View Full Version : So many video card options, am I making a good choice? Is there a better deal?

12-30-2005, 05:58 AM
I'm finally upgrading my system after 5 years. So far I'm getting lucky finding good deals on the components and knew exactly what I was looking for and why. However video cards in the past 5 years have changed havn't they?

So far I've got:

AMD Athalon 64 3700+ San Diego core (scored extremly well at tomshardware)
ECS RS482-M Motherboard (wife found bundled with the proccessor at outpost.com for $240)
2GB of corsair 3200 ddr memory (frys had it for $100 day after christmas sale)

With this in mind I need to pick out the perfect video card to go with the collection of parts. Originally we were looking at spending $100 on video but I believe that I'll be needing more for this system as time progresses.

What are the most important factors when picking out a video card? Am I looking for pipes, memory speed, gpu speed, or amount of memory? I know that I want to stick to pci express so I made sure that the mobo supported it as my first consideration.

For price reasons I've been looking at the mostly x#00 ati chipsets and with all of the variations therein and have come up with a fairly short list:

Sapphire X800GTO2 256MB OEM $208
(unlockable to 16 pipes, but more than I'm willing to pay without a very good reason)

PowerColor x800GTO 16x 256mb retail $185
(16 pipelines but a little more than I want to pay, older chipset)

Sapphire x800PRO 256MB retail for $169 after rebate
(I've got no data on the GTO edition, how does it stack up to XT and PRO?)

Sapphire x800GTO 256 MB FireBlade Edition OEM for $160
(newer chipset, already overclocked, huge heat sink, will probably buy this one)

Sapphire x700 256 MB OEM for $102
(low end of the list do I really need more?)

Prices listed are from newegg as they seem to have the best deals on the net right now. If you know a cheaper price let me know.

I've ruled out the connect3D cards as they can't be unlocked to 16 pipes anymore. I have no data on the GeForce 6600 LEs but I'm assuming that they're mass produced crap.

If I need to spend more money than what I am, explain why. I've got to take what you give me to make my wife understand why I'm spending more than $100 in terms that she'll understand.

12-30-2005, 07:28 AM
If you're willing to go as high as $208, then get a 6800GS. It's incredibly good for the price. It will run any game with all or most of its settings on highest at 1280x960 and even 1600x1200 in some games. You simply can't find more bang for your buck.

As for what to look for, tests are the only thing you can go by. Specs are meaningless unless you're comparing two different brands of the same card. Don't read Tom's Hardware Guide, BTW. It's a horribly biased site, and not that great regardless of that. Anandtech and Xbitlabs are probably my two favorites. I'd also suggest you avoid Fry's, although at $100 for 2GBs, I'd take anything short of stolen hardware. That's one hell of a price.

12-30-2005, 11:08 AM
Stay clear of the X800 series cards and get a 6800 series Nvidia based card. They are faster and more future proof. I have a friend (no really, I have a friend) that has a 6800GS and it really is a screamer. It also overclocks well if you ever decide to do that. Much better choice than the X800 by a wide margain. X800 = SM2 and 6800 = SM3. SM is Shader Model and what that means related to how card does its' job with graphics and textures. SM3 is the new standard and will most likely be required for games release in the next 6-8 months.

12-30-2005, 11:40 AM
I have a friend (no really, I have a friend)One's a start... It's a human friend, right? :beerchug:

SM3 is the new standard and will most likely be required for games release in the next 6-8 months.
Required? No, but you will see actual visual quality improvements in pretty much any graphical game that comes out in that time period and beyond, as opposed to the five or so engines that give visual improvements now (most just give performance improvements, as SM3.0 provides a much more efficient model). I'd say PS 2.0 might be required in some new engines coming out in 2006 (Unreal in particular looks like it will).

That said, I'd say those games that make good use of it now are worth getting a 6 series over an X*** series card on their own, nevermind the future-proofing.

12-30-2005, 03:24 PM
I have a friend (no really, I have a friend).
let ur imagination run.

01-05-2006, 10:30 AM
let ur imagination run.LoL