Best video card for < $200

Title says it all. What’s the best, relatively future-proof video card to upgrade to (PCI-E) for less than $200? I was looking at the GeForce 6800GS or ATI X800 but I’m not 100% sure on those.

I think that you get what you pay for, give a couple of months of investment equity for the good deals or good cards. Just linger on newegg for a week and wait for something in the $220 to get 10% off.

GeForce 7600GT. $195 at NewEgg. A bit faster, and some enhanced video playback features.

Check these 3DMark scores on a 2.4GHz Athlon X2:
6800 GS: 2866
7600 GT: 3293

I’m completely clueless with respect to video card naming conventions nowadays. What’s the difference between the GT versus GS versus GTX versions of cards for nVidia? Or ATI has the x800, but there’s also the x1300, x1800, etc. - is the higher number faster, or what?

More numbers/letters = better.

On the Nvidia side, the GT typically offers 80 to 90% of the performance of the GTX for 60% of the price.

Thanks - so then the one to look for is the GeForce 7600GT?

BTW, whoever came up with the naming conventions for the latest video cards really should be punched in the face. I can’t even tell anymore if different versions of the same video card compare as stripped-down versus overclocked versus stock or what-have-you, with all the naming modifiers attached to numeric series’ nowadays.

It’s not too much of a deal to me, since I never purchase a card based on the letter / number combination it has, I always research the performance of each card that is in my price range. Tom’s hardware is a great place for picking the best.

The worst part is that they change the naming system every 18 months.

  • Alan

Well, I did some more digging, and I didn’t realize how recently the GeForce 7600 was released (just this month, IIRC). It’s superior to the 6800 series, and one or two specs even surpass the 7800GS (AGP only version) due to its PCI-E only architecture. While not as uber as the 7800GT or GTX, it does support all the latest bells-and-whistles (pixel shader 2.0c, iirc) and does seem to be the best mid-range card for the foreseeable future (depending on what ATI releases in the upcoming months).

Oh, and the general trend seems to go GTX > GT > GS.

I realize that you ar probably going with a 7600 but just in case you are still thinking about going with an ATI X800, I own an X800 and I’m havingt a lot of trouble with running FEAR on that card and I think the situation will just get worse as the year goes on. So I don’t recommend the x800.

Thanks - I was considering the x800 as an alternate choice, especially if I could find it significantly cheaper than the 7600. And since the x1300/1800/etc. are way out of reasonable pricing for me, it looks like 7600 or bust.

I’m getting ready for Oblivion. Poking around the net, it seems like everyone agrees the 7600GT is the current sweet spot, which is all good. My question, though: I currently have a 6600GT, which has been pretty great for stuff up to and including FEAR. I get the impression that it’s not going to cut it for Oblivion, though – or at least that I will have to dial the game way back. So that makes me think about upgrading. I’m not going to ask whether it’s “worth it” because that’s so subjective (both in terms of how you feel about graphics, and about money). But I will ask this: is it a big jump going from a 6600 to a 7600? I can see the spec differences but don’t know how that translates on, say, the 7-9 scale. Is it the sort of thing where I’ll really notice a difference, or where I’m spending $200+ for an incremental thing like 5 more FPS at the same settings?

Why don’t you just wait a week and find out how the 6600GT performs? That would seem to be the most cost-effective solution.

Damn your Vulcan logic, Spock. No, I am assuming (maybe unfairly, you’re right) that the 6600GT isn’t going to perform very well. But I’m not willing to spend $400 to upgrade, so I was just wondering whether a $200 upgrade was worth doing, or was only going to get me a minor boost over what I already have.

Rywill- Yeah, and seriously, wait a week so people with 7600s can report back with their Oblivion results. “Worth doing” is a pretty nebolous and personal thing, there are people who keep buying $400 cards every 6 months even though they are getting 5% boosts in performance.

You are all enemies of fun. May ninjas eat your first-born.

[size=0]Stupid talking me out of upgrading my videocard this weekend…[/size]

C’mon, buy it. You know you want to. All the cool kids are. Look, it’ll be easy. Just go buy it. You’ll feel better once you do.

You should upgrade your vid card. The 7600GT has huge advantages over the 6600GT. Not only does it get more FTP with PS 7.9 megapipelines fuzzy logic screen decoders but it also offers natural male enhancement. Really, upgrading ot the 7600GT is the only way to ensure any happiness in your life.

[SIZE=1]P.S. I’ll buy that 6600GT off you for a few bucks if you have no further use for it.[/SIZE]

I had a borrowed 6600GT for a few weeks while waiting on the 7600/7900 to ship. It’s a slug unless you’re a fan of 1024x768.