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Pondering new video card

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I am in a bit of a dilemma in terms of whether to purchase a new video card or not. I am currently running an Thunderbird 950 on an Asus A7V with 512 Crucial PC133 and a GF2MX/200. I have seen a Gainward GF3 TI200 for $124.00 (US). This is a Golden Sample Card which comes from the factory overclocked and from what I read, can still be overclocked more to the speeds of a GF3 TI500 and still remain stable. My question is that I have read a lot of the debate in terms of FS2K2 being limited by CPU vs. Video Card. Will my set-up be a bottle neck in terms of a new video card? I am getting decent frames with all sliders nearly 80% except ATC now with my FPS limited to 15. However, I do not get as sharp of detail that I have seen in some of the screen shots. Please advise.Cheers!Richard

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Richard, your CPU speed and FSB speed are the biggest bottlenecks in your system. If you're looking for more performance, you'd be better off spending that money on a new mobo, cpu and ram. However, if you're set on getting a new video card, the card you mentioned would be a nice upgrade from what you're currently using. With the added power of the GF3 (compared to your GF2 MX) you'll be able to turn up your resolution, in-sim complexity settings, and such image-enhancing features as anisotropic filtering and FSAA while keeping the same FPS as you had before (possibly gaining a few FPS at high resolutions vs. your old card).Max Cowgill

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Max,Thanks for the feedback. I am actually looking to upgrade my system however I need to do it on a bit by bit basis. Out of curiosity, you mentioned about getting a Radeon 8500 for a $100 bucks form Best Buy. I just checked their site and did not see this price mentioned. It appeard to be $249 after rebate. Am I missing something? Would you also rather have a Radeon mre so than a GF3? If so, why?Sorry for all the questions, just wanted to know if I should get an 8500 instead since the price on that is only $125 at newegg.Cheers!Richard

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I suppose I can tell everyone this, now that I'm about to go out and buy a Radeon 8500 for myself and not have to worry about you all beating me to the store ;) Best Buy is placing their Radeon 8500 64MB cards on clearance to make way for the new 128MB cards. Not every Best Buy is doing this, but I have heard of BB stores in EVERY region of the country doing this so you may want to check around if you're interested. SKU # on the card is 4309714 and the price is either $76.50 or $104.50, depending on how much the store wants to get rid of these cards. As for which card I recommend more, a Radeon 8500 or GF3 Ti 200, that's a tough call. Performance-wise, they're very similar with the Radeon generally edging out the GF3 Ti 200 by a few percentage points in the most common benchmarks. I would go with a Radeon 8500 over a GF3 Ti 200 for the "better" image quality (IQ is subjective, afterall). You won't go wrong with either card though Richard, so don't stress too much over the decision. Max Cowgill

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IS that with the 250/250 core sppeds or 275/275?Cheers!Richard

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I would agree with Max,Generally speaking A true Radeon8500 will pull ahead of a GF3TI500 as long as you keep both cards at default clock speeds, GF3TIs quite easily O/C more than the 8500 Buts its close enough either way.The difference in quality is that the ATI card has better AA but then falls below in anisotropic filtering of the GF3 (which BTW, does have to be enabled in D3D via a tweaking program).Also to note are some problems with ATI's Radeon drivers when using FS2k2 as was just published by ZD-net. (its good to see FS2k2 being used again to test systems)What I would watch out for, is the fact that there are three different versions of the Radeon floating around out there, with core and memory speeds of 230/230 250/250 and 275/275=(true Radeon)ATI does not print clock speeds on the box and the only real way you can know what card you have is to look at the S/N on the card if you know what to look for/ or run it in your machine to find out. ATI really got slammed for this, so now you will see "Radeon8500 LE" but still be cautious who knows how many of the unlabeled "LE" boards are out there...Max, please let us know what you find when you get your card as I doubt you can get a 275/275 Radeon for that cheap, but I hope you get the real deal. :)There will be some real great brand new 8x AGP cards coming out in just a few months and they

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Paul (and Richard), the card is indeed a 275/275 true Radeon 8500, not the LE model. Like I said, BB is clearing out all the old stock of their 64MB 8500 boards to make room for the 128MB versions. Unfortunately for me though, the only BB in my area that even has the card in-stock is listing it at $159 and it's an open box :( I'm going to try pricematching it to a shelf tag from another store though. Knowing BB and their fiascos with inaccurate pricing and subsequent policy of not honoring those prices leads me to believe that I'm S.O.L. on this one. Max Cowgill

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>Paul (and Richard), the card is indeed a 275/275 true Radeon >8500, not the LE model. Like I said, BB is clearing out all >the old stock of their 64MB 8500 boards to make room for the >128MB versions. Unfortunately for me though, the only BB in >my area that even has the card in-stock is listing it at >$159 and it's an open box :( I'm going to try pricematching >it to a shelf tag from another store though. Knowing BB and >their fiascos with inaccurate pricing and subsequent policy >of not honoring those prices leads me to believe that I'm >S.O.L. on this one. >>Max Cowgill How do you know unless you have the card? The non 275/275 Boxed version is a well known problem Max, it wont say LE on it and the only way to really know is to Get the card out of the box and see.Did BB gaurantee that it was a 275/275?Paul

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Just FYI......I got my Radeon 8500LE at BB for right at 200 dollars U.S. You should be able to find it cheaper now that they are making room for the newer cards. As far as the performance aspect of the Radeon.......WOW is all I have to say. I did move up from a Voodoo 3 though, so I might just be over-reacting. My specs are PIII 550MHz 320Mb ram, and the Radeon. My fps stay right around 25 with the all sliders maxed.Matt

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I just called around to 4 different Best Buys in my area and the only ones that had one was about an hour and a half away but when i called there, they said that the 2 that they had were returns and and more than likely 250/250 models.Cheers!Richard

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All sliders maxed and you are getting that kind of performance?You are definately one of the rarities! I have seen people with triple the speed hardware you are running who aren't even close to 25 FPS smooth.Cheers!Richard

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>All sliders maxed and you are getting that kind of >performance? >You are definately one of the rarities! I have seen people >with triple the speed hardware you are running who aren't >even close to 25 FPS smooth. >>Cheers! >Richard Yeah, that post almost looks real! Its getting harder and harder to distinguish between a "real" post and a simulated post. Amazing! :lolPaul

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>I just called around to 4 different Best Buys in my area and >the only ones that had one was about an hour and a half away >but when i called there, they said that the 2 that they had >were returns and and more than likely 250/250 models. >>Cheers! >RichardIf thats what they are Richard, then I would lean towards the Golden sample. You will have many less compatability problems with the GF3 as compared to the 8500 as well as a lot more support from utilites to change display settings and such. With the overclocking abilitiies of that card the performance will edge-out the 250/250-8500.Later,Paul

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>>All sliders maxed and you are getting that kind of >>performance? >>You are definately one of the rarities! I have seen people >>with triple the speed hardware you are running who aren't >>even close to 25 FPS smooth. >>>>Cheers! >>Richard >>Yeah, that post almost looks real! Its getting harder and >harder to distinguish between a "real" post and a simulated >post. Amazing! :lol >>Paul My appologies.........I meant to say 15 Fps.....not 25..LOL Sorry bout that. Guess I need to re-read my posts before i actually post.Matt

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Paul, I know because I heard about this deal on the internet, and everything on the internet is true. ;) J/K, I know because I went to BB today and looked at the card and it was an ATI-branded card (not a 3rd party) and ATI denotes the full model name of the product on their retail boxes (if it's an LE, it'll say LE on the box). This refers to retail products only, not necessarily OEMs. BTW, I didn't get the card, because they wouldn't price match the other Best Buy that had the card at $76.50, despite the fact that I had a printout of the shelf tag and I caught a glimpse of their inventory screen which showed the other BB's price to be at $76.50 :( They literally had 10 people involved in the process of trying to determine if I was a scam artist, apparently. They kept questioning me and giving me dirty looks and not believing what I was saying. Oh well, guess I'll just buy one of the GF3's that was offered to me in my "want to sell me a vid card" thread.Max Cowgill

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