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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Video Card Advice

I got a couple things to upgrade my computer with for Christmas, including a new mobo, an AMD dual-core processor to go with the mobo, and 2 GB of DDR2 PC6400 ram. The next step to make this system kick is to get a new video card.

Right now my system uses a GeForce 7600 GT... I was planning on getting another 7600 GT to go to SLI, but now I'm wondering if I should instead upgrade to an 8 Series card instead and future-proof the video power of my system. After doing some research, I've come to the conclusion that the only worthwhile SLI chipsets are the 8600 GT and the 8800 GT, and therein lies the problem. I'm on a budget, so I can't justify spending more than $200 on a video card, leaving me with only the 8600 GT. I've searched TigerDirect, NewEgg, Dell, and ZipZoomFly and have seen 8800's for only as low as $220 after MIR.

What are the main differences between the 8600 GT and the 8800 GT? I want to future-proof my video power, so 8800 would be the logical choice, but it isn't economically feasible at this point. I can certainly afford at least one, but I still have to pay off a credit card from Christmas and I want to get a new case for this system, plus a cooling upgrade or two, and I want to take my car into an exhaust shop for the upgrade it's been waiting for since last July. Worse comes to worse I can stick with the 7600 GT for now, since the new proc and memory doubles my processing power and quadruples the amount of memory I have now (512 MB of DDR1) which should dramatically improve my overall system power. Plus I plan on getting a couple new cooling goodies so that I can do some OC'ing without being paranoid of overheating... current system runs at 80* F case temp (sensor near CPU heatsink) with only the GPU overclocked by XFX.

Also, how worth it would this upgrade be? I hear StarCraft 2 will be DX10, which my current 7-series doesn't support, but neither does my OS (Win2k). I'm not so sure DX10 is worth downgrading to Vista. If I don't have a choice, what version of Vista should I go to? I read more than a few reviews where people bought Home-Premium for "Aero", and then shortly after installation the "Aero" feature stopped working. Also, I've heard too many horror stories of nothing being compatible to Vista and that it's a programming nightmare. My sister has the basic version on her new Dell laptop and I used it very cautiously just to open Firefox. I would love for it to have the same feature that XP does where I can revert the start menu and interface to Windows Classic (2000), which is how my laptop is currently setup (with an Alienware skin!). If I have to bite the bullet and downgrade, is it better to step up to the 64-bit version?


I searched "8600GT or 8800GT" on Google and found that a lot of people are saying the 8800GT 512MB is the way to go for performance, but again my OS doesn't support DX10 so I'd be using DX9. According to various online sources, I get that DX10 games won't run on DX9 and DX10 is available only to Vista. I could be wrong about that first part since my best friend is running Crysis (DX10) on XP.

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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 06:36 PM
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Your choice will really depend on what you're planning on doing with that computer. The differences between the 8800GT and the 8600GT are quite obvious, but Starcraft 2 will not need an 8800 to run well. If playing Starcraft 2 is your main goal with this comp, it would be a good idea to wait until it comes out. By then card prices will be lower and your budget will go farther. Especially after the release of the 9 series, the 8800 may dip below $200. However, if you have to buy a card now, ATI's HD3850 is a pretty good choice. It's far better than the 8600GT and quite a bit cheaper than the 8800.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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StarCraft 2 is one goal, as well as other games, some of which require a lot a power (including but not limited to NFS: Pro Street, which lags like a bitch right now, Crysis, NFS: Most Wanted, which also lags like a bitch while loading and sometimes while playing the game -- it's gotten me busted more than a few times). Additionally, I will need something to run AutoCAD in the near future.

At this point I might just get the new case and build the system with what I have and see how that plays out. My current 7600 GT is overclocked to 590 MHz, which is near to what the stock settings of the 8-series cards are... it should hold for now. Any idea on when the 9-series is coming out?

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 11:14 PM
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The 9800 GX2 is expected to launch in late Feb or early March. The 8600GT isn't much better than the 7600GT, so I'd suggest a different upgrade. The 8800 would be perfectly fine for all those things you listed, as would an HD3850 or 3870. AutoCAD seems to run best on nVidia cards, but since I doubt you'd be willing to shell out the money for a Quadro I'd suggest waiting for a price drop on the 8800s.

You can go here to compare two cards in a specific game.

How soon were you planning on upgrading?
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-13-2008, 06:02 PM
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Starcraft two won't be specialy made for DX10, read blizzards and battle.nets FAQ on the game, it asks, Will there be a version specialy made for DX10, there answer was, it is a possibility, but at the current time, it is a dx9 game, and they may make a version specialy for DX10....
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-13-2008, 08:32 PM
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The 8600gt is a terrible card...8800gt is leaps and bounds ahead of it. I wouldnt recommend anyone to buy the 8600...performance-wise it's pretty close to something like a 7800gtx. Not worth it at all.

My advice is to save up until you can afford the 8800gt...it's the best price/performance card you can possibly buy right now, and will definitely handle stuff like starcraft 2 with all the goodies. The 8600 wont.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-14-2008, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sovnade View Post
The 8600gt is a terrible card...8800gt is leaps and bounds ahead of it. I wouldnt recommend anyone to buy the 8600...performance-wise it's pretty close to something like a 7800gtx. Not worth it at all.
Are you sure about that? Cause the 7800GTX is no slouch of a card, and the 8600GT is easily half the price. The 8600GT is one of the best budget (~$100) cards you can buy right now. Of course, if you're willing to spend the extra $150 to get an 8800, then by all means do so. You will certainly have a better gaming experience.
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-14-2008, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starnerf View Post
Are you sure about that? Cause the 7800GTX is no slouch of a card, and the 8600GT is easily half the price. The 8600GT is one of the best budget (~$100) cards you can buy right now. Of course, if you're willing to spend the extra $150 to get an 8800, then by all means do so. You will certainly have a better gaming experience.
No slouch of a card 2 years ago...but nowadays it's extremely dated. I was running a 7800gtx before my current 2x8800gt setup now, and even going to just 1 8800gt was a massive night and day difference in performance. And as far as raw power goes, yeah the 8600gt is around or a bit below 7800gtx level. Definitely not worthy of a purchase right now.

You could also look into an ATI HD 3850/3870..both of which should retail for under $200, and provide decent performance. There's a decent gap between those and the 8800gt, of course, but I'd be very surprised if it didn't handle starcraft2 with a decent amount of shininess.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-14-2008, 10:25 AM
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Unless you're one of those people who has to play every game maxed out at a high resolution the 8600GT would be fine. I have one and it's handled Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Portal, Supreme Commander, World in Conflict, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, and a bunch of other modern games.Of course the 8800GT is going to be better, I'd expect it to be for over twice the price.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-14-2008, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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I'm one of those who wants to play at maximum settings, but can't because my system isn't up to par for that yet.

The only reason I'm not getting an ATi card is because I want to use SLI at some point in the near future, so buying something with a Crossfire chipset doesn't carry much logic with it. All of the components I have now, particularly the mobo, were picked with SLI in mind.

I guess I'll wait and see what the current goodies will do to my system... just have to get the new case and start building

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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-15-2008, 12:33 AM
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I just built a new system:

XFX 680i LT
Intel Q6600
4GB OCZ DDR2 800
Dual 500GB HDD's, RAID 0
EVGA 8800GT SSC

Running Windows Vista 64 Ultimate

........I get 13605 3D marks, and I'm generally happy with my setup. Vista 64 isn't the most compatible O/S..........but games sure do look pretty on it.

There are 2 games that run choppy at full graphics. Crysis (of course) <- this game doesn't even run smooth on a triple SLI setup with 3 x 8800GTX's. The other game is Flight Sim X <- bad optimization.

World in Conflict gets a bit choppy during large firefights.

Games that run buttery smooth (with all graphics to full):
CoD4, Bioshock, Orange Box <- all 3 have incredible graphics

Anyways, stay away from the 8600GT.......the 8800GT blows it away badly.

I too am waiting for SC2...........patiently ;)




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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-15-2008, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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I too am waiting for SC2...........patiently ;)
Last I heard the release date was set for this coming October, exactly ten years after the release of the original... hopefully they have all the kinks out of it by that time.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padredestino View Post
Right now my system uses a GeForce 7600 GT... I was planning on getting another 7600 GT to go to SLI, but now I'm wondering if I should instead upgrade to an 8 Series card instead and future-proof the video power of my system. After doing some research, I've come to the conclusion that the only worthwhile SLI chipsets are the 8600 GT and the 8800 GT, and therein lies the problem. I'm on a budget, so I can't justify spending more than $200 on a video card, leaving me with only the 8600 GT. I've searched TigerDirect, NewEgg, Dell, and ZipZoomFly and have seen 8800's for only as low as $220 after MIR.
From my experience, the 7600GT is one of the best cards for the money, SLI or not. The Video Memory Bandwidth is 22.4GB per second both cards alike, the 8600 has 512Mb of video memory, but still uses DDR2 while the 7600 uses GDDR3 now. It's all my opinion, but the card is fantastic.
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-07-2008, 07:37 AM
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Only the cheap 8600GTs use DDR2 memory.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-07-2008, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starnerf View Post
Only the cheap 8600GTs use DDR2 memory.
Exactly right, but I was comparing in a price to product aspect.
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