Building New Computer...Which Graphics Card?

chapcat

Distinguished
Jun 13, 2004
9
0
18,510
Hello all. I am building a computer for the first time and so far have selected the following components:

Case: Antec SX1000II VAR Series ATX Tower
Power Supply: Antec True 430
Motherboard: ABIT "IS7" i865PE Chipset Motherboard for Intel Socket 478 CPU -RETAIL
Processor: Intel Pentium 4/ 2.8C GHz 800MHz FSB, 512K Cache, Hyper Threading Technology
Hard Disk Drive #1: SAMSUNG 120GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model SP1213C, OEM
Memory: Crucial 512MB CT6464Z40B DDR PC3200 CL=3 Non-parity (x2)
CD-R, RW Writer Plextor 52x32x52 CD-RW Drive, Model PX-PREMIUM/SW

I had originally wanted to use an Intel D865GBFLK that included on board Intel Extreme Graphics 2. I was advised that for my computer needs, the on board graphics will not cut it, and was further advised to go with an Abit IS7 mobo and a separate graphics card. Seems to me this was good advice, but now I am not sure which graphics card to go with.

I am a photographer, and I have numerous photos taken over the last twenty years that I will be scanning. I use PS 5.5 for digital photo editing. My current ATI Rage Pro card in my PII 400 MHz, 256MB RAM, Windows 98 Dell system has served me just fine, but I want to upgrade to a better, faster system. I will only be doing light gaming, mainly sports and racing games. Good image quality is the highest priority. Also, I do not want to spend a lot of money, that being the reason I was originally opting for the on board graphics. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Cheers
 

cefoskey

Distinguished
Jan 20, 2003
440
0
18,780
If you dont game significantly, then onboard would be suitable. If you are REALLY picky about image quality then you would want to look into a separate graphics card, or to free up your system ram and allow textures and large graphic files to load a little faster. Remember: onboard graphics shares your system RAM (512MB system - 32MB graphics = 480MB free)

You are right, Intel Extreme Graphics 2 are really bad (***for gaming***), but if you wanted something cheap and decent Id have to say look for a card like a Geforce 4MX series or Radeon 9000 or 9200.

I have a very similar system to the one youre considering, Id use the Intel board, mine has be absolutely rock solid. To be honest, I would recommend buying the system as is and using the onboard chipset. If you find its not up to par, then you can always get a card later.

"Who is General Failure, and why is he reading my drive?"
P4 3.0 HT, Intel D865GBF, 512MB Crucial PC3200 DDR, WD 36GB Raptor 10,000RPM, BBA Radeon 9600PRO, SB Audigy, Hauppage WinTV
 

Obtuse

Distinguished
May 21, 2004
377
0
18,780
If $200 isn't too much, go with the radeon 9800 pro. Otherwise, for good IQ, I've heard people recommend Matrox. You might also want to look at THG's VGA card roundup, they do a good job of rating cards by performance vs. cost.

"If I owned this place and hell, I'd rent out this place and live in hell" - Toombs
 
A Matrox P650 would be best for image quality. They aren't 'cheap' but they are the cheapest of the minimum quality level for anyone serious about this.

Below that I'd say your choices would be the older Matrox G series and the Radeon 9000/9100/9200 and then the Geforce FX5200 series, and at the cheapest of the cheap maybe a Radeon 7500, but only if you are so strapped you got it for almost free.

The Geforce4 and below line have terrible image quality compared to even the old Matrox line. They also have poorer RAMDACs which limits you somewhat (more important for video IMO). The FX line (even an FX5200SE) is far better than the GF4 line for image quality, and debatably equal to the Radeons listed above. Still the Matroxes are far superior.

Onboard graphics have crappy RAMDACs, unacceptable filtering, bleed your system's performance, and just all-around suck.

Now the P650 is you best image quality option by a long shot, and worth the money if you want something even the slightest hint of serious work. Games are a sligh issue. Yeah the P650 will play them, but at around the same level as an R9000non-pro or an FX5200SE, nothing to brag about. But if you don't mind playing at 1024x768 with mediu to low settings you should be fine. If gaming is at all a question, you may be better served by an R9600non-pro (not an SE is you can avoid it), which will give you ok image quality, definitely a step up from the Rage, and reasonable gaming ability (a little less than a GF4ti in some case, a little more in others).

Hope that helps.

BTW, buying a 2.4ghz processor and saving a little to stay away from integrated graphics is definitely worth that compromise.


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil:
 

chapcat

Distinguished
Jun 13, 2004
9
0
18,510
Many thanks to all that responded. I have really received some excellent and friendly advice here from knowlegeable folks. It seems that in researching and planning for this system, it is in selecting the graphics card that is giving me the toughest time. It is really tough to find a good one for a less than average budget that will do for my needs. Here are some cards that I will consider based on the advice given:

MATROX G550 Video Card, 32MB DDR, 64-bit, DVI, 4X AGP, Model "G55+MDHA32DR" -RETAIL $108.00

Asus GeForce FX5200 Video Card (64MB, AGP 8X, 2D/3D w/ S-Video) $64.00

MSI nVidia GeForce FX5200 Video Card 128MB, AGP 8X, 2D/3D w/TV-Out & DVI $62.00

Sapphire Radeon 9000 AGP 128MB DDR 2D/3D TV Out - OEM $79.00

The Matrox P650 is around $150, and I will probably have to sell my new golf clubs to even swing the G550. I did not like the clubs anyway. :)

Does anyone have any experiences or opinions about the other cards I listed with ATI and nVidia chipsets? Would any of these be a decent compromise until later when I can swing a top quality card?
 
Well Personally I use the Sapphire R9000non-pro you listed there but in White-Box OEM format (just a driver disk [which you can crack to give yourself DVD functionality and such which isn't offered to most non BBA cards] (I got mine for $94 Canadian over a year and a half ago, too bad they haven't come down that much) in my video/photo editing rig. At the time there was no P650, and the R9000 was doing double duty for more serious gaming. Also I expected more performance from the fullstream video-smoothing technology, but it's not as helpful in actual editing and such. It does well, is a quality card, and I'm satisfied with it, but I'd definitely trade it for a P650 if they ever dipped below $200 CDN (there are advanatages, but I can't justify the $200 worth of advanatages). The difference is you're starting out so you don't have that baggage. If you use multi-monitor setup for editing (tools in one window and previe or output panes) then the Matrox is definitely th way to go, best support out there.

But from what you listed I would say your best choices are the P650 (don't sell you clubs for the G550), then the MSI FX5200 (make sure it's not an FX5200SE) since the price difference is significant and the quality will be close to similar (maybe you can get better memory, etc.) edit *similar to the radeon I mean*, then the Radeon 9000, and then the G550 (sure it's great but it's such a premium in your round-up to make it hard to compete (especially since it's very close to the current cards).

The main thing is how much difference the slightest change in hue/saturation/balance means to you. Go with the P650 if this is your job, and go with either the FX5200 or R900o if this is just a weekend passion and you really could spend the money elsewhere. With the P650 you do have some upgradability, and it does have specialized plug-ins for PhotoShop, but if this is a just for now rig, then go with the other cards, but just know that if you do get the P650 then you will have the best you could get, no realistic wise upgrade above them (the P750 and Parhelia would offer performance gains but not much in Image Quality and features (maybe slightly higher res with the Parhelia at a serious price increase).

Anywhooo, that's my two frames worth.

Now off home (wanted to leave about 20 mins ago :eek: ).


- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red> GA to SK :evil:
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by TheGreatGrapeApe on 06/14/04 07:59 PM.</EM></FONT></P>