OK, which of these Geforce graphics cards should I buy?

Some of you may remember me asking for advice on a 3D card some time ago. I have an AGP board and want to get a high end AGP card, mostly to play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (which everyone said was never coming out, but which is now, by all accounts, coming out.) And even if it doesn’t, I want to play Medieval II and a few other new games and be able to make the most of the graphics. I have not really bought new PC components before now, and while I have a cursory knowledge of their functions, I don’t know much about the different brands, models, etc.

So I narrowed it down to two cards on Newegg: The BFG Geforce 7800 GS and the XFX Geforce 7600 GT. Both of them are well within my price range, and will give me plenty of use until I eventually get a PCI-E board.

The 7800 GS can be ordered in a combo deal with a Coolmax 500 watt power supply. This sounds like a good deal to me - is it? There are one or two negative reviews of that power supply, with some folks saying it didn’t work right out of the box. But there are vastly more positive reviews. Also, many have said that the 7800 has a noisy fan. Since some people have very high standards for PC noise levels and demand complete silence, this may or may not be louder than the fan I already have. But if it’s disquietingly loud, that would be an issue for me and I wouldn’t want it. So does anyone here have any firsthand knowledge of either this card or the power supply I mentioned?

Is the 7800 GS significantly better in terms of performance and graphics than the 7600 GT? The 7800 GT is only available in PCI-E so it’s not an option.

I appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks.

Are you building a new computer? If not, I’d probably stay off the new power supply unless the one you have now is insufficient for your current use. You’re probably going to want to upgrade it when you want a new motherboard, anyway, but at that point you’re probably better off going for a packaged deal.

As for the cards, yes, the 7800 is significantly better than the 7600 - I’d say the $30 remiss is an accurate representation of the difference. If I remember correctly, the x600 series are usually budget releases of x800 cores?

In the end, I’d say the choice - between two quite OK cards - hinges on whether you intend to upgrade to PCI-E sooner rather than later. If it’s sooner, I’d get the 7600; it’ll give you good play out of most new games for the next year and will also run Oblivion, Medieval 2 (though that’s a CPU hog), etc. pretty well. If you’re opting for later, I’d get the 7800 as it will probably sustain you until you’re financially able to do a rehaul of your computer to bring it up to Vista/DX10 standards. (I.e. in six months / a year’s time - not really worth doing it before that).

Of course, mind that some of the 2007 games will REQUIRE a DX10 card / Vista to run. (Crysis, Halo 2, I’m looking at you)

I’m not building my computer, but my machine just has the stock PSU which has a max output of 170 watts. It’s a Dell GX270. I’ve read that Dell cases have trouble taking third party power supply units. The one in question is an ATX - is it likely to fit properly?

I will not be updating to PCI-E for a while. I’m not sufficiently interested in the upcoming games to justify doing so. Crysis looks like crap to me. I don’t like games that take place on alien spaceships - it’s so easy to make up level designs with tubes, wires and control panels everywhere. I’m a lot more impressed with realistic outdoor and indoor environments done well. (I’m aware that the first part of Crysis is in a jungle, but then it gets frozen in ice - yippee, a bunch of blue-gray areas that all look the same!) I’ve never enjoyed HALO either. I’m not likely to upgrade until Alan Wake comes out, which probably won’t be for a while.

Right now it’s looking like the 7800 is the best bet. But I’m still wondering if the fan is going to be too loud. Does anyone know anything about that?

I’ve got a 7800 GS (I bought it when they first came out) and have been corresponding with Vijay Anand of Hardware Zone about this. He sent me this link which tells the whole story.

Here’s a further comment:

Probably not

At 170W you’re likely to have serious problems. You can get a replacement PSU here. This PSU is probably the one you want.

Rats! The edit period expired!

BTW I’ve read that while the ATI Radeon X1950 AGP handily outperforms both, it has problems with Vista on some motherboards.

I just consulted a friend who told me that the Dell cases can be easily modified with a Dremel tool or drill to accept the ATX power supplies, and that the shop he works at has performed the procedure on hundreds of cases.

I tried a 7600GS and had all sorts of problems, even installing latest drivers, old drivers, mobo drivers, bios etc. Exchanged it for a Radeon 1650 pro which worked out of the box and has given good performance.

IIRC 7800GT would be a rather nice piece of kit (and the one I would have got if it wasn’t outside my budget). You’ll need 450+W PSU to get the most out of it.

If the QuietPC website is to be believed then the actual pinouts on the Dell motherboard are different.

I’ve got a 7600GS and a 7800GS and have had no problems with either.

Could you tell me how loud the cooling fan on the 7800GS actually is? This is the most major thing that I want to know. Some of the reviews on Newegg make it seem really loud.

I take it you’d reccommend the 7600GS over the 7800 GS, then?

Is there a chance the QuietPC website is being untruthful about the pin difference in order to get people to buy their products? My friend at the PC shop said that with Dell being the most popular PC company, it’s inevitable that people would want to upgrade the PSU with third party equipment, and that the ATX models can easily be fitted to the Dell case by drilling a few extra holes.

Bear in mind that I have it in a SFF case. I really don’t notice it. I’m sure it’s louder when I’m playing games, but when I’m playing games, I’m concentrating on other things! Suffice it to say that it isn’t noticeable over the noise of the games I play.

Given the review I read and the subsequent correspondence, I’d suggest the 7600GT; the GS is a different animal. My 7800GS is faster than my 7600GS.

Since they don’t sell Dell-specific PSUs, it’s unlikely. Further, I’ve had good service from them (note that I deal with the original U.K. company, I have not dealt with the U.S. side). And I gave you a link to Dell-specific PSUs, which I actually got from one of the forums on Dell’s website.

I really don’t know enough to say. There’s physical size and then there’s the wiring. Are you sure your friend doesn’t mean that you can easily fit an ATX motherboard and PSU into the case? You could always ring up Dell themselves and ask. Regardless, why bother drilling holes when you can simply buy a correctly sized and correctly wired PSU for the same money?

Are you sure it’s the same money? The Dell PSU you linked to is $120 and 410W, while the one I found on Newegg is $60 and is 500W.

Everything I’ve been reading on PC forums suggests that only the pre-Pentium 4 Dells had wiring that wouldn’t work with an ATX PSU. If this is the case, I’d rather drill the holes and save $60.

Is the 7800GS’s fan quiet when it’s not playing a game? If so, then the slight elevated noise during gameplay certainly wouldn’t bother me. Given that this card comes in a special package deal with an ATX 500W PSU, I think this is the one I’ll get. I just checked Newegg, and the 7600 GT is out of stock anyway.

OK, the 7600 GT is indeed in stock, and I changed my mind and just ordered it. I hope it’s as good as everyone says it is.