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CarbonFire
3rd Dec 2007, 06:51 PM
This is a response to the question about graphics cards in the COD4 forum. Since it's getting more technical and delving into suggestions as to which is the best buy, I thought it'd be better to continue the discussion down in here :D

i need help to. I need to buy my son a new video card and of course he wants games (so cod4 for pc might be in our future). But i cant really spend over $100.00.

When it comes to video card im about dumb and dont really understand whats good vs what isnt.
This card is on sale at a really good price. Does anyone think this will run cod4 or ut3
BFG Tech BFGE85256GTE GeForce 8500GT 256MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814143104

$79.99
($39.99 after $40.00 Mail-In Rebate)

Its a great deal... but does the card suck? BFG is suppose to be a really good company arent they?

or is this card better?
XFX PVT84JUDD3 GeForce 8600GT XXX 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150229
Free Company of Heroes game w/ purchase, limited offer
Original Price: $129.99
You Save: $20.00
$109.99
($79.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate)


Of does anyone know a better site to get a decent video card for around $100.00. that will run todays games. Doesn't have to be settings on max but run good enough to be playable and enjoyable. He loves the xbox 360 but he also loves shooters and mmo`s on pc. Can anyone give me a suggestion?
I think he needs a pci express card, he is using onboard video card now and it wont run anything. wow was its last arruh.

First off, there is no magic bullet for price performance. At the end of the day, you still get what you pay for. A $100 card isn't going to enable you to start running the latest and greatest (especially games like Crysis/UT3) on anything but med/low settings. That said, if your budget is severely limited, you can still get respectable performance even at this price point.

Second, let's cut through the marketing crap a bit. When comparing graphics cards, ignore the first number in the product model. The key number these days is the second number, as that one denotes which market the card is targeted at (3=low end, 6=mid range, 8-9= high end). This goes for Nvidia as well as ATI. For example, a Geforce 8600 GT is NOT faster than a Geforce 7900GT, but it is faster than a 7600GT. While this is not a hard and fast rule, its a decent rule of thumb (note that this only applies when comparing Nvidia to Nvidia or ATI to ATI).

Also take a look at this chart to see how each card stacks up. There are other places to look as well, but this is a decent enough starting point:
http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html

Now on to the cards....
In the ~$100 price range, these are the cards (IMO) that should afford you a respectable level of performance for the price:

$99.95 - Radeon HD2600XT (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102700)
$109.99 - Geforce 8600GT (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130085) - eVGA is one of the better card manufacturers out there, making this a decent choice.
$109.99 - Radeon x1950GT (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102034)
$119.99 - Geforce 7900GS (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814186013)
$134.99 - Radeon x1950 PRO (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102061) - A little high, but will perform proportionally better.

I'm using Newegg as an example here, but they are by no means the only place where you can get such deals. I'm also not making any value judgments as to reliability of these cards or the manufacturers...again, sometimes you do get what you pay for. Ultimately this is just trying to help you maximize your gaming potential with as little money as possible.

Honestly if I were to suggest any card right now to the severely budget-conscious, it would still have to be this one (though its far beyond the $100 mark):

$179.99 - Radeon HD3850 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102714)

This card will literally beat the living daylights out of those other cards, and it gets close to beating the 8800GT for the best price/performance card on the market. Unless you have no interest in running new, more graphics intensive games that are out or coming up, you really should give this card a close, hard look.

If you just can't swing that higher price, those other cards posted will serve you well enough with the current crop of games (even Crysis, just not that well :wink: )

If you find any other good deals on cards similar to these, please feel free to post them in this thread :D

Edit: Added/sorted by price.

darth_nevus
4th Dec 2007, 09:33 AM
Excellent write up. i will also second that no matter how you spin it, the 8500 cards and a majority of the 8600 cards were a HUGE disappointment to me. the only thing they really brought to the table was DX10 compatability.

Premonition
4th Dec 2007, 10:05 AM
wow :shock: Thanks guys. Nice write up to carbon. I like that tip about the second number. I never knew that. :2thumbs:

pigworthy
4th Dec 2007, 10:52 AM
Nice article Carbon. Thanks......

CarbonFire
4th Dec 2007, 02:30 PM
Excellent write up. i will also second that no matter how you spin it, the 8500 cards and a majority of the 8600 cards were a HUGE disappointment to me. the only thing they really brought to the table was DX10 compatability.
And DX10 on those cards is like putting 18" chrome wheels on a Geo Metro :twisted:
DX10, while more efficient than DX9 for all the newer advanced effects, still requires tremendous horsepower. And if theres one thing those cards lack, its horsepower :roll:

If you guys see any other good deals around $100, please feel free to post them here. I'm sure there are others out there looking to upgrade their antiquated hardware who can't afford the latest and greatest either.

Oh, and no problem guys, like I said, glad to help :2thumbs:

Ghost_Rain
4th Dec 2007, 02:33 PM
Go with what you can afford mate :D

Premonition
4th Dec 2007, 03:34 PM
This is such a good thread :2thumbs: why stop here :)

Tech terms and system specs can be confusing and useless marketing ploys.
As Carbon said
let's cut through the marketing crap a bit. When comparing graphics cards, and maybe someone could break down whats hot whats not and whats needed and whats just thrown out to sound good. In english :) or in my case simple to understand.

I know i cant be the only person who wonders about this stuff and might be scared to ask. So while people might be considering a new card for x-mas lets get some real down to earth comments about what is important to video cards. I will just throw out some of the specs that i see and maybe someone could break it down to what they real mean to us the consumer and if its needs to be considered when buying a new card. Lets try to keep todays game as the base of discussion since thats the standard now. Games to think about cod4, ut3, crysis, bioshock, hl2


lets use this card as a example
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102034
SAPPHIRE 100199L Radeon X1950GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail



Interface PCI Express x16


Chipset Manufacturer ATI
GPU Radeon X1950GT
Core clock 500MHz
PixelPipelines 12(36 Pixel shader processor)

Memory
Memory Clock 1200MHz
Memory Size 256MB
Memory Interface 256-bit
Memory Type GDDR3
3D API
DirectX DirectX 9
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0


General
RAMDAC 400 MHz
Max Resolution 2560 x 1600
RoHS Compliant Yes
CrossFire Supported Yes
Cooler With Fan
Dual-Link DVI Supported Yes
HDCP Ready Yes


Features Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering
3Dc+
Avivo Video and Display Engine
CrossFire

What features are important and why? Dont have to break down all of them but point out whats important when looking for a new card and should be considered. Like ram, speed etc. basically if someone you knew asked you to help find a new card to play todays games what would you tell them to look for in specs?

Premonition
7th Dec 2007, 12:05 PM
OK walking target they now show the price online as a close out.
VisionTek Radeon X1950PRO XGE 256MB HD Video Card
http://www.circuitcity.com/ccd/productDetail.do?oid=178227#forums

POWERCOLOR X1950PRO512MBAC Radeon X1950PRO 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
or is the 512 with a big fan better?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131055
Original Price: $189.99
You Save: $20.00
$169.99
($139.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate)

I compared it to neweggs list
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Description=+X1950PRO&x=0&y=0

But i couldnt find this video card listed on the page that shows fps for this card. So my question becomes how does this card stack up to other 100 dollar cards? Is it a great card, kinda crappy card, or must have or avoid?

Any thoughts. is the 1950 a good card?

WalkinTarget
7th Dec 2007, 12:57 PM
The 1950 Pro is an excellent card. I used one to build a friends rig in late summer, and he is far from a hardcore gamer, but this was the $700 budget rig build, and damned if I didn't do it for that price !!

The 3dMark scores are somewhat slim, as I wasn't able to crack 6,000 in 3dMark06, but given the lower budget and the idea that this was a $125 video card when I had paid over $400 for mine, it was a freakin' no-brainer !

I myself would buy a 1950 if I wasn't sitting on a second copy of Vista for a future PC build. I want to futureproof my purchase by buying an DX10 card, so thats why a 1950 wouldn't fit the bill for my needs. But anyone else that wants to stick with XP should seriously consider a 1950 Pro card, as they can be found after rebate for under $100.

Premonition
7th Dec 2007, 01:02 PM
sweet. Im strongly considering it because the price is nice :)

But there is a 40 dollar difference in the 512 and 256 versions. Any comments on which is better? How does the 256 CC card stack upto the 512 newegg card?

darth_nevus
7th Dec 2007, 01:04 PM
sweet. Im strongly considering it because the price is nice :)

But there is a 40 dollar difference in the 512 and 256 versions. Any comments on which is better? How does the 256 CC card stack upto the 512 newegg card?

the amount of memory will impact the resolution & settings you play at. more memory at higher resolutions & higher settings is beneficial. less need for the memory to have to swap from the disk.

WalkinTarget
7th Dec 2007, 02:17 PM
If you are running at less than 1600x1200, the 256 card will suffice.
This is where it pays to think ahead, as I was running my 8800GTS 640mb card on a dinky 19" LCD at 1280x1024 up until a month ago. It was SCREAMING fast.
:shock:

Now by going to the 24" LCD, my native resolution is 1920x1200 and that 8800 is crying for mercy running Crysis.
:cry:

So keep your upgrading process in mind when you buy this card and do some fast math. The 512mb card isn't so much a better purchase as it is extra RAM for nothing gained. If you aren't going to display at high res, the extra RAM is just wasted RAM. But, if you ARE planning on a 20-22" LCD purchase within 6 months around, then go 512.

CarbonFire
7th Dec 2007, 03:37 PM
Premonition, the Radeon 1950 Pro is a great card , especially for ~$100. That Circuit City deal does require a rebate, but if you are ok with waiting 3 months for your extra $50, I guess that isn't too bad. You ARE getting dangerously close to the price of the 3850, which is by far a better card for the money.

Like this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127313

Sure its a little more expensive. But if you are already willing to part with your cash for several months, you aren't very far at all from getting a much better card that will serve you better in the long run.

----------------------------

As for Video Card Memory, you have to account for several factors when deciding what is "good enough".

Screen Size
AA/AF Settings
Texture Quality

As a general rule, the larger the screen size/resolution, the more memory your card will require to maintain performance. Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering also rely heavily on the amount of memory available. Now, if you are getting a lower-end card, AA is pretty much right out. AF (which smooths out the textures on a map to give them a more realistic look) is still useful, and its generally a lot less expensive to run than AA.

Texture quality of course will depend heavily on how much memory your card has. The higher the quality of the textures in-game, the more memory they'll take up. Your card does have the ability to cache texture memory from main memory, but the performance hit is generally not worth the addition image fidelity.

As always, buy what you can afford, just don't expect miracles from low/middle-range cards. Your textures won't look as good, the effects won't be quite as flashy.....but you'll still be able to play everything, and in the end, that's the only thing that matters :2thumbs:

Premonition
7th Dec 2007, 06:39 PM
100 is about all i can squeeze out my wife, more if it has a rebate :) she likes rebates. Id like to jump on that 3850 hd card but the 9850 is looking more like a safe bet for me. My wife hates computers. But i only have 1.5 gigs ram and my pc max`s out at 2 gigs (2 slots). So at 1.5 i dont wanna get to much power and cripple the video card because the system cant run it. I dont know the tech phrase but i think its called bottlenecking or something like that :?

I had a x1650 pro card so 1950 sounds like it wouldnt over kill my system. But that 3850 hd card sounds hella cool. But if i could get that id probably just bought the 8800 dc was selling (like a week ago).

Oh the choices... my brain is starting to hurt.

Premonition
7th Dec 2007, 06:51 PM
i did find a cheaper 3850 though :D

HIS H385F256 Radeon HD 3850 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 Video Card Retail
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=10007260

Final Price: $169.99 ( $10.00 mir) $159.99
after MIR)

anyone else know a site that has them cheaper?

Premonition
8th Dec 2007, 02:21 AM
well i was just about to order the 3850 HD card :) until i saw some of those cards dont come with the right 4to 6 pic power splitter :(. Not only that but i think my power is like 300 and that card wants like 450 to run :(.

Oh if i unplug most of my useless stuff would the card still run? or is 450 the min and have to have atleast that just to power the card?

WalkinTarget
8th Dec 2007, 09:35 AM
Oh if i unplug most of my useless stuff would the card still run?

Umm, like your hard drives and optical drives ?? :shock:

Well, you've run into the reason why gamers give up on the PC and go buy a console. A PC has many different hardware pieces to contend with, and an upgrade to one area leaves another as the bottleneck. In your case, the PSU is now your weakest link. A console can't be upgraded, so that is never a concern.
I think your safe choice would be the 1950 Pro, and knowing that you have a weaker PSU (lower wattage doesn't always mean bad .. we'd need to know the make of the PSU and what it lists on your +12 rail - its listed on a sticker on the side of the PSU) really does rule out the 3850 at this point.

Premonition
8th Dec 2007, 12:33 PM
bestec
model ayx-300-12z rev.: cdr

input: 100-127v 7a, 200-240v 4a 50/60hz

output +12 v
300 watt max +5 v

+5 & +3.3v 180w max +5v & +12v 288w max

:sad:

juneau
8th Dec 2007, 12:59 PM
bestec
model ayx-300-12z rev.: cdr

input: 100-127v 7a, 200-240v 4a 50/60hz

output +12 v
300 watt max +5 v

+5 & +3.3v 180w max +5v & +12v 288w max

:sad:

Iirc the 1950 cards did use quite a bit of power. If it works you'll be scraping the bottom of the barrell. :(

Premonition
8th Dec 2007, 01:25 PM
Yeah thats what scares me. I figured i could pull some not so needed things like second dvd drive and floppy drive power wires to try and conserve.

I need to go back and look, ive spent hours on hours looking at different card, reading reviews. its either the 1950 or the 3850 HD card that has like a 55nm chipset (or something like that) i read draws very little power compared to other cards.


Is there a chart anyone knows of that shows power usage for cards?

Im really stuck here. if i go the 1950 i might be able to run it. But because of price i might be able to get a power supply. If i go 3850 i cant afford a new power supply and would have to prey it actually draws very little power and will run with my current psu.

Duke{CLR}
8th Dec 2007, 01:52 PM
Yeah thats what scares me. I figured i could pull some not so needed things like second dvd drive and floppy drive power wires to try and conserve.

I need to go back and look, ive spent hours on hours looking at different card, reading reviews. its either the 1950 or the 3850 HD card that has like a 55nm chipset (or something like that) i read draws very little power compared to other cards.


Is there a chart anyone knows of that shows power usage for cards?

Im really stuck here. if i go the 1950 i might be able to run it. But because of price i might be able to get a power supply. If i go 3850 i cant afford a new power supply and would have to prey it actually draws very little power and will run with my current psu.


Have you plugged the parts you want into this calculator? This is a link form the Hardware list that is stickied at the top of this section. I am pretty sure it has accurate data on specific cards.

http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp

Premonition
8th Dec 2007, 02:04 PM
Thanks for the link. i hadnt seen that. But it doesnt list the 3850 card :(
But it did list the 1950 :) and it looks like i can scrape enough juice for it.

The 2900 HD xt i used instead of the 3850 (since it didnt list that) it came at 350 power. Still 50 over what i got.

is there any chance the 3850 might work? aww im probably just order the 1950.... hey its a decent card and a decent price.

WalkinTarget
8th Dec 2007, 02:31 PM
That 288watt max on your power supply is just that, the MAX that you'd want to run on that PC with a new card. Keep in mind, running at maximum will wear it down, and it isn't like its a new unit to begin with.

If you have to buy a cheaper PSU to tide you over, might I recommend this:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2240438

imlittlev
8th Dec 2007, 02:31 PM
the HD 3850's arent anywhere near HD 2900xt's in power consumption.

http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTQxOSw4LCxoZW50aHVzaWFzdA==

Premonition
8th Dec 2007, 07:51 PM
just got a email from new egg with power supply deals. :)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171016
COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power RP-550-PCAR ATX from factor 12V V2.01 550W Power Supply 110-115V/ 220-230V Nemko, TUV, cUL, CE, BSM, FCC, CCC - Retail

$69.99
($39.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate)
3 Business Day Shipping $8.22
(Not available in HI, AK and PR)

use coupon code emc1207case01 and take another $30.00 off the price :D
making it $9.99 after rebates and before shipping :)

{CLR}geneSW
8th Dec 2007, 08:44 PM
that will do nicely!

WalkinTarget
8th Dec 2007, 08:55 PM
I just came in to post the same deal, so that is an unbeatable deal on a new PSU ! The +12 rails show 16a an each of two rails, so it looks fine for that price.

Premonition
8th Dec 2007, 10:29 PM
Well Thanks everyone for the help. I went ahead and got the psu that you linked to wt and i also ordered the other psu from newegg. That deal was just to good to pass up and it came at the right time as well. So i got 1 for my son s comp as well as his was only 300 watts also.

so for around $235.00 with shipping i got 2 psu`s and i ordered the x1950pro card from CC as well. But out of the 235 there is $80.00 in mail in rebates :2thumbs: and this should get both our pc`s back into shape.

juneau
8th Dec 2007, 11:36 PM
Nice spot on that PSU deal Prem. That's crazy cheap. Enjoy your new toys. :D

Premonition
9th Dec 2007, 12:03 AM
Yeah, its to bad you can only get 1 from newegg. I tried to order 2 since it appears the mail in rebate is good for upto 3. But the newegg sales code only applies to 1. Still a great deal and i learned alot the last 2 days.

Premonition
10th Dec 2007, 11:59 AM
ok anyone keeping up with this thread knows i went with the 1950 card :)
But guess what :? 1 day later it went even cheaper :shock: I just spent the last 20 mins getting CC to credit me 10 more dollars.

So if you thought the deal was good, now its even better so i figured id pass it along.
VisionTek Radeon X1950PRO XGE 256MB HD Video Card
http://www.circuitcity.com/ccd/productDetail.do?oid=178227#forums

Original Price:
$196.96
instant savings:
-$64.00
You pay:
$132.96
Mail-in rebate(s):
-$50.00
Rebate Details
Price after
rebate:

$82.96


woot

:2thumbs:

juneau
10th Dec 2007, 12:19 PM
I really wish we had this rebate thingy. :(

darth_nevus
10th Dec 2007, 01:16 PM
I really wish we had this rebate thingy. :(

No you don't. i hate MIR's.

1. they take 6-8 weeks to process. That's once they START processing the paperwork.

2. 90% of the time the compaines handing the rebates are NOT the maker, but a Hired firm.

3. little or no notification of the current status.

4. things tend to get lost on their end. i am still waiting on a $50.00 rebate from Corsair. i sent 2 rebates in, following their directions, and only recieved 1 so far. THEY WENT IN AT THE SAME TIME!

5. you forget you sent them, and if they lost it, your SOL.

6. you cough up the money up from for something you HOPE to get.

7. you get money back, that you spent, without interest.... had it been cheaper, it wouldn't have been so bad to begin with.

8. The hassle of making sure you have everything, everything is right, and morons at the rebate place don't get confused and STILL MESS IT UP...

Pros:
1. if all went well, and you forgot, there is a nice check for you!

2. you get money back, that you spent, without interest....

Premonition
10th Dec 2007, 01:22 PM
Ive never had a prob with mail in rebates. Yes it takes a little while to get your money back. but besides that it usually only take about a month. They are a good way to get deals on pc goods as well.

Premonition
12th Dec 2007, 05:21 PM
wow that was fast, ordered the card sat night and it got delivered today :2thumbs:

Just because i had to try... it does run off my stock 300 watt power supply. I know im a tard and should just wait for the new 500 psu to come but i had to try it :)