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Looking for recommendation for new video card

by bestsealer / August 16, 2006 12:38 AM PDT

It has been a while since last I bought a new desktop computer. I have started researching, and found there have been a lot of changes in technology since my last purchase.

I am pretty well settled on an Intel E6600 CPU with a Gigabyte GA-965P-DS4 motherboard. This board has pretty well everything I want already onboard, except a graphics card. This is where I am bogging down in my search.

I had intended to keep my NEC 1800 LCD monitor, and just upgrade the processor box. However, now I am having second thoughts. The GA-965P-DS4 motherboard has these newer PCIE slots, which to my understanding are a replacement for the older AGP slots and cards. But I am not sure which PCIE video card to get - and I am not sure if they are available to feed my old analog LCD monitor, or if they only come with a digital interface (which will force me to also buy a new digital interfaced monitor).

I am not a gamer, but I do want one of the fastest systems for digital photo and video editing, as well as running Adobe's Creative Suite of applications; I find that my current system just does not have the horsepower to drive these programs efficiently.

I also want a system that will be ready for Windows Vista when it eventually ships; my understanding is that it will need considerable horsepower and also a strong video card with 'pixel shading'.

So, my question is: what would be a good recommendation for a video card for my new system, and do I need to get a digital monitor, or is there a PCIE card that has analog output? Or should I go with a digital card and new monitor - is there an advantage? Btw.. I notice many of these newer video cards support dual monitors.. this is NOT a feature that I require, and don't wish to pay extra for it.

Finally, I would also appreciate some links to sites on video cards - reviews, recommendations, etc.


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any pci-e video card will do for 2D apps
by ramarc / August 16, 2006 6:24 AM PDT

all new geforce/radeon perform about the same for 2D apps such as Adobe CS2.

any geforce 7300gt or radeon x1600pro will be more than sufficient. both are in the $90 price range (from web shops) and both will fully support vista when it arrives.

also, practically all new cards come with dual monitor and hdtv support. you're not paying extra for them since they're standard equipment nowadays.

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Thanks... btw, what is crossfire??
by bestsealer / August 16, 2006 1:31 PM PDT

Thanks for the reply..

I read up on it, and it looks like the x1600 pro is just what I need, and well within my budget. It also has both VGA and DVI interfaces, so I can use it now on my current LCD monitor, and also later if I choose to upgrade to a digital monitor.

btw.. it mentions 'crossfire ready'... what exactly is crossfire?

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by GeeBee / August 16, 2006 9:05 PM PDT ATI's name for when two graphics cards that can be linked together for more 3D power.

Please be aware that while the hardware reqired by M$ Vista is not actually huge, no graphics card on the market at the moment provides "full support".

Vista will use DirectX10 (and support DirectX9), and all graphics cards at the moment are only DirectX9.


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Just as well I guess...
by bestsealer / August 16, 2006 10:41 PM PDT
In reply to: Crossfire...

Thanks for the reply..

I guess it is just as well then that I am not shelling out big bucks for a graphics card.. the X1600 is only about $135 CAD.

And since I don't expect Vista to be stable for another year, I probably won't be migrating before then, so I still think the X1600 will do for a while.



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I actually read...
by GeeBee / August 17, 2006 2:23 AM PDT

...a site recently which detailed 2D speeds, and while all the cards were stratospheric scorers, it didn't look to have moved on much from the good old days. Cards which wouldn't even score in the top 100 (Matrox/3Dfx /XGi/Videologic were even listed I think) now for 3D speed, were easily a match for more modern hardware (if I found it interesting, I'd be able to find it again! Wink ).

Apparently 2D speeds have been pretty much topped out (I can't even find the link now, but remeber Matrox 550 was a good "old" scorer) for many years with no drive for extra speeds, so any card will be adequate for what you require. Here's a link detailing the X1600Pro (and Crossfire) fully too.

The only caveat...the power required. It's not exactly a low power device, so please make sure your PSU can provide the current required.


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regarding power caveat..
by bestsealer / August 17, 2006 2:56 AM PDT
In reply to: I actually read...

Yes, regarding power, I just read::

Power-Hungry Graphics

If there's one area of computer hardware that is getting a bit out of hand, it's PC graphics. ATI and Nvidia are releasing newer and faster products at a breakneck pace -- single-card SLI powerhouses, double-wide ATI CrossFire behemoths, Nvidia's Quad SLI -- all seemingly designed with no heed to power consumption or heat production. If you think DirectX 10 will alleviate these concerns, you're dead wrong: The combined requirements of Vista, DirectX 10, and upcoming 3D games and applications will drive GPU technology through the ceiling.

Companies like Thermaltake are even ramping up for this increased power draw by releasing dedicated GPU power supplies. These units range from 250 to 300 watts, fit into an open 5.25-inch drive bay, and supply power exclusively to the GPU. From these wattage specifications, it's safe to assume that first-generation DirectX 10 cards will be power-hungry products indeed. Heat production is another potential sore spot, and all indications say that cooling will be a challenge for Vista-ready GPUs. The only hope is that second-generation or subsequent revisions will bring DirectX 10 products that get us back on track with a sane balance of high performance and energy savings, much as Nvidia has done with the evolution of its GeForce 7600 and 7900 GPUs.

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I meant the X1600...
by GeeBee / August 17, 2006 11:27 PM PDT

...power requirement indicated in the hardware review review :

The X1600 and modern graphics cards in general are a power hungry bunch. If you don't have the PSU overhead to spare at the moment, you're looking immediately at extra expense. Or you could go for one of those older cards that still do well in 2D speeds, and suck up far less power. There are a few modern cards which use less wattage though :

X-bit seems to be one of the few tech sites that actually measures current draw, which may help upgraders to avoid upseting a weaker PSU.

Personally if the DX10 hardware coming in 2007 is going to be as bad as suspected, I suspect the electricity to power them for a year (we've had 3 prices rises in 6 months), may be more than the cost of the computers themselves!


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Vista ships with DX10 but uses DX9 for Aero
by ramarc / August 16, 2006 11:14 PM PDT
In reply to: Crossfire...

Vista's Aero interface is built on DX9, not DX10. MS chose to do this since DX9 is stable and they've been working on Aero for over 2+ years. Aero will be migrated to DX10 in a future Vista release. Any DX9 card with SM 3.0 and 128MB of RAM will fully support Vista/Aero.

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Only pointing out
by GeeBee / August 17, 2006 2:26 AM PDT

...that "full support" will not include Vista's DX10, ramarc. No need to get so testy! Happy


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not testy
by ramarc / August 17, 2006 4:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Only pointing out

some folks will never use dx10 or game so little that a dx9 card will suffice them for years to come. there's just no need for them to think they've got to get a dx10 card in order to use the full vista ui. Wink

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by bestsealer / August 17, 2006 2:43 AM PDT

Thanks again for all the advice.

As I said, I am not a gamer, so it would appear the X1600 will do nicely for me - and the price seems right.

My only concern now is the motherboard I intended to use (Gigabyte GA-965P-DS4) seems to be having problems. I just heard from my dealer that Gigabyte recently recalled all these boards because of a design flaw in the chipset. Who knows if the next release will be stable!

Gonna have to do some more research on this board.

Again, thanks for all the advice for the video card!

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