Soliciting Xmas Suggestions: New Video Card

So it’s that time of year. It’s getting cold, people are starting to hang lights, and pretty soon we’re gonna kill and eat a turkey. And once we do that, it’s officially Christmas season – the season to be jolly and run up credit card debt.

I’m planning on celebrating this year by upgrading my video card. I currently have a Geforce TI 4400, which has been running just great in my system (Abit Nforce motherboard, Athlon XP 2400, two good sized hard disks). However, what the hell, it’s that time of year, and like all good Americans, I’m going to heed George Bush’s call and spend some money.

I have two basic guidelines: first, the card can’t cost (much) more than $250, and preferably less (I’m getting married in May, and my fiance is, well, not a gamer). Second, I want it to be relatively silent (the aforementioned hardware sits in my rather quiet Antec Sonata case, with a Zalman heatsink, etc.)

So: what do folks suggest?

I believe Sapphire offers Radeon boards with passive cooling. Check out or do a google search for reviews of Radeon Atlantis boards.

Wow, I’m about thisclose to drop some cash on that Atlantis Ultimate 9800 Pro (only $275 at Newegg). But one big question: I’m looking at photos and it’s hard to gauge, but it looks bulky. Has anyone had experience with these passive cards and small form factor systems? I’m running a Ideq box (about the same size as a Shuttle), and there is not a lot of wiggle room in there for a bulky card.

I haven’t seen that card in person, but we have a Sapphire 9700 with passive cooling and it’s a wide and heavy card. (This one looks as bulky.)

If your system is like a couple of the small form factor systems we had for testing recently, it may not fit. A regular 9800 was almost touching the side panel, though I suppose if there’s one other slot on the system it might fit into that other one.

Did some more research and yeah, the ultimate 9800 takes up 2 slots, and I saw some bigger photos. It’s huge.

The ultimate 9600, though, apparently does fit in a SFF system. And it’s about $100 less than the ultimate 9800. So I guess the decision has been made.

Be nice to get rid of another fan. Then I’ll only have my heat sink fan in my system, and my hard drive making noise. It’s a maxtor, so it’s noisy, but I can eventually replace it with a quieter one.

Okay. I’m on the verge of ordering the Sapphire 9600 Pro Ultimate here.

One quick question for the tech heads: am I missing any significant features by ordering 9600 Pro instead of the 9800 Pro? The 9800 seems to benchmark better, but the extra 10% performance isn’t work the extra $100 to me (esp. since I’ll replace it in about a year or so anyway and shift the 9600 to my server box).

Going once… going twice…

The featuresets between the two are identical, so the only thing ‘missing’ is, as you pointed out, performance.

I bought a sapphire 9800 pro from newegg ($305), and slapped a zalman heatpipe cooler (~$25) on it (same one as the ultimate) along with the zalman fan (~$10). I overclock the hell out of mine, it looks phatt, and I don’t have to hear the stock fan. It’s still an assload to pay for a gfx card, but wtf I have my priorities straight.

:D :D :D

Damnit, I was all set tomorrow to order the 9600 Pro Ultimate from Newegg when it suddenly disappeared from the site.

Turns out Sapphire just announced the 9600XT Ultimate at Comdex. Now I gotta wait for it to hit the retail channel. [WH taps feet impatiently and looks at watch every 5 minute]. Gawddamnit, ship already.

Ah crap.

Tell ya what, I’ll sell ya mine once the XT comes out… :)

Should be dropping off the FedEx truck later today. Woohoo!