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 Post subject: what video card to buy right now?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:31 am 
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Location: canberra, australia
what's the best video card to buy at the moment?
i've had my thesis all year and have been totally out of the gaming loop so i have no clue what's what at the moment. but now i'm free i intend to have a shot at doom 3. the trusty old MX440 which served me well for years (through quake 3 and even UT2k4) just doesn't cut it, i've tried, it's pretty pathetic.

these are my requirements:
-able to be cooled passively with the zalman heatpipe cooler, or at least with something like a panny 80L @ 5V (i don't want to raise this excellent noise floor too much)
-must not require me to do anything silly like buy new mobo/psu
-must run doom 3 :lol:

umm that's about all i can think of really. price is not a huge issue, although i do usually like to aim at the 'sweet spot' when buying hardware.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 5:47 am 
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I personally recommend the GeForce 6600GT; faster than any GFFX or Radeon 9X00, and only ~$200US. The problem is that, from what I can tell, they're not available in AGP yet, just PCI-Express.

For immediately available AGP cards, I'm not entirely sure. The problem is that 6800s cost more, and are manufactured on a larger, hotter, more power consuming fabrication process than 6600s. You may want to consider the standard Radeon X800 with 12 pipes, but I do not know if ZM80D-HP will fit that (haven't really checked) and there have been a multitude of reports that the new ATI Silencers from Arctic Cooling have lousy fans. A similar situation occurs with 9800s, which are also made on a larger, hotter, more power consuming process than the 9600s. For Doom3, I'm not likely to recommend anything less than a 9800, but then again, I do not know what CPU you've got there--i.e. the latest cards are showing themselves to be quite badly hampered by slower CPUs, much more so than previous generation parts.

Also, note that even the standard, 12-pipe 6800 outperforms X800XT PE in Doom 3, bring that so far, nVIDIA's OpenGL performance is vastly superior to ATi's. In D3D, ATi comes out faster in most cases, but by ~5-15%, unlike nVIDIA's insane ~20-40% performance advantage over ATi in OGL. Keep in mind that this was the situation ~30-45 days ago; reviews I saw in the last week with the most recent drivers show ATi and nVIDIA to be virtually dead heat in D3D, and ATi being only about ~10-20% slower than nVIDIA in OGL, so the gaps are closing.

Generally speaking, the reports that the 6800s require an uberPSU are exaggerated; I've been running a 6800GT, overclocked to Ultra speed, and a Mobile Barton at 2.6GHz and 2.1volts, all water cooled (two 12volt pumps), on a modded (fan swapped for undervolted Globe 120) Fortron FSP300-60PN perfectly fine for a couple months now--but then again, I've decided that I'm running this thing on the very ragged edge, stable or not, and am swapping up to an OCZ PowerStream with adjustable rails.

-Ed

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:40 am 
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Gigabyte 6800?

What CPU/PSU combo are you running?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:57 am 
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the GeForce 6600 and ATI's X700 are what you're looking for in terms of price/performance.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:30 pm 
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One alternative could be HIS 9800Pro IceQ. Comes with VGA Silencer pre-installed.

*COUGH*i have one*COUGH* :lol: :wink:

Cheers,

Jan

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:06 am 
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ok ed et al, thanks for the tips! i'll write these models down on piece of paper and take list to the fair with me tomorrow to scope it all out. i'm surprised to see the radeon 9800 pro still being kicked around here, i thought this was year-old technology (i remember it was king when i last got my agp card) but it's still hanging around in the charts and the price doesn't appear to have dropped significantly?! OTOH some GeForce FX, which started to appear shortly after i bought my card, seems to have been and gone in the meantime.

unfortunately i just read on the zalman website that the GeForce 6800's are all a no-go with the heatpipe cooler. and i have zero experience with these arctic cooling vga/ati/nv silencers. from first impressions, they look worrying to me, i don't like the look of that fan at all. but i've just read the review on spcr, says the vga cooler is about as loud as 80L at 6V so maybe it will be satisfactory.

i'm taken aback at the prices of these cards, it seems out of whack that the video card could be the most expensive component in the system (especially considering the amount of technology which has gone into my motherboard for example). but it probably would be if i got any of the ones mentioned here *!*

i waded through the ads to have a read on toms hardware (ack such bloaty website design! makes spcr look so tidy and tasteful), and they are saying much the same things as you guys about performance - of course TH has nothing to say about cooling/noise, which is why i ask the punters here. is there any card available which can't be cooled sufficiently with about 80L 5V worth of airflow and sufficient mods/creativity?

is the cpu really a bottleneck with new games? i hadn't even imagined that would be an issue, otherwise would have mentioned these things..steve: psu is tornado 300, cpu is xp2100+ at stock speed/volts, mobo is a7n8x deluxe (agp 8x, no pci-e), 2x256 ram (kingston ddr333) in dual channel. that gigabyte thing you linked, the pic is a bit weird..trying to figure out if that's a regular 6800 with passive cooling in stock form?


Last edited by wim on Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:33 am 
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Is the CPU a bottleneck? Well, it certainly has an effect.
In Anandtech's recent 90nm Athlon review, the FX53 (1 MB cache, 2.4 GHz) gave 20% to 35% more FPS in games than the S939 3000+ (512 KB cache, 1.8 GHz). That's on a 6800 Ultra.
But in each test, the FPS was over 60 for the 3000+.

Of course, your 2100+ will be a bit of a bottleneck with the latest GPUs, so it's not worth getting the very fastest models.
Have a look at http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NjQ0LDE2 - this should give you a better idea of where the balance between CPU & GPU lies.
My recommendation would be a 6600 or X700, whichever is cheapest. A 6200 may slow you down, an X800 or 6800 would probably be wasted.

Edit: The 6600 and X700 also run rather cooler than their faster cousins, so you may find passively cooled versions. Or at least a passively cooled 6200.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:53 am 
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ok Spod 6600 is sounding pretty good, but if i want one in agp i have to wait a while, right..?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:29 am 
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Right. I'd forgotten that 6600s were PCIe only at present.

The 6600 & 6200 are both made on a 110nm process, which is inherently cooler than the 130nm process used for the 6800 series. Another reason why these are better to run passive.
Of course, the X800 series is inherently cooler than the 6800 series, so the X700 probably runs pretty cool as well.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:12 am 
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Wim,
Yes, it appears to be a passive Video card. The only downside is that it's still rather expensive.

Second, Anandtech actually used Doom 3 to benchmark processors, so processor speed can be a limiting factor. But it may not be the only limiting factor. i.e. upgrade your processor -> get significant improvement. upgrade your GPU -> get significant improvement.

I wanted to know your setup for PSU reasons. It's been suggested that the Tornado 300 can't cut it for a 6800GT & A64 due to high power requirements on the 12V line. This won't be a problem for you with your current setup.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 3:31 pm 
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an x800 would be totally wasted on a 2100+.
i have a p4 2.4 right now, in literally any game i can switch from lowest res and crap IQ settings to 10x7 or 12x10 and max AA/AF etc and fps will be the same. :P it's not so much that the CPU is a bottleneck, just that something will always be limiting your performance, and the new cards all have insane fill rates.

as for cost, the X800XT has 160 million transistors, and the 6800U has 222 million. almost none of the X800 die is used for cache, there are several small L1-ish caches for each pipeline i think, but nothing else; the 6800 does have a larger cache, not sure how much though. compare that to an A64 FX53 at 106 million or a P4 XE at 178 million... but about half of a CPU's die is spent on cache, presumably even more for the P4 with its on-die L3 cache. so these cards are actually a lot more powerful than a CPU, just nowhere near as flexible. then, you're paying for at least 128-256MB of generally awesome RAM, and all the other odds and ends the card needs.
then on top of that, the newest cards need to subsidize R&D and i'd be blown away if ATI and nVidia sold even 10% as many X800/6800s as AMD and Intel sell typical-but-not-ludicrously-expensive CPUs, and it's also a volume thing too. we may have it lucky, SCSI users pay double or more for modest benefits. :P tack on another $100 or so just for bragging rights for the absolute best of any line of new cards - the people who need (heh) them won't care, same as we see with new CPUs etc.

edit: reread your post, yeah, i've always been amazed at how cheap motherboards are too, for everything they do/facilitate, especially boards like Asus/MSI's nForce3 250gb ones with onboard everything and a half dozen IDE/SATA controllers. mb manufacturers get stuck with the blame for almost everything too. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 7:55 pm 
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go for 6800 GT with a NV 5 silencer, i'm planning to get this combination by end of this week :D

yeah i heard th x700 is like amazingly good for its price......

i remember when i bought my 9800 pro..... 550 bux........ now im already switching it with the 6800 gt..... at 600.... when will it end???? pretty soon i'll need a 9999900 GT.......................

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:01 pm 
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600 what type of, "bux?" I paid only $400US for my 6800GT, and NV Silencers cost, what, $35?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 5:26 am 
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ok i got one today! it was 380 AUbux. the latest things like the x800 i saw some for $990 :!: :shock: :!: i'd never imagined such a price on a video card. i thought i'd misheard the lady. :oops: didn't see any 6800, probably didn't need to cause i'd be quite uncomfortable paying any more than i have here.

well i don't have any games installed at the moment except quake 3, which couldn't get the card to raise a sweat with every quality setting maxed out. so it will have to wait for doom 3 install before i can really test performance.

everything seems perfect so far except: my pc is audible again.. :cry:
gnyyaaaahHh Image i'd forgotten how horrible it is! but i'm confident i will be able to resolve that situation eventually

thanks again for the replies folks

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 6:47 am 
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Nice; your HIS card includes an original Arctic Cooling Silencer, Revision 3; the fans on those were more often praised than loathed, quite the opposite situation from the new NV/ATI Silencers.

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 Post subject: passively cooled 6800
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:13 pm 
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I am currently using a PNY geforce 6800 with an Aerocool VM-101 Fanless VGA Cooler and arctic silver 5. It works like a champ - no overheating, my case temps stay under 40c after several hours playing Unreal Tournament 2004. Only fans in the case are a 120mm Nexus and the 120mm fan in my Seasonic Super Tornado 300. I chose that vga cooler because 1. no fan and 2. the heatsink goes behind the card which puts it right in front of the 120mm Nexus which keeps a steady stream of air across the heatsink. I expeced it to overheat under stress, but it never has. In addition, my P4 2.4c is passively cooled by a Thermaltake Fanless103 Heatpipe Cooler. This sits right in front of the 2 120mm fans as well and the cpu never breaks 40c either. This combination is working very well for me and DOOM 3 looks fantastic at 1280x1024 high quality. and, most importantly - its VERY quiet. The psu fan never goes above 850rpm and the Nexus spins at about 1100rpm. I could probably get away with turning that Nexus down under 1000rpm but I think the psu is louder anyway.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 4:38 am 
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wim wrote:
everything seems perfect so far except: my pc is audible again.. :cry:

You must have a really quiet computer if You can hear the VGA Silencer at low. Even MikeC liked the noise characteristics at low (IIRC he said it was like a Panaflo L1A (80mm) @ 6-7V). Do You have the computer on the table?

Cheers,

Jan

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:43 am 
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Nice pictures and you clipped your nails for the photo shoot :)

The 9800 pro is a good card for now (a sweet spot me thinks). The VGA cooler is silent for me (because of other noises i guess) in low speed mode (maybe because of my computer being underneath my desk). I think it's better to get the newest generation of the graphics cards when you get a newer and more powerful PC (to match the performance depreciation).

Cool idea martok about ducting the card with tape! hope the next revisions adds a duct. By the way, any one here cut the air exhaust vents for better airflow?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 12:29 pm 
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Nice,

I knew wim had one of the quietest pcs but i didn't know it was THAT quiet :)

I'm glad you found something to fit your needs. I'm still swearing at the chip companies. I bought my Radeon 9700 nonpro some 2+ years ago. Even today, it's still one hell of a card and I paid less than $200 for it. ATI and nVidia still have to come up with a card that'll even approach that price/performance. Add to it the PCIx / AGP confusion and my swearing gets louder.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 1:34 pm 
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This PCIx and sli combo has my head swimming, If possible would it sli with other cards in the agp or other pci slots. I still recall the top sys I had that ran two voodoo2 in sli. Whipped the britches off any other cards.

I am in serious need too of a good newer vid card the 7500 ATI is hitting the skids and I am viewing the eyecandy of a ultimate, fanless, ATI 9800 but hope the heat is not too much.

I have no desire to run Doom3 but HL2 might be fun, but not with a 7500 ATI.


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