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Graphics Software Hardware

Affordable Modern Graphics Cards 484

Posted by michael
from the save-a-pixel-or-two dept.
EconolineCrush writes "If graphics cards that cost more than a mortgage payment make your wallet quiver, it's worth checking out ATI's Radeon X700 and NVIDIA's GeForce 6600 series. Both are based on cut down versions of latest and greatest graphics chips, but at under $200, they sell for a fraction of the price of high-end cards. What's more, these $200 wonders outperform last year's $500 cards, sometimes by embarrassingly large margins. The Tech Report has in-depth reviews of both the GeForce 6600GT and Radeon X700 XT if you're in the market for a next-gen graphics card that's a little more affordable."
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Affordable Modern Graphics Cards

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  • Cooling! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:16PM (#10343158)
    My new graphics card sounds like a jet engine, and requires liquid nitrogen cooling.
  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:17PM (#10343166)
    If a graphics card = a mortgage payment, you're either buying one hell of a graphics card, or I want your mortgage payment!
    • by Nos. (179609) <andrew@NospaM.thekerrs.ca> on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:21PM (#10343211) Homepage
      You can have my mortgage payment, just send you cheque to...

      I agree. When putting together my last machine, I set a limit of what I would spend on a graphics card. I ended up with $200 as my limit. I bought a FX5600 which on my AMD 2500 (oc'd to about a 2800) runs Doom 3 at medium Quality at 1024x768 with hardly a slow down. I'm happy, especially considering the card is over a year old. The folks who spend $500+ on cards must have more disposable income than I, or less brains than my boss.

    • My mortgage payment is $880 CDN every 2 weeks. The GF 6800 Ultra is listed at $819 CDN. So, it's pretty close to a mortgage payment. This is a good article. Who is going to paying Over $800 (granted CDN) for a video card that will be second or third line in 6 months? I'd really like to hear from people who buy these and how they can justify the cost.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:43PM (#10343448)
        I buy the pricy first-gen hardware.

        As an avid gamer, I view my $5,000/yr hardware habit the same way a sports fan looks at his season tickets. It's simply the cost of entertainment.

        I play games almost every day, for about two hours a day. I'd rather play CS than watch The Apprentice, and I like to play on high-end hardware. It just amazes me, the way every time I think it can't get much better... it gets much better!

        Besides, us early adopters are great for the rest of you. Without us, your speedy $200 video cards would be $1,000.
    • by Otter (3800) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:22PM (#10343225) Journal
      I assumed from the nick "EconolineCrush" that he's living in a Ford van. (Perhaps down by the river, perhaps not.) A $500 mortgage therefore seems reasonable.
    • My mortgage payment is $350. $500 > $350, so a high end graphics card would be more than a mortgage payment.
      • > My mortgage payment is $350

        Where do you live?
        I'm in New York. My mortgage payment is over $3000/month, and that's not for a mansion either.

        • Northern Iowa in a small town. I walk to work each morning and have a 3 minute commute.

          Services aren't that far away either. I live within 30 minutes of two movie theaters and two hospitals (more miles, but short drives).

    • Apparently some in the Slashdot crowd are immune to literary devices such as hyperbole.

      I personally prefer being a little less literal at times.

    • Or you have a really small house.
  • Rats (Score:3, Funny)

    by hesiod (111176) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reierhcskoon'> on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:18PM (#10343181)
    Damn, and I just bought a Radeon 9600XT because it was cheap & available on eBay. Now I have to throw it away because new cards came out...
    • Re:Rats (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BoldAC (735721) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:22PM (#10343219)
      These cards are being produced at this price and this speed for one reason -- they run doom 3 at an appropriate speed.

      They are cheaper because they are not the fastest possible thing on the market; however, they make it where you can run doom iii with all the bells and whistles enabled at a decent resolution.

      They are attacking the mid to high gamer market.

      Brillant marketing move... if Doom 3 becomes the next standard.

      If something else is the next standard and these cards don't run up to par with that game, then this line will circle downward very quickly.

      • Re:Rats (Score:4, Insightful)

        by The Kow (184414) <.putnamp. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:27PM (#10343272)
        You're fooling yourself if you think Doom 3 has achieved some pillar of achievement that isn't going to be breached within the next generation of games.

        Heck, Far Cry was almost as demanding as doom 3 and it came out last summer. Some people even liked it more, especially when Ubisoft released the Pixel Shader Model 2.0 patch for it, to let it make use of the new shader technology on the GeForce 6800 cards - which, by the way, looks pretty cool, if you haven't seen it yet.
        • Re:Rats (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HFXPro (581079)
          Pixel Shader 2.0? That is Geforce FX area. Geforce 6800's bring Pixel Shader 3.0 (finally turning complete) to the table. I assume ATI cards are much the same way.
          • Re:Rats (Score:4, Informative)

            by Have Blue (616) on Friday September 24, 2004 @06:00PM (#10344747) Homepage
            The X800 does not support Pixel Shader 3.0, only 2.0; ATI's logic being that games that use PS 3.0 won't begin to appear until after at least one more video card generation anyway. Also, the X800 is little more than a rev and scaling-up of the Radeon 9800 core, while nVidia discarded the FX architecture and redid the 6800 from the ground up.
        • True.

          The games that will follow using the Doom3 engine will be heavier then Doom3 itself, as they will not be focusing on optimizing the content.
          Just look at the past: Half life was heavier then Quake II, Alice heavier than Quake3, etc.
      • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:58PM (#10343600)
        Playing the demo through on one notch lower than the absolute highest quality I thought my geforce3 Ti500 seemed to work well. I noticed a couple of times when the FPS was slightly lower than perfect during the cut scenes when they've got people talking and also the guys head was slightly polygonal but overall the quality was terrific and if it wasn't perfect I couldn't tell because it was too dang dark.

        Maybe I don't know what I'm missing.
  • Why just PCI-E (Score:5, Insightful)

    by untermensch (227534) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:19PM (#10343196)
    Of course, if you actually want to use your shiny new 6600-series card, you're gonna need to dish out the cash for a new PCI-E motherboard too. That or wait a few (more) months for an AGP version to show up.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted that Nvidia is releasing a good quality card at a reasonable price, I realize that PCI-E allows for the very cool SLI technology, and I intend to buy one eventually, but seriously why not come out with AGP cards at the same time, my copy of DOOM3 is already starting to dusty while I wait :(
    • Re:Why just PCI-E (Score:5, Insightful)

      by snuf23 (182335) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:31PM (#10343322)
      I agree that this was an odd move. Considering that PCI-Express motherboards are in the "early adopter" stage.
      I think perhaps Nvidia and ATI are hoping to get these cards out in large quantities for the OEM system market in time for the Christmas buying season. Retailers are likely to be pushing the new PCI-Express systems as the wave of the future for the holidays.
    • +1: Correct inclusion of modifier with "quality"
    • Re:Why just PCI-E (Score:5, Interesting)

      by X_Caffeine (451624) on Friday September 24, 2004 @06:26PM (#10344901)
      Two reasons. First, a lot of those cards are going to be sold to OEMs like Dell, who have already shifted a huge chunk of their systems to PCI-E.

      Second, quantities on these new chips are extremely limited; by selling PCI-E versions, they can carefully throttle out the line and avoid making it look like there's a shortage.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:19PM (#10343197)
    SINCE WHEN DID 200 DOLLAR VIDEO CARDS BECOME MIDRANGE! The top of the line should cost around 200-300, and the midranges should be in the 100-150 range, and budgets below 100. This is plain ridiculous...
    • Supply and demand. I guess they will charge what the market will bear. These prices have been the norm for several years though. The GeForce 4 series high end 4600 model initially cost $500 with the 4400 coming in at $400 and the 4200 around $300.
      I do think that this time around parts scarcity has something to do with it. I found it almost impossible to find a 6800 GT when I went looking.
    • by hesiod (111176) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reierhcskoon'> on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:42PM (#10343438)
      > SINCE WHEN DID 200 DOLLAR VIDEO CARDS BECOME MIDRANGE!

      Agreed. Up until a few months ago, I was using a Diamond Speedstar A50 (8MB, _EARLY_ AGP card). Then I tried playing a game. I had to go to a 32 Meg card. Then I tried playing a real game. I thought 32 megs was pretty good until I realized that these days, anything more complex than Tetris requires 128MB. Crazy. When 128MB is low-end, there's a problem somewhere.
    • by Eneff (96967) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:54PM (#10343555)
      The 200 dollar video card became midrange when the top GPUs passed CPUs in total transistors.

      "All told, NV40 weighs in at 222 million transistors, roughly double the count of an ATI Radeon 9800 GPU and well more than even the largest desktop microprocessor. To give you some context, the most complex desktop CPU is Intel's Pentium 4 Prescott at "only" 125 million transistors. Somewhat surprisingly, the NV40 chip is fabricated by IBM on a 0.13-micron fabrication process, not by traditional NVIDIA partner TSMC." source: The Tech Report [tech-report.com]
      • Heat? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday September 24, 2004 @06:53PM (#10345096)
        Maybe someone can toss me a clue here, but with all these transistors why aren't these things producing much heat? My athlon has a chunky sized heatsink with a fan attached but my ATI 9800 PRO card has a teeny, tiny fan with a thin heatsink. My geforce cards all had small fans. Are there less resistors in GPUs? Does the lower clockspeed allow for GPUs to run cooler?
        • Re:Heat? (Score:5, Informative)

          by steveha (103154) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:33PM (#10345644) Homepage
          The little "wires" connecting things inside a chip are called "traces", and are the thinnest things you can draw on a chip. So "trace size" is used as a yardstick to compare chips for how small their various parts can be. (You will often see the word "process", as in "90 nanometer process" instead of "90 nanometer traces"). The smaller the trace size, the less power dissipation. Both of these new chips have a small trace size, although the articles didn't say exactly how small.

          If you make a chip, and then you improve your chip-making technology so that you can draw thinner traces, you can perform a "die shrink": you produce a similar chip design, using the smaller traces, and the whole chip takes up a smaller amount of space. You can buy some graphics cards that are basically an older GPU with a die shrink; they dissipate very little heat and are inexpensive. A GeForce4 MX (budget card) was basically a GeForce 3 with a die shrink, IIRC.

          Chips are made from silicon wafers. One whole wafer is "fabbed" (made in a chip fabrication plant), then cut up for individual chips. The more chips per wafer, the cheaper each chip is. (This is all the more true because flaws can happen during the fabbing process; if one flaw means one dead chip, then more chips per wafer means a similar number of flaws results in a lower percentage of dead chips made, and thus lower costs.)

          A smaller trace size makes it easier to push the clock rate higher. But GPUs are definitely clocked lower than CPUs, so that helps them dissipate less heat. If you are pushing a Pentium 4 at 3 GHz, and the GPU is only doing 0.7 GHz, clearly that helps the GPU dissipate less heat.

          Smaller trace sizes make it harder to make the chip work right; the smaller the traces, the more problems you might have electrically (I don't fully understand the details). Also, you need to be more careful with cooling; a hot chip with a tiny die size needs a really good heatsink, and there is less margin for error. The old, relatively large chips like the 486 family were easy to cool in comparison with today's chips.

          Summary:

          Smaller trace size means less heat
          Lower clock rate means less heat

          steveha
    • And there should be "good enough" cards for businesses that run in the $50-$75 range new.
    • The top of the line should cost around 200-300, and the midranges should be in the 100-150 range, and budgets below 100. This is plain ridiculous...

      As Abe Simpson said: Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. 'Give me five bees for a quarter,' you'd say.

      Face it, things cost more than they used to. It doesn't cost a nickel to take the ferry, and top-of-the-line graphics cards cost more than $300.

    • Says who? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:46PM (#10344111)
      Hate to break it to you, but some AC on Slashdot doesn't decide what "should" be with bussiness. Their cost is determined by two things:

      1) What the market will pay.

      2) To a much greater extent, what it costs to make.

      It is EXPENSIVE to make those high end cards that push the limit. As time goes on their technology is refined and trickles down. The midrange and low end exist precisely because the high end exists.

      Also this is nothing new. $500-$600 has always been the high end price AFAIK. When I first heard about 3d accelerators for consumers, the high end was the Voodoo 2, speicifcally 2 12MB Voodoo 2s SLI'd together. Well guess what? Each one was about $300, giving a total of $600.

      But the thing is you don't need the high end to play games. It's there for those that want to spend teh scratch to have the latest greatest. I have a 9800 Pro, which is slower than either of these two cards here. There is no game I've encountered to date, including Doom 3 and FarCry, that isn't palyable on it. For that matter there's no game I've yet encountered that doesn't run quite well on it. Doom 3 runs nice at 1024x768 at high detail, FarCry likewise with most things at very high detail.

      Now it doesn't run as good as my friend's 6800 Ultra. He can run them at higher resolutions, with more features like anti-aliasing, and at higher frame rates. However it's not like his $500 card is the minimum to make it work, it is the current best. My older, now low midrange card works fine.

      And budget cards can work. You can get a 9600 Pro for around $100-$120 and that will run all games today. Again, you'll have to scale back the detail some more, but they'll still eb perfectly playable, and even look pretty good.

      So get off the "There's no reason for the high end" kick. Sure there is: People want it and the technology eventually comes to the rest of us. DVD players did not start out costing $50, they costed $3000. As the technology matured and production went up, costs came down. Graphics cards are the same, but in a perpetual cycle.

      In 1988, my computer was an Apple IIGS. It did 320x200 at 256 colours, and had no acceleration. My computer now does over 16 million colours at resolutions in excess of HDTV, and has a massive 3d acceleration subsystem that can render millions of triangles per second.

      They both cost about the same amount of money.
  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gargonia (798684) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:20PM (#10343204)
    Almost makes you wonder if the makers of video cards are deliberately holding back on the market to make higher profits.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And so what if they are? It's not a public service, it's a commercial product. One that they don't *have* to sell, at any price. One that you don't *need*, but merely *want*.

      If you don't want to pay what they're asking for it, wait a year. The prices will drop.
    • I won a 6800 Ultra at a raffle done by NVidia back in mid-April or so. I received the card in mid-June. No big deal, except that they'd used the exact same model of those cards in a tournament they hosted at the same time as the raffle. I scrambled to get it on Ebay, thinking I wanted to beat it to market, but it turns out I was still a month or so ahead of the release schedule anyhow.
  • could be an affordable version of a powerful audio DSP with some of the new AVEX (audio video exchange) technology coming out, like BionicFX [bionicfx.com]
  • by Peterius (606003) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:21PM (#10343209)
    I just can't. I feel like if I'm going to spend 200 bucks, it has to be the latest and the greatest, general gaming card. Which means like 400 bucks... my next problem is that I then worry about the rest of my computer. Its like if its not a totally perfect gaming rig, why bother upgrading at all. Anyone else have this problem/compulsion?
    • I do. By the time I was content, I just dropped about 1600$ in a week's time.

      Visa loves me, now.

      :(
    • by The Kow (184414) <.putnamp. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:34PM (#10343348)
      Many people who upgrade their computers do it in steps. Usually the largest hump is the motherboard/cpu/RAM upgrade, but the video card, sound card, peripherals, monitor, are often released at different paces, so there's no point trying to upgrade them all at once. I just recently bought my first new sound card in about 3 years, but I've been through 3 video cards in the same time frame, and as many CPU/MB/RAM sets as well. My girlfriend wins out, too - she gets most of the leftovers.
    • by MixmastaKooz (621146) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:44PM (#10343461)
      $500 rule....after you build your rig, every year afterward, set aside $500 for your upgrades. It depends on what you think was weakest or could be augmented when you built your rig. Every other year, I buy a new video card (200-300) and that leaves me a couple bucks to buy a new HD or peripheral. The other years, it's the ol' MOBO, CPU, and RAM upgrade. Keep to this plan, you won't have to buy a whole new system every three years, and have an above average gaming rig. I've been using the same case and 19" monitor for the last 5 years and haven't spent more than $500 a year upgrading it. I have a p4 2.8 with 1gb memory, 37gb 10k rpm raptor and 160 gb media hd, and a 9600pro (guess what next year is). If you're a college student, then saving money during the summer is key...It's tough to get the money together if you don't have a steady job, but with some discipline, it's the way to go.
    • I have this problem. I've been wanting to upgrade for quite some time now, but I feel like I'm just throwing money away if I get a bit more ram and a new vid card for such an old mobo. So now I'm looking at the prospect of a totally new box all together but I could allow afford a lower end one right now which seems pointless as well. So here I sit with my old piece of shit computer still, wondering what the hell I should do.
  • by Antihero77 (602539) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:22PM (#10343217) Homepage
    Too bad that the gfx card industry has nothing but vapor releases. Maybe in six months these cards will be available for sale.
  • Mac perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MacGod (320762) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:22PM (#10343222)
    I really hope we see these sooner than usual on the Mac. I'm getting exasperated with ATI et al delaying the Mac version of their card by so long (ie: There is still no 9800XT for Mac, much less an X800). Plus, when they do come out, there's usually a $50 premium, and half the RAM. Sigh.

    In addition, does anyone know if the nVidia 6600 will be DDL, thus letting people use the 30" Cinema Display? Of course, if you can afford the display, you can probably also afford the card (I can't on either count).
    • Plus, when they do come out, there's usually a $50 premium, and half the RAM. Sigh.

      Hmmm, sounds just like everything involved with Macs.

  • Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Soporific (595477) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:23PM (#10343231)
    I've been waiting for some cards that have had about the same price/performance ratio as my GeForce 4200 had when I bought it. I'll be picking up one of these fairly soon.

    ~S
  • by myc_lykaon (645662) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:23PM (#10343234)
    The 6600 may be affordable and fast, but it isn't much use if the affordable and fast card has production volumes so low that availability is an academic consideration.

    In addition to that the few places that do sell these cards are in the US and they only ship to US, Canada and USFPO.

  • bought mine two months ago for £120 from here much better than the close to £300 when it came out... [overclockers.co.uk]
  • What about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shotgun (30919) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:26PM (#10343262)
    the $35 cards?

    Yeah, it's last year's chipset. But weren't they all the shit last year?

    Aah, basking in the lagging edge of technology. Bug free and cheap games. Besides, I have a life and an airplane to build. Don't have time to camp out on the doorstep of Egames, waiting for the latest release of 'Death in the Dark, Part XXX', and then spend a week trying to get it to run so that I can say, "Ooh! Shiny things!!"

    • I didn't even try to figure out what the best card was. I knew I couldn't afford a top of the line card on my new pc, so I just said "How much extra for a 256 MB card instead of 128?". I don't even remember what card I have... I just know it was retail-boxed, runs AA and UT2004 really well, and didn't add $200 CDN to the system cost.

      I suspect a *lot* of people are less concerned about "ultra-high performance" and more concerned with "price point". After all, it's the real world that matters most, and wh
      • If "prince point" and getting a good value is your main concern, why wouldn't you at least invest 30 minutes of your time to do some research before handing $50-$150 bucks to get whatever has the prettiest box or slaps "256mb" on the front? Whether a card has 128 or 256MB of memory makes much less difference than most people realize, and there's plenty of bargain cards that give great performance, you just have to know in advance what to look for.

        I could've gone to Best Buy ready to part with $150 for a 1
    • The only $35 cards I know of are the Geforce MX series, whether you're talking about geforce 2 or 4, but basically they are the same - fine for business machines at work, but not a gaming machine. I mean, you can play the original Unreal Tournament or Quake III ok on them, but definitely not UT2004, Doom 3, or anything else in that class of game. The high end of those cards had 64 megs of ram, but it was cut down ram with a slow bus and the graphics chip was very cut down. If you're serious about gaming,
      • I can run UT2004 on a Geforce 2 64MB card. Not perfect, though it is playable. It cost me under $100 new a couple years ago. Froogle shows it is now in the $35 to $55 range.
        • Re:What about... (Score:3, Informative)

          by hawkbug (94280)
          Yes - I also had a Geforce 2 card, and it's currently for sale btw :) But a Geforce 2 and Geforce 2 MX cards are VERY different. Standard Geforce 2 cards use DDR memory - while MX cards use SDRAM, and it's much slower. So yes, I was able to barely play UT2004 on my Geforce 2 GTS which had 32 megs of ram on it, I even overclocked it a touch to get extra fps out of it, but with only 32 megs, it just wasn't going to work. Geforce 3 series cards are amazing, and so are Geforce 4 Ti cards. All the mx cards
  • by dpilot (134227) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:27PM (#10343269) Homepage Journal
    Almost two years back, I picked up a Radeon 8500LE for under $100. (actually, about $80) At the time, the Radeon 9700 and 9500 were top and second tier DX9 cards. The 8500 was a third-tier DX8.1 card. While it didn't have the latest features, it *was* feature-complete to the previous set.

    These are good $200 cards, no doubt. But it looks to me as if the sub-$100 cards haven't made as much *relative* progress as the more expensive ones.
  • Still no AGP version (Score:3, Informative)

    by sw155kn1f3 (600118) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:27PM (#10343271)
    Still waiting for AGP version... AGP versions aren't even announced yet, only PCI Express.
    Somewhere later in October or November.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:28PM (#10343276) Homepage Journal
    (From a rejected story I submitted)

    This Inquirer [theinquirer.net] story says that ATI will be beginning a big "Linux driver push" in the next couple of weeks - a driver based upon their Catalyst drivers, supposesly giving a speed boost to DoomIII.

    Personally, I'd just like drivers that don't segv under Xorg 6.8.0
  • Last Year (Score:3, Funny)

    by BinBoy (164798) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:29PM (#10343300) Homepage
    Last year's technology of the future today!
  • For those of us too lazy to do the research ourselves, which card has better open source drivers under X? I'm annoyed with binary-only kernel modules.
  • If you want to stick with open source drivers (under Linux), is there anything reasonable available?

    The last mainstream gaming card with open drivers, AFIAKT, was the Radeon 9100. Is that or Intel Extreme Graphics 2 a reasonable option? Is the 3D on the Matrox GXXX series even worth mentioning?
    • I asked this in a recent STORY [slashdot.org]... but they published it off the front page, since obviously Non-Windows users aren't a priority here at SlashDot... Oh, wait...

      Anyhow, if you find any answers, let me know.
  • by Silverlancer (786390) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:41PM (#10343419)
    At 450 dollars you can get a Radeon x800 Pro VIVO, which has a 100% chance of flashing to a full x800XT with all 16 pixel pipelines.

    Or if you want an nvidia card (i.e. you have Linux and want drivers that, uh, work), the 6800GT is almost as fast and at 400 dollars, its a great deal.

    The 6600 and x700s seem almost as fast as the 6800NU (300 dollars) at first, but note--they have 128-bit memory. This means that they will suffer a much larger hit when enabling antialiasing, as their memory is slower and AA requires a lot of memory bandwidth.

    I don't understand how 400 dollars is too much for a card, as I can easily assemble a high-end computer for 1200-1400 dollars, like one of these:

    Athlon 64 3200+ (200), Asus A78 (150), 1GB Dual Channel Corsair (300), 6800GT (400), 160GB hard drive (100), 480 watt power supply (100), case and floppy and crappy cdrom (50). That's 1300 dollars for something better than the 4000 dollar computer that Dell is offering, and as good as a 3500 dollar Alienware. So don't bitch about the price of graphics cards--you get so much for your money these days its insane.
    • > and at 400 dollars, its a great deal.

      I'm sorry any video card at $400 is not a great deal. That's starting to be 1/3 the price of a computer. Why when every other part of a computer has gotten cheaper over the years do video cards get more expensive? I've heard it's because they have more transistors and stuff on them, but that is tru for cpu's too, I think ever since the lack of competition in the market prices have only gone up. There used to be alot more players in the game. (3dfx, nvidia, mga,
  • This is something I have *ALWAYS* wondered. I upgraded from an old GeForce 4 to a Radeon 9000 Pro early last year. It wasn't a huge upgrade, but it set me back $150 at Best Buy (I was impatient to play Sim City 4).

    The online hardware magazines are always reviewing and comparing the bottom-end or the high-end stuff. I like gaming occasionally like the next guy with a real life, but I will NOT shell out $400-500 for a graphics card.

    I think the linked review is very helpful, because it's the kind of review

  • Price/Performace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doormat (63648) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:44PM (#10343451) Homepage Journal
    Its really all about the price performance ratio (at least, performance relative to the top-of-the-line card). The 6600 GT and the X700 XT provide a price/performance ratio not seen seen since the GF4 Ti4200. I'm willing to bet that between Doom 3, HL2, the amount of time since the Ti4200 came out, and the p/p ratio of these new cards, a lot of people who have Ti4200s will buy these new cards. As soon as they come out with AGP versions of course. I'm figuriing this will be my last AGP card and my last big upgrade until my next platform move next fall, which will be to a dual-core system (hopefully they're out by then!).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:47PM (#10343485)
    For the price of those cards, I can get a PS2 and have less to worry about.
  • by DaScribbler (701492) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:48PM (#10343498)
    Last year $99 was the Affordable price, and probably (pure speculation) the best sellers.

    So to generate more revenue, cards no longer bleeding edge are not reduced in price. Instead the newer cards are just bumped to a higher price and the original $200 sticker is now labeled 'Affordable.'

  • by cbreaker (561297) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:50PM (#10343517) Journal
    I got my Ti4600 in 2003. Although it's been great it's already showing it's age quite severely.

    EQ2, forget about putting up shadows. Doom3 runs okay but by okay I mean 15 - 20FPS average (and not all the options on.)

    So, if you're saying these can beat my Ti4600, then I'm not very impressed. They need to CRUSH it for me to be impressed.

    Is paying $200 worth it? Spend the $400, and you'll get a card you can use for a year and a half. If you spend $200 you'll be wanting more in 6 months when new games demand more.

    I got my Ti4600 when they were brand new, and it cost me. But I've been using it for a long time, which is worth it.

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:52PM (#10343533)
    is how a video card can cost upwards of $400, and a processor AND motherboard that run faster and involve more R&D can cost less than that combined.

    I have a 9800 Pro that I bought for $198, and I am certain that will carry me thru for another year or so until the x800 XT becomes $200, then I'll upgrade to the 'midrange' card again. I don't need bleeding edge technology -- I can suffice by lowering the quality settings to play games. If I am playing single player, I can turn up the eyecandy because FPS don't really matter, and if I'm playing online, then I turn them down to get the high FPS.

    There's really no need to buy a $400 graphics card, and no need for them to cost that much. It's just for players who need the extra 5 or 10FPS when they are already in the 50 FPS range... which is damn stupid.
  • PCI-Express (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eeknay (766740) on Friday September 24, 2004 @03:57PM (#10343593)
    The problem with these graphics cards is that their native slot is PCI Express now, which means gamers have to wait an extra month or two for an AGP version. There aren't many people I know (actually, I don't think I know any at all) who have PCI Express, and the motherboards that do feature it at the moment (only Intel ones at that) aren't very good at all.

    Having said that, the nVidia 6600 is a great line of cards, especially the 6600GT. The X700 is too little too late, unfortunatly, but ATI diehards will probably appreciate the middle ground they're offering. I myself was put off by ATI's lack of dynamic range, unlike nVidia, which is why I bought a nVidia 6800 (vanilla) a couple of weeks ago, and I must say, it's one hell of a card. Counter-Strike: Source and Doom 3 are smooth as butter.
  • Console (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thebra (707939) * on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:07PM (#10343684) Homepage Journal
    This is why I find that if you want to play games buying a console just makes sense. I know, you like the keyboard and mouse, but not having to upgrade your xbox or PS2 because a new games is out is very nice.
    • Re:Console (Score:3, Insightful)

      by foxtrot (14140)
      I don't have to upgrade my PC if I want to play Doom III in 640x480.

      ...which is higher resolution than my TV can support when I plug a console into it...

      -JDF
  • transistor count (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paronomasia5 (567302) on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:08PM (#10343704)
    is over 100 million on the new geforce cards. that is more than all P4 cpu's, except the p4ee which is 80% cache transistors. so start whining and bitching about cpu prices if you are gonna whine about gpu prices
  • by da_Den_man (466270) <dcruise.hotcoffee@org> on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:09PM (#10343717) Homepage
    I just upgraded my gaming rig to an AMD 64 with an FX5700 256MB AGP card. This, coming from an Athlon XP 2600 with a 5200 128MB AGP card, and I can say that it was worth the money for the performance of the card in combination with the Motherboard upgrade. The graphics have noticably improved, and I can run HIGH resolution mode in all games. However, this only involved game settings, and some minor changes. For the $99.00 I paid for the 5700, I find it to be well worth the price. When the 6x00 series hits the $99.00 mark, I will have to start looking at a replacement....but that won't be for another 6 - 12 months. I don't need Bleeding Edge performance. Not at 4 times the cost anyway.
  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:13PM (#10343756) Homepage
    The ATI Radeon 9000 (and probably 9200 by now) are AGP cards under $100. They perform quite well under Fedora Core 1 and 2 (I'm guessing under the test releases for 3 as well) and you can play 3D games with them (Tux Racer, bzflag, Neverball, and Neverputt all work perfectly). It's also plug-and-play -- no hassles and no proprietary drivers needed to get a reasonably good video card at a cheap price. Just power down, plug it in, boot back up, and watch the autodetection go to work. I'm guessing other free software OSes have comparable experiences with this hardware.
  • by gosand (234100) on Friday September 24, 2004 @04:27PM (#10343893)
    I seem to remember last year, about this time, contemplating whether or not I would take the leap and shell out the cash for a Radeon 9600 Pro, in anticipation of Half-Life 2 being released.

    Needless to say, I am quite pleased with my decision to wait a little bit.

    As a matter of fact, I didn't pick up and play Half-Life (the standalone version) until 2 years ago. I can hear the gamers recoiling in horror now. You know what though? The game was still awesome. When I got stuck, a quick search on the net would offer help. After I finished the game, I was able to download and play some cool "unofficial" mods. Got the game cheap, still enjoyed the hell out of it, and the hardware requirements to play it were not a problem at all.

    Needless to say, I don't plan on buying up any more games when they first come out. I apply the same philosophy to movies as well, and it has worked out. If I want to see something, it really doesn't matter to me how soon I see it. We seem to have really been suckered into this "consumerism" mindset. Instead of buying a CD within the first two weeks of its release, before they jack the prices up, I'll just wait until it shows up in the used CD stores.

    I am glad that there are some people out there who gobble up the latest and greatest stuff, because it drives the prices down on all the "obsolete" stuff for guys like me.

  • by Hugonz (20064) <hugonz@@@gmail...com> on Friday September 24, 2004 @05:03PM (#10344273) Homepage
    This is the reason why modern games are starting to belon in gaming consoles. There, game programmers are targeting the plattform instead of programming and then hoping that HW will catch up. Particularly, I prefer a console that costs less than the video card I'm suppossed to buy to be able to run SuperDuper1stPersonKilla V1.0
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Friday September 24, 2004 @05:48PM (#10344638)
    A couple of big issues are being missed in the price point discussion.

    First, there are essentially no games out there that tax a high end card. Even games like Doom 3 run light lightning with a 128MB Radeon 9800. The high and ultra quality settings scraping for improvements, like not compressing normal and specular maps, things that buy you almost nothing in exchange for massive bandwidth requirements. So all of these people clamoring for X800s and all that...there's no need, not yet.

    Second, a minority of PC owners run 3D games or otherwise need 3D acceleration. Partially this is because of compatibility and driver issues--and how those issues don't exist on consoles (cue the guy who always brings up RTS games as a counterargument)--but it's also partially because it's hard for the average person to know which games will work. DirectX 9? Pixel Shader 2.0? Video memory? Most people don't know anything about this. They buy a game, it doesn't work, they can't return it, and then they buy an Xbox for less than the price of a video card.

    Third, the fragmentation and wide variations in the PC market result in all but a handful of game developers shooting for the high-end. Heck, over half of all PCs sold are notebooks. Is the 15% of the *gamer* market that owns X800s a viable target? Wouldn't it be better to tone things down and run on a wider variety of cards? Sure, you can write a game to scale based on the hardware it is running on, but this is expensive and time consuming.

    In a lot of ways, the whole PC video card market is thriving on a sizable group of people--though still a minority--who upgrade obsessively.
    • First, there are essentially no games out there that tax a high end card. Even games like Doom 3 run light lightning with a 128MB Radeon 9800

      That's because you're running a completely different render path which is simply not able to do as much "fancy stuff" as you can on a newer card. The 6800 series has hardware features which (a) are used by Doom 3 if possible, and (b) simply don't exist on the 9800.

      Also, if you think your 9800 pro is so hot, can you run D3 in "high quality" mode at 1280x1024 w
    • DOOM III does not run too good on a Radeon 9800 128MB.

      Now, if you think "running good" means 640x480, then yes it runs good. But try playing in 1024x768 at Ultra quality on a Radeon 9800 card. Even a Radeon 9800XT will struggle to maintain 15 frames per second. And trust me it's very noticeable -- I have a Radeon 9800XT and I've pretty much given up on playing DOOM III on that card. (I could use a faster CPU, but unless I completely retool for a 64-bit system, the effects will be minimal.)

      It was true
  • Boycott ATI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vandan (151516) on Friday September 24, 2004 @06:09PM (#10344792) Homepage
    ATI's drivers are, without a doubt, the WORST quality party of my Linux system. They are SOOOOOOOOOOOO bad. Honestly. The latest drivers are a decent step backwards - there are now horrible rendering bugs in most apps. And of course since it's an R350, the DRI drivers don't support it ( yet, but work is progressing to reverse-engineer it ).

    But for people who want a video card for running anything 3D under Linux, you really only have 1 option: nVidia. If you choose ATI, you WILL be sorry.
  • by Mystic0 (807930) on Friday September 24, 2004 @08:22PM (#10345593)

    As a rule of thumb, I try not to spend over $200 - $250 on a graphics card. 8 months down the line, the chances are your card will have gone down drastically in price, leaving you feel foolish.

    I currently own a PNY Geforce 4 TI 4200 64 MB. I bought it when it was a fairly new product, and it cost me only $130. Years later, I can still run ut2004 at 1280 x 1024, with very playable framerates.

    The 6600 GT looks like a great card... it has all the features of the 6800, only with less pipelines. Don't tell me that it "stunts the performance". If you saw a card for $750 that had 32 pipes, would you buy it?

    Don't be stupid, get your cards cheap. :)

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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