New video card reccomendation

I am considering buying a new video card. I have an ATI radeon 9800 pro. I am willing to spend upwards of around 200 bucks.

Id prefer an nVidia card because I am sick of the crappy ATI drivers, although I am not willing to fork out 400 bucks or get one with an extra cooling unit. I have a shuttle small formfactor box, so it cant be a double wide card or anything weird like that. I am looking for the best bang for my buck. I also do not even know if the newer cards are that much better then the ATI card I have, although it is a year and a half old I think.

Any suggestions?

I just ordered a geForce 6600 GT off tigerdirect last night for $160 - $30 rebate = $130.

The other nice option was a x800XL for $230 after rebate, but since I’m running a P4 3.0 ghz I didn’t think there would be enough of a difference to make it worth it.

Since this is all i’ve thought about the last week or so i’ll give my conclusions. For better or worse ATI has so many mid-range quality products and they’re much better poised at the 200$ segment.


The 6600 GT is a good card, as i have it, and it has all the cool shaders 3.0 and HDR lighting. It is however only slightly faster than the 9800 pro (it’s about equal or slightly better than the 9800 XT). It’s gotten really pretty cheap as well, as least online.

NVidia AGP cards are getting scarce and i think they have stopped or are slowing down production of NVidia AGP … anything. This has kept AGP card prices artificially high in some cases. The 6800 GT is probably the most solid last gen card out there, but it’s still almost impossible to find one less than 300$.

Personally if you can get the 7800 GT for 350$ there is really no reason to settle for less, if the less is only ~100$ in savings. Really nothing else in the 6xxx family is worth bothering with. The Ultra remains far too costly, the 6200’s are pointless for gamers except someone wanting to run Counterstrike at 800x600 with no AA on the cheap.

There used to be something called the 6800 NU that you could supposedly overclock to the GT, but it seems to have dissapeared. It was supposedly the price of the 6800 with the potential performance of the 6800 GT.

Actually you might consider the 6800 vanilla; it can be faster than the X800 pro, although it’s probably about the same speed generally.


There is the ATI X800 GTO2, but its virtually vanished because of it’s popularity. When (if) back in stock it should sell around 199+$. When flashed with a new bios they become apparently X850 XTs, which is really not a bad deal. Of course, no shader 3.0 or HDR lighting.

Of course the problem is that both the GTO2 and 7800 are PCI-e only. There was a rumor of a GTO2 AGP but it is apparently false and there are no plans to bring that card to AGP.

Personally i think ATI cards have far better 2d performance, if that possibly means anything. I remember there were tests comparing signal quality and NVidia cards tested to have more noise and interference because of poorer quality resisters (or something). But whether ATI cards, most or all of which are made in China today, still perform as well in this regard, i just don’t know. And they’re about to kill what little warranty they had on new ATI branded cards.

There is another cheaper ATI option; the ATI Refurb Clearance Center. Right now you can get the X800pro w/ 3 year warranty for 179$. I haven’t checked shipping and taxes, but that’s not a bad deal. In some games and resolutions, the x800 is only about 30-50% faster, with 4xAA it can be more than double. It’s probably 10-25% slower than the XL, depending on the game.

I got two 6800 GT AGP’s from Newegg, one for $230 and one for $206. They were labeled OEM and refurb respectively, but when I got them they were new and retail. You might have the same luck; I figure because it’s an older card they’re being sloppy about inventory.

Isn’t the plain 6800 roughly the same speed as the 6600 GT?

Isn’t the plain 6800 roughly the same speed as the 6600 GT?[/quote]

More or less anyway. Probably the 6600 GT is the better card overall as it’s a bit more modern and uses Nvidia’s DVD decoder tech. I think you have to buy a decoder from Nvidia to enable it though, so it’s sort of a mute point.

Although the biggest problem with the 6600GT is it’s poor cooling. None of the cards cool the heat sinks or GPU very well. If you could at least squeeze some heat sinks on the memory chips it would be much more stable. As it is it’s probably the fastest Nvidia card in terms of sheer mhz, but that makes it also one of the most prone to overheating. It’s really not a good overclocker unless you can cool it, and when i raise the core speed the ceiling is 1:1 corrolated with temperature.

But generally the 6800 will be a tiny bit faster, if i recall.

What do you mean the last AGP cards? What is there some new video interface out now for video cards?

I do not want to upgrade to something slightly better then a ATI 9800 pro. IF the nvidia 6800 is only slightly better, its not worth spending 200 bucks on. I saw the 7800s, holy crap they are expensive.

I also have a small form-factor shuttle box, fat cards (with huge heat sinks, or double wides) are not an option. I saw quite a few picutes of the same model cards, some had huge heat sinks, some were double wide, and others had much more thin cooling systems.

Maybe I shoud just wait then and now is a bad time to buy video cards.

Yes. It’s called PCI Express. It comes with newer computers and all the latest whiz bang high end video cards use that slot, not AGP.

On a $200 budget, that might not be a bad idea. You probably won’t get the performance boost you desire over a 9800 Pro without spending a lot of money.

When I went from a 9700 Pro to a X800 Pro, I also took the plunge with PCI-Express. Doing something like that only adds to the financial burden.

Funny that you should mention that, since I own the passively cooled Gigabyte GV-N66T128VP – that’s a 6600 GT with 128 MB and Gigabyte’s “Silent Pipe” cooler. Basically a whopping big heatsink that’s clamped on both sides of the card and covers just about everything.

I was at first reluctant to get this card because I feared it would melt as soon as I tried to play a game. Much to my surprise, the card stays quite cool – about 60°C in desktop mode and completely acceptable 80-90°C when playing games. Not a single problem yet, after many hours of playing.

I did have to remove the adjacent slot covers, though; the next PCI slot is of course empty. The only other thing in my tower case that might run hot (besides the CPU) is the 10k RPM hard disk which has a separate cooler. The other fans don’t work noticeably harder, either.

So PCI express is the new things, and ‘new’ cards no longer support AGP at all? I just bought a computer like a year ago that is really good but doesn’t have this PCI express slot. What does PCI express do over AGP? Just like 2x a fast as basic AGP or is like like 10x as fast as AGP x 8? Aka is there a huge performance gain because of it (not counting the performance gain from just a better card).

Are there any games Ill suffer from not having better hardware in the next year? In another year I can feasibly justify going balls to the wall and buying a new box that 4 gigs of ram, almost the best CPU, video card, etc… But not now. Its to soon.

You might have to lower details, but it’s highly unlikely there will be a game released in the next year that won’t work with a 9800 Pro. If I was in your shoes, I’d hold off on any upgrades to move to PCI-e unless you find some really cheap deal on a higher-end AGP card (an X800/X850 or 6800GT or Ultra).

You have to give ATI a lot of credit for the 9700 and 9800 cards; those things have lasted a long time.