How powerful a GPU do I need?

By Maxïmo
Aug 26, 2005
  1. Hey guys. I just bought myself a load of components for a self-build, but I need to find a graphics card to finish off the rig. Specs are as follows:

    AMD Athlon 64 3000+ S939
    512Mb DDR PC3200 Corsair RAM
    MSI K8N Platinum/SLI NForce 4 MoBo
    350W PSU (Generic. Sorry!) Not sure how important this is though?
    Western Digital 80Gb SATA 8Mb Cache HDD Again, not sure how important this is.

    Was wondering what you guys thought of those specs (cost £375 inc DVD, Floppy, Case, Delivery, Win XP)? Now I've just gotta decide on the GPU to go with it... I won't need to think about future gaming. If I could play Half Life 2 at Medium settings with good Frame Rate I'd be happy :D (and by good frame rate, I mean playable, not having to be 100+). But, and heres the kicker, I'd like to keep it under £75, and closer to £50 if possible :unch: . Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and the only stipulation is that its PCI or PCI-E.

    Many thanks for the help I've already received,
  2. C_Conqueror

    C_Conqueror TS Rookie Posts: 140

    I only buy at newegg so I don't know any sites that ship to england but on newegg you can get a geforce 6600 gt for round $150 I think that is around £75 or a little cheaper is the radeon x700pro and 9800pro.
  3. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    I've been looking at the cards you suggested, but they all cost around £100 ($180) over here. even the X700pro and 9800pro... Would a Sapphire x600pro with 256Mb DDR suffice, cos theres one for £65 ($117)?
  4. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    The psu might be enough. I ran my gaming system on 350w for a while(came with case), but that was on an antec psu, which is somewhat better than a generic.

    Your hd is 8mb cache, so that's good.

    An x600pro is probably enough.
    You might consider nvidia 6600gpus, around 70pounds w/o vat.
    It looks like the x600 does well in hl2, plenty of fps for smooth gameplay at 1024x768(even in max settings, w/o aa or af).
    I think hl2 favors ati cards.
  5. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Kinda embarrassing question, but what does af stand for, and what do the two things (aa and af) do? dont they smooth off edges, or something like that? Would I be able to play the game at 35 fps, or is it just a bit too slow? Also, the comparison shows a geforce 6600, but not how much memory its got, will that make a massive amount of difference?

    Many thanks for the link and suggestions, and apologies for my newbility...

  6. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Hi Maximo,

    AF = Anisotropic Filtering (sharpens and adds detail to textures so they look MUCH better)
    AA = Anti-aliasing. This smoothes the jagged edges found in many videogames.

    As far as 128mb and 256mb videocards go, the videomemory really comes into play if you use higher resolutions and/or Anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing simply doubles or quadruples the amount of videomemory used for 2x and 4x, respectively. So if you play at higher resolution (say like 1600x1200), by enabling 2x Anti-aliasing, this will triple the amount of video memory used for the framebuffer (1600x1200 + 2 sample buffers of 1600x1200 size).

    A RARE few games also will use video memory >128mb for super detailed textures. Everquest-II will use a 256mb vram card with it's higher detailed textures. Heck, EverquestII even has a "Maximum" texture setting that will use a 512mb vram card! Battlefield2 will also consume >128mb if you use anti-aliasing AND higher resolution AND it's maximum texture/detail settings. Most folks just play BF2 at 2x AA at best and around 1280x960 resolution. Doom3 has an "Ultra" detail texture mode also that can become cramped on a 128mb card + Antialiasing. Realize that once vram is consumed, texturing will occur over the system bus, which simply reduces framerates by 1/5th to 1/8th on a really good system (PCI-E or AGP 8x).

    Other than that, the other 99.9% of games and gamers are just FINE with a 128mb videocard. If you play mainly at 1024x768 or 1280x1024 resolutions, and the occasional game without massive texture needs at 1600x1200 and only use moderate amounts of Antialiasing, a 128mb card is just fine for you. It's mainly the rare, few ultra detailed texture games, or gamers with LCD displays at 1900x1600 resolution playing at 4x or 6x Anti-Aliasing where 256mb comes into major play. A 6600 will choke at these settings anyways, so you'll be great with a 128mb 6600/6600GT.
  7. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Thanks for the explanation! So if I got a 128Mb card, and the game wanted more, would it use my system RAM? I thought 512Mb DDR was equivalent to 1024Mb SDRAM, but a few people have told me to get more RAM, which I can't really afford?
    I found a 256Mb 6600 for ~£85 and a 128Mb 6600 for ~£75. Ive also found a 256Mb x600Pro for ~£65. Which of these would you say offers best value for money? Cos I could could handle having medium graphics and moderate a/a and a/f at moderate resolutions (enter Captain Average! :wave: )

    Thanks again guys
  8. gamingguy27

    gamingguy27 TS Enthusiast Posts: 168


    Dont want to sound weird but doom3 takes up a whopping > 256MB of video memory.

  9. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221


    Get the 6600 or the 6600GT, You bought Neo 4 SLI mobo? If so, then in future you can SLI two GeForce 6600 series or higher cards to double your GPU power. The 6600 Gt is nice card for most games, but like was said above is limited by the 128MB ram.

  10. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Don't you need two of the same cards for SLI to work? It's another £10 for the extra RAM, so I prob might aswell go for it, but like I say, I'm on a budget I can't afford to stray from too much. And one guy said 128 would be enough, but you and gg27 said not... :s
  11. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    Food for thought


    I have the exact mobo with 2X512MB OCZ PC3200 premium RAM with the 6600GT. My WHOLE intention is to go to SLI mode in the future. It's a nice mobo and not cheap, so I'm just suggesting to stay with the nVidia 6600 or higher series so you can (in the future, as games get more demanding) buy a second 6600 GT. If you go with ATI you can not implement SLI in the future.

    It's a real pain I know, I wanted to get the 7800GT right from the start, but after building the rig itself (not cheap) and my kids want to eat sometime soon, I had to down grade to the 6600GT for now.

    You can read all about it at Lots of great reviews, including a complete report on how 2X6600GT( i.e. SLI mode) couldn't even compete with ONE 7800GT, let alone the GTX.
  12. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at... I get the part about your suggestion I stick with 6600+ so I can use SLI in the future. But then are you telling me it's not worth it? Besides, I think you're forgetting I'm on a budget here, and not looking for the best graphics possible... However, I think I'm pretty much convinced of getting a 6600, but I can't afford the GT version. Thanks for the input in any case.

  13. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    2x6600GT cards have a hard time holding up with one 6800GT, let alone a 7800GTX.
  14. C0d3Warr10r

    C0d3Warr10r TS Rookie Posts: 33

    Power Concerns

    Modern video cards devour sheitty power supplies. You may not experience this w/ only 1x6600. However, since you chose the SLI model, I'm assuming you will go w/ 2x sometime in the future. When you upgrade to 2x 6600s, I would strongly suggest spending the extra loot to buy a higher wattage (>400w) namebrand power supply.

    Hope this helps,

  15. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    SLI mobo, buy 6600 or greater

    C0d3Warr10r is correct of course.

    Maxïmo, all my point was about the 6600 vs 6800 vs 7800 vs 7800 GT or GTX
    is that the more you spend now the better gaming you'll have right away and the better the SLI mode will work in the future.

    I HAD to buy the 6000GT ($230 Cnd) becuase I too was tight for cash. But if you can beg, borrow or credit more cash get at least a 6800GTX. I'm going to save up in few months buy the 7800GT $530 Cnd @ here in Ontario, good old Canada. Then sell my 6600GT on eBay, what the heck.

    Good gamin all. :wave:
  16. brandnew427

    brandnew427 TS Rookie

    My 6600 256 gets 75-120 fps in Counter Strike Source on medium-high. And on Americas Army with a res of 1280x960 I get about 80-120 on high. I paid 120 bucks. Also i have a 550watt powersupply. I got it for only 30 bucks.
  17. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Sorry I haven't replied for a while guys, had some blackouts and wayward trees on the power lines :rollseyes: Anyway, thanks for everyones input, but I think you're forgetting I'm on a really tight budget here... And I'm not looking for the best graphics out there (at least, not till I can get a job) While I'd like to get a 68000GT, I'm really struggling to afford a regular 6600 256Mb. If this can get me through for a year or two, that'd be great. And if I could get one any cheaper, even better. But I think £80 is the cheapest I can get it. And bearing in mind I have no GPU currently, I;m in kind of a fix...

    Would overclocking the processor increase gaming performance without killing the CPU? I got this cooling fan so could that handle the extra heat generated from the OC?
  18. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Been looking around, and had a thought that will probably cause an outcry. How well would a 6200 Turbo Cache perform? Yes they're very cheap, and you get what you pay for, but I could pay £40 for a 32Mb version or £50 for a 64Mb version, and wait and save up to buy a 6600GT in the future. And with the saving, get another 512Mb RAM now. Or would it be better to go for the 6600 256Mb, and the current level of RAM?
  19. brandnew427

    brandnew427 TS Rookie

    I wouldnt go with the 6200. Those low ram versions use your system ram and since you dont have alot (you have enough) you should go with the 6600 or 6800. If you do get a 6600 pay the extra few bucks for the 256mb version.
  20. kirock

    kirock TS Rookie Posts: 1,221

    I think Maximo might already have died this was so long ago.
    Welcome to Techspot though! I did the same the first few times I posted.
  21. Maxïmo

    Maxïmo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    That's Maxïmo, if you please... Thanks for the input, but I got one a long time ago, and it's served me well enough. It plays Half Life 2 to a much better level than I ever could have hoped. Loading times were affected, as I had been warned, but with the money I've earnt since then, I can afford to get more RAM now, which will hopefully eliminate the problem. Thanks for the input anyway!
  22. bbdude

    bbdude TS Rookie Posts: 18

    I'd recommend at least a 9800PRO 128mb. It's been doing me some justice for a while now. :)
  23. kangaruffian

    kangaruffian TS Rookie Posts: 175

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