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***The AGP & PCI-E Graphics Card Buyers Guide***

Discussion in 'Graphics Cards' started by melbourne720, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    ***The AGP & PCI-E Graphics Card Buyers Guide***

    Don't know what graphics card to buy? Hope this helps...

    PCI-E
    This is the premier format of development for graphics cards. The following are the cards of choice (not all the PCI-E cards). Although there will be some variety between manufacturers, the following is basically the order of PCI-E power.

    PCI-E Cards

    <<<Least Powerful>>>
    7600 GT {36W} ,
    7900 GS {45W} ,
    x1950 Pro {66W} ,
    HD 3850 Pro 256MB {} [DX10],
    8800 GTS 320MB [DX10] ,
    HD 3850 Pro 256MB {} [DX10],
    (G92) 8800 GS 256MB{115W} [DX10],
    HD 3850 Pro 512MB {} [DX10],
    (G92) 8800 GT 256MB{115W} [DX10],
    HD 2900 XT/Pro {up to 225W} [DX10],
    Is approximately tied with…
    8800 GTS 640MB {145W} [DX10],
    Is approximately tied with…
    (G94) 9600 GT 512MB {} [DX10],
    HD 3870 XT 512MB {} [DX10],
    (G92) 8800 GT 512MB {115W} [DX10],
    (G92) 8800 GTS 512MB {185W} [DX10],
    8800 GTX {185W} [DX10],
    9800 GTX {} [DX10]
    8800 ULTRA {175W} [DX10],
    HD 3870 X2 512MB(x2) {} [DX10].
    9800 GX2 {} [DX10],
    <<<Most Powerful>>>



    Legend
    [] = technical info, i.e. special edition or dx version
    (S/H) = second hand availability only
    {} = Maximum power draw of the card

    <<<Always buy the cheapest version, and clock it up to the speed of the fastest brand>>>

    ***Bargain Alert!!***

    8800 GT - Fast and clocks well, 10-20% in many cases.

    9600 GT - Almost as fast as 8800 gt, very cheap, good for sli

    8800 GTS 512 - As good for 1680 x 1050 as the 8800 GT are for 1280 x 1024. 2 of them are 9800 GX2 beaters, but you'll need an SLi motherboard.

    3850 Pro 512 / 3870 XT - Clocks well and dirt cheap. Good for 'crossfiring', and all the popular intel boards can do that.



    Old Technology Warning

    There are numerous ATi cards that are very powerful, such as the X1950XT-X and the x1950 XT, and NVidia cards such as the 7950 GT, that haven't been listed here. The reason for this is that they are powerful DirectX 9 cards, and as we move to VISTA with DirectX 10 they have been superseded by cards which are approximately the same price but have more future proofing with Direct X 10.

    *** Naff NVidia DX10 Card Warning***

    Sadly the 8600 GTS has proven to be a bit of a let down in the frames per second department. Even Gibbo can’t recommend them, and they loose out to the x1950 Pro in DX 9 games.

    The sticking point appears to be the 128Bit memory interface – NVidia has now released the 8800 GT with a 256bit memory interface, which supersedes this card in every area.

    Just to be absolutely clear:-

    8800 GTX/GT/GTS – good for games
    8600 GTS – bad for games


    SLi

    This is where two NVidia GFX cards do one screens worth of work, giving up to 2x performance. Note that they don't have to be the same brand, just the same model & clock speed for instance an OCUK 8800GTX will work with a BFG 8800GTX.

    This is possible on all the above recommend NVidia (green) cards with SLi capable motherboards of 2 x 8, but in my opinion is only worth it if (a) you get a really good price on the additional card or (b) you have a top of the range card and there isn’t any further you can upgrade! In most cases upgrade to a more powerful single card, it will be faster and less hassle.

    Crossfire

    SLi for ATi cards (red). Same rules apply, but for ATi. N.B. Crossfire no longer needs an external dongle, it can be performed on most chipsets (known: P965) with a BIOS update.


    AGP


    Whilst we all hanker after a PCI-E motherboard and either a 8800 GTX SLi or a R600 crossfire setup, when reality sets in and the bills have to be paid, a good value AGP setup can keep you gaming for a long while. Here is a list to what’s what:-

    <<<Least Powerful>>>
    9200 (S/H) {35W} ,
    Geforce 4 MX (S/H) {30W} [DX7],
    9500 Pro (S/H) {17W} ,
    Geforce Ti4200 (S/H) {35W} [DX8],
    Geforce Ti4400 (S/H) {35W} [DX8],
    Geforce Ti4600 (S/H) {35W} [DX8],
    9600 Pro (S/H) {18W} ,
    9600 XT (S/H) {22W} ,
    9700 (S/H) {42W} ,
    9700 Pro (S/H) {42W} ,
    9800 Pro (S/H) {47W} ,
    6600 GT (S/H) {48W} ,
    7600 GS {27W} ,
    X800 Pro (S/H) {48W} ,
    6800 GS {54W} ,
    X800 XL (S/H) {49W} ,
    6800 GT (S/H) {55W} ,
    6800 Ultra (S/H) {72W} ,
    X800 XT (S/H) {58W} ,
    X850 XT (S/H) {68W} ,
    X850 XT PE (S/H) {74W} …,
    7600 GT {36W} ,
    X1650 XT {55W}
    7800GS [16 Pipes] {52W}
    7800GS [20 Pipes] {52W}
    7800GS+ [24 Pipes] (S/H) {52W}
    But the top AGP card is...

    x1950 Pro {66W} ,

    However!
    The most powerful is

    GeCube x1950XT TEC {100-120W} ,
    This card is provisionally the most powerful, awaiting confirmation by review sources. Note the cost and power requirements are unknown. Read this review by honestjohn and decide for yourself <x1950XT AGP>
    <<<Most Powerful>>>

    Legend
    [] = technical info, i.e. special edition or dx version
    () = OCuk Price or second hand
    {} = Maximum power draw of the card


    Note the above cards are DX9 unless stated, (S/H) stands for second hand, and where new the prices have been included. The order above will change slightly depending on whether the games are Pixel heavy (ATi for the win) or Vertex heavy (NVidia for the win).

    What type of user are you?

    Non-gamer


    The cheapest card you can find really. Keep an eye out for what (and how many) outputs are needed (DVI or VGA for the monitor, S-Video with splitter leads for composite are most common). Passive heatsinks are good with a well ventilated case, otherwise the bigger the fan, the quieter it is (generally speaking).


    Casual Gamer

    We’re still in the Second Hand Market, with purchases like the ti4200 and the 9700 Pro for older/retro games (3+ years old) at lower resolutions (800x600,1024x768), and the 7600 GS, 6800GS/GT and the X800/850 XT giving increasingly better performance with the medium resolution (1280 x 1024) and newer games (1-3 years old). Please note that with these comparisons I’m not always using the highest detail, just medium to high.

    Serious Gamer

    The choice in this league is really the 7600 GT, X1650 XT, x1950 Pro and the 7800GS[16/20 Pipes]. When paired with a suitable CPU and 2GB of RAM this can handle the latest games at respectable frame rates (25fps+). Also these cards will allow you to add some AA and AF without too much fear.



    VISTA

    VISTA Aero interface requires 128MB of video RAM and DX9. The following chipsets are deemed by Microsoft to be VISTA compatible:-

    NVIDIA GPUs
    All 8 series
    GeForce 7900 GPUs
    GeForce 7800 GPUs
    GeForce 7600 GPUs
    GeForce 7300 GPUs
    GeForce 6800 GPUs
    GeForce 6600 GPUs
    GeForce 6500 GPUs
    GeForce 6200 GPUs
    GeForce 6100/6150 GPUs
    GeForce FX 5900 GPUs
    GeForce FX 5700 GPUs
    GeForce FX 5600 GPUs
    GeForce FX 5500 GPUs
    GeForce FX 5200 GPUs
    GeForce PCX GPUs

    ATI GPUs
    HD 2x00 Series (2900, etc)
    Radeon 9500, 9550, 9600, 9650, 9700, 9800, X300, X600, X700, X800, X850
    Radeon X1300, X1600, X1800, X1900, HD 2900 series
    Mobility Radeon® 9550, 9600, 9700, 9800, X300, X600, X700, X800
    Mobility Radeon® X1300, X1400, X1600, X1800



    Corrections, suggestions, revisions and opinions all appreciated (sorry if I let out your favourite card, please let me know). If people want, could this be made a sticky (not sure how, or if it will be useful?)

    As a final note, if you are just browsing the web, writing e-mails and using office, any graphics card will do, just get the cheapest! :D

    Power ratings from http://www.atomicmpc.com.au.

    NVidia Drivers

    ATi Drivers


    Useful Utilities

    GPUZ - see what card you have
    http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/SysInfo/GPU-Z/

    Rivatuner - clock that card to go faster
    http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=163
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2008
  2. jrodga2k5

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 28, 2005

    Posts: 8,504

    Location: Motherwell, Scotland

    You havent mentioned the 7800gs models for agp which are still around :)
    You may wish to add them to the list!
    Im fairly sure they are round about the same speed as the x1950pro, obviosuly the price is higher though @ around 200!

    May act as a good warning in the whole price/performance ranks

    Nice idea for a topic though
     
  3. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Thanks for the comment. I have included the 20 pipes version for completeness.

    I agree, it does take a bit of a hammering in the value for money stakes!

    People should always look at a benchmark before deciding on a card, and not just Toms!! :D
     
  4. jrodga2k5

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 28, 2005

    Posts: 8,504

    Location: Motherwell, Scotland

    Possibly a GTO mention for PCI-e may be decent too!

    Pretty much got everything else covered! :)

    Nice guide!
     
  5. trojan698

    Soldato

    Joined: Oct 21, 2005

    Posts: 5,484

    Location: Edinburgh

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2007
  6. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    I was considering the 7900 GTO (I assume that is the one you are thinking of) but as it is out of 'print' and is only £20 less than the cheapest GTS I thought it was best not to mention it.

    When it was cheaper, it was the card de jour
     
  7. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

  8. jrodga2k5

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 28, 2005

    Posts: 8,504

    Location: Motherwell, Scotland

    There isnt much between the 7800gs and x1950 pro agp's if they are indeed the correct versions, I still think the pro edges it, so if u change their positions then it clearly shows that despite the price the x1950pro is awesome :)
     
  9. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    You present a compelling case, the x1950 Pro is clearly the best AGP card. It moves to the top spot! :cool:
     
  10. Darkwave

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 25, 2005

    Posts: 13,780

    Have some stars. *********************
     
  11. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Cheers Ulf.

    I have added a note about minimum VISTA Aero requirement (i.e. 128MB of video RAM and DX9)
     
  12. Sean_UK

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 6, 2006

    Posts: 2,507

    Location: South East

    7800GS+[24 Pipes] not mentiond, cant get them from o/c anymore, however ive still seen them elsewhere. ;) Next best thing to x1950.
     
  13. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Cheers Sean_UK, I have included it.

    My god, how many more versions of the 7800GS is there going to be!! :eek: :D
     
  14. Yoko

    Hitman

    Joined: Jun 12, 2004

    Posts: 612

    Location: Blackpool

    Is the x1950pro agp a decent upgrade from an x800xtpe?
    im thinking of upgrading but dont wanna have to go new mobo, ddr2, core2 just yet
    ive picked up an old 512mb stick to go with one i had spare so ive now got 2 gig (4x512mb) tho i had to loosen timings to 2.5-3-3-6
    im thinking of new card but want to know just how much faster it really is?
     
  15. lay-z-boy

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Sep 27, 2004

    Posts: 9,231

    Location: Nantwich

    Guide has so much more potential in it, if some of the boffins lend a hand it could really work out.


    Suggestions so far (might work on these when i have time):

    Cover all the ranges from integrated to 8800gtx sli
    Drivers?
    directx 9 subclass', such as b,c etc. and a small explanation

    im reluctant to say sticky but the nvidia one is old as heck and needs to go (6800 is a looong time ago)
     
  16. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Agreed, I was aware that I have covered only a smattering of graphics cards - those that I have owned myself, and those that crop up most anecdotally on the forums. As a lot of us upgrade from old powerful cards to new powerful cards, so questions like "What is better, 6200 or 7100?" are harder to answer.

    Like it.
    Like it.
    Could have some sort of table Graphics cards and their best drivers.
    Like it a lot
    Fair enough, e-mail in trust if you have any suggestions (or just post them). I welcome the input of the more experienced for the guide! :D
     
  17. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Added an 'Old Technology Warning', to alert people to the lack of future proofing given by powerful DX9 cards such as the x1950XT-X.
     
  18. Sean_UK

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 6, 2006

    Posts: 2,507

    Location: South East

    Lol yeah i think you've got them all coverd now :)
     
  19. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Quite a bit faster, I'd say between 50% and 100% faster.
     
  20. melbourne720

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 26, 2006

    Posts: 1,945

    Location: West Bridgford

    Updated with power ratings for the cards. Note these are maximum load power ratings for the cards on their own and not for the whole system! :D