Clueless about my AGP 4x slot

knowlton

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Hello everyone -- first post on Tom's Hardware.

I am a total noob as far as video cards. I've been doing some research on them (trying) and I get a slightly different story from each person. I need someone to reply to this post who has a lot of practical, hands-on experience with AGP video cards.

I don't know what information is relevant, so I'll post what I can find:

I have an older system. It's about 3 or 4 years old. A Systemax "Venture" Pentium 4 at 2 GHz, with 1 Gig of SDR RAM.

Here is a link to my system specs:

http://www.supportforyourpc.co.../home.asp?sn=104922314

Here is a link to my motherboard:

http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=U8668


The user's manual for my motherboard says I have the following AGP slot specs:

"The 66MHz AGP 2.0 compliant interface supports 1x, 2x and 4x data transfer
mode."



That is about all I know about my current system. Right now the AGP 4x slot is empty - I have never used it. I have only ever used the onboard 32 MB chip for my video.



So, what I am wanting to know is, given the age and limitations of my system, and the fact that this may be the one and only time I upgrade to a new video card -- what should I put in the AGP slot?


I have been getting a lot of conflicting information. Each person I talk to says something different.

I have heard that you can buy 8x cards and they will work in the 4x slots just fine -- they just "clock down" to the 4x speed.

Other people tell me, that's not true. That you have to be careful. Not all 8x cards will work right in a 4x slot.

It can't be both ways. Do 8x cards work?


Also -- as far as putting an 8x card in the slot -- assuming I can find one that does work right. Can I take advantage of 512 MB of RAM (given my system limitations above) or would that be a total waste of money because my system would not be able to make use of it? Or would I be smarter to go with 256 MB of video RAM given how old my system is?


What about 64-bit vs 128-bit cards and my motherboard.


I've heard that the motherboard cares very little what is on the CARD itself, as long as it is the right card for the slot and the card stays cool.


I hope all of this helps you help ME make an informed decision.
 

knowlton

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A few other side notes to mention:

I have Windows XP Home on the PC above.

I will NOT be upgrading the OS, ever. If I ever do that, it will be with a brand new PC and none of the above would apply then.
 

caamsa

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I my opinion you should just get a new computer. With your current configuration I don't think it would be worth it to put an AGP card in it. Now if you don't have the money and you really want to keep your current set up for a while longer that is a different story. But why are you thinking of upgrading your system after 3+ years, specifically the video card?
 

knowlton

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I don't have the option of getting a brand new PC right now. Wish I did!

The main reason I want a new card is support for Visual C# "XNA". I tried developing in it and my 32 MB onboard video card (integrated, not in a slot) only supports shader model 1.0 I think. I need Shader Model 2.0 or better for XNA support.

More than that -- I just "want" a better video card than my 32 MB integrated piece of crap. :) To put it bluntly. :)

I can spend about $70. I may spend more if a 512 MB AGP card would work in a 4x slot.


 

Raviolissimo

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sounds like you've already done the research. 4x cards aren't that bad, they are noticeably faster than old onboard graphics.

the nVidia MX440 comes to mind. plus they're cheap, couldn't be more than $20.

if you need faster graphics than that, you've either got to take a chance on an 8x card, or buy part of a new system (or a used but faster system, which can be pretty affordable, if it works.)

one option is to go to the local computer recycling center and ask nicely for a used system. they got some good ones coming in.
 

caamsa

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Tom's has a list of cards they recommend for AGP slots.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/03/best_graphics_card/page5.html

Most of the newer AGP cards should work in your mother board. Like you said your board is AGP 2.0 compliant. The 4X 8X is not that big of a deal and I doubt you will notice any difference. 128 bit memory card is better avoid 64bit. 256mb of memory should be fine. GDDR3 memory is faster than GDDR2 but for what you are using if for you should be ok.

I am not familiar with Visual C# "XNA so hopefully what I have told you is a good guideline to use.



 

hella-d

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Id Get The ATI/AMD Radeon 2600XT 512MB It Will Work In Your AGP Slot, And Provide Enough Power For Most All Games Even Crysis At 800x600, 2xAA And 4xAF Medium Settings In Dx9 Mode Privided YYou Have Enuff RAM And A Decent CPU
 

knowlton

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>>>Privided YYou Have Enuff RAM And A Decent CPU

I have a P4 at 2.0 GHz. 1 Gig of SDR RAM.
 

skywalker9952

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To get a good idea of what cards will run in your system go to newegg->video cards->AGP 4x/8x. You have quite a selection of cards available. For you convience here is a link:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048+1069609639&name=AGP+4X%2f8X
There was a Geforce 6800 XE on there for ~ $50. Also the Radeon X1650 Pros looked like a decent buy. If you really want Direct X 10 you can get a 2600XT, but your CPU and RAM will bottleneck it. Really you shouldn't be spending over $130 on your card, as you wont see performance increase with the cards priced above that due to your CPU / RAM.

6800XE
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814141060
1650 PRO
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102085
 

knowlton

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Now, even if I could afford it, would a 512 MB card be worth getting for my older PC?
 

bc4

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I don't know much about video cards but would point out that DX10 is a feature reserved for vista. Although, the card you pick might have it, I wouldn't base a decision on it since you said you won't upgrade this ps's os
 

hotdogmichigan

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Hi

I think that x1550 card from ATI will work nicely in that system and it is a Shader Model 3.0 card which is good for you. But why do you ABSOLUTELY need 512Mb vram? 256Mb seems pretty enough since 512 won't give any performance boost at all.

I gave a look at newegg for better card than that one for the price but couldn't find a better part. If you really need 512Mb vram then go for it there is no better choice.
 

hotdogmichigan

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The ATI Radeon x1550 card is directX 9.0c Compliant
 

skywalker9952

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What kind of monitor do you have? The extra memory comes in handy at resolutions higher than 1280 x 1024, but at that resolution and below 256 is fine. Even higher then that 256 usually gets the job done unless you are doing some intense gaming. At the price point you are purchasing at the difference between 256 and 512 is negligible, not to mention your 4x bus will limit how effective a higher end card will be (like the 512 Mb 2600XT)
 

Crashman

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All 8x cards officially work in your board. If you find an 8x card that doesn't work, it's defective.
 

knowlton

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Thanks everyone for your replies so far.

I don't know what kind of monitor I have. I know it can display at least 1600 x 1200.

Do they make "pure" 4x cards that have 512 MB? Or is it only 8x cards that have that much RAM?
 

knowlton

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Regarding DX10. The PC that I am upgrading will never have Vista on it. The highest DX I will ever be using is DX 9.0c.
 

knowlton

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Now, my slot is 2.0 not 3.0 so doesn't the voltage play a part in this?

AGP 2.0 is 1.5V

AGP 3.0 is 0.8V

Right?

What cards will work with 2.0?
 

cleeve

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1. All AGP 8x cards will work in an AGP 4x slot

2. AGP 4x bandwidth is ample for even the X1950 PRO. You won't see a difference between 8x AGP and 4x AGP with, say, a 2600 XT.
 

knowlton

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What games can I expect to play "reasonably" on my older system.

Is "DOOM 3" playable on my system?

Where do I draw the line?

Thanks for the link to the card, btw.
 

cleeve

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Doom3 should be playable with a decent videocard, although the CPU will probably be the bottleneck.