Bargain Video Card Advice
It's PC upgrade time again for me, and the experience is surreal and strange now that I've come to the realization that I'm no longer really a PC gamer. For the first time in something like 12 years I'm not going to be building my own rig myself. No careful weighing the price vs the power of each individual component, no days of research on toms hardware and anandtech to get the lastest scoop on chipsets and RAM. Instead I bought a Dell. Yeah, I'm lame like that. If someone can point me to the right address I'll turn in my gamer card.
The only drawback to the Dell is that it doesn't come with a decent video card. I still need to select one of those myself. Because, as I previously mentioned, I do only a very limited amount of PC gaming anymore I don't want to buy a high end monster video card when a cheapo will probably meet my needs. Instead I'm looking for best bang for the buck in the $100-$150 range. Looking around it's obvious to me that I've been out of the gamer loop for awhile since I have no idea of the relative merits of a 4850 vs a 9800GT vs a 3870 vs a 8800GT. All of which seem to be attainable in my price range if newegg is to be believed.
Any advice on best GPUs, manufacturers, or vendors for a budget video card would be appreciated!
Can't you get a Radeon HD 4870 for less than an 8800GT? Then it's easy to decide.
I'm still using an 8800GTS from 2007, which serves me well in everything I play. The 8800GT might be a step down from that. ATI's 4870 is a great performer, according to people on the web. Cheap even here.
4870 > 4850 > 9800GT = 8800GT > 4830 > 9600 GT > 3870 > 3850
Originally Posted by Kraaze
Their performance doesn't quite scale linearly with cost, but it's close enough to be a decent measure. The 4850 is the current sweet spot, IMHO. I wouldn't bother with anything slower than a 9600 GT; and you should be able to find a 9800GT for $100 or less. If you're not in a hurry to buy, I'd watch a deal site like Techbargains for something to hit your personal price point.
This card makes me wish I had $250 to blow right now:
Oh, and a new Dell to put it in, of course!
Why that particular 4870, is it because of the HDMI port?
Thanks for the tips folks. The 4870 cards seem to be firmly out of my price range and only the cheapest 4850s seem to be dipping down into my range.
Anyone got recommendations as far as manufacturers or are all they pretty much the same in terms of product quality and warranty service and support?
Usually some sites have great bargain video card purchasing comparisons, but I can't find one recently.
This chart is a benchmark of the latest cards in 3DMark. Although mileage varies between games and system configurations, it's pretty reliable: http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/g...Score,794.html
For a comparison, I have a x1950xt (256mb) right now, which is comes in at 6132. To relate this to what I can run (at 1280x1024), I ran WoW at full settings which dipped below 30 fps in tightly packed cities and very effects-intensive 25-man raids.
Bioshock ran at full settings very nicely, with my single-core Athlon 3800 CPU as bottleneck. Left 4 Dead runs full settings nicely with my CPU as bottleneck once again. The Crysis demo ran at Medium settings above 20 fps during even intense firefights, and I imagine that's when the fact that I have an AGP slot started creating the bottleneck in addition to my CPU.
So it really depends on what type of games you like to play. If you want to run the latest games (Far Cry 2 and Fallout 3), you can get by with an older card even at 256mb of video RAM. I imagine for $150 you can do better than that.
Not sure if this link works straight-up, but check this :http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...0%20-%20%24200
This Sapphire 4850 looks good at $129 after $20 mail-in-rebate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102770
It also has a smaller brother, the 4830 which is $99 after rebate:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102803
Keep in mind that video cards nowadays that can support the latest graphics are louder than the cards we had growing up, regardless of price :)
Manufacturers matter in quality and support. Sapphire seems to have a good rep.
Last edited by Pogo; 11-28-2008 at 06:26 PM.
I've got an Asus 4850 and it's amazing.
Seconded. The 4850 is a really sweet video card and gave my ancient Athlon X2 a stay of execution.
Originally Posted by Warning
I have the Sapphire 4850 Pogo linked to in his post. You'll note it has an upgraded fan and it runs far, far quieter than the models that do not have the upgraded fan.
The benchmarks and side-by-side comparisons all point to the 4850 for its price point. I love mine, the only drawback I have seen thus far is there is a significant delay in switching from a game to the desktop by Alt-Tabbing.
Hmm, that Sapphire 4850 is looking good. After reading some of those comparison charts it actually seems like overkill for my current needs but I imagine that will give me a bit of future proofing.
Thanks again for the advice.
That should be something taken care of by updated drivers sooner or later.
Originally Posted by Bill Dungsroman
You'll certainly regret skimping on $20-$30 when a hot new game comes out that you really want, end up playing, and realizing the experience could be just a bit smoother.
Originally Posted by Kraaze
I kick myself regularly for getting a card with 256mb of vRAM.
I may be too late to the party, as you might have already pulled the trigger.
But as a generic recommendation, you might want to limit yourself to passively cooled cards. If you're satisfied being a generation behind the bleeding edge, why listen to a video card fan?
You are too late. I ordered a passively cooled card from newegg about an hour ago.
I was looking at 4850's and the $149 ones all had 512MB video ram. I decided to look at the $199 ones to see if I could get a card with 1GB video ram and sure enough there was a passively cooled one in the mix!
Since I hate loud computers I jumped on that right away.
Did you order this one? Too late to do you any good, but here's a review.
That's the one, and I did read that review first. My google-fu is strong!
Schiesse, that's the card i ordered as well from Amazon, totally randomly (i didn't read this thread completely beforehand.) I just wanted a quiet card, and i think Ubuntu fried my 9600 GT somehow when i installed the new Nvidia drivers...
I put it into my micro ATX case. It doesn't.. um. It doesn't fit exactly. It fits well enough to work though, i can't close the case completely however. According to the review it has "ultra durable" capacitors, but i can't find verification of this on Gigabyte's own website.
It gets very, very VERY hot. Like, 95c with a slot fan expelling hot air. It also has very hot cooling fins protruding on the backside. Successfully running Sacred 2 off of my 340w powersupply, just like my 9600 GT. Now the loudest thing in my case is that darn Intel CPU fan.... Supposedly they are designed to run over 105c.
The only problem with this boiling point temp, really, is making sure there aren't any loose cables nearby either in the case or around the rear of the case. Or loose paper, for that matter...
Last edited by Enidigm; 12-05-2008 at 07:33 AM.
I'm thinking about getting a Sapphire 4870 card but can't decide between the 512MB model, which is a huge bargain, or the 1GB model. I run everything at 1920x1080 -- will the extra VRAM make a huge difference?
That's my hope. For clarification, it's switching back to a game after Alt-Tabbing out of it that has the delay.
Originally Posted by Pogo
At that res, it looks like the 1GB is ~10% faster than the 512MB.
Originally Posted by Tracy Baker
With 4x and 8x aa, both of the 1GB cards (4870/4850) pull way ahead at that resolution.
The 4850 though doesn't have the muscle to push high resolution, anti-aliasing, like the 4870 though.
Weirdly the game determines the heat output of the passive 4850 listed above. TF2 pushes it to +70c; Sacred 2 on Very High, 2x AA, runs at nearly 100c, although for reasons i can't quite explain, sometimes drops back down to 90c.
Ditto. Now that the Catalyst software allows simple overclocking & fan control this card just kicks ass.
Originally Posted by Warning
Damn. A friend is going to the US and I want him to bring home a graphics card... but Fry's don't have this or anything priced like it really.
I wonder if NewEgg will let me order it to his hotel and if the hotel will keep a package for him if I order it a little early...
I was at the final checkout at Newegg before I finally opened the case to see if it'll even fit, and had to back out of the order because this monstrosity will run right into my SATA ports. Now I need to decide if it's worth getting rid of my second hard drive to bump my video up from an 8800 GT. Grr...
I did get 4GB of extremely fast RAM for an absurd price, so it wasn't a complete loss.