TechSpot

another "need help buying video card" thread

By krautdog
Apr 10, 2004
  1. Hello everyone, I am new here and this is my first post. Boy am I glad I found this place...I am looking forward to becoming more knowledgable about all aspects of PC's. For right now I am looking to find out what kind of video card I need. Not "which one is best" - I went through the threads in this section and it's clear that there is enough good dialogue on that to help me out. But I am relatively clueless about all the acronyms used to describe the characteristics of video cards.

    My internet research on this has come up surprisingly short. What I could find out from my system specs is that my card is AGP and is an NVidia Vanta 16MB (don't laugh). My main concern is that my system specs say my video memory is "AGP-2X upgradeable", and my chipset specs say "complies with AGP 2.0 specifications for 1X and 2X", but all I see when shopping for video cards is "8X". Now I don't even know what that means. Because mine says it is upgradeable, does that mean that I can use a modern 8X video card with high speed, massive memory, etc?

    And I really don't know how much memory I will need either. I plan on getting into gaming a bit and playing some of the modern games, but probably not to the degree of serious gamers. In fact the rest of my system might not be up to it for all I know.

    My PC is an HP XL776 w/ AMD Athlon 850, AMD Irongate (AMD-751) chipset, 60GB harddisk, 384MB PC100 RAM, and 19" monitor.

    Is 64MB video memory enough to handle modern games without stumbling? Money is somewhat of an issue.

    I would like to turn the floor over to the experts now and respectfully ask that if anyone has a couple of minutes could you please give me some advice?

    -Mike
     
  2. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    :wave: Hello & Welcome to TechSpot :wave:

    Don't have time for a long answer, but here is some information to get you started

    With that motherboard you cannot use an AGP 8x (or 4x if memory serves correctly) card. This is due to the voltage being supplied by the AGP port.

    You need to find an old card which supports AGP 2x, a GeForce 2, Voodoo 3, perhaps a Geforce 3 or Voodoo 5.
    But none of these cards will be very good in todays and tomorrows games.

    As for memory, you can get away with 64mb, but then you won't be able to use any FSAA (Full Scene/Screen AntiAliasing), which imo is a very usefull thing.


    Your current system will be a bottleneck in new games, especially your videocard. But I have a problem recommending a new card, as it will not really last you long enough to be worth the money.

    And speaking of money, how much money have you put aside for this upgrade?

    A new system (cpu, hsf, motherboard, ram, Case w/pusu) "only" costs around 200$ @ NewEgg + whatever videocard you'd like to buy.

    • APEX Super Case Mid-Tower Case With 300W Power Supply, Model "ATX3300-P4" -OEM
    • ASUS KM400 Chipset Motherboard for AMD Socket A CPU, Model "A7V8X-MX SE" -RETAIL
    • Kingston ValueRAM 184 Pin 128MB DDR PC-2100 - OEM
    • Scythe Samurai 80mm CPU Cooler, Model "SCSM-1000" -RETAIL

    This might be expensive, but aside from your harddrive and cd/dvd-roms, you'll be getting a brand new system.
    You'll also be able to buy whatever videocard you want, instead of having to look for older cards.

    Note, this is only something for you to think about, as, depending on your gaming interests, the system you've got will be able to last a bit longer with a new video card.

    (Hmm, this became a bit of a long post after all. Guess I'd better hurry back to work then :))
     
  3. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,268

    I have to agree with Mr G. I don't see a point of putting too much money in the upgrade. If it gets too much, I reckon it be better for the money to be spent on a new system.
     
  4. Steg

    Steg TS Rookie Posts: 422

    Just expanding on what MrG said.
    If your motherboard only lists support for 2x AGP card then inserting a 8X AGP (or 4x) gaming card into it will fry the card instantly (and/or the motherboard). 8x AGP works on 1.8v (i think) while 2x worked on 3.3v.
    There is little point upgrading the system you have at the moment if you want to play games on it - it would be better to spread your money around a new system - again follow MrGs recoommendations or something similar.

    Steg
     
  5. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    Whoa, am I glad I asked. I had spotted a GeForce4 440 @ amazon for $44 shipped and was almost ready to hit the button. You guys have saved me a lot of hassle and frustration. I didn't know I could get the basics for a new system for so little $...I mean I'm poor but I'm not THAT poor. Plus I will be able to use my monitor, 2 CDRW's, and hard disk. Do those systems at newegg come with OS? Well I'll find out because I'm going there now to look anyway. Thanks again folks - this is why I joined :>]

    -Mike
     
  6. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    Whereas I still think you should upgrade your system, I've found a couple of alternatives if you really don't want to upgrade it.

    PCI graphic cards...

    From what I've found you can get either a GeForce FX 5200 or a Radeon 9200SE in a PCI configuration.
    If you're lucky you might even find a Radeon 9200.

    They'll set you back around 70 - 1000$ (judging from the prices I've found), and I'm uncertain if they'll drop any longer, since these cards most likely aren't being produced in any large quantities.

    This will allow you to run your games in a bit higher resolutions than today, but that's about it.

    But if you could save up around 350$, I'd buy the set-up I outlined above (or something similar, I just took whatever was cheap and not crap). Then you'll have ~150$ to buy a vid card for.

    You can get a Radeon 9600pro for 120$ and higher.
    Or a GeForce FX 5700 for 129$, FX 5600 for 122$
    There's also Radeon 9800SE for aroudn 140$
    (Prices taken from the PriceWatch link on top of the forum)

    This will get you a system, which should last you several years :)
     
  7. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802


    We're just glad to help you out :)


    The setup I quoted doesn't include an OS, no, so you'll have to buy that separately, or use the one you've got now. BTW: That setup was just chosen at random taking the cheapest prices for parts that are OK.

    But if you're going to upgrade your system, tell us how much you'er willing to spend, and we'll put together an offer or two for you to choose from.

    That way you know you'll be getting the most value for your money :)
     
  8. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    MrG you are the man. OK, with what I now know this is how I'm looking at it:

    I didn't know I had the option of using a PCI video card, but I can't see spending that $ to upgrade an older system when a new system could be had for a small investment.

    I like that I could get what you consider a decent base system for $200 (+card), but I would spend up to $500 if I could get a REALLY good modern system w/superfast processor, high quality motherboard, big RAM, etc...I could probably get a couple dollars back by parting out my current RAM chips and other stuff. I am perfectly willing to reuse my CDRW's (don't need DVD burners, etc) and I still think my 60GB hard disk will be enough (except it's not 7200rpm - I don't know how important that is).

    I guess I could use some advice on OS's also. If I could save that expense it would be cool. I am using 98se, I am used to it, and I know some people still choose to use it when building a new system. But if it's time to make the switch to something newer I would.

    I may be frugal but I don't mind spending if I am "getting the most value for my money" as you said. I really appreciate this time spent on my behalf :cool:

    -Mike
     
  9. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    Heheh, thanks :)

    Based on what you've outlined, I've picked a system which should give you very good performance, even in the years to come...

    (Unfortunately, as I don't live in the states, I can't register @ newegg, so you'll have to search for each of the components)

    System
    • ANTEC Solution Series Super Mid Tower Case with 350W Power Supply, Model "SLK3700AMB" 59.99$
      (A case with powersupply, which should be more than enough to run the system)
    • SAMSUNG 80GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive, Model SP0802N, OEM Drive only 70$
      (An 80GB 7200rpm drive. Not really needed, but just thought I'd add it. It's got a 3 y. warranty which is why I chose this drive)
    • Buffalo Technology 184 Pin 256MB DDR PC-3200 - OEM 55$
      (Generic? RAM which has gotten good reviews. Very fast)
    • ASUS nForce2 400 Chipset Motherboard for AMD Socket A CPU, Model "A7N8X-X" -RETAIL 69$
      (A good motherboard based on the nforce2 chipset. Has integrated sound and LAN)
    • AMD Athlon XP 2500+ "Barton", 333 FSB, 512K Cache Processor - Retail 80$
      (A good cpu, which should last you quite some time. I've chosen retail since it's on sale (only in easter) and includes a HSF)
    • POWERCOLOR Evil Commando 2 ATI RADEON 9700 PRO 128MB DDR DVI+CRT+TV AGP 147.4$
      (A very good graphics card. It's cheap, but refurbished so it might be damaged.)
    • SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON 9800 PRO Video Card, 128MB DDR, 256-bit, DVI/TV-Out, 8X AGP -BULK -OEM 210$
      (An even better graphics card, easter savings campaign)

    If you choose to get the harddrive and the refurbished Radeon 9700pro, that will cost 499.99$ including shipping. (FedEx saver)

    If you drop the harddrive and take the Radeon 9800pro it'll cost you 488.99$ including shipping

    I'm not sure which I'd use, as I'm a bit weary of buying refurbished items over the net. It might work like a charm, or it could just as well be a spawn of ........

    The 9800pro might last you a bit longer than the 9700pro, but no matter which you choose, it's going to be an extreme difference compared to what you're using now.

    As for getting a lot of RAM, it's a bit pricey right now imo, so you might want to buy one stick now (as I've listed) and buy another one when/if prices come down (and you've saved up some more cash )


    I've not selected an OS for you, because I think W98SE is an OK OS. That, and the fact that buying a new one will cost from 90$ and up to 140$

    But there's no denying you will need to upgrade OS in the not so distant future, since Microsoft has discontinued W98 for WHQL testing of drivers. This means that less manufacturers will put out drivers for it.
    (ATI might or might not stop supporting it. On their last release they said that W98 will be supported by the WinME drivers, but for how long is unsure (but I still feel that an ATI card will be the best value for your money))

    Personally, I'd buy one of the system I've outlined, then save up 20-30$ a month, and buy a new OS this summer.
    NOTE: if you're a student, MS has student discounts. They're a bit of a hassle as they require you to send in some paperwork to prove your a student, but will give you the software cheaper. (At least they required a lot papers last I checked, but that is over a year ago)
    Here is an offer for WinXP Home upgrade (from w98) for students. It costs 87$ compared to 105$ for non-students.
    (But newegg.com has an offer for 91$)

    If there is anything you're unsure of, or don't agree with what I've suggested, post back, and we'll see if we can't find you what you're looking for :)
     
  10. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    Hey Mr.G, I was doing some shopping earlier today before I read your last post, and after seeing your most recent suggestions I have a couple more ?'s.

    What makes this case better and therefore more expensive than the last one you suggested - is it because it matches up better somehow with the second list of parts?

    I was thinking I wanted to start with atleast 512MB of RAM, unless you think it unnecessary. I got the idea that you need atleast that much nowadays. Untrue? Does 256MB of DDR RAM in a modern system behave differently than 256MB of PC100 RAM in, say, my current system? I also had no idea that one RAM chip with the exact same specs as another would perform better or worse - like how you mention the Buffalo Tech RAM getting good reviews and being very fast. And what is the difference between PC-3200, 2700, and 2100? If my machine required DDR RAM I could use any of those right?

    Is it better to get a CPU with an included heat sink and fan or to get a CPU only and install your own cooling system. Does it make any difference apart from cost, what is on sale, whether my CPU of choice comes with one or not, etc...? I never really knew much about cooling or how important it is.

    When I went to newegg earlier this is what I came up with, just messing around (I stuck with what you suggested for case and motherboard, and chose the same CPU, sans HSF, that you ended up suggesting later)...

    APEX Super Case Mid-Tower Case With 300W Power Supply, Model "ATX3300-P4" -OEM

    ASUS KM400 Chipset Motherboard for AMD Socket A CPU, Model "A7V8X-MX SE" -RETAIL

    AMD Athlon XP 2500+ "Barton", 333 FSB, 512K Cache Processor - OEM

    Viking 184 Pin 512MB DDR PC-2700 - OEM

    Scythe Samurai 80mm CPU Cooler, Model "SCSM-1000" -RETAIL

    Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack SP1a - OEM

    The total came to $381.49 before shipping (I could save $20 by getting the same CPU that is on sale with the included HSF). I figured I would keep my hard disk at the time, but its funny that you suggested one, because as I was mentioning this possible upgrade to my brother, he said he would love to take my current system off my hands at whatever price I thought was fair. So...last question (for now;) ) ...any idea what it would be worth? I would cut a chunk off the top for my bro, of course:cool:

    Well this has turned into quite the post, and I know it's a lot of questions. As always, I appreciate your help, but please don't feel obliged. All the best...

    -Mike
     
  11. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 822

    What you've selected there looks like it would be a good system, along with whatever video card you choose. Only thing I dislike, or may cause future problems is the 300w Powersupply, with as many CD-roms and junk as you have, and with that much of a system...may suck the life out of it....

    Oh by the way, 512mb or more only...I finally upgraded from 384mb to 768mb recently...what a difference....
     
     
  12. snowman

    snowman TS Rookie Posts: 312

    i agree with Mr. G in all his wisdomness. i have a system like the last one he suggested and it rocks. now for your RAM questions. 512mb of RAM is suggested to run windows xp smoothly. 256mb will be more than enough to run windows 98 and any game smoothly. you dont NEED it but its nice to have. ok the two types of RAM you are talking about here are SDRAM and DDR RAM. DDR stands for Double Data Rate. which means the data travels at twice the speed of SDRAM(i think, correct me if im wrong). it also has higher bus speeds and requires different sockets than the SDRAM. PC- 3200, 2700, and 2100 are all different speeds of the RAM. PC- 3200 being the fastest out of those three. and your new system will most likely require DDR. and as for which it supports you will have to check its specs, but most newer boards will support those three.

    CPU's: ones with a heatsink are retail and come with a manufacturers warranty. ones sold as OEM do not have the manufacturers warranty. since your behind on the money a retail processor with the stock HSF will be fine for your system as of now.

    i would go with the last post Mr. G made as for system specs with the Radeon 9800pro(i own one and they are great), those are good components and some users on this board have some of them and would recommend them.
     
  13. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,305   +52 Staff Member

    I am drunk, so I might be blathering....

    But I'm pretty sure an AGP 4x card will work in a AGP 2x slot. It's AGP 1x that may not supply enough voltage.. But 2x, 4x and 8x should work perfectly.
     
  14. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    I think I chose this case over the other because of the Antec PowerSUpply (PSU). It's rated for 350W, and should give you nice clean current.
    But it is by no means a must. The other case I suggested earlier might have a just as good (if not better) PSU.

    To answer the last first, yes you can use whatever DDR up to the max the mobo chipset supports. However, if you buy ram rated for faster speeds than your motherboard, you will not be able to realize their full potential.

    The reason I chose 256mb ram is that it works very well with W98SE. (W98SE has some problems with too much ram) another reason I chose 1x256mb ram, was because I was going to suggest you buy another similar stick, and use that on the motherboard I suggested. This will then allow you to utilize the mobo's Dual Channel RAM function, which gives you an increase in memory speeds :) And as the name implies, it only works with 2 ram sticks. Sorry that I forgot to mention this in my prev post.

     
  15. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    So if I was going to put 512MB of RAM in a mobo with dual channel function, I should get 2 x 256, instead of 1 x 512?

    If I sell my cr@p to my brother, would he actually be better off with the 256MB of RAM (given the problem 98se has with too much RAM)? That way I could auction off a 128MB stick and probably bring back another $20+.

    One more thing guys...
    When I tell people how I can't believe how affordable it is to put together a high quality modern system yourself, I am hearing this - "Yeah but dude if you try and build one yourself and install the OS yourself, etc, it takes like a month of hell to get everything working right. That's why a lot of people choose to buy prefab like Dell, Gateway, etc..."
    I know most people on this board probably know a lot more about computers than the average Joe, but what is your take on this?
     
  16. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    That was the idea, yes... But that costs more.
    Or you could buy one 512MB stick now, and one more later one...

    It won't really hurt him if you take it out...
    And if you can get 20$ for it, then do it.

    Since you're his brother, I'd sell it to him for around 100$, as I've found out that systems like yours go for around 150-170$ (but you have to find someone who wants it first)


    The first time you build your own computer, it's kinda hard. But as long as you follow the instructions, it's not that hard.

    Also, we've got a thread about it here, which will help you out.

    As far as the OS goes, yes there are settings which you have to set, programs to install and update etc., but nothing really timeconsuming.

    Last time I built a system from scratch, it took me one afternoon to have everything set up the way I like it, and that was with a lot of breaks.

    In your case, I'd guess it'd take about a day to build, as long as you've got your old computer and netaccess so you can ask for help if you get stuck...

    Also, just imagine the faces on the people saying "Yeah but dude if you try and build one yourself and install the OS yourself, etc, it takes like a month of hell to get everything working right. That's why a lot of people choose to buy prefab like Dell, Gateway, etc..."
    when you reply "Oh, yeah? I built a system from scratch in a day, and it wasn't hard at all!" :D
     
  17. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    Thanks MrG! I guess I was really just looking for a confidence boost. I am going to spend the day with my family and do some more shopping tonight. I will probably come up with another list soon and run it by you and everyone else to make sure there isn't anything that really doesn't belong. Have a great Holiday...

    -Mike
     
  18. novicegamer

    novicegamer TS Rookie Posts: 119

    IMO those people say that because they are afraid of trying something new.If you are careful and fully grounded you will not have any problems putting together your new computer and installing OS.All it takes is time and patients.PS good luck and these guys are great at solving any probs that crop up along the way
     
  19. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35


    No worries, I'm buying a new system instead of upgrading the vid card in the old one.

    -Mike

    ps - Party on Rick...When asking for advice some blathering is to be expected;)
     
  20. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    BTW: There's a great deal on a Radeon 9800 XT @ Fry's these days...
    Found some info about it here...

    But if it's a Fry's near you on the other hand I have no idea...
     
  21. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    OK it's getting down to crunch time here. I think I have to get my order in to newegg tonight to take advantage of the Easter specials on my list. It turns out my brother really needs my system and a deal so that is helping me justify this purchase - I'll try to remember that when I'm getting sick of mac & cheese:D

    Mr.G I am going with almost all of your second set of suggestions:

    ANTEC Solution Series Super Mid Tower Case with 350W Power Supply, Model "SLK3700AMB" -RETAIL

    ASUS nForce2 400 Chipset Motherboard for AMD Socket A CPU, Model "A7N8X-X" -RETAIL

    AMD Athlon XP 2500+ "Barton", 333 FSB, 512K Cache Processor - OEM

    Exclusive Easter Savings from Newegg
    Kingmax 184 Pin 512MB DDR PC-3200 - OEM

    Exclusive Easter Savings from Newegg
    Western Digital Special Edition 80GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive, Model WD800JB, OEM Drive Only

    Exclusive Easter Savings from Newegg
    Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack SP1a - OEM

    That puts me at $492.99 shipped. Now the only thing I can't make a decision on yet is video card. (BTW there is not any Fry's around here Mr.G but thanks for the suggestion). I have been going blind from reading reviews, comparisons, praise and bashing for the same card, its very confusing. I'm trying not to be annoying here but I still need help. I realize by now that for gaming you need a much better card, because most people say any old card will do for just about everything else. My "gaming " is probably only going to be a few hours here and there on the weekends, but I will want to play modern games. I'm not sure yet if that is the same "gaming" as what motivates people to spend $200 on the latest and greatest. I have been trying to find the best card I can for $100 (yesterday I would have called you crazy if you said I would spend over $50 on one) but just when someone says the GF FX5200Ultra is incredible for the money, 10 other people reply to call it junk. It's the same for many other cards. Which only leads me to think that there really isn't a good video card for $100 or less.

    Also I have heard you can get a 9800SE (for $136) and soft/hardmod it to a 9800 non-pro or above. That seems more feasible, but am I qualified to do the modding, maybe with the help of a guide on this forum? Do any of you think that is a good card even unmodded? If so maybe that is THE ONE. It might be good enough stock, and if not it could always be modded. I don't really have to decide on the card by tonight I guess.

    Phase1 almost complete. Just need help deciding on video card, or if someone could put a gun to my head and make me shell out for one that would work too I guess. Phase2 - putting it together and making it work :)

    -Mike
     
  22. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    :)
    Just for the record, I'm one of the people who calls the FX5200 junk.

    But over to the 9800SE.
    Basicly, it's a 9800 card, which has failed the speedcheck at the factory, and has been released with a lower clockspeed.
    Yes, it can be softmodded to a 9800pro, but there's also the chance that the card won't work at those speeds, giving your artifacts. (This can be remedied by "un-softmodding" it back to it's regular speed)

    There is also the matter of the bus-width, which from what I've read is 128-bit on the 9800SE and 256-bit on 9800/pro/XT. (This means the 9800SE is much slower. Dunno what softmodding would do for this)

    [EDIT]
    Sometimes, it pays off to do ones research properly before posting...

    All 9800SE have 4 out of 8 pipelines disabled. These can be enabled by a softmod, but it might not work.

    There are 2, two versions of the 9800SE. One has a 256-bit bus, one has a 128-bit bus. You do not want the 128-bit version.
    They are (most likely) clocked the same as a regular 9800(pro).

    For powercolor, the easiest way to check if it's a 256-bit or 128-bit is to check the Part-#.
    For 256-bit is it: R98SE-C3
    Whereas for 128-bit is it: XR98SE-C3L

    I'll try to find out how you can see it on other manufacturers.

    Sorry for any confusion I've made.
    [/EDIT]
    If you could spare the cash a 9700pro is a much better card, and "only" cost about 40$ more.

    I'm sure you've seen this chart @ Toms Hardware, and as you can see the 9800SE performs between the 9600pro and the 9600XT.
    With the 9700pro an average of 45 fps faster.

    I'd most likely go for a 9700pro if I could, as it would allow me to use the card longer than the 9800SE would.

    But as you said, you don't really need to buy a new one today.
    If you could wait 3 weeks, ATI & Nvidia should've released their next generation cards, which should drive prices on currenct cards further downwards, thus allowing you to get a better card for cheaper :)
    (But that is only if you can afford to wait)

    One last thing.
    You say you only play a couple of hours on the weekends, but like to play new games.
    If you don't need to play at the highest resolution with all the eye-candy turned on, the 9800SE isn't such a bad choice. But with your new system, I'd still go with the 9700pro ;)

    [EDIT]
    Oh, and for softmodding.
    I don't think you have to worry much about it being hard. Mostly it's running a program, reboot, and you're done., so you shouldn't have any problems doing that.
    [/EDIT]j
     
  23. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,802

    And just because I don't have any life, I've now checked every ATI partner to find who builds 9800SE with 256-bit core bus.

    Sapphire is a bit unlcear. If you come across a 9800SE from them with the memory in an L-shape it's 256-bit.
    (A bit strange if they produce both, but sell them as the same chip, as the 256-bit is more expensive than the 128... Oh, well...)

    XpertVision produces only the 256-bit version

    Xia produces 9800SE, but as their page is only in Japanese, I have no idea of what bus it's using. (And I couldn't find any number corresponding to either 128 or 256 on their page either)

    It is likely that JoyTech builds 9800SE with a 256-bit bus, as they advertice with 256-bit.
    The only problem here is that they advertice is at 256-bit memory interface, but clearly states that the memory interface is 128-bit. This leads me to believe that when they say 256-bit "memory interface" they mean 256-bit core bus.

    Xelo.Net creates only 256-bit 9800SE.

    Dunno how relevant it is for this thread, but at least now the info is on the board :)
     
  24. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,628   +113

    If your budget can stretch I would go with the 9600XT from Sapphire

    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=14-102-326&depa=0

    $153

    I've read a lot of the soft modding info and as it doesn't always work I think you would be better off with the 9600XT. That way your getting a fast card without it being a "maybe it will work, maybe it won't" situation you are in with the 9800SE and softmodding.

    The other option is, if you can find an ATI 9800 128mb for about $160-170 and make sure it is Sapphire or just "Built by ATI" these cards often have the same fast ram as the Pro version and you can overclock the ram and grpahics processor slightly. Thats what I have done with my current card and my scores aren't far off the more expensive Pro cards in benchmarks.

    You can see some benchmarks of all the various cards here.

    Its nice to reply to a post where the person has actually done research themselves. Most impressed that you researched the softmodding yourself instead of just posting another question. Most admirable :D

    My final say would be to go with a 9800 (non SE) if you can afford it as this will give you the best performance for the future (Half Life2, Doom3 etc).

    If this is out of the question then the 9600XT would be a good investment for infrequent gaming use :D
     
  25. krautdog

    krautdog TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 35

    Many thanks to MrGaribaldi and Arris for the well-directed input. I don't know how the heck I missed Tom's chart with all the digging I have done on this. I think I will just blame Google:p . As I learn more the chart and other resources will become more valuable.

    Thanks for the compliment Arris but I'm not so sure I deserve it. Here's an indication of how bright I am - I didn't put together that softmodding meant simply running "software" :rolleyes:

    I'm glad to be able to narrow it down to ATI products since noone recommends NVidia here. I don't know if this will change or improve your opinion of the 9800se but everyone who has bought the Sapphire "Atlantis" version from newegg at $136 has verified that it has the 256-bit bus, and MOST are overjoyed with the success of the softmod. Negatives include the fact that it uses 3.3ns Infineon RAM and is built on the Radeon 9700pro PCB, whereas the Powercolor 9800SE-C3 is based on the 9800 design.

    Now that I am getting a better idea of which cards will work for my needs, do you guys have any experience or opinions on trying to maybe pick one up on eBay or somewhere else? I have been looking but they aren't going any cheaper than newegg, and there is no risk there. I am surprised there isn't a classified forum on here. That is often how I pick up deals on other things. Someone buys a 9800se, then decides he wants a pro, and just wants to get a few bucks back. Thanks again!

    -Mike
     
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