|
Your donations keep RPGWatch running!
RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Tech Help » Looking for advice on upgrading an AGP graphics card

Default Looking for advice on upgrading an AGP graphics card

October 9th, 2009, 04:01
(I'm going to put the list of specs and hardware for my computer at the end of my post here so any kind tech-minded folks who read this can look it over.)

Hi folks, I haven't posted for ages though I look at the watch almost daily. I've had very little time for gaming but that's changing, and I've got a stack of games I am really looking forward to: Drakensang, King's Bounty, the Witcher, even Gothic III; and I just ordered Risen, which trumps the others for me. I'm really ridiculously excited about getting to play it.
Long story short, I want to put a new(er) graphics card in my old machine: I installed Drakensang and King's Bounty recently, and I'm having the same graphics problem with both - after playing for a bit I get black spots and lines appearing and disappearing on screen, and occasional freezes. I may have solved the problem with King's Bounty by setting Vertical Sync to "force on" in my graphics cards 3D settings (advice I found after extensive Googling), but I haven't been able to play long enough to see as it was a sporadic problem; and that definitely didn't fix anything in Drakensang. I'm worried Risen may have the same problems on my rig when I get it. I spent a fair amount of time researching online and messing with settings without results; I think my card is just not good enough at this point.
My computer still runs great and I had been playing the Witcher on it without any problems (though on low settings), but it's definitely getting old. I don't want to invest in a whole new machine just yet, but I think if I get a better graphics card I may be able to get some life out of it with these games.
My rig is an Alienware Area 51 from 2003. It's got a Nvidia graphics card, BFG GEFORCE FX 5950 ULTRA 256MB. My motherboard apparently has a single AGP slot, so I'm limited in upgrading to an AGP card.
Newegg and Tigerdirect both have a pretty big assortment of relatively cheap Nvidia and ATI cards for sale; it seems ATI kept making AGP cards after Nvidia stopped, so there are newer ATI AGP cards with more memory and features; however I'm thinking it might be better to go with an Nvidia card since I'm upgrading from one. I'm also having a hard time figuring out what would be my best option since I don't really want to upgrade anything else right now, and I've seen various comments that getting a card that's too powerful might be pointless if the rest of the hardware can't really make use of it. Frankly it was making my head swim reading all this, I'm really not enough of a tech guy. The only upgrade I've done to this machine was to put more RAM in it.

Some of the cards I was looking at as possibilities:
SAPPHIRE 100258L Radeon HD 3650 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X HDCP Ready
SAPPHIRE 100175L Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X
BFG Tech BFGR76512GSOC GeForce 7600GS 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X
BFG GeForce 7300 GT 512MB AGP

They all have largely positive reviews, but there are so many other AGP cards, a few with 1 GIG memory and lots of bells and whistles, that I don't know what to go for.
I just want a decent-to-excellent card that will go in my machine and work without too much messing around on my part, that will at least let me play these games relatively smoothly, even if that means turning graphics features to low settings. Someday I'll build or buy a new computer, but I think this thing can last a good while yet. It's been a great machine, lots of good memories; I played Gothic I and II through on it and a big chunk of VtM Bloodlines. Oh, and a few years of Dark Ages of Camelot. Where did I ever find the time for that?
Thanks for reading, any advice on what you suggest I should get, or if you can point me towards good sites with information that might help me make a decision, would be welcome!

Here's some info on my computer from DxDiagnostics, and then a parts list I pulled off the Alienware website:

Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 3 (2600.xpsp_sp3_gdr.090206-1234)
BIOS: BIOS Date: 11/24/03 15:11:30 Ver: 08.00.09
Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.20GHz (2 CPUs)
Memory: 2046MB RAM
Page File: 476MB used, 2956MB available
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)

INTEL D875PBZ MOTHERBOARD AA#C26680-206
INTEL PENTIUM 4 EXTREME EDITION 3.2GHZ 800MHZ FSB
2 SAMSUNG 512MB DDR PC3200
2 PDP 512MB DDR PC3200LL
SEAGATE BARRACUDA 120GB 8MB CACHE SERIAL ATA HD
PLEXTOR PLEXWRITER PREMIUM 52X
PLEXTOR PX-708A 8X DVD±R/W BLACK DRIVE
1.44MB FLOPPY DRIVE BLACK
CREATIVE SOUND BLASTER AUDIGY 2 ZS 7.1
BFG GEFORCE FX 5950 ULTRA 256MB
MICROSOFT WINDOWS XP HOME VER1.1
420 WATT POWER SUPPLY
36" INTERNAL TO EXTERNAL USB CABLE
AVC PENTIUM 4 HSF Z7U2403002

Here's the specs of my existing card. In addition I looked it up and it has a 4 pin power connector and is an AGP 8 card:
Card name: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Chip type: GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
DAC type: Integrated RAMDAC
Display Memory: 256.0 MB
Current Mode: 1280 x 1024 (32 bit) (60Hz)
Monitor: Default Monitor
Monitor Max Res:
Driver Name: nv4_disp.dll
Driver Version: 6.14.0011.7519 (English)
DDI Version: 9 (or higher)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size: 5/16/2008 15:01:00, 6108928 bytes
Black Hood is offline

Black Hood

Black Hood's Avatar
Watcher

#1

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 47

Default 

October 9th, 2009, 13:32
I don't know what to say…. I am amazed you could run anything with your GeForce FX 5950 Ultra…. these days you need at least a geforce 7 card to run most things…. AGP 8x is very outdated… are you sure it is worthwhile to upgrade??

That said if you do decide to upgrade… I would go for one of the two ATI cards you listed.
GothicGothicness is offline

GothicGothicness

GothicGothicness's Avatar
SasqWatch

#2

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,408

Default 

October 9th, 2009, 17:45
Am I right that you already have a DualCore CPU? That's important because many games nowadays practically need at least 2 CPU cores.

Assuming the answer is "yes", you have a fundamental decision to make. Either:
(1) Keep this PC for longer than a year. Then buy the best AGP card you can find. Compared to current PCIe cards old AGP cards are very expensive though.
(2) Upgrade in the near future. In this case do not buy a new card.
(3) Give your PC away as a Christmas gift to a family member. Now you've got an excuse to buy something new.

The slower AGP cards don't make much sense. A 7600 is still at the bottom end. Risen's minimum requirement for example is a GeForce 7900. x8xx or x9xx nVidia chips used to indicate the high end cards. x6xx was mainstream, x3xx office. So your 5950 Ultra was a high end card of the (terrible ) 5th generation.
Gorath is offline

Gorath

Gorath's Avatar
Prime Evil
RPGWatch Team

#3

Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,915

Default 

October 10th, 2009, 01:59
Yo can get more powerful ATI cards with DDR3 memory in 3850 and their 4670 models and a few inbetween.

But as the question has arisen: Is it really worthwhile to upgrade now or would it be wiser to save up and build a good gaming rig.
Rills is offline

Rills

Rills's Avatar
Watchdog

#4

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Southern New Jersey USA
Posts: 223

Default 

October 10th, 2009, 19:53
Thanks for the responses. I'm following Gorath's first suggestion: yes, I'll be keeping this computer at least another year (it does have two cpu's), so going for a good AGP card.
After all that online research and price comparison, I went and impulsively picked up a Radeon HD 4650 card at the local computer store, installed it last night, and briefly played Drakensang with all settings on high and it ran quite smoothly. I would have gotten a 4670 but they didn't have any in stock and, well, impulse. Bad habit of mine, spending a lot of time thinking and planning something and then just jumping for whatever is at hand.
Anyway, I'm going to spend some time with it and see how it goes. It's definitely an improvement over the old card.
Black Hood is offline

Black Hood

Black Hood's Avatar
Watcher

#5

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 47

Default 

October 10th, 2009, 20:48
A Radeon 4650 is pretty solid. Maybe 10% slower than a GeForce 8800. Clearly slower than other mentioned cards though. Should be enough for decent visuals in every RPG.
Gorath is offline

Gorath

Gorath's Avatar
Prime Evil
RPGWatch Team

#6

Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,915

Default 

October 15th, 2009, 04:21
Just in case anyone is in the same situation I was (unlikely I suppose), the Radeon 4650 is working well. Installed easily, no driver problems or anything. There was a pre-installed program that has been on my pc since day one called PowerStrip, which I believe is some kind of overclocking software; it didn't like that I had switched graphics cards and kept popping up error message windows (I assume because the settings it was on weren't returning anything); for some reason I couldn't get it to show me a display panel, so after reading a bit online I decided to just uninstall it, which hasn't seemed to make any difference to anything else on the computer and got rid of the error message popups.
I restarted The Witcher and played for about three hours yesterday on default graphics settings (got most of the way through stuff in the outskirts) and it is running pretty smoothly, so that, Drakensang and King's Bounty are what I've tested on it so far and they've all run well!
Today though Risen arrived in my mailbox! I have just installed it (I wrote a little mini-review of the browser based RPG Sryth in another thread while I was waiting), and played for a few minutes on default settings; then I got so excited I had to stand up and walk around and get some water… and post here again. I think I drank too much coffee. Anyway Risen is running on my dinosaur computer! So far so good! I'm so happy! I hope I'm not jinxing myself! Ok I'm going to go play some more.
Black Hood is offline

Black Hood

Black Hood's Avatar
Watcher

#7

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 47

Default 

October 15th, 2009, 05:45
There's a pretty good chance you can tune Risen even more. See other forum thread.
Gorath is offline

Gorath

Gorath's Avatar
Prime Evil
RPGWatch Team

#8

Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,915

Default 

October 15th, 2009, 08:05
Which thread do you mean, Gorath? I looked through the Technical Check List for Risen thread, the Improved Graphics for Risen thread, and followed the link to the Tips and Tweaks article… all the advice seems aimed at people who have higher end machines. Anyone have any advice for tweaking it for people like myself with formerly-high-end that are now lower end machines? I've disconnected from the internet and turned off most things that would be running in the background while playing… so far after about five hours of playing I've only just run into a glitch, I was talking to Brogar and his head disappeared, and then the game froze. Just restarted, going to see if that happens again.
Black Hood is offline

Black Hood

Black Hood's Avatar
Watcher

#9

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 47

Default 

October 16th, 2009, 19:32
The threads you listed.
Gorath is offline

Gorath

Gorath's Avatar
Prime Evil
RPGWatch Team

#10

Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,915

Default 

October 17th, 2009, 03:28
Ah ha! Well, I'll read 'em again. Thanks so much for all your advice! Oh, and Brogar's head reappeared. I haven't run into any other glitches yet (knock wood) and the game is running well. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by choices though, and a little frustrated because I'm not tough enough to knock some deserving thugs heads together yet… so I'm heading back to the game now.
Black Hood is offline

Black Hood

Black Hood's Avatar
Watcher

#11

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 47
RPGWatch Forums » General Forums » Tech Help » Looking for advice on upgrading an AGP graphics card
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 12:56.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright by RPGWatch