How fast of a video card do you recommend?

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by Scott Gardner, May 16, 2004.

  1. First, a confession - I probably don't upgrade my graphics card as
    often as I should. I'm currently running a GeForce 3 64 MB AGP card.
    I just finished FarCry, and while it was a blast to play, I had to
    turn all of the video settings to "high" instead of "very high", and a
    few had to go one step below "high". Also, the anti-aliasing didn't
    seem to work well with my card, so I didn't use it. The game was
    still visually stunning, but looking at screenshots from magazines, I
    can tell I was missing out on a lot of the lighting, shading, and neat
    textures (like the camo paint on the helicopters and patrol boats).

    The rest of my system includes a Pentium 4 3.2 Ghz, 1 Gig of RAM, and
    a RAID 0 array of SATA 150 drives, so I think I'm okay
    performance-wise with the rest of my components.

    Looking at the video cards that are about to be released, it looks
    like $500 is about the going rate for the latest and greatest, with
    the next step down being in the $250-300 range.

    Does buying the newest video card buy you very much extra time before
    the next upgrade is needed, or is it just about bragging rights? I
    don't mind spending the money, but it seems like both an ATI 9800 XT
    and the new X800 XT will probably be obsolete within just a few
    months of each other, as new video standards and features become
    available. After all, my GeForce 3 doesn't seem all that slow, but
    there are features that the new games use that don't even appear to be
    supported in the GF3, so it looks like it's outdated not due to speed
    or amount of RAM, but simply because of new features that have become

    So, with how quickly games are advancing, is it worth it to get the
    absolutely fastest card I can, or is one step down more of a "sweet

    Scott Gardner
    Scott Gardner, May 16, 2004
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  2. Scott Gardner

    Michael-NC Guest

    Far Cry is a bad example for the purchasing of a video card for the "average
    user." Far Cry came out of nowhere and is indeed a candidate for game of the
    year. The game engine has the capacity to bring most rigs to it's knees. If
    you want to play Far Cry with _all_ the eye candy, then a top of the line
    card in your only option. That said, more games like Far Cry are on the way.
    If you enjoy the game and want to experience all the features, an ATI 9800XT
    or nVidia 5950 is your best option. I'm playing it on a 5900 128MB card with
    an XP2800 and 512 dual channel ram at high settings and it does chug at
    times. Only the most cutting edge rigs can run this beast at high settings
    with no slow downs.

    Were I you, I'd wait till ATI and nVidia unleash their next generation and
    then score one of the 9800XT or 5850's at a bargain. I wouldn't pay 500
    dollars and neither should you. You could get a 5950 for 363.00 and a 9800XT
    for 371.00 right now but I expect the price will go way down with the
    release of the next generation chipset.

    If you can't wait a few months, I'd buy a 9800 Pro 128 MB for around 190.00
    that will be a Huge increase in performance over your current card and would
    run Far Cry great.

    A regular 9800 for 132.00 would also do you proud. It depends how much loot
    you want to drop. Remember, buying computer components id worse then driving
    a new car off the lot in terms of depreciation and obsolescence. You could
    pay 500.00 for a video card and 12 months later, you have a piece a crap in
    your system...
    Michael-NC, May 16, 2004
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  3. Thanks for the advice. I don't need to buy a new card right away, so
    I think my choices will be either the new X800 XT or a 9800 XT (or the
    NVidia equivalents). I'll wait until the newest cards have been out a
    month or two, and see how much of a price difference there is between
    the new cards and the previous generation.

    I know what you mean about depreciation. I tend to upgrade my
    computer one piece at a time, when an individual piece is far enough
    behind the times that's it's bringing the rest of the system down with
    it. My brother takes the opposite route - he drops $4000 on a
    computer system, but he only does it every three or four years. Of
    course, it helps that he's not a gamer, so he's driven more by keeping
    up with Windows or adapting new standards like USB or Firewire.

    Sometimes I wonder if he has the right idea. At least when he buys a
    new rig, he has his old complete computer to give to his wife or one
    of his kids. All I have to show for all my one-piece-at-a-time
    upgrades is a closet full of old parts.
    Scott Gardner, May 16, 2004
  4. Scott Gardner

    Michael-NC Guest

    I'd just about _always_ go for the previous generation.
    Now a days, it's getting harder to upgrade a rig, due to the limited
    upgradeability of a particular chipset on a mainboard. I've taken to
    upgrading the core components in a machine; CPU, memory, motherboard, video
    card and include the power supply in the upgrade. That way, I know the core
    components are already compatible and I basically reuse the drives. One must
    make frequent upgrades to keep a system somewhat on the cutting edge.

    I have an advantage and a problem as I have 5 machines in the house that
    rely on the top dog frequently upgrading components and then, cascading down
    it's upgraded component through the pecking order. Had I not have this
    situation, I would not upgrade as frequently as I now do. I'm looking at a
    64 3400 now, but will probably hold off a few months. All was well with my
    XP2800, 512MB PC3700, 5900 rig till Far Cry came along...
    Michael-NC, May 17, 2004
  5. Scott Gardner

    cablenetguy Guest

    Ever since video games on PC's have started to advance starting in the
    early 90's, "the bleeding edge" has been a place for the heavy
    I can remember when the best video card out there was a 4 MB card for
    about $400.
    I now have a card that's 128MB with a 300 Mhz GPU that is 10 times
    faster than my first computer.
    My best advice is to never buy the top of the line because it will be
    obsolete in a matter of months when the manufacturers come up with a
    better design.
    cablenetguy, May 17, 2004
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