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 Post subject: Graphics card options - Older games
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:00 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:29 pm
Posts: 5
Hi,

I have started playing some older car racing games, Grand Prix Legends (GPL) & GTR 2. I'm using the CPU based graphics currently and whilst GPL runs very well (except on the very rare occassion), GTR2 has be tuned down to run smoothly @ 1680 x 1050.

The recommended specification for GTR2 is
- System: 3 GHz Intel Pentium IV or equivalent
- RAM: 1024 MB
- Video Memory: 256 MB

My current setup consists of:
- i3 2100T
- 4 GB RAM (1333)
- Intel SSD

My rig currently using a picopsu but that will be upgraded to a full ATX PSU to provide the power for the new graphics card. Another problem I'd like to work around if possible but isn't essential is I have a PCIe x4 connector (ie not full size x16 connector). Otherwise I'll buy a new motherboard.

I've seen some of the ATI FireCore cards have a x4 connector but don't know if they'll provide enough acceleration.

My goal is to keep the system quiet and relatively low power, can anyone recommend a graphics card that meets my requirements? Budget £100 max, ideally less.


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 Post subject: Re: Graphics card options - Older games
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:40 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2003 7:18 am
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Location: UK
Hi, really not sure about the PCIe 4x limit...
I believe if the back is cut out of the slot you can fit a x16 card in a x4 slot and it will work fine, at x4 obviously but that shouldn't be a big deal for the low ish cards you're looking at.
The professional cards, the Quadros and FireGLs won't play games terribly well due to the drivers they use. Not sure if you can "force" normal gaming tuned drivers on a pro card... Also may need to spend too much money to get a decent spec one.

If can swap the motherboard for one with PCIe x16 slot and not lose much once sold/returned existing one then that will help.

In terms of cards to get a significant leg up from the integrated graphics I would look to Nvidia GT430 or higher or AMD HD6570 or higher. If you estimate a generation = 1 series shift that's not too far away. eg GT440 = GTS250 (Nvidia 3xx series didn't really exist) or HD6450 = HD5550.

Passive HD6570 is £50~60 and likely a good bet.
Passive GT430s exist easy enough, as does Asus GT440, that's just higher clocked I think.
Also found Asus GTS450 passive for not much more than the GT440. Specs sugest 2/3 clock speed with twice the shader cores, ie 33% more power but slower, 1600 vs 1800, VRAM speed.
Lamdatek GT440 was £73 and GTS450 £87.

Asus passive GTS450 runs ~600/1200 core clocks where GTS450 more typically 800/1600 range
Sparkle have a passive GTS450 that runs full clock speed but not sure where to buy one.

I recently bought Evga GT430 for £33, noisy little brute as stock as fan runs 65% minimum once drivers kick in, no idea why. Quick BIOS mod later and fan set to 35% min, which is off when idle. Under load starts up and under the quick testing I did never got back up to noisy 65%, even under Furmark!


The HD6570 is faster than the GT430 by quite a bit and the GTS450 (full clock spoeed one anyway) is significantly faster again.
There are other bigger/faster passive cards on the AMD side if start looking, something like a HD6750 should be great for old games, if not way over-kill!

Regards, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: Graphics card options - Older games
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:50 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:53 am
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Location: CT
I think the rule for PCIe slots, it that if it fits, it works (might work slower, but it'll work). From memory, only the first few pins in a PCIe slot are useful, the rest are data buses. I'w writing all this from memory, so wait til someone confirms (or not)...

You can also use an adaptor : http://www.adexelec.com/pciexp.htm#PEXP4-SX-4/1

Found a link with specs : http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/tut/p/id/4037
(scroll down the page, there is a chart that shows what card you can put in what motherboard PCIe slot)
Summary : "As mentioned above, plugging a x4 PCI Express board into an x8 slot is acceptable. This is called up-plugging. The opposite – plugging a x8 PCI Express board into an x4 slot – is called down-plugging and is not physically supported."

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 Post subject: Re: Graphics card options - Older games
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Posts: 474
Location: Ottawa
If you are handy with a dremel tool and don't mind voiding your warranty you can cut the end open on the x4 slot. If you can get a normal x16 card to fit it will work. I've done this several times with x1 slots and it works fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Graphics card options - Older games
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:45 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:25 am
Posts: 160
As was mentioned, installing a PCIe x16 card in an x4 slot should work, though you'll have to cut out the back of the slot for it to fit, unless it happens to use a full-size connector. Be careful not to damage anything though. : P

There will be a performance hit, but it probably won't be noticeable with less-demanding games. With older PCIe 1.x hardware, a graphics card may lose around 5-7% of its gaming performance in an x8 slot and 25-30% in an x4 slot. PCIe 2.0 has double the bandwidth per lane, so an x4 slot only costs around 5-7% performance in that case, and an x8 slot barely any at all. Your system seems reasonably new, so I'm guessing the PCIe slot is likely 2.0 or higher, in which case the performance hit of using an x4 slot is probably negligible, especially in older games, where it might not make any difference at all.

A card like an HD 6570 / 5570 will likely provide more than enough performance for a game like GTR2. Unless you're planning on playing recent games at higher settings, anything more powerful would probably be overkill.


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 Post subject: Re: Graphics card options - Older games
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:27 am 
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Posts: 567
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Cryoburner wrote:
There will be a performance hit, but it probably won't be noticeable with less-demanding games. With older PCIe 1.x hardware, a graphics card may lose around 5-7% of its gaming performance in an x8 slot and 25-30% in an x4 slot. PCIe 2.0 has double the bandwidth per lane, so an x4 slot only costs around 5-7% performance in that case, and an x8 slot barely any at all. Your system seems reasonably new, so I'm guessing the PCIe slot is likely 2.0 or higher, in which case the performance hit of using an x4 slot is probably negligible, especially in older games, where it might not make any difference at all.

Here is a link: There is a 5%- 7% performance drop from PCIe 2.0 16x to 4x. Since the 4x slot connects through the southbridge, it adds a small amount of latency, maybe another 2% performance drop. All in all no more than 10%.
ASUS EAH6670 passive, £67.48 free shipping from Amazon, should play the titles you mentioned
Gigabyte ATI H6750 passive, £109.37 free shipping from Amazon, slightly over budget, 20%-25% faster
I wouldn't recommend a faster passive card.

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