Video card upgrade - where does it end?

Welwynnick

Well-known Member
Edit: Video Card Upgrade, I meant!
Calling all clever guys….
My PC is a two year old Compaq Presario 6195 with AMD XP2200 / nvidia mx420 64MB / 512 MB 2100 DDR RAM / 80GB HDD / DVD / 1394 etc. I recently upgraded with XP SP2; broadband; and most significantly a Sun 24” CRT W/S monitor than runs 1920 x 1080. That’s very nice, but I suspect that the video card doesn't do it justice, and I'm considering an nvidia 6600 instead.

However, I can feel some upgraditis coming along, and I’m wary about spending a grand every couple of years. If I get the 6600, I may well get 1GB RAM, then a CPU upgrade, a second hard disc, maybe a better PSU, and before long I’ll be able to justify to myself a new mobo, which is where I always say stop.

It’s a perfectly good PC, but it’s worth no more than £200 now, and I’m wary of spending hundreds, if I’m better off replacing it. We’re not that mad on games, so the driving force is just to get DVDs to look good for now. Does anyone suggest that I am better off just getting a 6600 or similar for now, then waiting for a significant step up later on? Or should I upgrade as far as I reasonably can, without spending silly money? Or start again from scratch?

What do you think? Cheers, Nick :confused:
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
LOL - from the title I thought you were putting a HTPC in your car!

The 6600 is very good, with the nvidia purevideo codec it will post process and hardware accelarate video playback, however the CPU is slow, can you upgrade that at the same time?
 
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Welwynnick

Well-known Member
Mods - could you please change the title to read "Video card upgrade ........"

Lisa - I was wondering that myself. I've not been able to find out anything about the mobo, so I don't know what's the scope for upgrading. It doesn't necessarily look that expensive, but then again I'd like to understand if the CPU is likely to act as a bottleneck to the GPU. Simply playing DVDs at the moment doesn't tax it all, and I didn't imagine that getting the GPU to do more work would necessarily give the CPU a harder time. I may have other upgrading restrictions, too. It uses a 266MHz bus, and I think the memory is non-ECC, which seems to cut down the options. I happy to make modest upgrades, but only where they make sense.

BTW, I did put a DVD in my car, but the screens were a bit smaller .....

Cheers, Nick
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
What display device are you using? That could make a difference as to whether you will notice the enhanced pq that purevideo brings.

Also you could use a program like 'Belarc Advisor' to determine the make and model of your mobo. Then find out what the fastest chip is that it supports, and whether there are any bios upgrades necessary, and if the fsb can be increased.
 
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Welwynnick

Well-known Member
The display is a Sun 24" CRT monitor that supports upwards of 1920 x 1200, so no great limitation there.

I'll try belarc tonight.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Ok, you're welcome :)
 
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Well if you want to take full advantage of your monitor, you need a new pc all together, i mean a 3.4ghz+ CPU, 1.5GB RAM at least and a graphics card better than the Nvidia 7800GTX...i mean there is literally no graphics card today that will let you play a game at the full 1920*1080 resolution with all the advance settings on, such as anti aliasing and anistrophic filtering...if I was you i'd just get a smaller monitor if you intend to play games, as your machine does not do that monitor justice...., it's not just a simple case of a graphics card upgrade, but yes you could play your games at a lower resoulution like 1280*720, but your machine will still not be up to scratch...
 

Welwynnick

Well-known Member
Hmmm. "better than a 7800GTX?" - is there anything better? My eventual intention is to have an HTPC with a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive that I can drive a big 1080p screen of some sort, but I expect to have to come back to that in a year or so. For the time being I'd like to get the most out of DVDs, and I'd be quite happy to watch games at 1280 x 720. I'm not going to get smaller monitor - I already have a 19" CRT and i'm not going back. I guess I'd like to know what is the most cost-effective imnprovement with the current PC.

Cheers, Nick
 
Weel you certainly need another 512mb of ram, and yes a graphics card upgrade would do you justice, I hear the ati radoen x800xt can be picked up for under £200....
 
K

Kramer

Guest
Fixed the thread title for you :).

I'd say a reasonably cheap upgrade would be the 6600GT. Beyond that, you'd really need to start over again..........completely new PC basically.

I ran an oldish PC @ 1900x1200 with a 9800 Pro & it did an admiral job on most games, HL2 etc.

:smoke:
 

Welwynnick

Well-known Member
Thanks, Kramer!

lisag said:
Also you could use a program like 'Belarc Advisor' to determine the make and model of your mobo. Then find out what the fastest chip is that it supports, and whether there are any bios upgrades necessary, and if the fsb can be increased.
Well, I ran Belarc Advisor, and it came up with the information below, plus serial number, software etc. The mobo is a Compaq 07D0h, and I couldn't get much further than that with the HP Compaq support site and others.

It has a 266MHz FSB and runs PC2100 memory. I can readily add another 512MB DIMM, but I'm not sure how far I could go with the CPU - maybe 2600, maybe 3000, I'm not sure.

What I'm a bit more concerned about is whether the board has AGP 8x support at all - I believe the mx420 is only an AGP 4x card. Would that rule out using a good AGP card like 6600gt?

Selected Results:

Operating System System Model
Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 (build 2600) Compaq Presario 6030EA

Enclosure Type: Desktop
Processor a Main Circuit Board b
1.80 gigahertz AMD Athlon XP
128 kilobyte primary memory cache
256 kilobyte secondary memory cache Board: Compaq 07D0h

Bus Clock: 266 megahertz
BIOS: Compaq 686Y4 v3.06 11/21/2002
Drives Memory Modules c,d
80.05 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
42.80 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

COMPAQ DVD-ROM GDR8160B [CD-ROM drive]
SONY DVD RW DRU-510A [CD-ROM drive]
3.5" format removeable media [Floppy drive]

MAXTOR 6L080L4 [Hard drive] (80.05 GB) -- drive 0, s/n 664134112052, rev A93.0500, SMART Status: Healthy 512 Megabytes Installed Memory

Slot 'DIMM1' has 512 MB (serial number DEC51202)
Slot 'DIMM2' is Empty
 

mjn

Distinguished Member
welwynnick said:
Hmmm. "better than a 7800GTX?" - is there anything better?
7800GTX Pre-Overclocked and in SLI :rotfl:
 

DanH

Novice Member
Your very limited in CPU choice on that board if 266mhz is all it can support. IIRC, the 2600+ came out for a brief spell with a 266 FSB, but then they changed them to 333 a few months later, so not many of em about. That leaves you with the 2400. Pointless really.
As Kramer said, a 6600GT and some more RAM maybe, anything more and you might aswell start from scratch.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
The Compaq site isn't very helpful... to be honest it probably isn't worth messing about when for as little as £32.27 you can get something like this , add a faster chip and memory, a decent AGP card and you get a much better pc.

Mind you if you are going to go that route you may as well get a new Intel or AMD socket board, a PCI-express card and it will last you much longer.... whilst your at it, you may want to upgrade your PSU, and maybe your case, ho-hum :D
 
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Welwynnick

Well-known Member
lisag said:
Mind you if you are going to go that route you may as well get a new Intel or AMD socket board, a PCI-express card and it will last you much longer.... whilst your at it, you may want to upgrade your PSU, and maybe your case, ho-hum :D
lisa
That's just the trap I wary about falling in.

Sadly, I now found from a couple of sources that my mobo only supports AGP 4x and not 8x. Do I take it that stops me from using a good GPU like the 6600?

Nick :(
 

Cable Monkey

Novice Member
No. The difference in performance is negligable. AGPX8 was a marketing exercise, it make precious little difference performance wise. All x8 cards are backwards compatible to x4.
 

Pezerinno

Novice Member
meansizzler said:
Well if you want to take full advantage of your monitor, you need a new pc all together, i mean a 3.4ghz+ CPU, 1.5GB RAM at least and a graphics card better than the Nvidia 7800GTX...i mean there is literally no graphics card today that will let you play a game at the full 1920*1080 resolution with all the advance settings on, such as anti aliasing and anistrophic filtering...if I was you i'd just get a smaller monitor if you intend to play games, as your machine does not do that monitor justice...., it's not just a simple case of a graphics card upgrade, but yes you could play your games at a lower resoulution like 1280*720, but your machine will still not be up to scratch...
My single 7800GTX (albeit overclocked) runs everything fine with full settings including AA/AF at 1920x1200 res
 

Welwynnick

Well-known Member
Nice to have some good news, just as I was about to resign myself to no upgrades. I've decided to get a 6600GT, and probably a RAM upgrade to 1GB.

Good to know that 1920x1200 is viable. It's just that a 7800 is worth as much as my PC and monitor together!

I considered upgrading the CPU as well, but I guess I'm restricted by the FSB, which 133MHz/266MHz doubled. 2200 seems to be about the limit there. :(

Might just get a second hard disc, while I'm at it.

Many thanks, everyone. Nick
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
There is no real necessity to run your monitor at its absolute top whack. Its a CRT it can cope with a wide variety of resolutions with no internal scaling issues ( unlike a digital panel which looks best at its panel resolution).

For games you can run at a lower resolution (1280x720 for example).
For video and hidef playback you can run higher 1920x1080.

You don't need a particularly fast card for this these days.
A radeon 9800 pro would probably make a decent stab at most games for example.

The spot size on the CRT is probably not focused enough to actually show you any more resolution that about 1280x768 anyway even if you feed it a higher resolution image ( I know this I've sat in front of monitors with the same tube for 5 years doing high resolution work).
 
Mr.D said:
For games you can run at a lower resolution (1280x720 for example).
For video and hidef playback you can run higher 1920x1080.
QUOTE]

But I don't like it when it switches from one res to another, I hate that annoying flicker, and when you back to your desktop it looks all ugly at the lower res until it switches back, I hate res switching, I want everything at the same res...

What AGP card will be able to run Half life 2 or Far Cry at 1920*1200, with 8XAF and 4XAA, and all the other settings on High...my machine spec is a P4 3.4GHZ CPU/800MHZFSB/Nortwood Core, 2GB DDR400 RAM, WD 74GB Raptor, Tagan 480W PSU, Silverstone NT03 CPU Cooler, Silverstone SG01 Case...I don't have any heat issues, and I think my machine is up to scratch, curently have a radeon X700 PRO AGP, but want to get a Dell 24" 16:10 TFT running at 1920*1200, so what card would I need to play games at the res?....will a Radeon X850XT PE cope with it...?
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
I can run Far Cry at 1920x1200 with everything maxed out on a X850XT PE
I can run HL2 at 1920x1200 with everything maxed out apart from AA and AF.
I can only run BF2 at 1280x768 with quite a few things on medium and no AA.
(you could probably drop to 1920x1080 and live with small black bars to eke a bit more out of the frame rates)

The dell 24" lcd is a great monitor with gaming but its less than impressive with video even after calibration . If people go buying these things for use as high def displays they are going to be disappointed.

My 856x480 panasonic plasma is far better regardless of the resolution difference. ( and my sony HS20 projector puts them all to shame on just about every picture quality criteria)

I wouldn't buy another dell flat panel if I wanted good video quality.
 

Pezerinno

Novice Member
Mr. D how much memory does your system have? Battlefield 2 needs 2GB ideally. Try altering your pagefile and see if performance increases.
 
Mr.D said:
I can run Far Cry at 1920x1200 with everything maxed out on a X850XT PE


The dell 24" lcd is a great monitor with gaming but its less than impressive with video even after calibration . If people go buying these things for use as high def displays they are going to be disappointed.


I wouldn't buy another dell flat panel if I wanted good video quality.

Hmm..I wanted the dell more for video than gaming, it is really that dissapointing?, I might pick up the HP version instead, think the HP is 23", but it uses the same LG panel as the Sony/Apple/rest of them, the HP got some good reviews, but it's quite a bit at £1300, it's the most expensive out of the lot, but it rotates vertically, so is good for writing reports, and lettters and stuff, and since i'm in university it's a nice little feature...
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
The dell is not the worst video display I've ever seen but its certainly not good. The gamma is all out of whack and I've been unable to adequately calibrate . To give you an idea I was editing an mpeg and authoring a dvd using the dell as a display. I spent at least an hour checking that the edit and authoring hadn't introduced a lot of unecessary artifacts because the footage on the dell looked like a bad re-encode.

Taking the same clip over to my HTPC and playing back on a panasonic plasma showed the clip to be fine , the dell just kicks up a lot of artifacts in the lower intensities regardless of where the black level is set.

For video its a let down but I haven't seen a decent lcd for video playback and that includes the apple and sony screens.
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
They are also huge monitors ( I have three on my desk at work) and the focus and colour is usually unreliable outside a postcard sized area in the middle.
 

Welwynnick

Well-known Member
I was just thinking of having two.
It takes a lot of twiddling to get the picture right with 1920x1200, but there are lots of controls available to the user, and it can be done, it just needs a bit of patience. I don't know I would recommend one to most people, though, as they are so big and heavy.

Nick
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
Trust me . My monitors are calibrated every other day to a level unheard of. And additionally use a 3d colourspace calculated software LUT. They are good monitors but they are far from perfect.
The black level retention is only about average for a CRT if you ask me,
 

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