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Author Topic: Help me pick a video card?  (Read 1150 times)
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Kyosho
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« on: May 05, 2010, 11:23:05 AM »

I've been out of the loop as far as video cards go for a few years now. The last time I knew what was what, was back when I got my current card. Which is a 7900GS. So, a few years ago. Nvidia has so many different numbers for different series cards that I'm confused. I want to spend around $100, so nothing fancy. Maybe as much as $150 but that'd be pushing it. I'm not necessarily looking to play the newest games at max settings, I just want to be able to play them period.

I've got a PCI Express 16x slot. I think it's just a normal one, not 2.0 or whatever. I don't even know what 2.0 or 2.1 or any of that means. I've been a devoted Nvidia fanboy since back in the days that my Voodoo 3 stopped being relevant (10 years maybe?), but I'm not opposed to getting an ATI card if I can get more bang for my buck. I know even less about ATI cards than I do about recent Nvidia cards, though.  retard

I usually prefer buying from Newegg. There's just so many cards on there around the same price, with all kinds of different model numbers. It's very confusing. Any help is greatly appreciated.
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ericb
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 12:24:43 PM »

it depends on cost.  I think ATI is the way to go right now but the series is going to depend on how much you can spend

4xxx series: great cards, cheap now (around $125), 4850 is still one of the best values out.  It will run circles around the 7900 you have, trip it, kick it while it's down and then laugh at it
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150351

5xxx series: newest line, moderate cost ($175-$350), supports dx11, higher end models still hard to find.  I have the 5750 which is only slightly faster than the 4850, slower in some cases but it runs much cooler and has more memory.  It's around $175 and the 58xx series continues up into the $250-$450 range.

Don't know about NVidia cards...I've been with ATI since upgrading my 8800 to a 4850 a couple of years ago.  Driver support seems to be much better with ATI now and with NVidia's problems (and cost) I prefer ATI.
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Kyosho
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 01:22:06 PM »

Ooh, I like the sound of that card. Hmmm. I'd prefer to spend a bit less (it's about $140 with shipping), but I'll definitely keep it in mind.

Edit: This might be a stupid question, but will a PCE-E 2.0 card like that work in my normal 16x slot? Or are the slots all the same but the cards have something different? I'm so clueless.

Edit2: Ooh, different manufacturer, much cheaper here. Wonder if there's much difference. I notice the lack of a huge heatsink. Hmm.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 08:40:01 PM by Kyosho » Logged
DrJones
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 09:13:40 PM »

Your best bet is an ATI 4850 with 1gb memory.  They are around $100-125.  What is your CPU/motherboard and power supply?
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Kyosho
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 09:24:30 PM »

I can't remember my motherboard model but it has an LGA 775 slot. I have a 1.8Ghz E4300 Core 2 Duo, which is quite a bit on the low side these days, I know. I originally bought that CPU (a couple years ago) because it was meant to be a great overclocking chip. However, it turned out the motherboard I got didn't like overclocking. I've got 2GB of DDR2 667. I think.  Or was it DDR2 800?

I realize I could do with a complete upgrade. A totally new system. I just can't afford it at the moment. And I'm pretty sure the video card is the weakest aspect currently. Though I realize the whole thing in general is pretty weak.

Edit: Oh and I've got a 500w power supply.
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ericb
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 10:45:04 PM »

One thing...any of the newer cards (9xxx series or higher NVidia and 4xxx series and higher ATI) are going to require a dedicated six pin power supply plug.  ATI typically requires 1 extra plug while many NVidia cards will take two.  500W is plenty for a 4850 if it's a good quality card.  And a PCIx slot is a PCIx slot...shouldn't be any issues with a newer card.  I don't know what else you do on your computer but I would get RAM too while it's cheap...adding 2GB should be $40-50 and you would notice a difference in many newer games (even with a 32 bit system you would still gain 1.25 GB of RAM adding 2GB).  All it takes is one earthquake in Taiwan and that $40 memory is now $180 smile
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Kyosho
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2010, 06:52:23 AM »

I don't think I could afford to do both. I've only got two memory slots and currently there's a 1GB stick in each. In order to upgrade, I'd have to replace rather than add. Which would cost more (rather than buying a 1GB stick to get to 3GB, I'd have to buy a 2GB stick). I reposted this thread on OO, by the way. Here's the link in case you want to follow there as well. Hamsterball_Z thinks I should upgrade the CPU. But yeah, can't afford both. What's your opinion here? Of all three things, CPU, RAM, video card, which is going to make the biggest difference?

Oh, by the way, my 7900 GS already requires two of those power connectors so I'm well prepared in that regard.

Edit: Since both of you are familiar with ATI stuff, what is the software/drivers like? Possibly my favorite thing about the Nvidia control panel is that I can set up profiles for individual games as far as settings go (force AA, etc.) that get run automagically. Does the ATI software (uh... Crossfire? is that it?) have that ability? It's such a small thing but it might swing my purchase back to Nvidia if it doesn't have it.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 07:10:17 AM by Kyosho » Logged
Hamsterball_Z
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2010, 10:43:02 PM »

I'll come over here to reply.   smile

The biggest gain would be from the video card, easily 3x to 4x better than what you've got now.  If you can only do one, do the video card.  Looking at this E4300 review you're probably only going to gain 15%-20% from the E6500 I recommended if you're stuck at stock speeds.  RAM isn't going to matter unless you're using more than 2GB.  RAM prices are kinda high right now anyway.  I got 4GB last summer for $40, it's at least double that price right now.

For the GTers, here's what I recommended on OO (all prices from Newegg and are after rebates):
Nvidia GTS 250 512MB, $90.
GTS 250 1GB, $110.
ATI 5750 1GB, $120.
5770 1GB, $140.

That's roughly in order of performance as well as price.  If you want some benchmark numbers, I'm looking at this Anandtech review.  There's numbers for 20+ different cards, from an old 9600GT to the 5970

ATI has the advantage of DX11 support, the Nvidia has Physx.  You might get more mileage out of Physx (Batman AA for example), a lot of the DX11 features are probably going to need more horsepower than the 5750 or 5770 can give you.  I don't know about ATI's profile support in the Catalyst drivers but I'm pretty sure they have that feature.  I've had both ATI and Nvidia cards but I've never used the profiles on either.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 10:51:23 PM by Hamsterball_Z » Logged

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Kyosho
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2010, 11:56:41 PM »

I know I probably sound a bit crazy to hardcore PC gamers such as yourselves, but I still use Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit). I can't make use of anything beyond DX9. And considering my PC specs, I didn't think there'd be any advantage to moving onto Windows 7 (or Vista prior to that). With my specs, and whatever new video card I end up with, is there any point in upgrading to Windows 7 now? Will running games in DX10 (or 10.1 or 11) add any speed benefits? Or only visual benefits? If it's visuals, will those improved visuals decrease performance?

I've got a lot of old games which I probably need to keep XP for, but I've toyed with the idea of dual-booting. I have an empty 20GB partition on my hard drive, I wonder if that'd be enough space for the 32bit version.
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Hamsterball_Z
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 01:42:10 AM »

Hey, I've got a E5200 and an 8800GTS so don't think I'm some uber gamer.  I'm in the same boat as you (the E5200 is overclocked though icon_twisted). 

Windows 7 doesn't require much more hardware than XP does, you could easily run it on your current PC as-is.  That said, I wouldn't be in any hurry to jump on it if XP is working fine for you.  Windows 7 has some nice features but the programs you use now aren't going to run any different because of it.  Most older programs run fine on 7, doing a dual boot for XP seems unnecessary.  DX10 and 11 add some new visuals, most of them are going to take a performance hit to run.  I do remember seeing something showing a few games running faster on DX10 but it was only by a very small amount. 

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CeeKay
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 04:02:58 AM »

the nVidia 260 GTX was a nice solid, cheap card.  not sure how widely available they are nowadays though.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 04:32:49 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on May 07, 2010, 04:02:58 AM

the nVidia 260 GTX was a nice solid, cheap card.  not sure how widely available they are nowadays though.

Sadly, they're also still fairly expensive. I love my gigabyte SOC unit though.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048%201305520548%20106792634%201067940781&bop=And&Order=PRICE&PageSize=20

The direct competitor for the series, is the Radeon 5770 class... approx equal in performance. They're a little cheaper on average, but still only barely in the price range listed.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048%201305520549%20106793261%201067950041&name=Radeon%20HD%205770

Note: In addition to being probably the biggest difference you could make... the video card is also the only upgrade you can feasibly carry forward to your next machine, assuming you upgrade in the next couple of years.
Note2: More ram WOULD make a big difference for you, however, you've already listed the drawbacks.

Atomic
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2010, 04:39:53 AM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on May 07, 2010, 04:32:49 AM

Quote from: CeeKay on May 07, 2010, 04:02:58 AM

the nVidia 260 GTX was a nice solid, cheap card.  not sure how widely available they are nowadays though.

Sadly, they're also still fairly expensive. I love my gigabyte SOC unit though.

I must have gotten mine on sale (or maybe it was a mail in rebate), I could have sworn the EVGA one my other rig has was about $160.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 05:25:46 AM »

Quote from: CeeKay on May 07, 2010, 04:39:53 AM

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on May 07, 2010, 04:32:49 AM

Quote from: CeeKay on May 07, 2010, 04:02:58 AM

the nVidia 260 GTX was a nice solid, cheap card.  not sure how widely available they are nowadays though.

Sadly, they're also still fairly expensive. I love my gigabyte SOC unit though.

I must have gotten mine on sale (or maybe it was a mail in rebate), I could have sworn the EVGA one my other rig has was about $160.

Were. Prices went up a lot recently.

Atomic
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ericb
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2010, 12:27:37 AM »

Quote from: Kyosho on May 06, 2010, 11:56:41 PM

I know I probably sound a bit crazy to hardcore PC gamers such as yourselves, but I still use Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit). I can't make use of anything beyond DX9. And considering my PC specs, I didn't think there'd be any advantage to moving onto Windows 7 (or Vista prior to that). With my specs, and whatever new video card I end up with, is there any point in upgrading to Windows 7 now? Will running games in DX10 (or 10.1 or 11) add any speed benefits? Or only visual benefits? If it's visuals, will those improved visuals decrease performance?

I've got a lot of old games which I probably need to keep XP for, but I've toyed with the idea of dual-booting. I have an empty 20GB partition on my hard drive, I wonder if that'd be enough space for the 32bit version.

Unofficially  ninja you can get dx 10 on xp.  Before switching to Win7 I had dx10 working under xp sp3 and was playing the enhanced lotro with the dx10 graphics.

On the subject...the best value vs performance is still the 4850.  It's cheap and faster than the 5750.  But the 5750 has dx11, costs about the same and runs much cooler.  And most of the 57xx series have up to 1GB of vram vs most of the 4850 having 512.  Driver support is only going to improve the 5xxx series too while the 4xxx series is going to fall more and more behind as time passes.  Driver support is great and I don't have any issues with any game I play.

I used to love NVidia but I wouldn't use one now unless someone gave it to me...too many driver issues, too many heat issues, too many company issues.  ATI has ruled video cards since the 4850 was released and NVidia is still playing catchup with inferior cards that cost more (now...prices have gone up more as supply as gotten worse).
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Kyosho
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2010, 07:15:28 PM »

Well, my money came today and I finally ordered a card. I took all of your advice to heart, and then also read a ton of reviews with benchmarks for all sorts of games.  I eventually decided on the Palit GTS 250 1GB. It was the cheapest brand of that card, and it's a "Green Edition. "  From what I've read, I'm pretty sure it's just a gimmick and the only difference is the card is slightly underclocked. Which will change as soon as it gets into my grubby mitts, of course.

Why did I choose this card? Well, it was down to it or the 4850. Basically every single thing I read put it neck and neck with the 4850 performance-wise. It came down to whether a game was designed primarily with Nvidia or ATi in mind to make a difference between the two. When it came to drivers and software, I'm very familiar with Nvidia software (and third party stuff for Nvidia cards). I'm comfortable with it. Yet, at the same time, the ATI software is totally new and could potentially be a fun experience (I enjoy anything "new", really). The 250 card is based on the 9800+, which, I think, was in turn based on an 8800 card. It's old hardware really. Which is the main reason I nearly didn't buy it. What it came down to though, was heat and power usage. The GTS just runs a bit cooler, and sucks a bit less power. Not a huge amount of difference really, but enough to matter to me. Honestly, I didn't decide until the last second with both Newegg tabs open.

Thank for all your help, guys.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 07:17:16 PM by Kyosho » Logged
TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2010, 02:03:35 AM »

I'd actually been eyeing some of those palit units, to set up a folding box or three. However, sanity won out, and I'm saving on electricity instead. However, they do look like pretty decent, and economical, units. I do hope you ordered the 1 gig unit, rather than the half gig. Textures in todays games aren't getting smaller.

Atomic
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Kyosho
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« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2010, 02:43:38 AM »

Quote from: TheAtomicKid on May 12, 2010, 02:03:35 AM

I do hope you ordered the 1 gig unit, rather than the half gig. Textures in todays games aren't getting smaller.

Yessir. In benchmarks I've seen, the extra 512mb didn't seem to add a lot of performance. However, I can only assume it would help as far as future-proofing against as yet untested games.
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Kyosho
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« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2010, 10:04:10 PM »

Got it and installed it today. I don't have a whole lot of games installed at the moment, but I knew one thing I had to test. Fallout 3, all settings maxed, standing on the Tenpenny Tower balcony. I walked around the entirety of it and it was smooth as silk. Lowest number the framerate dropped to was 35. I don't think I could even get a max of 35 even with the settings lowered on my 7900GS (though I always played the game with Large textures). It usually chugged somewhere around 15-25.

Granted, Fallout 3 isn't exactly the newest or most taxing game I could try, but still. I mean, I haven't even "over"-clocked it to the normal stock specs of a GTS 250. It's still at it's default "Extremely Green" power-saving specs. I'm pretty satisfied so far!

Wheeeeeeeeee!  icon_biggrin
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