty poor, in general.

    You'll be able to play Doom 3 with medium detail settings at 800x600, or choppy at 1024x768.

    HL2 and source-based games will revert to DX8 mode automatically so that you don't get a slideshow.

    Too late now if you've ordered it, but a 9600 Pro 128 from pretty much any online distributor is running about 105 dollars, maybe 110 or 115...and it would have killed your 5700 "LE."

    Oh well.

    It's definitely better than the 16mb card you had before...and it's better than the card in my dual processor G5...but it wasn't your best option...even for the price.
     
  18. Pismo macrumors 6502

    Pismo

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    NH
    #18
    I have an NVidia FX5900 Ultra 128MB (AGP 8x) in my PC and it is an amazing card. You might want to go with an NVidia card for more compatibility. Before this card, I had an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB card and it would crash Doom3 and Knights of the Old Republic constantly. I sold that card and bought the 5900 and never had a problem with it or those games.

    I'm running XP Pro on a 2 GHz AMD Athlon 2400+, 1.5 GB PC 2700 DDR, 80 gig WD.

    Oh, the motherboard that I have, MSI, couldn't handle AGP 8x with the 9800. With the 5900, it runs as 8x great.
     
  19. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    Nov 4, 2003
    #19
    pismo, sounds like you had a faulty 9800.

    i wouldn't say the 5900 is an "amazing card." It's a good card, but not a good value for the money. a 6600 GT is cheaper and faster and more advanced in literally every way.

    that your 9800 couldn't "handle" 8x AGP should tell you that something was wrong with that card...probably the same "problem" that made it crash in doom 3 and Knights.

    My 9600 never gave me any trouble with either of those games...and it, of course, ran 8x agp without incident. maybe you have a bad mobo?

    the 5900 should be dropping in price to 150-200 dollars pretty soon, because it's outclassed by cheaper, newer products from both nvidia and ati.

    by the way, the only ATI product i ever had any trouble with was an old 64-bit Rage Pro card (it ran in 4x AGP, too...in 1998). Anyway, I wouldn't be dismissing ATI if I were you.
     
  20. Pismo macrumors 6502

    Pismo

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    #20
    No, my 9800 was not faulty. It worked great with all of my other games (Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Jedi Knight, Max Payne 2). I think the 9800 couldn't handle the new game code or something. I think the main problem is that my motherboard is junk and doesn't like ATI cards.

    I bought my 5900 with my discount (Best Buy employee). It's a great card for my gaming. At the time, the 6800 wasn't out and this was the cream of the crop card on the market so I got the best card for the money. I'm happy with it. Although, I would've really like to have gotten an AT X800.
     
  21. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    #21
    you're lucky the 5900 works if your 9800 wasn't messed up...because the 5900 is one...finicky...little monster.

    well, you know what I mean if you installed it...it's a 2-slot card, right? with a huge fan? The one I used was...and noisy as crap (but not as bad as the 5800 Ultra).

    But it's pretty much identical in capabilities with a 9800 Pro or, depending on the brand, a 9800 XT.

    I just got a 6600 GT AGP...(there's currently almost a waiting list for these).

    It's running about 10-20% faster than the 5900 U and 9800 XT...which is exceedingly nice since it was $225.
     
  22. Spymit007 thread starter macrumors regular

    Spymit007

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    #22

    Heh, well my friend (the one giving me his Athlon CPU and motherboard) told me that nVidia was a better choice because they had better drivers than ATI. I'm just going with what he said. Granted the 5700LE isn't exactly the best of videocards but it will be SOOOOO much better than what I have now (although that's not saying much). The card came in the mail today and I am going to install it sometime tonight.

    Also, I would just like to tell everyone who has been so gracious to share some of their wisdom on this thread that my purchase of a videocard for my newly acquired PC is simply going to be something that is going to tidy me over until I get a new Mac. When the time comes for that purchase, you better believe I am going to do my homework and get a top of the line videocard for that (anyone think the GeForce 6800 Go will be in the next Powerbook revision or when the Powerbooks finally go G5?).

    In the meantime, I'll be happy playing Warcraft III, WoW, SimCity 4, and The Sims 2 on this PC (when I have the time anyway).
     
  23. Spymit007 thread starter macrumors regular

    Spymit007

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    #23
    Well I won't be playing Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 so it's a moot point. I don't like first person shooter games (yeah yeah, that must mean I'm not a TRUE gamer...I get that from all my other hardcore gamer friends).

    I don't think I'll regret this purchase. Like I posted before, it's just going to be a card to tidy me over until a new Apple powerbook comes out.
     
  24. benpatient macrumors 68000

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    Nov 4, 2003
    #24
    then it should do you just fine.

    too bad you won't be able to enjoy FSAA in Sims 2, though.

    You'll notice either the "jaggies" or the "stutters" with that card...but at least you won't have both!


    Sims 2 is a lot of fun.

    (different forms of death result in different types of ghosts, by the way)
     
  25. Spymit007 thread starter macrumors regular

    Spymit007

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    #25
    Well my 5700LE has been installed and I've been playing WoW, Warcarft III, and SimCity 4 on it. Every game runs extremely smooth. The difference from my old 16MB card is simply astounding as one can imagine. For the money, it a very good value in my opinion. Because the video card has DVI support, I'm now contemplating a 20" Cinema Display which I could always use with a future powerbook purchase...what have I gotten myself into??? Again, thanks for everyone's input!
     

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