What's the best under $100 video card for an older AGP slot?
August 3, 2004 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Best videocard for my buck? I picked up Doom 3 only to find my poor geforce 3 isn't cutting the mustard. Most web reviews are outdated or deal with pricey cards. What's the best card for my dollar? Extra points if its under 100 bucks and works with the older AGP slot.
posted by skallas to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
In the ~$100 range, the Radeon 9600 is the best card out there IMHO. It overclocks well too if you're into that, especially if you spend another ~$20 for a VGA Arctic Cooler (which takes an extra slot). All modern Radeon cards have 2 slots in them so they'll fit in either the old or new style AGP slots.
posted by boaz at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2004

Eh. For Doom 3, I'd recommend the 9800 XT. If you can't afford the "real" XT, you can buy a 9800 Pro and flash the BIOS to make it a fully-functioning XT. Note, only a few 9800 Pro's are made with the 360 core -- the Sapphire 9800 Pro is the one I've seen most people using, as it works fine. Also, you'll need alternative cooling for the GPU -- the stock heatsink/fan will not cut it.

You can find the Sapphire 9800 Pro on NewEgg for a bit less than $200. Read the reviews and you can see that people are buying this card just for it's upgradeability to an XT -- quite a good deal.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on August 3, 2004

What about the "VGA EVGA|GF FX 5700 128MB DDR"?
posted by pissfactory at 11:17 AM on August 3, 2004

I looked at it a couple of months ago, and determined that a Radeon 9200 had what I considered the best price/performance tradeoff. (Radeon 8500+ is supposed to be ok for Doom 3.)

Of course, GeForce 3 is supposed to be ok, too, so maybe you'll want to go to the recommended Radeon 9800.

Check out TechBargains, SlickDeals, DealNews and eBay for bargains.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:32 PM on August 3, 2004

I guess what I meant to say was... this is my video card "VGA EVGA|GF FX 5700 128MB DDR", do I stand a chance in hell of running Doom3? It looks cool as heck.
posted by pissfactory at 3:21 PM on August 3, 2004

Anandtech has a rundown of Doom3 performance with a bunch of cards.
posted by boaz at 3:55 PM on August 3, 2004

well, i've been looking at the numbers again recently as well as it's time for me to get a new video card. there are options, depending on how tech savvy you are and how cheap you are. The latest video card mega review by Tom's Hardware is actually pretty outdated (it came out the first of the year), but it's acceptable if you want to buy a card that was available then. I don't plan on buying a brand-new whiz-bang card, and it doesn't seem like you are either.

So here's the deal: you take the numbers given at the very end of the article - they give an average number of performance of each card across several games and modes. You take each card and do a search on your favorite online retailer and get the prices for each. And then you plug it all in an excell spreadsheet to get the Price/performance ratio.
My current spreadsheet is at home, so i can't give you the exact results.

Another thing to consider is whether you're willing to buy a refurbished card. You can get a card considerably cheaper that way, but usually at the sacrifice of a long warranty. Video cards are relatively stable (ie, once you get it, it generally works forever) except that new ones come with fans that tend to go out after a while. I personally stay away from refurbished cards because i'm willing to pay the extra bucks and get a brand new card with a full warranty.

Another thing to consider is the availability of soft-modding a card. Some cards (like the 9800SE) can be upgraded using software to higher performing cards. This upgrade only works a portion of the time, but you can find some cards that have a higher probability rate of upgrading than others. (the card mentioned has about a 2/3 probability of upgrading to a 9800Pro which has a $50 price).

My current favorite: Radeon 9800SE. you can find it for around $130. It performs slightly better than the 9600Pro or 9600XT and is even cheaper to boot. Plus, it's got the probability to upgrade to a full 9800 Pro (a $200 card).
posted by escher at 4:24 PM on August 3, 2004

Radeon 9600 Pro or XT is the best bang for the buck, frames-per-second-wise, at the moment, using only that measure.

SUMA (Korean company) has a highly regarded overclocked-out-of-the-box version with 256Mb that I may be buying soon.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:03 PM on August 3, 2004

Stay away from the 9200, is the word on the streets.

According to John Carmack Doom3 very much dislikes soft-modded and home-o'ced cards. I would avoid the crippled 9800SE that escher recommends, for this reason amongst others.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:07 PM on August 3, 2004

If you read this soon enough, go to woot. They have a Ti 4200 for 50 bucks, 5 more for shipping. It'll probably sell out at some point in the day. That won't run Doom 3 extremely well, but it should work decently if you feel like going on the cheap...
posted by swank6 at 2:35 AM on August 4, 2004

Read the guides at Anandtech before you buy, by the way. In particular (if it's Doom you're thinkin' of) this page (and the ones preceding and following it).

(Note that that's the bottom range.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 AM on August 4, 2004

I decided to go with the ATI 9600XT. I splurged and picked up the All in the Wonder version because I needed a capture card too. Its performance is pretty crazy compared to my geforce3 (rendering for Tron 2.0 is so fast its not even funny) and Doom at medium quality at 1024x800 is playable and looks really good. I'm sure I'm under the magical 30fps barrier but I really don't care. The game looks a bit lousy at 640 pixels wide at this setting (which is what the game recommends).
posted by skallas at 11:55 AM on August 4, 2004

I'm gratified you took my advice. Or if you didn't, that synchronicity made it look that way.

Let us know how you go with some timedemo results, if you're still reading. Take the second or third result, not the first.

(timedemo demo1 at the console, btw (ctrl-alt-~ to drop it down))
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:25 AM on August 5, 2004

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