I need help picking out a graphics card

My current card is a nVidia 7600GT. It’s over 6 years old and has served me quite well. But it’s going to die on me one of these days. It tends to overheat, gradually bog down, and then shut down my computer suddenly when I play Sims 3. --And yes, I’m sure it’s not an issue with any other component, because it’s a homebuild and all the other parts are much more recent.

The ideal card needs to be able to run Sims 3, which my current card can’t handle without overheating after a half hour. I could play WoW for hours at a time with no problem, but Sims would exhaust it quickly. That leads me to think Sims 3 is probably more graphic-intensive than WoW. Right?

I’d like a card that is better than my current one, and will stay current for light gaming(or at least, not TOO far behind) for the next 3 or 4 years. Price is pretty important, there’s no way I can afford more than $200 (and lower is better). I don’t do rebates, because I don’t trust them not to fuck me over.

The most intensive thing the computer would be subjected to is Sims 3, and maybe WoW (if I pick it back up again). I don’t play any other games except Second Life on occasion, I don’t do video rendering, don’t use my computer as a television, and don’t care about HD or S-video or Crossfire or anything fancy like that.

What’s your monitor resolution? What kind of power supply do you have? Can your motherboard accommodate a 2-slot card? For general purposes at that price range I would recommend a Radeon 6870.

Resolution is 1440x900 wide.
Power supply, I think, is 450w.
I’m not 100% sure on the 2-slot thing, but possibly/probably. I think there’s enough space in there and there are definitely enough free slots, though. (I’m at work now so I can’t take a look)

Thank you for the recommendation, I’ll take a look-see.

I just looked on Amazon. You can get a nvidia 9500GT for $54.00. That will easily play Sims 3 and other comparable games.

Now if you want to play Battlefield 3 or Crysis 2 you may need something a little bit more expensive. :wink:

It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if it’s a 3 year old sidegrade card. In Passmark (I’ve railed against using solely Passmark in the past, but I can’t find 3DMark scores) the 9500GT actually does worse. At this point, if you want 3-4 years of even nominal usage you have to get a DirectX 11 card at a minimum. At the $55 price point it’s best to go with a Radeon 5570/5670.

Anyway, to get back to the OP, 450 watts is probably cutting it too close. Plus you need to have 2x 6-pin power connections on your power supply. You wouldn’t happen to know if you have 2, would you? A Radeon 6850 might be a safer choice from a compatibility standpoint. The GeForce GTX 460 is roughly equivalent performance and price-wise, and also a decent choice, but I don’t know of any that are not 2x 6-pin. There are molex to 6-pin adapters so it wouldn’t be a total dealbreaker, but…there’s something to be said for drop-in-and-play ease.

Oh, also, I assumed that you have a PCI Express slot, but now I see there are AGP versions of the 7600GT. Do you have a PCIe slot?

GeForce GTS 450

Looks to me like your 450W power supply will be your limiting factor; this card will work for you. It works for me – replaced my 8800GT.

Looking around the best possible AGP card I can find is: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161337
I believe that is an upgrade from what you have, but certainly not a huge one.
You definitely need to see if you have a PCI-E slot - if you do then just look here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card-gaming-performance,3042.html
Toms hardware does a “Best graphics card” at a bunch of different price points each month.

I think DirectX 11 compatibility would be a good idea. I can’t even upgrade from 9 to 10 with my current card.

I appreciate at least knowing about the super-cheap sidegrade options, though. If my card were to blow up when I’m between paychecks, I’d be effed in the A. My mobo lacks onboard video so I’d be up shit creek. All I remember is it’s an AMD Biostar with no onboard video. I just now went to newegg to try to figure out which specific mobo I have, and couldn’t choose from the several biostars with no onboard video. It’s not an old model, though, I replaced it about a year ago. It wasn’t right at the top of the line at the time, but it wasn’t old technology.

If I had to guess whether I have a PCIe slot, I would say probably (I’ll check it out this weekend to know for sure). If I had to guess whether my power supply has a special pin connector, I would say probably not. The psup is the only other component I own (along with the case, not that that matters) that’s the same age as the video card.

But, if I can get a cheap card, then I can update my power supply too. It just all has to be $200 or less.

Even if you get a card that can support DX11 you need Windows 7 to install that version. You need Vista to install DX10 (that nothing really uses anyway).

If you can get a model number off the label of your power supply, that would make things easier. Otherwise, it should have cables coming out of it that end with this or a similar 8-pin configuration, or a 6+2 with 6 on the main connector and 2 split off from it. Can you check that?

Rather than create a new thread, I thought I would update this one. I decided on a card, but still have a couple questions. From Newegg’s Black Friday blowout, I bought a new power supply last night (Corsair, 650w, single 12v rail). I had a $25 gift card too, so it cost ~$55 after tax (& free shipping!). Plus there’s another $20 rebate off *that *price, so it’s *quite *a bargain–especially considering the original price was $120. :slight_smile:

I’ve decided on a card, as well-- a Radeon HD 6850 (although I’m waiting until after Christmas to buy it, in case I get another Newegg gift card). The reasons I’m going with the 6850 are fourfold. According to this page the 6850 out-performs the 6870 (which was recommended above by ReticulatingSplines) ever-so-slightly. Also according to this page, the 6850 has a higher price/performance rating. And according to this page the 6850 appears to be slightly more common, so I know it’s not a stupid choice. Plus, it’s cheaper. What’s not to like?

I do still have a question, though. Does board manufacturer make a difference? When I do a Newegg search for “radeon hd 6850”, it pulls up several different cards ranging in price from $145 to $172 (all of which are highly-rated with 4-5 eggs, so I can’t really discriminate based on that). I don’t plan on using two cards so I don’t need Crossfire, and I don’t even know what Eyefinity is (so I don’t think I’ll need it). Also, I’m slightly concerned that I’m still using XP and I won’t be able to take advantage of DirectX 11. Will I at least be able to use DirectX 10 until I can upgrade my OS?

Also, if someone can just confirm really quickly that my mobo is compatible with the PSU and GPU I’ve picked out, I would very much appreciate it.

6850 is a fine choice. Manufacturer doesn’t matter terribly. Sometimes they’ll add in aftermarket (non-reference design) cooling units, some companies have better warranties than others, some have software or games bundled with the video card. Also, some cards are factory overclocked - generally mildly, maybe 5% - which is nice but probably not worth paying much of a premium for. But all else being equal, it’s better to have the higher stock clock, although you can overclock yourself also.

You won’t be able to use DX10 or DX11 with XP - it’s a rewrite of the entire way graphical APIs can work, so it will never be available on XP. You should upgrade to windows 7 since it’s better in every way than XP anyway.

Yeah I do plan to upgrade to 7 as soon as I can afford it. I’ll take a look at the stock clock speeds. I’ve never overclocked myself and don’t think it’s really necessary. I think this card will run WoW with max settings, regardless if it’s overclocked. Plus, I like a quieter fan better.

Thanks, SenorBeef :slight_smile: