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video card for new A7N8X/AMD 2500+ system



 
 
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  #1  
Old October 1st 03, 10:06 PM
Milt Epstein
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default video card for new A7N8X/AMD 2500+ system

Hi. Building a new system. So far:

Case: Antec Sonata
Motherboard: Asus A7N8X Deluxe
CPU: AMD XP 2500+ Barton
OS's: Dual Boot, Windows (2000/XP?) and Linux (Red Hat)
Hard Drives: WD 120GB, WD 100GB
Optical Drives: CD-RW, DVD-ROM
Sound: on board (at least for a while)
Video: ???
Use: software development; the usual email, browsing, office apps;
some audio and video; some games, not hardcore

I posted recently asking about motherboards (and some other general
questions) so this may seem familiar. Now I'm looking for comments
specifically on video cards.

At first I figured I could get by with something in the $75-100 range,
like something based on the GeForce FX 5200. After more research, I
learned that that chipset is not very highly regarded, and is not
really up to par with the rest of the system (which admittedly is more
than I need right now, but I want to keep my options open and include
some degree of future-proofness).

So I decided to open up that price range a bit, up to around $150
(which would make the video card the most expensive component in the
system, but perhaps that's not so unusual). I focused on chipsets
from nVideo and ATI, and I wanted something fairly modern/recent, so
that led me to look at the GeForce 5600/5600 Ultra, and the ATI
9500/9600 (non-Pro and Pro).

I used this review at Tom's Hardware as a guide:

http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030714/

It includes low end cards, high end cards, and cards inbetween
(actually chipsets, not cards, which leads me to a question: Is
performance so dependent on the chipset that you really only need to
look at that, and not the rest of the card?). The group I listed
above is basically the middle group. I figured that was a good place
for me to be, considering the overall system and my intended usage.
In most (almost all?) of the performance tests, the chipsets came out
in this order (best first):

5600 Ultra, 9500 Pro, 9600 Pro, 5200
(the non-pro 9500 and 9600 often came out closer to the low end
chipsets and not the middle group)

Given my intended usage, I focused more on features than performance
(especially since the performances differences weren't that huge).
Features I was looking for included a variety of different output
types (VGA, DVI, S-video, composite), dual/multiple monitor support,
Linux support, video in, AGP 8x. It seemed to me that while the
Radeon cards win out on performance, the GeForce cards win out on
features, especially those I listed. Additionally, the Tom's Hardware
review chose one editor's choice out of the cards they looked at, and
that was the MSI GeForce FX 5200 card. It offered a nice array
features, and a nice selection of included software. All this had me
leaning towards the 5600 chipset, and in particular the MSI card.

After this, I went to check out pricing on these particular
cards/chipsets (using pricegrabber and dealtime). As perhaps
expected, the (rough) average low prices of the cards came out roughly
in line with the performance numbers: the 5600 Ultra the most
expensive (slightly over $200), followed by the 9500 Pro, the 9600
Pro, and the 5200 at the bottom end (around $160). As it turned out,
the MSI 5600 card was below the average for 5600 cards, coming in at
around $156. (These were all 128MB cards.)

Now, in going through the pricing, I noticed a few things. First,
there were a few 5600 based cards that were significantly cheaper than
the others -- some from Jaton, Chaintech, and Leadtek were around
$130. Additionally, there was a 5600 Ultra card that was about the
same price as the average of the 5600's -- from PNY. And this leads
me to wonder if some of these brands are significantly worse than the
others, and should generally be avoided. (And if it's not performance
where they differ, because they all use the same chipset, it must be
things like quality and reliability of the other componentry.)

So, right now I'm leaning toward the MSI 5600. But I'd like to hear
what people have to say about my analysis process, this particular
card/chipset, some of the other cards/chipsets, and those similar
cards that could be had cheaper (especially the PNY 5600 Ultra).

Thanks for your comments/suggestions!

--
Milt Epstein

  #2  
Old October 2nd 03, 02:44 AM
J.Clarke
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Wed, 01 Oct 2003 21:06:19 GMT
(Milt Epstein) wrote:

Hi. Building a new system. So far:

Case: Antec Sonata
Motherboard: Asus A7N8X Deluxe
CPU: AMD XP 2500+ Barton
OS's: Dual Boot, Windows (2000/XP?) and Linux (Red Hat)
Hard Drives: WD 120GB, WD 100GB
Optical Drives: CD-RW, DVD-ROM
Sound: on board (at least for a while)
Video: ???
Use: software development; the usual email, browsing, office apps;
some audio and video; some games, not hardcore

I posted recently asking about motherboards (and some other general
questions) so this may seem familiar. Now I'm looking for comments
specifically on video cards.

At first I figured I could get by with something in the $75-100 range,
like something based on the GeForce FX 5200. After more research, I
learned that that chipset is not very highly regarded, and is not
really up to par with the rest of the system (which admittedly is more
than I need right now, but I want to keep my options open and include
some degree of future-proofness).

So I decided to open up that price range a bit, up to around $150
(which would make the video card the most expensive component in the
system, but perhaps that's not so unusual). I focused on chipsets
from nVideo and ATI, and I wanted something fairly modern/recent, so
that led me to look at the GeForce 5600/5600 Ultra, and the ATI
9500/9600 (non-Pro and Pro).

I used this review at Tom's Hardware as a guide:

http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030714/

It includes low end cards, high end cards, and cards inbetween
(actually chipsets, not cards, which leads me to a question: Is
performance so dependent on the chipset that you really only need to
look at that, and not the rest of the card?). The group I listed
above is basically the middle group. I figured that was a good place
for me to be, considering the overall system and my intended usage.
In most (almost all?) of the performance tests, the chipsets came out
in this order (best first):

5600 Ultra, 9500 Pro, 9600 Pro, 5200
(the non-pro 9500 and 9600 often came out closer to the low end
chipsets and not the middle group)

Given my intended usage, I focused more on features than performance
(especially since the performances differences weren't that huge).
Features I was looking for included a variety of different output
types (VGA, DVI, S-video, composite), dual/multiple monitor support,
Linux support, video in, AGP 8x. It seemed to me that while the
Radeon cards win out on performance, the GeForce cards win out on
features, especially those I listed. Additionally, the Tom's Hardware
review chose one editor's choice out of the cards they looked at, and
that was the MSI GeForce FX 5200 card. It offered a nice array
features, and a nice selection of included software. All this had me
leaning towards the 5600 chipset, and in particular the MSI card.

After this, I went to check out pricing on these particular
cards/chipsets (using pricegrabber and dealtime). As perhaps
expected, the (rough) average low prices of the cards came out roughly
in line with the performance numbers: the 5600 Ultra the most
expensive (slightly over $200), followed by the 9500 Pro, the 9600
Pro, and the 5200 at the bottom end (around $160). As it turned out,
the MSI 5600 card was below the average for 5600 cards, coming in at
around $156. (These were all 128MB cards.)

Now, in going through the pricing, I noticed a few things. First,
there were a few 5600 based cards that were significantly cheaper than
the others -- some from Jaton, Chaintech, and Leadtek were around
$130. Additionally, there was a 5600 Ultra card that was about the
same price as the average of the 5600's -- from PNY. And this leads
me to wonder if some of these brands are significantly worse than the
others, and should generally be avoided. (And if it's not performance
where they differ, because they all use the same chipset, it must be
things like quality and reliability of the other componentry.)

So, right now I'm leaning toward the MSI 5600. But I'd like to hear
what people have to say about my analysis process, this particular
card/chipset, some of the other cards/chipsets, and those similar
cards that could be had cheaper (especially the PNY 5600 Ultra).

Thanks for your comments/suggestions!


Main thing is video-in. It's not a standard feature of the 5600
chipset, it's an option that some manufacturers provide and others
don't. Generally speaking the cheaper boards won't have it. The PNY
doesn't include it--you need to read the specifications very
carefully--note that some manufacturers list video-in as
"optional"--that means they make a version of the board with it and
another without it. By the way, the fact that they use the same chipset
does not mean they have the same performance. You have to look at the
clock speeds and the type of RAM they're using as well. On the MSI that
you're looking at by the way, if you need the TV-in make sure you're
looking at the FX5600-VTDR128 and not the FX5600-TD128. The MSI 5600
Ultra comes in only one model, with the TV-in.

If you don't need the video in I'd say go for a Radeon 9600 Pro--it's
cheaper than any of the 5600 boards and faster besides. If you
absolutely have to have the video-in then the 5600 is going to be a
better bet, but the 5600 Ultras with video-in are not all that much
cheaper than the 9600AIW that is coming sometime this month, and the AIW
is not only faster (even than the regular 9600 Pro) but also has a
fuller set of video features than the 5600s.



--
Milt Epstein



--
--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
(was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)
  #3  
Old October 2nd 03, 05:19 PM
Bas Ruiter
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


Well... the 5200 is adequate if it's performance is all you need. It's
up to yourself to decide that.

For a certain price you will get a cards from ATi and nVidia that will
perform roughly the same, assuming the features are the same. You pay
more for more performance and/or features.

You may be interested to learn that ATi have two new cards out: the 9800
XT and 9600 XT. The latter is a sub $199 card, based on the 9700 core
but with only 4 pipelines. Because it's clocked higher than the original
9700 it should beat the latter in all benchmarks.

For comparisons, see:

http://www.hardware.info/reviews.php?id=430&page=3

There's also the newcomer XGI Technology, with the "Volari" chipset. We
don't have any benchmarks yet, but they claim to be on par with ATi and
nVidia.

What determines performance is (1) chipset, (2) the speed (MHz) it runs
at, (3) memory speed.

MSI cards are fine. Our PC's (Medion) use them, and we rarely get
returns, and if we do it's mostly to replace the cooling fan because
they've become noisy. (Talking about GeForce2 and 3 cards here).

Jaton I don't know. Chaintech is a good brand, as is Leadtek. LeadTek
used to have quite a good reputation for making videocards, actually,
but they been a bit quiet the last year or two. PNY (Pine, XFX, etc etc)
is a 'cheap' brand but they're not necesarily bad.

I bought a XFX Geforce4 Ti4200 ViVo last December that got great
reviews, and I been pretty happy with it. Can't tell you (yet) how long
it's going to last... it's a gamble I took when I bought it.

--
Bas Ruiter

e-Mail:
www:
http://members.home.nl/lordsnow
 




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