Solved: Please help me select best video card for new computer

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ozegirl

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Jun 21, 2003
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651
I am buying 2 new computers for 2 of my sons.
I have seen a system which seems to be "adequate" but I am in the dark when it comes to video cards.

I understand that certain cards can only go on motherboards with appropriate card slots - ie AGP, PCI, PCI express. I will give the specs of the system I am looking at, bearing in mind that if someone wants to recommend a card requiring a different motherboard, I can look at that option, as this is a new computer. The vendor can substitute any of the components to custom requirements:

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ system:

Gigabyte GA-K8U motherboard
512 Mb PC3200 400MHz DDRRAM
80 Gb 7200 RPM HD
52x32x52 Samsung CD Writer
128Mb Gigabyte Geforce FX5200 Graphic
3D Integrated Sound Card
FDD
ATX Med tower case/power supply
2x front USB and 4x rear USB ports
Integrated 10/100 network card
Parallel port, serial VGA port, PS/2 ports

Price: $660 AUD

Seems good value to me. Now about the graphics card:

Looking on this forum, found a lot of people have upgraded from that particular graphics card....my kids aren't what you would call "heavy" gamers, but they do like to play Half-Life, Medal of Honour Allied Assault, Rogue Spear. They also give Adobe Photoshop a work-out doing car chops.

Background info on where they are coming from:

Son 1 has Thinkpad 600E with Neomagic Magic Media 256AV , Pentium II processor, 192 Mb RRAM, 6Gb HD. He plays Half-life on this but it is a bit slow.

Son 2 has AMD-K6 3D processor 500MHz, 80Mb RAM, 8Gb HD. He also plays Half-life but slow.

Both are on Win 98SE, both experience freezes from time to time. They are pushing these old computers hard, with simultaneous graphics, internet, background music downloads, etc.

Son 3 has an Intel(R)Celeron(R) CPU 2.40GHz processor - X86 family 15 model stepping 9, 512Mb RAM, 40Gb HD, Integrated Intel(R) 82845G/GL/GE/PE/GV graphics controller.

He seems to be happy enough with his specs, he always wins at Half-life - kills them before they see him coming!

So I'm looking to upgrade the other two to something at least equal or better than Son 3.

Will this Geforce FX5200 be enough to do this? I don't want to pay more for a high-end card if this is all they need, however, I don't want to buy this & have them disappointed if for the sake of another $20 they could have something twice as good.

The price for the FX5200 is $60 AUD. Some alternatives and prices are:

ASUS 128MB Geforce4 MX4000..........$55
ASUS 128MB Geforce FX5200.............$60
ASUS 128MB ATI Radeon 9250...........$55
ASUS 128MB ATI Radeon 9550..........$65
ASUS Geforce EN6600-TD AGP 256 MB......$195
ASUS 256MB AX800Pro-TVD-P-256 AGP......$360
ASUS 128MB Geforce PCX 5750 PCIE...........$169
ASUS 256MB Geforce 6200 PCIE................$90
Gigabyte 128 MB ATI Radeon 9250...........$55
Gigabyte 128MB/256 MB Geforce FX5500....$80/$105
Gigabyte Geforce 6600 AGP 256 MB..........$210
Gigabyte Geforce 6600GT AGP 128 MB......$280
Gigabyte 128 MB ATI Radeon 9550...........$85
Winfast 128 MB/256 MB Geforce4 FX 5200.......$80/$115
Winfast Geforce 6600GT AGP 128 MB...............$290
Sapphire 256 MB ATI Radeon 9250..................$90
Sapphire 256MB ATI Radeon X800SE GDDR3.....$260

I'm trying not to spend too much over the $60...maybe up to a bit over a $100....so any recommendations very much appreciated...or insight into how to interpret specs.....eg what is more important...the quality of the chip or the MB ie is a better chip with 128MB better than a cheaper one with 256 MB? ETC? Thanks!
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
2,113
You really should expand your budget to buy a decent graphics card. I'm not talking high end but just decent. This will cost you around 150 bucks and i recommend you fit the system with a geforce fx 6600gt. Also I recommend you up the amount of ram to 1gb.

On a side note i have seen numerous problems with Gigabyte motherboards on the AMD platform. See if you can swap it out with something from Asus.
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2005
Messages
112
Well, first off, thats an AGP Motherboard. So, PCIe (PCI Express) video cards wont work.

I dont know ATI cards very well, so Ill leave someone else to comment on them.

NVidia cards, though.. The higher number, the better. When I build systems for people, I recommend 256Mb video memory, and at least a 5700. That is about as low-end as I would go. I tell people that I prefer the 5900 or going into the 6000 series.

But, the higher number you go, the higher the cost. I see 5700 cards with 256Mb memory on them for $89-$100usd.

But again, maybe someone who knows ATI cards has a better solution, more in the price range youre after.

Other than the video card, that system looks fine to me. Not a "hardcore gaming rig", but not a slouch by any means. About the only other thing, besides the video card, would be to bump that 512 ram up to 1gb..

Good luck!

-Gonz
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2002
Messages
13,404
ozegirl said:
I am buying 2 new computers for 2 of my sons.
I have seen a system which seems to be "adequate" but I am in the dark when it comes to video cards.

I understand that certain cards can only go on motherboards with appropriate card slots - ie AGP, PCI, PCI express. I will give the specs of the system I am looking at, bearing in mind that if someone wants to recommend a card requiring a different motherboard, I can look at that option, as this is a new computer. The vendor can substitute any of the components to custom requirements:

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ system:

Gigabyte GA-K8U motherboard
512 Mb PC3200 400MHz DDRRAM
80 Gb 7200 RPM HD
52x32x52 Samsung CD Writer
128Mb Gigabyte Geforce FX5200 Graphic
3D Integrated Sound Card
FDD
ATX Med tower case/power supply
2x front USB and 4x rear USB ports
Integrated 10/100 network card
Parallel port, serial VGA port, PS/2 ports

Price: $660 AUD

Seems good value to me. Now about the graphics card:

Looking on this forum, found a lot of people have upgraded from that particular graphics card....my kids aren't what you would call "heavy" gamers, but they do like to play Half-Life, Medal of Honour Allied Assault, Rogue Spear. They also give Adobe Photoshop a work-out doing car chops.

Background info on where they are coming from:

Son 1 has Thinkpad 600E with Neomagic Magic Media 256AV , Pentium II processor, 192 Mb RRAM, 6Gb HD. He plays Half-life on this but it is a bit slow.

Son 2 has AMD-K6 3D processor 500MHz, 80Mb RAM, 8Gb HD. He also plays Half-life but slow.

Both are on Win 98SE, both experience freezes from time to time. They are pushing these old computers hard, with simultaneous graphics, internet, background music downloads, etc.

Son 3 has an Intel(R)Celeron(R) CPU 2.40GHz processor - X86 family 15 model stepping 9, 512Mb RAM, 40Gb HD, Integrated Intel(R) 82845G/GL/GE/PE/GV graphics controller.

He seems to be happy enough with his specs, he always wins at Half-life - kills them before they see him coming!

So I'm looking to upgrade the other two to something at least equal or better than Son 1.

Will this Geforce FX5200 be enough to do this? I don't want to pay more for a high-end card if this is all they need, however, I don't want to buy this & have them disappointed if for the sake of another $20 they could have something twice as good.

The price for the FX5200 is $60 AUD. Some alternatives and prices are:

ASUS 128MB Geforce4 MX4000..........$55
ASUS 128MB Geforce FX5200.............$60
ASUS 128MB ATI Radeon 9250...........$55
ASUS 128MB ATI Radeon 9550..........$65
ASUS Geforce EN6600-TD AGP 256 MB......$195
ASUS 256MB AX800Pro-TVD-P-256 AGP......$360
ASUS 128MB Geforce PCX 5750 PCIE...........$169
ASUS 256MB Geforce 6200 PCIE................$90
Gigabyte 128 MB ATI Radeon 9250...........$55
Gigabyte 128MB/256 MB Geforce FX5500....$80/$105
Gigabyte Geforce 6600 AGP 256 MB..........$210
Gigabyte Geforce 6600GT AGP 128 MB......$280
Gigabyte 128 MB ATI Radeon 9550...........$85
Winfast 128 MB/256 MB Geforce4 FX 5200.......$80/$115
Winfast Geforce 6600GT AGP 128 MB...............$290
Sapphire 256 MB ATI Radeon 9250..................$90
Sapphire 256MB ATI Radeon X800SE GDDR3.....$260

I'm trying not to spend too much over the $60...maybe up to a bit over a $100....so any recommendations very much appreciated...or insight into how to interpret specs.....eg what is more important...the quality of the chip or the MB ie is a better chip with 128MB better than a cheaper one with 256 MB? ETC? Thanks!
the nvidia FX series did NOT wow anyone, so you would be better off with an ATI 9200, 9550, 9600 depending on how much youre willing to spend over the $60, The nvidia 6000 series are much better with a 6600GT being probably the best bang for buck at the moment for an agp card, although quite a bit more than your $60 budget.
The specs on the rest of your pc is quite modest by todays standard, gigabyte moboz have seem to had a falling out with most pc enthusists for quality issues, I've bought 3 socket A Gigabyte moboz and 1 had a dead ob nic within 2 months, does this mean they are bad?, not necessarily, but this forum seem sto reflect similar experiences with them lately.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2002
Messages
13,404
also be aware that the A64 3000+ is my guess a 754 pin cpu, which has already come and gone as far as latest greatest, I think the highest 754 is a 3700+ so it would still give you some room for upgrade, but 939 pin is the flavor of choice these days, with this socket you can also upgrade to a dual core cpu if that is any consideration to you.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2002
Messages
13,404
I guess the long and short of it is that youre not getting a fabulous deal or anything, its not a bad system or anything its just that its probably like 1 to 2 year old stuff, so if your sons are thinking about playing 1 to 2 year old games, fine, if they think theyre going to play the latest 3D intensinve games, they will be disappointed by the performance of these specs, with the biggest stinker being the FX5200. As has been stated more ram would be nice a gig for gaming and other ram intensive apps is not outragous these days. For them to have a chance at playing todays 3d games at least a 6600GT 8x agp card, if theyre happy with older games then an ATI9600XT would be better than the FX5200
 

ozegirl

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
651
Thanks for all the comments guys.
First off, I think the 512MB is more than enough for my boys needs. We're not talking about hard core game junkies here - just teenagers who want to have a little fun.
Our highest end computer is my husband's laptop - he is an architect & he has only 512MB and a NVidia GeForce4 488 Go card which allows him to do 3D architectural apps such as Autocad and Archicad. We don't need to go anywhere near that far for the boys.

If you take another look at where they are coming from, you will see that anything at all would be an improvement on what they have.....

Bearing that in mind & the fact that in the overall scheme of things I can afford to up the $$$allowance for the graphics card from $60 to $100 or so.....

and yes, I realise that the Gigabyte MoB takes only AGP and not PCI express - my point being, will the AGP card be OK -if I needed PCI express I would have to change the MoB.

I've had Gigabyte Mob's before - maybe I've been lucky with mine - seem to be OK.

Any further comments in light of this?

I guess I'm saying will that FX5200 card be "Adequate" if not "mind blowing" or should I really be looking at another graphics card?

Thanks again
 

ozegirl

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
651
What would be the pick out of

ASUS 128MB ATI Radeon 9550..........$65
ASUS 256MB Geforce 6200 PCIE................$90
Gigabyte 128 MB ATI Radeon 9550...........$85
Sapphire 256 MB ATI Radeon 9250..................$90
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
2,113
Since your using an AGP based board PCI-express will require a motherboard change in the future.

With the choices given i would stick with the 5200 as the cards you have chosen will not provide a significant increase in performance.

If upradabilty is a key point in this then i suggest you get a setup of similair specs except using PCI-express instead of AGP.

As pointed out already socket 939 3000+ would be the ideal choice here(at around the same price) and the motherboard will most likely already have PCI-express with which budget oriented video cards are also available(which you have seen in your video card selections).
 

ozegirl

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
651
So...

I looked up the price sheet and an Athlon M64 3000 939 pin is the same price as a 754 pin.

I guess this means I would have to upgrade from the Gigabyte GA-K8U ($80) to the Gigabyte GA-K8U-939 ($110). Would this MoB then take the PCI express cards?

If so here are some prices for PCI express cards...

ASUS 128MB ATI Radeon X300 PCIE.................$78
ASUS 256MB Geforce 6200 PCIE......................$90
Gigabyte 128MB Geforce 6200 PCIE..................$80
Gigabyte 256MB Geforce 6200 PCIE..................$120
Gigabyte 128 MB X300SE PCIE 16x....................$85

That's about it in my price range. Preferences???
 
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Messages
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I will try and find a cheaper 939 board for you.

Looking at Newegg.com shows a slew of socket 939 boards under $100. But as i was looking i remembered you are in Australia where things tend to be a bit more expensive. I think it would be wise of you to go with the 939 for the increased upgradability down the road as socket 939 motherboards support dual core CPU's which should be the standard a couple years down the road.
 

ozegirl

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
651
OK thanks for your foresight!
I will discuss with the vendor these options ( a shop that makes up what you want). They should also be able to advise, but I like to get independent advice as well in case they are pushing a particular brand etc for commissions.
 

ozegirl

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
651
By the way, if you look back at son 3's specs (the one with the integrated video) the other 2 boys said they would be happy with that standard for their graphics.

Perhaps I should put in for the better MoB & chip & worry about a better video card later....a bit easier to change than a MoB!!!
 
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Messages
2,113
ozegirl said:
By the way, if you look back at son 3's specs (the one with the integrated video) the other 2 boys said they would be happy with that standard for their graphics.

Perhaps I should put in for the better MoB & chip & worry about a better video card later....a bit easier to change than a MoB!!!
My thoughts exactly.:)
 

ozegirl

Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
651
So I'm looking to upgrade the other two to something at least equal or better than Son 3.
For anyone who read my first post earlier - sorry I made a mistake here, stating "Son 1" - hopefully you all realised I meant "Son 3" - I have since edited it.
 
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