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Video card recommendations

Postby dodecahedron on Sat Jun 11, 2005 7:28 pm

OK i think i'm gonna upgrade my video card.
the current card is a Asus based on Nvidia GeForce 2 GTS 32MB. :o

the fan had died and the replacement service had put on it is very loud. rather than replace it i though i'd get a very cheap card. i see that many of them come with passive cooling - good!

i'm not a gamer so that isn't important, though i wouldn't mind playing a game once in a while. but i don't have the newest games anyway. (i have unreal tournament 2003 still in shrink-wrap #-o )
what is important to me is clear text quality @ 1600x1200 resolution (and Normal size 96 DPI) & 85Hz refresh rate on my 19" Sony screen (including for instance the ismall con text on teh desktop at this resolution).

scanning a few online stores in my country, i see that the cheapest cards are one of:
ATI Radeon 9250, ATI Radeon 9550, Nvidia GeForce 4 MX 4000, Nvidia GeForce FX5600.


1. any significant differences between these chipsets? or are they all roughly the same? (i think the GeForce 4 MX4000 is the oldest and weakest, no?)

2. if gaming performance is of no concern at all, does it matter which of the above chipsets? and if a little gaming is in order which is better?
is the difference between ATI's 9250 and 9550 significant for gaming or any other usage?

3. some sales person told me that the ATIs are "64 bit" and the Nvidia FX5600 is "128 bit". i guess he's talking about memory bus width ? does it matter at all?

4. one of the candidates (cheapest) is this EPoX card:
EV-A925-LD8 http://www.epox.com.tw/eng/products_content.php?ps=328 $55 cheapest i could find.
or maybe EV-A955-LD8 http://www.epox.com.tw/eng/products_content.php?ps=329 $20 more.
there are a few of the cheap cards in the $55-60 range.
but i can't find any info about them in EPoX's website. you can't download anything - manual, BIOS, drivers, nothing!
what i want to know is: resolution, refresh rate capabilities etc. are these properties of the card or of the chipset? if i look at some other card built on the same chipset, can i infer from that card's specs to this one? (i'm assuming all are roughly similar, probably nearly identical to the reference cards from the chipset makers- these are after all the cheapest cards).
the FX5600 candidate is the Gainward PRO/660 TV/DVI GF FX 5200 http://www.gainward.de/new/products/agp ... rison.html $60 hmm..Gainward's website says it's 64MB but online vendor says 128MB linke the EPoXs. also Gainward's website has no info on memory bandwidth??? (EPoX says 64 bit ???) or resolutions or refresh rates.

5. there's another FX5200 card by Albatron. never heard of this company. are they OK?

6. been told once by a friend that Radeon 9600 is a good chipset. is there any advantage to it over the others i mentioned apart from better gaming capabilities?

7. the motherboard is Nvidia Nforce2 chipset. will i have conflict problems if i get an ATI based graphics card ?

any suggestions/ideas/comments, however brief, are much appreciated.
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but i really don't have the time to research this stuff. i just want to get a new card quickly without too much hassle. i'm counting on help from my friends here at CDRLabs. :)
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Postby Ian on Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:09 pm

How much you want to spend?
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Postby CowboySlim on Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:09 pm

So much for EPox. I wouldn't touch anything without website support.
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Postby dodecahedron on Sun Jun 12, 2005 12:09 am

CowboySlim wrote:So much for EPox. I wouldn't touch anything without website support.

good point, 'Slim.

i want to spend as little as possible. (money is tight now what with the baby and all..)
since i'm not really into gaming i don't need a powerful card.
originally i was thinking of replacing the fan on the card. but since i happened to see that EPoX card in that online-store's homepage and saw it was rather cheap ($55) cheaper than i had thought, i thought might as well, it's passively cooled so it'll be quieter (i'm sick of the noise).

having said that, a friend told me that he was surprised how much better the 2D graphics of a Radeon 9800 Pro card he's got than the integrated graphics on his motherboard. so if i were to leard that there is a marked differece in 2D quality and hi-res text clarity, i might push it a bit and spend a bit more on the card than i'd originally intended.
Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro costs here roughly $330 (incl. tax) way out of my budget :(
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Postby Boba_Fett on Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:53 am

dodecahedron wrote:
CowboySlim wrote:So much for EPox. I wouldn't touch anything without website support.

good point, 'Slim.

i want to spend as little as possible. (money is tight now what with the baby and all..)
since i'm not really into gaming i don't need a powerful card.
originally i was thinking of replacing the fan on the card. but since i happened to see that EPoX card in that online-store's homepage and saw it was rather cheap ($55) cheaper than i had thought, i thought might as well, it's passively cooled so it'll be quieter (i'm sick of the noise).

having said that, a friend told me that he was surprised how much better the 2D graphics of a Radeon 9800 Pro card he's got than the integrated graphics on his motherboard. so if i were to leard that there is a marked differece in 2D quality and hi-res text clarity, i might push it a bit and spend a bit more on the card than i'd originally intended.
Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro costs here roughly $330 (incl. tax) way out of my budget :(


The ATI Radeon 9550 and the ATI Radeon 9800 should have the same 2D quality. I didn't even know there were any more advancements to be made in that category anyway. If you absolutely must go cheap on the card, the ATI Radeon 9550 is probably your best choice (the GeforceFX 5600 has worse DX9 support). Oh, and don't worry about the nForce2 chipset, it works flawlessly with ATI cards :)
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Postby dodecahedron on Sun Jun 12, 2005 4:55 pm

Boba_Fett wrote:The ATI Radeon 9550 and the ATI Radeon 9800 should have the same 2D quality. I didn't even know there were any more advancements to be made in that category anyway.

i don't think there were any advancements per-se, just better implementation or better circuitry perhaps.
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Postby Bhairav on Mon Jun 13, 2005 7:49 am

dodecahedron wrote:
Boba_Fett wrote:The ATI Radeon 9550 and the ATI Radeon 9800 should have the same 2D quality. I didn't even know there were any more advancements to be made in that category anyway.

i don't think there were any advancements per-se, just better implementation or better circuitry perhaps.


Better RAMDACs, better filter circuitry etc..
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Postby dodecahedron on Mon Jun 13, 2005 10:51 am

Bhairav wrote:Better RAMDACs, better filter circuitry etc..

does that translate into better text clarity / 2D graphics quality ?
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Postby Bhairav on Tue Jun 14, 2005 12:01 am

dodecahedron wrote:
Bhairav wrote:Better RAMDACs, better filter circuitry etc..

does that translate into better text clarity / 2D graphics quality ?


The filters -> Yep. Better RAMDACS will help attain higher resolutions and refresh rates on your monitor, if it supports them.

Get the Radeon 9550 or Radeon 9200. 2D is top notch, and they will serve you well.
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Postby LoneWolf on Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:12 pm

Can you buy used, like, off Ebay?

I'd look for a Radeon 9500 or 9500 Pro. No longer made, but they're both good quality and inexpensive. I'd look for the actual ATI brand if you can, so that you're assured of quality. You should be able to find an AGP version of one of these for $50-80 for a 128MB model, and they'll have great text quality.
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jun 21, 2005 7:13 am

Bhairav wrote:Get the Radeon 9550 or Radeon 9200. 2D is top notch, and they will serve you well.

the 9250 as well?

i live in Israel and have no experience with Ebay, and no time to learn about it etc. i'd rather not start messing with that.
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Postby Bhairav on Tue Jun 21, 2005 7:33 am

dodecahedron wrote:
Bhairav wrote:Get the Radeon 9550 or Radeon 9200. 2D is top notch, and they will serve you well.

the 9250 as well?

i live in Israel and have no experience with Ebay, and no time to learn about it etc. i'd rather not start messing with that.


Yep, 9250 as well.
Review : http://www.hothardware.com/viewarticle. ... icleid=576

Looks to have excellent 2D as well (look at the "conclusions" page).
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jun 21, 2005 9:00 am

thanks i'll read that review.

question: there are Radeon 9250 cards with a 64 bit memory and some with 128 bit memory bus width. should i care ?
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Postby LoneWolf on Tue Jun 21, 2005 11:15 am

Yep, you should. 128-bit is the way to go. A 64-bit memory bus can be especially limiting at higher resolutions.
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:04 pm

LoneWolf wrote:Yep, you should. 128-bit is the way to go. A 64-bit memory bus can be especially limiting at higher resolutions.

limiting what? 3D performance? that's a minor consideration for me.

all the low-end cheap Radeon cards i see are 64-bit, even though i know there are 128-bit versions.
should i prefer an Nvidia FX5200 over Radeon 9250/9550 then since the FX5200 is 128-bit?
like i said, my main consideration is good clear text at high (1600x1200) resolution and reasonable refresh rate (>=75).
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Postby Bhairav on Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:33 am

dodecahedron wrote:
LoneWolf wrote:Yep, you should. 128-bit is the way to go. A 64-bit memory bus can be especially limiting at higher resolutions.

limiting what? 3D performance? that's a minor consideration for me.

all the low-end cheap Radeon cards i see are 64-bit, even though i know there are 128-bit versions.
should i prefer an Nvidia FX5200 over Radeon 9250/9550 then since the FX5200 is 128-bit?
like i said, my main consideration is good clear text at high (1600x1200) resolution and reasonable refresh rate (>=75).


Yep, limiting 3D performance, NOT 2D. Go for the 9250, I think it will be ideal..
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Postby LoneWolf on Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:18 pm

Bhairav wrote:
dodecahedron wrote:
LoneWolf wrote:Yep, you should. 128-bit is the way to go. A 64-bit memory bus can be especially limiting at higher resolutions.

limiting what? 3D performance? that's a minor consideration for me.

all the low-end cheap Radeon cards i see are 64-bit, even though i know there are 128-bit versions.
should i prefer an Nvidia FX5200 over Radeon 9250/9550 then since the FX5200 is 128-bit?
like i said, my main consideration is good clear text at high (1600x1200) resolution and reasonable refresh rate (>=75).


Yep, limiting 3D performance, NOT 2D. Go for the 9250, I think it will be ideal..
Even 2D performance can be limited in some cases at high-res, such as if you use complex images in Photoshop, Indesign, or other apps that have a fair amount of redraw. I'm sure I'm being picky, but one other thing to consider is this: If you are planning on having Windows Longhorn on this machine (when it becomes available), this bandwidth may also be necessary to support the new GUI, which will require more graphics power than previous OSes from Microsoft. Something to consider.
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Postby dodecahedron on Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:17 pm

OK so i've finally gotten time to check the various model and choose which card i'm gonna buy. going to do it in the next day or so.
last question i guess:

among the cheap cards i'm deliberating between ATI 9250/9550 or Nvidia FX5200. some of the 5200 cards are a bit cheaper.
is FX 5200 as good in terms of 2D graphics as ATI 9250/9550?

LoneWolf - thanks, i'm taking your advice and looking for a 128 bit card.

TIA
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:44 am

never mind
i just purchaed the ATI Radeon 9550 based Gigabyte card
GV-R955128D
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Postby Han on Tue Jul 26, 2005 6:04 am

:-k You've chosen wisely. :P
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:18 am

Han wrote::-k You've chosen wisely. :P

thanks.
that's a line from somewhere, no?
maybe the 3rd Indiana Jones film?

anyway, i was in a hurry when i made that last post, and i forgot:

thank you very much to all of you guys for your advice, comments, suggestions. i appreciate it very much.
like i said once before, when you drop by for a visit in Israel, i'll buy you a beer!
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Last edited by dodecahedron on Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Han on Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:53 am

dodecahedron wrote:
Han wrote::-k You've chosen wisely. :P

thanks.
that's a line from somewhere, no?
maybe the 3rd Indiana Jones film?

Whoa! I'm impressed! I had The Last Crusade in mind when I wrote that. :D
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:01 am

:D :D :D
thanks but i don't really deserve all the credit.
most of it goes to TheWizard!
http://www.cdrlabs.com/phpBB/viewtopic. ... 9604#39604
though i guess i'm still due some credit....remembered this from 2.5 years ago...LOL.
(i now remember the quote, i've seen the film again since TheWizard's and Neil's posts. but i must admit that at that time i hadn't recognized the quote).
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Postby TheWizard on Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:09 am

As opposed to...

"He chose...poorly." :D
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:21 pm

hmm....
another thing i like about my new ATI Radeon 9550 card, as opposed to my old Nvidia GeForce2 (Asus) card:
with the old card, when booting the system, before the BIOS screen i would get a black screen with the video-card's BIOS details (Nvidia, BIOS revision etc.).
the ATI card doesn't do that. the first thing on the screen is the motherboard's BIOS screen.
one less delay during the boot process.
how very cool. thanks ATI. :)
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