TechSpot

Help deciding on a Video Card

By Simpsons Rule
Apr 16, 2006
  1. I'm looking for a good video card. I just bought a new motherboard and processor and have yet to get the video card, but I plan to next paycheck. I have an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ running at 2.4GHz with 1GB of DDR RAM and an available 8X AGP slot. I'm looking at the $150 pricerange and currently the ones I am looking at are:

    Radeon x1600 Pro 256MB 8X AGP

    GeForce 6600 256MB 8X AGP

    GeForce 6800XT 128MB 8X AGP

    If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear it. I'm not sure how the Radeon fairs against the GeForce's and I'm not sure if the 6800XT is better than the 6600 even though it has 128MB less memory.
     
  2. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 3,566

    What will you be using the computer for? From a stricly gaming standpoint, I'd say the 6800XT is the better choice even though it has less memory. The 6600 (vanilla) is a little whimpy.
     
  3. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    I'll be using it for everything. Typing up essays, doing my research papers, talking on AIM, playing games, and listening to music. Any thoughts on the Radeon? Anyone else agree the 6800XT is still better even though it'll have less memory?
     
  4. LipsOfVenom

    LipsOfVenom TS Rookie Posts: 256

    of course. pipelines and memory interface are more important than memory. You can have a 5 gallon bottle of water, but if you can't fill it up fast enough, then it's kind of useless, unless you are patient...well the analogy is that speed is more important than storage. So it's between the X1600 or the 6800XT. I like the 256 bit memory interface the 6800 gives, but at only 8 pipelines I would personally buy the X1600. i believe the clock speeds are a bit higher than the 6800XT no? well that's just my two cents
     
  5. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Well:

    Diamond Radeon X1600 Pro / 256MB GDDR2 / AGP 8x / DVI / VGA / TV Out / Video Card
    GPU/VPU: Radeon X1600 Pro
    RAMDAC: Dual 390 MHz
    Maximum Resolution: 2560 x 1600
    Video Memory: 256MB
    Memory Type: 128-bit GDDR2
    Core Clock: 500 MHz
    Interface Type: AGP
    Interface Speed: 8X
    Connector(s) DVI, TV/S-Video, VGA


    And

    GeForce 6800XT
    Graphics Engine: GeForce 6800XT.
    Video Memory: 128MB.
    Engine Clock: 300MHz.
    Memory Clock: 700 MHz(350MHz DDR).
    RAMDAC: 400MHz.
    Bus Standard: AGP 8x/4X/2X.
    Memory Interface: 256-bit DDR.
    Max Resolution: 2048x1536. T
    V Output: S-VHS and Composite.
    DVI Output: DVI-I.
    VGA Output: Dual VGA (with adaptors).
    Adaptor/Cable bundled: TV out adaptor, DVI-to-2nd VGA adaptor.
    Software Bundled: Joint Operations, Xpand Rally, ASUS DVD XP, Media Show, ASUS Utilities & Driver.


    So, that Radeon X1600 or that GeForce 6800XT ?
     
  6. LipsOfVenom

    LipsOfVenom TS Rookie Posts: 256

    I would buy the X1600pro
     
  7. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Anyone else? Not that I'm ignoring your opinion, but I'd like a general concensus before agreeing to the Radeon.
     
  8. eazy_duz_em

    eazy_duz_em TS Rookie Posts: 170

    yeah go for the 1600pro..memory size is bigger and faster.
     
  9. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 3,566

    I'd say those two you are looking at are about dead even. The 6800XT has a 256bit interface compared to the X1600pro's 128bit which makes it keep up despite is slightly slower clock speeds.

    In some games the 6800xt is going to outperform that 1600pro, and in some games the 1600pro will beat out that 6800XT. I don't think you'll notice much of a difference between those two cards from a gaming standpoint.

    That said, of those two, I'd probably go for the x1600pro simply for it's 256mb memory. From what we have heard of windows Vista, it is going to be demanding on graphics card memory, and the 256mb is probably the better choice.

    That's my two yen.
     
  10. Cronnie

    Cronnie TS Rookie Posts: 36

    The x1600pro, basically DonNagual said everything i was gonna say...

    Especially considering Windows Vista and the Memory...

    Well, thats my two pence.

    (lol we got 2 cents, 2 yen, and 2 pence lol )
     
  11. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Ok, here's a new question. I'm looking to get the Radeon x1600 Pro with 512MB installed for $220.00 Now, that was more than I was willing to spend initially, but I feel with the new Windows Vista requirements, that it might be worth the sacrifice now for later. However, is there a better video card that anyone can suggest in the $220.00 area that is better than the card I am looking at? Its got 512 MB memory, 128-bit interface, dual 400 MHz RAMDAC, and it's AGP 8X.
     
     
  12. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,198

    If you're going to raise your budget to the $200 level, I'd say go for a 6600GT, X800 GTO, or 1600XT (if PCI-Express).

    I've been finding the best bang-for-the-buck card to be the X800 GTO, which comes in both AGP and PCI-E, usually around $150, 256mb vram, 12-pipelines @ 256 bit memory interface.

    PCI-E X800 GTO, 512mb: $139
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16814102684

    AGP X800 GTO 256mb: $155
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16814131010

    I wouldn't worry about 512mb vram. 256mb is AMPLE.

    I also wouldn't worry to much about Vista/DX10 as there will be SM4.0 released at that time. NONE of the current cards have support for Vista/DX10, so we're all gonna be pretty much "behind the curve".. but having a nice DX9.0/256mb card will get you by for a nice while for Vista.
     
  13. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Not a bad looking card :) Between then 6600GT, X800 GTO, and 1600XT, would you recommend the x800, or is that just the best bang for your buck? And it's got to be AGP. I've got no PCI-E slot :(
     
  14. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,198

    You really can't go wrong with a 6600GT, X1600 Pro or X800 GTO.

    The X800 GTO trades superior performance for one feature (FP blended HDR). I'd argue though that the 6600GT and X1600 Pro (which can do FP blends/HDR) really lack the horsepower for this feature when enabled.

    As far as performance goes, the order would be: X800 GTO, 6600GT, X1600 Pro (fastest to slowest). The X1600 Pro is slightly slower than the 6600GT in some games, but plays many Direct3D games extremely well.

    The X800 GTO is by far the best performer of the three, but you'll only be able to use Bloom/HDR effects in Oblivion and Far Cry. Of the 6600GT we have in the house, we have to turn HDR off in Oblivion and Far Cry anyways as the performance hit is just too great and we'd rather play at higher resolutions/more game settings. You can play with FULL HDR in games like HalfLife2:Lost Coast, higher resolutions/options and in either case, framerates and eye-candy options will be substantially higher on the X800 GTO.

    In a nutshell, and what's important is features, core speed, # of pipelines and memory interface. 256 bit memory interface can be roughly 2x the bandwidth/speed of a 128-bit.

    X1600Pro:
    12 pipelines, 500mhz core
    128-bit memory interface
    Can do SM3.0/FP Blend HDR

    6600GT:
    8 pipelines, 500mhz core
    128-bit memory interface
    Can do SM3.0/FP Blend HDR

    X800 GTO:
    12 pipelines, 400mhz core
    256-bit memory interface
    Cannot do SM3.0/FP Blend HDR
     
  15. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    So the drop in core speed of the X800 GTO is worth the increased memory interface? And what exactly does FP blends/HDR do?
     
  16. CrossFire851

    CrossFire851 TS Rookie Posts: 1,058

    X1600 512 would be my pick from that slection


    HDR is a pretty new lighting effect found in new games, like oblivion.

    It makes games (etc) look beautiful.


    google it for more info.
     
  17. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Lol. I guess the right answer is that there's no one choice among video cards. May I ask why you would pick the x1600 Pro? If I get an understanding as to why, I'll be able to play the pros and cons of both and make a decision.
     
  18. LipsOfVenom

    LipsOfVenom TS Rookie Posts: 256

  19. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,198

    Like I said prior, the X800 GTO trades flat-out speed for features.

    Oblivion and Far Cry have FP blended HDR, which adds some pretty nifty lighting effects to games. The X800 GTO will only be able to perform Bloom HDR effects and not the full HDR effects, but will perform substantially better in Oblivion.

    The X1600 Pro and 6600GT have full support of FP blended HDR, but are both slower than the X800 GTO. Even with HDR disabled on all three, the X800 GTO will quite measurably outperform both cards. And yes, the 256-bit memory interface does indeed make a substantial difference in performance.

    The card the previous poster linked is a 16-pipe, 256-bit memory interface card WITH support for FP blends/HDR. Of course, it's also nearly 2x the price of any of these listed hehe. Basically, the 7800GS is the absolute BEST card you can get for an AGP system if you can afford it. It's also got enough horsepower to truly use HDR without having to skimp on other settings to use it.

    Figure X1600 Pro/6600GT and Oblivion:
    Can play at 800x600 with HDR, or possibly 1024x768 with tweaked settings. Turning off HDR and Bloom HDR only, you can probably pump 1280x1024 with some tweaked, reduced settings as well, with average to good framerates.

    X800 GTO:
    Can play at 1024x768 or 1280x1024 with settings very, very high.. even some AA/AF.. with good to great framerates, but with Bloom HDR.. no option to enable HDR.

    7800GS:
    High resolution (1024x768, 1280x1024) with very, very high settings, HDR, good to great framerates.
     
  20. Simpsons Rule

    Simpsons Rule TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    ...so I splurged. I got a GeForce 7800GS CO that I just ordered today. More money than I had originally intended, but I think I'll be happy :)

    Thanks everyone for the help!
     
  21. Cronnie

    Cronnie TS Rookie Posts: 36

    Nice one mate :)

    You got a killer card there, im jealous :p

    Enjoy your gaming life, i knwo you will lol...

    *Looks at 6800XT in disgust* :(
     
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