Single core / DDR1 / AGP system. Will a new video card extend life?

mentalepsy

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Hi all,

I've got a system I've been running for about 2.5 years now. On the whole I'm still fairly happy with it, but I just don't meet the requirements for new releases nowadays (at least the higher-profile ones). I'm looking into a new PC, but I'm also wondering if I could push my hardware a little further with a new video card.

Here's what I'm running (the basics - I don't have my exact specs handy):

Athlon 64 3200+ 2.2GHz, single core
2 GB Corsair PC3200 RAM, DDR1
Radeon X800 Pro, AGP, pixel shader 2.0
Windows XP Pro 32-bit

My question is, would upgrading my video card to one of the final AGP releases such as an X1950 (does that even support pixel shader 3?) do much for me in the way of performance? I know I won't be playing Bioshock on high detail with a system like this, I'm just looking for a way to extend the useful life of my system. My goal would be to able to play games like Stalker, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Bioshock, Oblivion, and The Witcher at reasonable detail (1024x768 with no anti-aliasing or bump-mapping at 30fps is reasonable in my opinion). I haven't tried to run those games at all yet; I know they're all system hogs, but I'm not sure just how rough they would be on my hardware.
 

frozenlead

Splendid
if your PSU can support a newer card and you can find one relatively cheap, then I would say go for it.
If you look at my specs, my system's similar.
I recommend you overclock your processor though, by at least 10%.

Finding X1950's is getting harder in the AGP sector. better jump on it.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161071

sold out, sorry..

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161209

nice alternative

other than that..you're a bit stuck.
Only if your PSU can support these monsters, remember. What do you have?
 

nhobo

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NightScope's link is a PCIe card ...

The best AGP card on Newegg is the 7600GT, which is comparable to the X800. Better to save your money towards a new system.
 

FrozenGpu

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:hello:
If it's a 400watt, you may be able to squeeze just enough power out of it to make the upgrade work,

if its a socket 939 upgrade to a X2 dual core for like $50-$70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010340343+1050717007+1051707439&name=Socket+939

It is rumored on tomshardsware that very soon ATi will release the infamous HD3850 for the AGP bus, this will be the most powerful GPU to have ever graced this dying interface.
http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/03/best_graphics_card/page5.html

it would be a little over $200 but well worth it.

Frozenlead's suggestions are just as good as well, you can buy the x1950pro or even the 2600pro and then sell them as soon as you can secure a HD3850, the power requirement for the HD3850 is much lower than the X1950pro so it might help you keep the PSU as well.
 

tlmck

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Cannot really comment on the other games as I don't play them. I did run the Bioshock demo on my E4300/7600gt machine and it ran and looked great at 1024x768. On the graphics settings screen, everything on the right was set to high, and everything on the left was set to "on" except "Windowed mode", "Force Global Lighting", and of course DX10. I ran the machine at stock and overclocked, and it did not seem to make that much difference. I actually run Vista Home basic, but obviously no DX10 with the 7600gt card.

I have never owned the X1950, but the Pro version seems to be the preferred high end AGP card from everything I read. It is certainly benchmarked high above my 7600gt, so I would think your machine would definitely benefit. I also read that it requires a healthy 400-450 watt power supply. It does also support Shader model 3.

Lastly, just as another option to consider would be this:
New MB - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157115 - $60
E2180 Processor - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116052 - $90
PCIe X1950 Pro - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814241050 - $137 after rebate.

This upgrade would would allow you to reuse the remainder of your old components, and take full advantage of the x1950 pro's power. It would also provide an upgrade path to a higher end processor and DDR2 later.
 

gelde3001

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Hi, basically yes your system is absolutly fine - you could spend 1000 on new crap and it would only bench faster at low res's.

Buy a 1950pro 512mb card for approx £120 and unless your psu is realyl weak then an antec true power trio 500w or above will handle anything you have there easily for approx £45.

Bottom line is that the newer systems are faster for multitasking only and unless you like to encode long videos whilst you game then your current cpu is more than enough. I would go with overclocking it though as it will at least get 2.6ghz / 2.8ghz with little to no effort and will hardly increase in temps at all.

To reiterate - the agp systems on the market today with a good gfx card (at least 7600 from nv or the 1650pro from ati, pref 7900/1950) are only slower in terms of throughport and multitasking. ie - things take a few seconds more to load / save and obv single core limits threads.

There is some sense in what most people say about buying a new mobo / cpu / gfx etc but its one of the situations where either a totally new rig is needed or not. Simple desicion really as a new rig to GREATLY outperform what you have (with say a 1950) would cost a lot - lot - lot more than simply gettin a gfx card and poss psu.

Im running a 3.75ghz p4 (northwood) with a 1950pro 512mb agp and ALL games are playing at my monitors 1650x1080 res flat out with absolutly no lag / issues.

Hope that helps - remember the psu is important though as a squeeling psu is being overloaded and will go pop if underpowered.

**just to add Im a veteran oem builder / upgrader etc - not high volume, more boutique, and the more I see of the newer systems comparing to the best of the last its pathetic to think if it werent for std changes (rubbish easy to break sata crap and pci-x to update pci (not intended for gfx originally) we could have slowed hardware needs for a few years)**
 

mentalepsy

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Thanks everyone for your input. A few things:

1) I don't remember what socket my motherboard uses. As I recall there were two socket versions of the A64 when it came out, and I probably went for the older one, as I didn't have a lot of money to spend. I'll find out what model my motherboard is.

2) Is DDR1 RAM much of a bottleneck? Is it -that- much slower than DDR2 right now?

3) If I were to go for just a new AGP card, would I see much benefit in a 512 meg over a 256 meg? I'm not sure how much video memory games are using nowadays.
 

einheriar

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I had a broken x800 replaced by a x1950pro under guarantee.. Did extend the the graphical part dramatically. Only to make clearly obvious that my barton 3200 was holding me back.. But I guess your athlon 64 will do a lotr better for the time being
 

Can Not

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I think you have a 939 socket, get your motherboard model number and look it up.

Also, DONT get a 512MB video card. Any practical use of 512MB of vRAM will be instantly bottlenecked by almost any AGP system or the card itself. Only sweet souped-up 8800s and $6000 quad core systems shoulds get 512MB of vRAM. Just get 256MB. It's a sweet spot for AGP.
 

mike the biochemist

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Hey mentalepsy,

Just thought I’d throw in my 2 cents, since my system is *very* close to what you have:

Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4 GHz, single core
2 GB Corsair PC 3200 RAM, DDR1
X800 XL (granted, it’s PCIe, so it’s easier to upgrade)
XP Pro
Nothing is over-clocked

I personally run Oblivion... well... too much... and I run it at 16x10 with decent detail and frame rates (if I don’t have too much running in the background...).

I’m looking at an upgrade because it’s Xmas, but if all you’re looking for is something to run new games at the level you mentioned above... you may already have it. I’d say try them on your current setup before you upgrade anything.

Also, I can’t say for sure, but I’d be surprised if your proc was offered as an AM2 option 2.5 yrs ago... I’d bet it’s 939.
 

cleeve

Illustrious
Moderator
1. Don't think I'd go less than an X1950 GT or PRO from an X800 PRO. A 7600 GT or 2600 Xt might not be as huge an increase as I'd like to see in an investment.

2. Your system would make a fine home for an X1950 PRO. For sure.
 
Upgrade the power supply and get the 1950 pro it will be a real nice match for your system as cleeve has said.
Oblivion will run at 1024x768 nicely with some aa if you want you will even be able to play Crysis at 1024x768 with that low every thing probably but even at those settings it still looks as good as Far cry did on a top rig a couple of years ago.
You def only need 256 mb card

You will not be dissapointed.
Mactronix
 

mentalepsy

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Only thing I know for sure is that I cannot run Bioshock, period. It requires pixel shader 3, which I don't have. As for the other games, I haven't tried them (no demos available, at least last time I checked), but I don't meet the recommended or in some cases the minimum requirements, so I've hesitated so far to buy those games at their current prices.

EDIT:
It's an Abit NF8, socket 754.
 

Grunge

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Honestly, I think that you will spend too much money on upgrading your current system. Now may not be a good time for you to do a major upgrade, but before you spend say $200-300 on upgrades to your current rig, check out the $500 gaming rig 2007 edition located http://channel.tomshardware.com/2007/09/12/the_500_gaming_machine_2007_edition_channel/

I think that would solve alot of your problems. It would increase performance, give you more upgrade possibilities in the future, and I think is a better use of your hard earned money. You dont have to follow the list exactly, edit the list to your needs and the changing prices. Just a thought.
 

JAYDEEJOHN

Champion
Moderator
Just to clear things up, 512 memory is good to have no matter what your system (ok not low middle on down), as AA and AF are nice to have, and you dont need a killer rig to enjoy the extra ram
 

englandr753

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I think if money is a big factor then find the best deal on some of the cards recommended here and look for good deals with, yes I'm saying the dirty word, "rebates". I hate dealing with rebates but at least to some degree you are getting a discount if your responsible and lucky enough to go through the process to get it back.

Months ago I upgraded from a socket 478 3.2G Intel Prescott setup with the ATI X850XT video card with 2G of ram to an AM2 X2 6000+ CPU with the Nvidia 8800GTX ACS3 video card and its a huge performance gain but with a huge punch to the wallet. You can prolong the use of your current system to get you by just fine for a bit longer and it will open the door later for you to get some really good deals on much higher performance parts for when you do make the move to build or upgrade later.

Basically, the longer you wait the happier you will be later when excellent parts are 30% cheaper than they are now due to new hardware releases.

Buy a decent video card and save your money for your dream system later next year...
 

lunyone

Splendid
Moderator
Last I checked the 500w EW is 34A on the 12v rails and the Corsair 450w is 33A? I'm pretty sure about that. So either one would be fine. You can decide. I'd get the PSU and GPU this time and see what you get
 

pauldh

Illustrious


The earthwatts 500W he linked to is a nice PSU for the price. It's made by Seasonic, is quiet, has a 5 year warranty, and has plenty of 12v power for running any AGP card he could throw at it. I just got one for $35 AR, and it's the 7th one I have bought. To me, the earthwatts 500W is excellent with it's often low AR price. Also a nice bundle with the Sonata III for under $100 at times.

check this review:
http://www.sysopt.com/features/cases/article.php/12024_3660031_4

 

pauldh

Illustrious
I think the HD2600XT is a nice upgrade for the OP (if he is in USA anyway). At $115 it destroys the 7600GT/7800GS and other cards priced about the same. Without FSAA is pretty close to the X1950 pro in new games. X1950 pro would be better (and make using fsaa a better possibilty) if he can find one at a decent price. Also, if his mobo is S939, he could add a X2 4200+ for a cheap price now if he wants dual core while still using his mobo and 2GB PC3200.

Check out some games:

crysis - http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=698&p=2
UT3 - http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=693&p=5
TF2 - http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=691&p=2
MOH airborne - http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=683&p=2
Oblivion - http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/radeon_hd_2600_performance_preview/page8.asp
 

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