ATI Video Card question

So my video card died on me - GeForce4 Ti4200 - probably due to the fact that the GPU fan died and it was hot and humid as hell yesterday.

So I’m looking to replace the card, and although I’m not in a full PC upgrade mode at the moment, I’d like something that will still be decent a year from now when I probably will do a full-bore upgrade.

I’m running an Athlon XP1800+ with 512MB DDR2700.

My question is, what and how much difference is there between the ATI Radeon 9800SE and 9800Pro? There seems to be about $50+ dollars worth of difference on the price, but performance charts don’t show too much difference on both 256-bit versions.

I’ve also heard/read some horror stories about ATI drivers and game compatibility, so would it be better to get one of the GeForceFX models floating around?

I think the image quality in the Radeon series is far better than the FX Nvidia cards, especially in games like FarCry.

Can’t answer your other question, since I don’t know the 9800SE card. I think the 9800 Pro is pretty much the sweet spot for cards these days - probably the current equivalent to the GF4 4200 a couple of years ago.

The SE is slow, slow, slow… the 9800SE is actually worse than the standard 9600, IIRC. You definitely want the pro, which, yes, is the sweet spot.

There aren’t many horror stories about ATI anymore. Occasionally some game has a problem, but nothing like four years ago. For instance, Thief 3 had issues with certain ATI driver revisions, so people just downgraded; just like NVidia users do whenever it happens to them. In fact one could note that lately many game patches have been fixing NVidia specific issues (I refer the interested reader to FarCry’s patch).

Yeah, but what about backwards compatibility. I still have tons of crap I’m not even close to done with yet. I would feel much better if I knew all my sims would still, er, fly.

I can’t say I’ve tested on a lot of really old apps, but most of the old stuff I’ve tried on ATI cards based on the R300/350 architecture works just fine.

(that’s a Radeon 9500 or above)

In fact, Flight Sim 2004 now runs faster on a Radeon 9800 than the comperable GeForce FX when you crank up the details.

The driver situation is a bit of a wash. NVIDIA’s are quite the rock of ultimate perfect compatibility they used to be, and ATI’s have gotten a lot better. In truth they’re both pretty darn reliable.

The 9800 Pro is a good deal, I’d go with that. Don’t get a 128MB model if you find one, though - we are definitely firmly in the realm of “high detail modes need 256MB graphics cards” these days. You’ll have a card fast enough to crank up games like Half-Life 2 or most MMOs, and 128MB of video RAM would hamstring ya. I’m not sure if they make 128MB versions of the 9800 Pro, but just in case…

Thanks Jason. I may have to start looking for the deals. Ah, and Fathers day is coming right up. :)

another option would be to replace the fan. My 4600 still runs things fine for me, so thats what I did. Did your card totally die when the fan died? Mine just acted like a tnt2 until I got a new fan for it. The replacements are pretty cheap.

Well, when my GeForce4 Ti4200’s fan died, the card fried itself - it’s deader than burnt toast now.

I bought and installed my new ATI Radeon 9800Pro last night, it’s only the 128MB model, because the 256MB model was ~$100 more.

Found out I’m almost definitely going to have to get a new power supply - the additional power drain of the Radeon, along with my DVD-Rom, CD-R/RW, 3 hard drives, 2 case fans, and 80mm CPU fan was uh, bad. The CPU fan was actually shutting off randomly due to lack of power (the PC froze up and rebooted, and the CPU temperature monitor on power-up measured 208-degrees Fahrenheit), so right now I’m running with my CD-R/RW and floppy drive disconnected, and everything works fine.

CPU Magazine has run a few articles on what are good power supplies and they gave the OCZ power supplies flying colors as far as power regulation quality and supply are concerned.