Seeking advice on mid-priced quality card

O

Oysterman

New Member
#1
Hi everyone,

I'm upgrading my old PIII computer. I've already purchased a new mobo (MSI board with i845E), CPU (PIV 2.4/533) and some DDR RAM, but I also thought I'd upgrade my graphics card while I'm at it. What I have now is a Diamond Stealth III S540, which by today's standard is a slow POS, and by any standard has less than perfect drivers. I'm not really much of a gamer: my primary use for the computer is multitrack audio recording/editing, which is why stability and good drivers is a priority. Although when I'm not doing that (or surfing the web), it would be cool to be able to run games such as, say, Sim City 4 with acceptable framerates. (I doubt SC4 will even run on the old card... no D3D support... :p) I have a 17" monitor, so my resolution rarely goes above 1024x768, though I do use the 1280x1024 setting when doing the audio editing part. But I don't need gaming performace under extreme resolutions.

Basically, what I'm looking for is a card that:

* Doesn't cost a fortune!
* Delievers good picture and decent framerates in newer games at 1024x768.
* Preferably doesn't have a fan, or at least a VERY quiet cooling system (I've become a bit anal with this lately).
* Has good drivers.

My price limit would be, say, US $175-$200 (excluding VAT) or thereabouts. But if the perfect solution costs a tad more, I've got the money - I just don't feel like spending a fortune on a piece hardware I don't really use that much...

So what do you think? Chipsets? Brands? Any suggestions or directions would be most appreciated!

Thanks,
Oysterman
 
Todd a

Todd a

New Member
#2
I dont know the curancy echange, so I might be outside your price limit so I will give you a few cards. ATI has very good image quality and their cards and drivers have improve a lot in the last 18 months. I'd go for teh Radeon 9500 Pro. Something a bit slower and cheaper is the Radeon 9100. A bit more expensive is the Radeon 9700. For nVidia, the GeForceMX440 (not the SE version with SDR instead of DDR) is very cheap, but will likely work fine. The GeForce4 Ti4200 is nice, but a bit more expensive (but still slightly less than the Radeon 9500 Pro). For cards coming out soon, the GeForceFX 5600 or the Radeon 9600 might do you good (the Radeon likely will perform better if you really crank up the eye candy). I run most games at 1600x1200 with my GeForce4 Ti4200 and it is in the mid to lower end of the cards I listed. Most cards also have a DVI port for LCD displays and TV-out for connecting to a TV with RCA or S-Vidio. Even the low end cards should handle 1024x768 and be blazingly fast in most games.
 
cheapster

cheapster

New Member
#3
hmm,
"a card that:

* Doesn't cost a fortune!
* Delievers good picture and decent framerates in newer games at 1024x768.
* Preferably doesn't have a fan, or at least a VERY quiet cooling system (I've become a bit anal with this lately).
* Has good drivers."
If it wasn't for the last requirement, I would say go for a Radeon 8500LE or 9000 Pro. But taking into consideration the last requirement, I would say Nvidia. Geforce 3 ti 200 on the cheap side, but if you want a very good card, consider a Geforce 4 Ti4200. most recommend the 128 mb ram version, but coming from a Diamond Stealth III S540, even the 64 mb version should be eye popping performance wise. (as would even the Geforce 3 or even a geforce 4 MX 440! all things being relative.)
Unfortunately, I can't share any personal geforce 4 ti4200 experiences with you, as I had to RMA my new MSI card on arrival since it had managed to break off one of the plastic pins that secure the heatsink and fan during transit to me. I am anxiously awaiting the replacement card. Good luck, and let us know what you decide and how you like it.
 
Marvt74

Marvt74

HWC Superpi Champion
#4
i would say the 9500 pro
fits nicely in your price range
and it has dx9 capabilities so if you dont upgrade often that will let your card live for at least a few years.
most dx8 cards will probably need to be upgraded in about 2 years or so
 
Bennyboy

Bennyboy

Colonel Debugger
#5
Looking at your requirements then looking at your budget I can see a slight mismatch. Indeed, a Radeon 9500 Pro is an excellent card and fits your budget range perfectly, however it is complete overkill if you are just an occasional gamer. An older Radeon or GeForce 4 MX 440 would suit your needs perfectly and leave you with plenty of cash left over to spend on audio equipment, or whatever. Sure, the Radeon 9500 Pro is a great buy if you don't want to upgrade for a while, it just depends how you want to split your budget over the years. You can spend $175 now and get the 9500 Pro, or spend $70 now, then another $70 in a year when you might want to upgrade again, but I think you will still be spending less if you go that route.

I say get a cheap card that can give you what you want now, and you see exaclty how much SC4 you are playing and whterh you like playing other games like UT2003 that you can't currently play, then you do become a hardcore gamer get the hardore card. Right now, especially with a monitor limit of 1024x768, a GF4MX 440 will suit you fine and leave you valuable cash to spend on your true hobby - audio, NOT video.

Bennyboy.
 
O

Oysterman

New Member
#6
Thanks for your replies! I've done a little bit of thinking and reading on Tom's Hardware and I do think a GF4 MX would be enough for my needs. I have found a couple of interesting MX cards, with the main candidate being a card called ASUS 8170T (I believe it was called, though I couldn't find this particular card on ASUS's website) with 128 MB DDR. A little more expensive than the other MX cards I've been looking at (though still well under $100), but it has more, and faster memory, and a brand name to inflate the price too. Does 64 vs 128, SDR vs DDR make a big difference? Last I heard ASUS products had a good rep, is that still true?
 
cheapster

cheapster

New Member
#7
Does 64 vs 128, SDR vs DDR make a big difference?
64 vs. 128? Not really until you get into the latest games with huge textures. DDR vs. SDR? Absolutely! The SDR cards are very cheap for a reason, they are much slower than cards with DDR. If you go for a Geforce 4 MX, (or an ATI Radeon, for that matter) make sure you get one with DDR memory. I really don't think that you would see any difference with 128 mb vs. 64, but others may disagree. Again, compared to your current card, either one will seem awesome in comparison. Asus still has a good reputation, I would also vouch for MSI (in spite of my recent problem which related more to lack of packaging than MSI itself) Got my RMA MSI Geforce 4 4200Ti and it is really nice, but then it cost a lot more than a GF 4 MX. I would say that my favorite video card brands are MSI and A-Open, based on personal experience. I had less success with Gainward, but that could have just been one bad card. Good Luck.
 
Todd a

Todd a

New Member
#8
Yes. Stay away from the GeForce4 MX 420 and the GeForce4 MX 440SE as they both use SDRAM and run MUCH slower. The MX cards are OK, but a bit slow and only support DX 7.0 The GeForcde3/4 Ti and Radeon 8500/9000 are all DX 8.1 and the Radeon 9500/9700 and GeForceFX cards are DX 9.0 cards. DX 7.0 cards are starting to have trouble keeping up with games do to the lack of several hardware features like a programable T&L and hardware Vertex and Pixel shaders.
 

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