Another video card question

My wifes card is dieing so we are going to replace it and upgrade her ram. She is a small time gamer, wow, eq2, hellgate: london, but isn’t going to play anything that requires more fire power. Her current specs are an Asus A8N-SLI motherboard, a 6800, and a gig of ram, XP 2 64edition. Im going to upgrade another 2 gigs of Ram and have been trying to find a decent card. The 8600s seem like they would fit what we are looking for. Can anyone tell me the difference between these three cards besides the prices and the S, I can see that they have different numbers in the specs but I don’t know what it means in terms of actual performance.

Edit: The max resolution of our monitors is 1280x1024.

The DDR2 version will be much slower, I know that.

Two of those are heavy on the graphics card and the other will benefit from it. I’d get an 8800GT over the much less capable 8600GT, especially if you’re upgrading from a 6800GT, because that 8600 really isn’t that much better.

Even the new ATI cards would be a better bet.

Anyone mind exlpaining what DDR is? What the differences are in laymans terms?

Unfortunately the 8800s are out of our price range. We are looking for a card in the 100-200 range. The only reason we are even replacing the card is because it’s dieing.

The GTS is between 10% and 20% faster than the GT. The cheapest GT is probably held back extra by its slower memory.

The 8600GTS isn’t a bad card, but in its price range its performance is shattered by Ati’s 3850.

The 8800GT is a much better value, but you’ll pay $100 extra.

DDR = dual data rate or something, it means “multiply by two”.

Sorry for all the questions and thanks for the help.

The 3850’s only have 256mb on board memory how much of a difference will that make vs the 512?

The lower amount of memory mainly has an effect in higher resolutions (1600x1200 and up). Since a 512MB equivalent doesn’t exist, it’s hard to get specific numbers.

I found a few articles that may shed some light on your options:
This ExtremeTech article compares the 3850 and the 256 MB GTS. The 3850 is sometimes 50% faster, sometimes 100%.

At TechPowerUp, the 8600GTS 512MB, 8600GTS 256 MB, and 8600GT are compared. The difference between 256 MB and 512MB is mostly negligible. The GT (with DDR3) is slower.

At Madshrimps, the 8600GT with the fast memory (DDR3) and slow memory (DDR2) are compared. The DDR3 card is between 0 and 10% faster in benchmarks.

HardOCP shows the performance of Hellgate: London using a 3850 at 1600x1200. It’s very playable.

From what those links, and your provided links, tell me, I’d end up with two contenders that offer the best value for money: the cheapest 8600GT ($109, DDR2) and the 3850 (should be available for $179). At 1280x1024, they’ll both deliver adequate performance on every current game but Crysis.

To confuse you further, there is a third option: an 8800GT with 256MB of memory should arrive on the scene any day (two weeks ago, NVidia said it would arrive “in two weeks”), with a suggested price point between $179 and $199.

And to finish, you should also consider the power draw of the cards. The 8600GT and GTS draw 30-40W less than the 3850 and the as-yet-hypothetical 8800GT 256MB, according to the ExtremeTech article I linked above. There is a slight chance that the extra power draw will overtax your computer’s power supply.

And of course, I could be wrong.

I assume the GTS won’t run on a 300w PSU?

I need to upgrade after Christmas as well, but only have a 300w. If I have to throw in a new PSU, I’ll probably get the 3850.

Thanks for all the help, think I’ll go with the 3850.

I haven’t tried it but you could be able to get a 8800GT for 187.75 from dell using some paypal promotion