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Author Topic: Best video card for $100(ish)  (Read 661 times)
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Gratch
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« on: August 12, 2010, 12:58:49 PM »

I finally got my boss to spring for a new PC this week.  It was supposed to have a Radeon 5670, but he chose the wrong option when customizing it on Dell's website and put in a 5450 (1 GB) instead.  Since the 5450 will technically work just fine for the video editing work I'll be doing, he won't do any upgrades to the video card.  So I'm on my own if I want to get something better.

I checked a few reviews last night, and they all pretty much said the 5450 is - as one site put it - "definitely not a card for gamers".  Unfortunately, I only have about $100 I can spend on an upgrade right now.  I saw a couple cards in that price range on Pricewatch (a Radeon 5670 or GF 240) and am seeking the hive mind opinion on whether they would provide a significant enough performance increase to warrant an upgrade.  Or am I better off just sticking with the 5450 until something better comes along?

Keep in mind I'm upgrading from a GF 7600, so even the 5450 is likely to be a massive improvement.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 02:37:46 PM »

I'm using an ATI HD4600 series card (probably $70-$90 nowadays - maybe $130 when I got it), and it does fine in Starcraft 2 and various other current games. It's ideal for weaker power supplies (doesn't use an external power connector), and is relatively quiet.

I only have a 19" monitor though at 1280X1024 rez. If you're using a 40", 3900X2600 rez (or whatever) monitor, I don't know if any sub $100 card will make you happy.  icon_smile

And how do I get a job where my boss approves of me using my work PC for gaming anyway?  biggrin
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2010, 03:12:16 PM »

When I finally get the money to build my rig, I'll be reading the Tom's Hardware reviews.

Here's the August recommendations.

Quote
Best PCIe Card For ~$105: Tie

Radeon HD 4850 1 GB
Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

GeForce GTS 250 1 GB
Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail
...
Neither the Radeon HD 4850 nor the GeForce GTS 250 offer DirectX 11 support.
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Gratch
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2010, 03:22:13 PM »

I had just found that same link Isgrimnur.  smile  I'm leaning towards that 4850 as well.

The naming conventions for these cards are baffling.  It used to be that higher numbers were better, but according to this chart, the Radeon 5450 is significantly worse than, say, a 4850.  No wonder I was so confused.  Looks like the 5450 that's in this new machine is actually worse than the old Geforce 7600GT I've been using for the last 4-5 years.  That sucks.

Now I also get to play the "will it fit" game in this Dell tower - both with size and power supply.  Won't that be fun...
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2010, 03:50:26 PM »

Wiki is the greatest

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At current, ATI names each card by generation, series, and by performance. The first number is the generation number, for example, 5000, and this is related to the chipset used by the video card. The second number indicates the series quality in the generation, starting from 0400 to 0600 at entry level, for media and home theatre, 0700 for low intensity video games (typically using older graphics engines, or widespread games, such as Starcraft and World of Warcraft) or high-intensity games with lowered settings, and 0800 for high-intensity games, such as Crysis or Far Cry 2. ... The third digit is the relative quality, within a series- a 5850 is less powerful than a 5870.

So while a 5000 series card is (per the Wiki chart) a mainstream card and the 4000 series is Budget, the 800 series is suitable for high-end gaming, where the 400 is suitable for entry-level video needs.
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Chaz
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 04:16:43 PM »

I can confirm that the 1gb GTS 250s do just fine for gaming.  I don't think I've had to drop settings below max for any game besides Crysis since I got it, running at 1680x1050.
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Pyperkub
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 05:22:56 PM »

NewEgg had a 512mb 4850 for $70 last night.
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Caine
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2010, 08:40:24 PM »

Quote from: Pyperkub on August 12, 2010, 05:22:56 PM

NewEgg had a 512mb 4850 for $70 last night.

looks like that one sold out.  here's the big brother
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Creepy_Smell
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2010, 11:46:09 PM »

Have you peaked in the case to see if it can only fit a single slot card? Seems most new cards take up more than 1 slot. This is my current issue with upgrading my gateway (Have a tuner card right under vid that won't fit any other slot). I'm going from a HD 4650 (which isn't too shabby for stock) to either a HD 5670 or GT 240 which seemed to be the only 1 slotters unless I go for older tech (Most of which run hotter or need a bigger PSU than I have). Either will probably suit my needs fine as I play at 1440x900 and don't mind medium settings.
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Chaz
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2010, 12:18:43 AM »

Also be careful of the length of the card.  I kind of had to go with the 250 because my Dell with a tiny case literally couldn't fit the 260.  The 250 uses a smaller die size chip, so the card is about an inch shorter, so just barely fits in the case.  Just something else to keep in mind.
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Gratch
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2010, 12:22:15 AM »

How do i figure out the wattage (voltage?) of my power supply?  Don't see it on the spec sheet anywhere...
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Chaz
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« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2010, 12:47:00 AM »

It'll be on a label on the power supply itself.  The non-specialist computer places probably wouldn't include it on the parts sheet because most non-gamers/techies wouldn't care.
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