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Forget Expensive Video Cards 322

Anonymous Reader writes "Apparently, the $200 in video cards does not produce the difference. While $500 video cards steal the spotlight on review sites and offer the best performance possible for a single gpu, most enthusiasts find the $300 range to be a good balance between price and performance. Today TechArray took a look at the ATI x1900xtx and Nvidia 7900gtx along with the ATI x1800xt and Nvidia 7900gt."
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Forget Expensive Video Cards

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:53AM (#15231659)
    You apparently don't need them to get your submissions approved.
  • But I will not even consider purchasing an ATI card until they get their Linux compatibility (drivers) up to snuff.

    I'd rather not be locked to one platform because of a piece of hardware.
    • I'm sure ATI engineers are rushing back to the office as I type this to work on Linux compatability. That or making mental notes to give the boss an earfull on monday morning about dropping linux compatability altogether since its not appreciated or increasing revenue.
      • Having talked personally with the ATi linux team (back before I bought an nVidia) I know they do try with the resources they're given by the management. They also take into account the complaints of the users - although, being bound by NDA, I'm pretty sure they can't give out "coming soon" notices. Certainly, way back when there was this nasty problem with UT2k4 and the ATi linux drivers, they wouldn't disclose that it was fixed before they released.
      • I realize there is more to 3D than games, but generally speaking only games provide reason for new video card purchases, since moderate graphics cards can handle XGL and such sufficiently.

        I know UT2k4, Quake3 (and below), Doom3, and Neverwinter Nights all run native linux, but why not call for linux compatibility from game publishers? I know at least I'm disappointed in things like Oblivion and NWN2 not being on linux (and by extension not on my list of stuff to buy). NWN1 sucked a fair amount of licenses
    • This whole discussion centers around the best 3D gaming cards for the money. This is only *barely* a concern for the Mac using audience, much less Linux users. Just because you can play a few games like Quake or Doom in a native Linux version doesn't mean it's a primary concern of many Linux users to have optimal 3D gaming performance.

      The OS just doesn't really have gaming as a primary focus. So ATI's lack of focus on Linux compatibility isn't all that surprising on their $300-500 cards made for gamers,
    • by thepotoo ( 829391 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `mapsootopeht'> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @01:17PM (#15232489)
      someone please, PLEASE, tell me why no one likes ATI in Linux?

      I have used the ATI out-of-the-box radeon drivers in SuSE, it was pretty much as easy to install as it was in windows. And UT2004 (the only linux game I own) seemed to run just as well as it did in Windows.

      So what am I missing that everyone hates so much?

  • Whatever... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:55AM (#15231664) Homepage
    I'm sure the $500 GFX cards only exist to make spending $300 on a single component of a computer seem reasonable.
    • Re:Whatever... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by X43B ( 577258 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:26AM (#15231771) Journal
      "I'm sure the $500 GFX cards only exist to make spending $300 on a single component of a computer seem reasonable."

      I'm sure you are probably joking but I think you nailed it on the head. Having a super expensive card, even if it is a low seller, has many positive benefits.

      1) You will sell some to those who want to be ub3r133t
      2) You get the publicity of being "the best" even if no one actually buys the best
      3) Perhaps most importantly, the "Wendy's Effect". It is oft quoted that no one buys Wendy's triple cheeseburger. Someone at Wendy's decided that offering it was a waste so they removed it. However, this almost immediately reduced the number of double cheeseburgers sold. Apparently when people see that there is something more expensive and more "over the top" they are much more compelled to buy the next lower version than if that same version was the high end.
      • by Bottlemaster ( 449635 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:35AM (#15232069)
        It is oft quoted that no one buys Wendy's triple cheeseburger.

        I once bought a Wendy's triple cheeseburger. At the time they had a "double the meat for 99 cents" offer, and I could get the best deal if I bought a triple cheeseburger and doubled the meat. Unfortunately this resulted in a burger with only four patties, and I had to return it. Apparently "double" means the same thing as "increment" at Wendy's.
        • Nah, they were just going by 3rd edition rules. ;-)
        • 20 patty burger (Score:3, Informative)

          by asn ( 4418 )
          On a dare onetime, I had to go to Wendy's and try to order a 20 patty burger. We had already determined at this point that the double the meat deal really only meant 1 extra patty, so I had to order a "single burger with 19 extra patties" which resulted in a pimply faced reply of "uh.. sir... I'm going to have to get the manager" -- the manager insisted they could not construct a burger beyond 4 patties, even after I said I didn't care whether or not it was properly wrapped. We were actually able to re
      • Re:Whatever... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tyrant Chang ( 69320 )
        To add little more to your post, I think the term is compromise effect: 9 [] (or also known extreme aversion effect). People will generally choose a midpoint of an option set and framing an option as a middle makes it more attractive.

        Apparently, this effect has been "applied" to many fields like marketing, sales, negotiation and also in legislative world where a legislator will present a stupid bill that he knows will fail because of the backlash but will mak
      • Re:Whatever... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:43AM (#15232106) Journal
        >Apparently when people see that there is something more expensive and more "over the top" they are much more compelled to buy the next lower version than if that same version was the high end.

        don't confuse compelled for enabled

        people don't want to feel like pigs

        they feel like pigs when they get the biggest item

        if they take the next-biggest item, they both satisfy their need to serve themselves, and their need not to be gluttonous

        also, it's very common that the best value is to be had by taking the second-tier item; the reason is that on a learning-curve pricing scheme, the slope is steepest between items near the premium end of the curve; why a learning-curve pricing scheme applies is beyond the scope of this article, many reasons can be found, and exceptions as well
    • Yep, be sure not to spend $300 on any other components such as:
      A pentium-d 840 ($350): []
      An athlon x2 4400 ($450): []
      A 500gb hard drive ($275): []
  • well, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:56AM (#15231665) Journal
    obviously just sticking in a crazily expensive video card won't make a system radically better, computers are a bit bound to go at the speed of the slowest part (I know that doesn't always hold true) but if you computer costs $1000 then spending $500 on a card wouldn't be sensible
    • Re:well, (Score:3, Interesting)

      The graphics card is powered via the slot on the motherboard.
      I have had burn-outs of the motherboard power connector(s) due to too many cards. Takes hours to fix, one solution I have in place is dual power supplies, takes the load off the motherboard power connectors. Extra hard drives, cdrom drive can be powered by the extra power supply. I just turn on the main power supply first, then the second one, which is fixed with it's own toggle switch and power-on light. That way, the bios knows what to do. Next
  • You mean you don't need the most expensive hardware possible to enjoy life?

    No way!!! BUY BUY BUY!!! /me happy with my 6600 :-) [it's the cheapest non-crippled PCIe card I could find at the time]

    • Re:Shock! Horror! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nazo-San ( 926029 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @12:17PM (#15232277)
      "No way!!! BUY BUY BUY!!! /me happy with my 6600 :-) [it's the cheapest non-crippled PCIe card I could find at the time]"

      I'm sorry, but, I have to inform you that your 6600 is VERY crippled. Especially if you mean the non-GT version. The 6600 series started its life as a crippled card. The GPU, the NV43, is a weaker crippled version of the NV40, and, probably more importantly, while it boasts really fast sounding gDDR3 memory, its 128-bit memory bus actually makes it unable to compete even with the slower gDDR memory of the 256-bit 6800LE (that's right, even the elusive LE is a little better -- excluding the possibility that the LE can be unlocked and overclocked to become a lot better. The nu comes out even further ahead, again excluding unlocking and overclocking on the AGP models.) Mind you, if it had gDDR it would hurt even more since with such a low bus it needs all the speed it can get to compensate.

      Actually, I have a point beyond just pointing out that little mistake. When the 6600GT was first released, it was called the Doom 3 card, and rightly so because it could get some very nice quality settings out of a game with such high requirements. Comparable probably to a Radeon 9800 even, but, at a lower price. And that price was no $500. Only today is the 6600 series finally beginning to truly show its weakness in games like Oblivion (which can bring even a X850 to its knees with the right settings.) The mid-range cards actually end up being the best investment for a person because by the time they loose their competitive advantage (cost vs performance) even the high end video cards are starting to struggle. In other words, by the time a mid-range card is no longer able to get you acceptable quality settings out of a game, chances are a high-end card is no longer going to be good enough either. In either case you must upgrade within the same sort of time range. If you spend $500 every time, it hurts a lot worse than if you just keep upgrading to the mid-range cards. Even if the $500 will buy you a little more time, it's not enough extra time to be worth that extra $200 or so.
      • techno mumbo jumbo aside.

        The card can play doom, farcry, halflife and ut2k4.

        By crippled I meant the 6200 series "TurboCache" bullshit.

        At the time I bought it I could get the 6600 for 175$, the 6200 for 60$ or the 6800 for 225$ [or the 7xxxx series for more than 250$].

        But all the mindless comparisons aside it works just fine and doesn't cost 300$ now or when I bought it.

  • Try $200 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:59AM (#15231679)
    I find the cards that are at the price point of around $150 to $200 are usually good enough to play new games for about 2 years after they're purchased with all of the eye candy enabled. After that, you can either buy another $150 to $200 card (which obviously is far more advanced than the one you bought 2 years previously) or continue to play newer games without all of the eye candy enabled.
    • This is about where I've always bought, too, and I'm very happy. I do find, though, that I can't usually run things all out (8xAA and the anisotropic all the way up). I mean, I really don't care, because it's an arms race I simply can't afford to get caught up in, but I do think that there's a difference.
    • If you're not into gaming...
      • yeah, no kidding (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TTK Ciar ( 698795 )

        My usual criterion for the quality of a video card is: "how well does XFree86 support it?" (or I guess XOrg, now). A $50 or $30 card which works well for making xterms and Netscape appear on the screen is exactly what I want (and need).

        An advantage to being happy with inexpensive cards is that it becomes feasible to purchase a few of them, so that you can standardize sets of machines on them. That goes double for network cards. It's handy to be able to swap harddrives between machines with impunity, an

    • Re:Try $200 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wyldeone ( 785673 )
      That's not true.

      I have a nVidia 6800, bought for $300 a year ago, and it struggles with modern games. I've found that anything older than 6 months will not play modern games with all the eyecandy.
  • The price/performance graph for most every imaginable computer component can be represented by a bell curve. It just so happens that I'm in the market for a 300$ graphics card. I plan on buying the Nvidia 7800 GS, which is the most powerful AGP card available. While it sucks that those with AGP mobos have been left without an upgrade path, this particular price range works fine for me. I figure it'll be the last major upgrade to my close-to-obsolete AGP slotted computer.
  • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:04AM (#15231698)
    Wait a second, since when $300 for a friggin' video card is not expensive? Because there's $500 cards?
    If there were plenty of $2000 video cards, would $1000 be not expensive then?

    Someone's being brainwashed here...

    When a pretty good video card is in the range of $80-$160... now that's more reasonable.
    • by chrismcdirty ( 677039 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:20AM (#15231746) Homepage E16814150098 []. Try that. If you're willing to spend twice the price, (and have an SLI-capable system) I hear they perform very nicely in SLI, and still less than the price of a $300 card.
    • I wish I had mod points today for that. The Hard Core gammer is expecting so much out of their systems and the game companies are obliging thus making these cards ultra expensive. I say stick with seeing some polygons for a while and use the money on Fun Games, or Food, or for Dinner(s) on a Date. Back in the old days of the late 80s and early 90s computer games were designed to run on the average running spec computer. CGA graphics were still Available, EGA was widely used when VGA was new, and could
      • I agree... i'm still using my Geforce TI4200; I bought it cheap cause the DirectX9.0 cards were coming out and I didn't feel like going for the premature bugs and such.

        There hasn't really been a game I couldn't play; I've finshed Halflife 2, all Need For Speed titles, all GTA titles, and so many more...
        So why would I need to fork out 300-600 for playing what I can play now, but "better"?

        Nothing has felt as sluggish and jaggy as trying to play Blood II with a voodoo2 card. on a P200. Are kids these da
    • I remember buying the original Geforce. $300. Amazing graphics, used it for a long while. But if I'd known that it would cause the "average" videocard's price to be $300, I would not have bought it.

    • How much money are people supposed to spend on passive entertainment? It'd be better to spend the money not spent on gaming on tickets to a traveling Broadway play or a live concert. Pre-produced entertainment has become so common and without novelty that live entertainment is actually more worthwhile, now. Perhaps it'll help remind people they are actually alive and not stuck in a cube-shaped room with a glowing window to an imagined world.

      It worries me when I talk to a teenager and the first thing they
      • "Do parents feel good about this?"

        Sadly for many these days, its by design.
      • It'd be better to spend the money not spent on gaming on tickets to a traveling Broadway play or a live concert.

        There's a better ROI on a video card though. If you want to go to a play or concert, that's one time. Not to mention additional costs in getting there, parking, outfit (especially for the play. Not every nerd has a spare tuxedo floating around.) Plus, if you have to pee, you lose part of your ticket price and it's impossible to get that back.

        Video cards are used daily. There's minimal extra c
      • How much money are people supposed to spend on passive entertainment? It'd be better to spend the money not spent on gaming on tickets to a traveling Broadway play or a live concert.

        Comparing video card prices to other hobbies or entertainment activities is an eye-opening experience. Tickets to the opera, plus tux rental, could easily total several hundred dollars. Learning to scuba dive, learning to fly a plane, skydiving, travel, and even a high-end bicycle can dwarf the cost of a decent gaming system.

    • I agree, and it's interesting how I think mid-range cards have almost increased in price since earlier in the Geforce 2 days. At least it doesn't feel like I had to pay $300 before to get a mid-range "reasonably long lasting" card before, but maybe my memory fails me. It definitely doesn't seem like the price evolution for the computer system in general anyway, with even "old" 2 GHz CPU's doing well enough today for most, and same for 1 GB RAM which is cheap today. It's just like gfx card prices tend to sti
  • Me my Mum and I.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:07AM (#15231706) Homepage
    And then of course you have the home computer that I'm currently fixing for my mum (mom to USitiens) which has a very basic graphics card that powers the 17" TFT rather nicely, sitting next to that is the one my wife uses which has a Voodoo 3500 TV, running SUSE, and that works fine for her.

    The ONLY people who need these graphics cards are people who place top end games. I find it stunning when I come across work desktops for people who do MS Office stuff that have only 512Mb RAM but a graphics card capable of doing Doom3 at decent framerates. 80%+ of people don't need even the 7900GT let alone the GTX and it would take a completely brain dead operating system to require people to have top line graphics cards just to run a word processor....

    That of course is where my theory breaks down, Vista... you might not play games... but our developers do.

    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:35AM (#15231802)
      The ONLY people who need these graphics cards are people who place top end games.

      That's not entirely true. For example, in the mechanical engineering department where I work there's one guy with a really fast PC and a high-end (I think nVidia but I'm not sure) graphics card that does 3-D design and rendering of parts for the automated machine tools on the plant floor. Not that many years ago, he would have had some kind of special "workstation video board" that would have cost a couple of grand. Those have all but died out as the likes of nVidia and ATI have pushed the performance envelope so far that engineering tasks pale in comparison to the requirements of a game. I guess my point is that there are many tasks that need high-performance 3D, they're just not as high-profile as gaming. And even that is a rather small subset of the total number of computer users out there.
      • But you're basically saying that his high end PC is really a low cost workstation. For tasks like that, it makes total sense to use "cheap" (relatively) game hardware rather than expensive wildcat graphics boards (I'm not sure if they still even make them).

        I think what the GP was scoffing at was the PHB that gets one of these $500 cards in his PC when he will never utilize the power.
      • If your 3D design department is running gaming cards instead of workstation boards than either you have an extremely stupid IT department, or what you're designing is extremely simple.

        I hate to break it to you, but workstation cards are alive and kicking. The Quadro and FireGL are still available, and for $500 is it MUCH better to have a low-end workstation card than a high-end gaming card. Gaming cards do not have the full OpenGL functionality that 3D design applications need. In my experience, using
    • In the past, I've worked on routing and logistics software. For one particular system, I developed a client-server mapping engine. The client basically sent a mapping projection to the server, which then ran a spatial index query against it, and returned the mapping data to the client in a compressed vector data format.

      Where am I going with all this? The client machine was responsible for performing all of the rendering of the map. I was able to perform several important usability effects such as gaussian

    • "capable of doing Doom3 at decent framerates"

      I'm afraid Doom 3, Farcry and even Half Life 2 are no longer reliable benchmarks for whether a card can play new games or not. My 256MB Geforce FX5700 allows me to play Half Life 2 and Doom 3 at pretty much full qual. settings (apart from FSAA) and a good res., but it fails miserably on Oblivion and isn't even supported by Ghost Recon:Advanced Warfighter.

      There are no such things as the top end games and low end games- just the new and the old, and the new
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aphrika ( 756248 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:10AM (#15231715)
    I have a PC with a ATi 9800 Pro in it which I use for gaming. I've had this since 2003 and it still plays a mean game of Battlefield 2 when I feel like it. If it runs a bit slow then I plonk the resolution down. This is by far the best way to get your game to run faster. Anyway, bottom line is - it runs whatever current game I'd care to buy for it.

    Now I've thought about upgrading, but two things have hampered me. The first is strictly technical - I have an AGP machine, so there's not a huge amount of difference over a 9800 Pro whatever I plug in there because it'll always be limited by the bus speed.

    The second is probably more of a personal thing - I've got mates who have the latest and greatest GFX cards in their machines, but I'll be damned if I can tell the difference between their games and mine. Sure, it's a slightly higher res, but are there any bonus features like fog or smoke? No. Better anti-aliasing? No. I spent my hard-earned cash on a Dell 20" widescreen monitor and I can assure you that as far as gaming experiences go, this added to mine much more than a new GFX card would.

    Maybe it's me getting old, but hardware upgrades now tend come when I buy a new PC, and be a notch under the top o' the range. Although having said all this, I just picked up a Inspiron 9400 for work which did come with a GeForce 7800 in it, which I guess'll be useful for um.... spreadsheets *cough*
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Funny)

      by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:38AM (#15231814)
      Just make sure that you configure your "boss button" properly.
    • t'll always be limited by the bus speed.
      I doubt it. Like AGP before it, the PCIExpress bus is still far slower than onboard video ram, therefore it isn't especially important in terms of framerate.
    • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by soupforare ( 542403 )
      The X800Pro (and up) beats the 9800Pro. Get something like the X850XT/PE and you're good for another long while.
      Remember, PCI-E was introduced for the future, we haven't hit on games that saturate an AGP 8x bus.
    • While this may be true for you, it's a nice blanket statement that absolutely does not apply to everyone. I also have a 2005FPW and I find it to be the best thing since sliced bread. But, once i realized how much better games looked at the native 1650x1080, I didnt see a problem with dropping the cash for a better video card. It makes a world of difference to me to be able to run native res, while still using high res textures and all of the effects. And to answer your seemingly rhetorical questions, th
  • In fact the $500 cards perform noticably better than the $300 cards. You may not think it matters much, but new games, such as Oblivion, are incredibly graphics intensive. Only the top-end cards from ATI are able to play Oblivion completely smoothly in 1600x1200 with all the buzzwords activated.

    If you play highly intensive games at insane resolutions, then the high-end cards may be for you.

    On the other hand, if you ever think about buying a $500 card because it will "last you longer", then you are kidding y
    • Only the top-of-the-line ATI cards can do this, but not the NVidia cards? You're saying that an Nvidia 7900GT or 7900GTX can't play it completely smoothly with 1600x1200 with everything activated? I have to say, I'd be pretty ticked off if I spent $600 on a 7900GTX and I noticed even some slight amount of jerkiness in Oblivion.
  • A 'Wow!' moment. (Score:2, Informative)

    by eddy ( 18759 )

    It's not often that I go "wow" after a hardware upgrade. 486-&gtpentium class. First Athlon. Virge3D ->3Dfx Voodoo 1 (glquake for teh win)... and just a week ago I went from a nVidia PCX5900 (and ATI 9600XT/256) to a 7900GT. Everything on High in BF2 (and 2x FSAA); smooth as butter. Going from 800x600 low textures, everything down in oblivion to 1280x960 HDR: Wow

    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:33AM (#15231795) Homepage Journal
      I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your post is buzz word and hip-speak compliant. The bad news is that I have no idea what you are saying.
    • 3dfx voodoo 1 also from a Virge that didn't really do much interesting at all). Before that it was 286 to Pentium (I could play ultima underworld so smoothly compared to my friend's low end 486).

      Maybe I'm just not easily impressed anymore, but everything I can recognize as being better now, but it seems evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Going to Pentium is when I got the horsepower to play fundamentally 3D looking games (Doom, Ultima Underworld), whereas before the best I did was Wolf3D. And again,
  • I really don't get it.

    Exactly the same (and obvious) conclusion as any review I've seen on sites like HardOCP, Anandtech, Tomshardware. Is it news that this article is one of the most amateurish attempts at reviewing cards we've seen in recent history? 4 benchmark runs (at least they use games) put together in little fps graphs along with a 2-page grade school level analysis and of course no details about more important stuff like image quality etc.

    Maybe it's just me, since I have never paid over $200 fo

  • Skewed results? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by travail_jgd ( 80602 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:24AM (#15231762)
    All of the benchmarks in TFA are run at 1600x1200.

    I understand that maximum resolution is the best way to highlight the limitations of the cards. But how many "budget" gamers are going to have monitors capable of running at those resolutions?

    All of these cards produce "acceptable" results at 1600x1200. I read the article as "the cards are identical at lower resolutions, but reporting you need to spend more money makes our advertisers happy." Or maybe I'm just cynical.
    • Re:Skewed results? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CodeMonkey42 ( 965077 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:03AM (#15231921)
      Most real gamers (budget or otherwise) still use inexpensive CRT's which produce the best image quality, have zero ghosting, zero dead pixels, etc. and easily do 1600x1200 for the latest games or 800x600 for "classic" games. My $200 NEC AS900 easily outshines the majority of LCD monitors in image quality, and the majority of games I play on my NVIDIA 6800 GT are indeed at 1600x1200.
    • Soon I will be one of these "budget gamers." By that I mean that I don't spend a lot of $$$ on game related hardware and software, not that I have no money. I'm buying a 1600x1200 LCD to increase my productivity at home. I also like to play the odd game (generally a year or two old) and want a video card that is able to play my games at the highest resolution my monitor will support. My next game purchase may be Neverwinter Nights 2 in early 2007, so at the point I will probably looking at a 7600-level ca
  • I have a 64 MB Nvidia card which gives decent performance while playing many openGL based games. I wonder what is the specification of a PC which get it classified as a gaming rig...
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:40AM (#15231822) Homepage Journal
    When you can buy the rest of the box for about the same price, spending that much on just video is lunacy.
    • by randyest ( 589159 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @01:52PM (#15232603) Homepage
      Wait. Because one element of a computer system can cost as much as the rest, anyone whose priorities are such that they're willing to spend that much is a lunatic? And this pompous, unfounded, non-sequitir of a claim is insightful?

      Huh, well. I guess I'm a lunatic then, since I've spent $300+ on video cards several times over the last decade. What's worse is I'm perfectly happy being a lunatic and somehow, despite my lunacy, I'm able to keep a good job that provides the means to repeatedly act on my insane hardware-buying impulses. I'm so fucking crazy that I can't even realize it; I actually think that I bought what I wanted so I can play the games I love at high resolutions with maximal detail and effect (BF2.) I truly have no remorse about my lunacy -- I am, in fact, so deluded as to think a $300, $500, or even $1000 GPU can be worth the cost, and that the relative costs of video cards and the rest of my system are totally irellevant! I'm completely incapable of seeing what must be to you a glaringly obvious correlation between video card expense and sanity. Oh man I'm truly too far gone; there's no help for me!

      I mean, here I am with 175 hours logged in BF2 using my >$300 video card in the year or so since it came out, and that works out to almost $2/hour for me to play what I think is an incredibly fun game, whenever I like, with 63 of my closest friends. Surely my insanity knows no bounds, and this subjective choice of mine is completely unacceptable. If I were less crazy, I would have consulted with someone like you to ascertain the best way to spend my $300 in discretionary income that I wasted on a video card. I mean, it's clear from your incredible logical deduction that you are a wise sage with an objectively-flawless set of priorities that should be emulated by all others. My mind reels in wonder when I try to speculate on what item you'd have pointed me to instead of my frivolous (and batshit insane!) decision to buy a $300 video card! Would you have suggested 75 chai lattes? 600 newspapers? 10 detailed D&D figurines? 60 issues of Time magazine? 30 pairs of grey sweatpants? 20 anime T-shirts? 15 discounted DVDs? 6 fleshlights? My mind boggles, as I am utterly incapable of guessing the nature of the light you doubtlessly could have shown me, had I only bothered to ask!

      Anyone less crazy than me would instantly recognize that a video card actually does very little for a computer system and that GPUs are simple, easily-designed and manufactured items with far less complexity and R&D expense required than, say, a case, power supply, motherboard, RAM, mouse, or keyboard. It's absolutely unthinkable that a sane person would place so much emphasis on the image-generation capabilities of a computer system when everyone knows computers are for email, word processing, spreadsheets, and the occasional game of solitaire or minesweeper! How can I be so feeble-minded as to believe that any computer should ever have more video-processing power than a Voodoo2?

      I hope you're sitting down (on your no-frills, unpadded, folding computer chair) because this may terrify you: I'd still think it was a bargain at twice the price! And there are many others just like me -- Boo!

  • ... how a 300$ card can fit in a 100$ PC ?
  • I built a computer recently. While I briefly considered buying a high performance card, at the end of the day I don't believe they are worth it. Cards and CPUs seem to be governed by a law of diminishing returns. What's cutting edge now won't even raise an eyebrow in a few years. So why fork out absurd amounts of currency for one? The same with the various "extreme" CPUs. Spending 2-3x the cash for something which delivers a 30% gain is just stupid.

    In the end I picked up a pretty good NVidia 6800GS which

  • I know that 1600x1200 really stresses the GPUs in these cards but I often wonder how many people are actually gaming at that resolution. I have lots of hardcore gamer friends in the area and I've seen their rigs and I know that only 1 of them has a monitor bigger than 19" and runs 1600x1200. Sure, 1600x1200 looks great on a 19" monitor too, but with a monitor that small 1280x1024 still looks very nice and to push the res up to 1600 really isn't worth the FPS hit. Or at least, that is the concensus amongs
  • by Starcub ( 527362 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:08AM (#15231947)
    I remember when the V1 3d cards were first ccame into the market. They were easily top of the line and the best cards went for about $200. When the next generation V2's came out, I pre-purchased the very 1st V2 SLI card (actually 2 cards bridged together) at the incredibly expensive price of about $600. It was alot, but the card literally quadrupled the performance of the V1 I had and the price very quickly fell another $200 before the V3's were out. Today you pay $500 for a top of the line single GPU card that doesn't even double the previous generation's performance. It seems video cards are becoming a disproportionally expensive component of the PC and just aren't providing the same value.
  • by a_greer2005 ( 863926 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:19AM (#15232000)
    A buddy of mine has a AMD 3800, ATI radion x1900xtx, and 2 gb ram, and maxing the graphics out in some of the latest games cause it to be noticably jittery, so why spend $2000 on a gaming PC when an xBox 360 does jitter free HD for $400?
    • Because not every PC game someone might want to play comes out on the XBox 360? Because some people don't like playing FPS's on consoles when they can play them with a mouse and keyboard on their PC? Because some people find XBox live to be overpopulated with whiny 12-year olds, ruining the multiplayer experience? Because you miss out on some of the customizability and modding that you get with PC games (in Oblivion, for example)? Just a thought.....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I bet you if you set that "maxed out" PC game down to the 360's 1280x720, the 1900 would be a lot less jittery.
    • Excluding the points other people have made; that's great for this generation. However, if I want my graphics to improve over the next 5 years, I'm going to be getting PCs...
    • 1. The games differ greatly from the XBox games. You may not like console games.
      2. The machine is upgradable
      3. The games cost almost twice as much for the Xbox 360 (at least here in the UK).
      4. You can use the computer for other things than gaming and watching DVDs.
      5. You may already have a PC that can be upgraded decently cheaply.

      I still think the latest graphics card are unjustifiably expensive, but the older ones aren't so bad, and it was easier for me to justify spending £70 on a graphics card (GeF
  • by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:26AM (#15232033) Homepage
    When I buy a replacement card (which I haven't had to do since I bought my GeForce FX 5600XT a couple of years ago), I buy whatever is currently at the $100 price point. That lets me play better than 95% of games well. If I were buying today, I'd get a GeForce 6600. It's more than good enough.

    No matter what card you buy, in a short period of time there will be a small number of games that need better. Chasing that carrot with no self control is an exercise in futility.
  • I'm off on a 4 month holiday, and I'm taking a 3 year old laptop with me to play a few games on during downtime (I travel a lot, and I know from experience how many boring moments there can be). I've never played any games on it, and I need advice as to what games I should buy, since obviously it won't support anything close to the latest and greatest. What older games are there that I should seek out?

    2.4 GHz P4, 512M, ATI Mobility Radeon 9000

    My ideal game is Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Of course, I can't p
  • Performance anxiety? Not here!

    I run two 7800GTX cards to run 3 Viewsonic VP201b 20" displays and one 30" HDTV.

    "Stop complaining, Bitch! If you had an HDMI port, I'd be done by now."

  • I had a 6600 GT nVidia card in my Dell/Linux box, and it was overkill for all I wanted to do. Look at the kewl new effects with xgl and 'stretchy' windows -- really cool effects that don't need the kind of graphic horsepower I had. Now I'm looking at a Mac Mini -- years ago I would have never considered on board graphics, but the fact is, it's now more than I need. I love games, but I don't have the time to play the latest ones, so I end up playing the ones that are most fun. Quake II and III don't need
  • Radeon X800 GTO2 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Emetophobe ( 878584 )
    I just got a new computer with a Sapphire Radeon X800 GTO2 (already unlocked to 16 pipelines).

    I paid $199 canadian for it. The card is absolutely amazing, I get 90fps in UT2004 with max settings at 1280x1024 and around 60fps in Call of Duty 2 and Doom 3 at 1024x768 and high quality settings.

    the Sapphire Radeon X800 GTO2 (limited edition) is definitely a special card for the price! Paying a huge chunk of money for 1 graphic card or even more for a SLI setup is just crazy, these mid-range graphics cards perfo
  • Wapperjawed (Score:2, Informative)

    by jrmiller84 ( 927224 )
    Also on the flip side, if you're going to spend the 200$-300$ as I did, do your research first. I made the stuipd mistake of buying a 200$ Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB before realizing that it was actually a Sapphire made card that runs on a 128 bit bus instead of a 256 bit bus. So while I have a "Radeon 9800 Pro with 256 MB of video memory" (booming voice!), it's actually a piece. Of course it plays all of the newest games but there is much room for improvement. Moral of the story... do your homework before buyin
  • All I want to know is, what's the minimum amount of $$ I can spend to be able to run XGL?
    I don't play games, I just want my accelerated desktop...
  • by theurge14 ( 820596 ) * on Sunday April 30, 2006 @03:37PM (#15233092)
    Spent $399 for it at Micro Center. Sure, it was a big improvement over the ATi 9500 Pro I had in there before. But in the long run all i got out of it was the three games I played ran just a bit smoother than before. That's it.

    And I'm done with the PC "ricing" subculture. All these wonderful Antec case fans from 2002 are loud, all the money I've dropped upgrading this thing still leaves me with the same crappy Windows XP experience. Think about it, 1GB of Corsair RAM, Athlon XP 2800 processor and two Serial-ATA drives all idle, I click on Control Panel and WAIT 5 seconds for Explorer to redraw my screen twice as all the icons flicker and reload.

    Can't wait for my Mac.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus