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Thread: Help me choose a better card

  1. #1
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Help me choose a better card

    I'm building a PC as a development system (well, it's built, mostly), so I'm not particularly interested in gaming. My main criteria was dual monitor support (most have that) and decent performance for ordinary desktop use. Honestly, integrated video would have been fine for me if I could've found a good board with dual monitor support.

    I ended up getting a Gigabyte 7300gs with my system. It was cheap ($40), and I have been generally happy with it, except for two big issues:

    1. TurboCache. When I bought it, I didn't realize that this card would steal 256MB of my system memory. I've looked around, and there appears to be some convoluted process for turning it off, but it seems like a hack to me.

    2. Ghosting. I'm running via a KVM switch over the analog (VGA) port on the card. With every other system connected to this monitor, the text and images are clean and crisp. With the 7300gs, they seem blurry. If I throw up a high-contrast line on the screen, I can see a faint ghost line right next to it.

    Other than those issues, the card has been just about perfect. Compiz effects look incredible, and the card and drivers have been completely stable. It's a fanless card, so it runs totally silent, too.

    Anyway, I think this card is going back. What I want to know is, what should I get? I'd like to stay cheap, but I fear that another cheap card will have some of the same image quality problems I've seen with this one.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2006
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    7300GT and up won't steal memory. I have no idea about image quality though - AMD/ATI's or GeForce 8 could be better.

  3. #3
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    9600 GT is maybe currently the best buy.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rexfarmer View Post
    Anyway, I think this card is going back. What I want to know is, what should I get? I'd like to stay cheap, but I fear that another cheap card will have some of the same image quality problems I've seen with this one.
    Avoid the cheap card. An 8600 or 9600 would probably do better for you at this time. If you're on a budget, if there's a 7600 around on the shelves, you will do decently by it as you'll be able to do most of what you could do with the other cards in the short to medium term on Linux.

  5. #5
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    The x600GT cards are generally for gaming. AFAIK, they are better than their cheaper counterparts only in terms of 3D performance, not 2D. That is, their image quality for 2D GUI, movies, etc is no better. It's true that the 9600GT is probably currently the best buy for gaming.

    I wouldn't be surprised if a 7600GT was zero improvement on your image quality complaint - it's in the same family as the 7300GS you already have.

    It's possible that this varies by brand of GeForce (I have no idea). You could also try an 8500GT (won't steal system memory), or research AMD/ATI cards.
    Last edited by StringCheesian; 03-10-2008 at 11:10 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Svartalf View Post
    Avoid the cheap card. An 8600 or 9600 would probably do better for you at this time.
    That depends how you define better. As I said, I'm really not much of a gamer, so I'm not sure what I'd be paying for, in terms of extra heat, noise (for the fan), power consumption, and actual coin involved. For now, quiet and cool are top priorities for me.

    Cheese, it's funny you mention the 8500gt. I (ahem) borrowed one of those to try this evening, and it seems to be a little better. It's not stealing my memory, and the system is running just as cool as with the 7300. The D-Sub graphic quality is better, too, but still not what I'd like to see, and not as good as my other systems.

    Thanks everyone for all your input. I'll try a few more things and see if I can't nail down a solution. I'm still reluctant to try ATI/AMD due to their alleged ongoing driver issues.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rexfarmer View Post
    That depends how you define better. As I said, I'm really not much of a gamer, so I'm not sure what I'd be paying for, in terms of extra heat, noise (for the fan), power consumption, and actual coin involved. For now, quiet and cool are top priorities for me.
    Unfortunately for you, you've got several conflicting priorities going on here.

    Cheap.
    Cool running.
    Doesn't steal system RAM.

    Unfortunately, there's not a lot of "Cheap" parts that also doesn't steal system RAM to accomplish the "Cheap".

    Also unfortunately, there's not a lot of parts that don't steal system RAM that run "cooler".

    I offer that you're wanting relative cool running and inexpensive. And, if you're getting a GT class part, you'll get closer to both. I suggested the parts I did because while they may "run hotter" (I've not seen this in personal experience except when I'm bashing them in the head with something like DooM3...) they also don't run much hotter than the regular parts when you're doing basic things on them- with the advantage in the case of the G80/G90 parts being able to do CUDA type things for you when you want.

  8. #8
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    OK, Here's an update...or maybe it's a different question.

    8500GT is not working out the way I'd hoped. It appears to be pathetically slow for ordinary desktop stuff. My example is youtube. When I watch a video in full screen, I can see it redrawing each frame, and it can't come close to keeping up. With the nv driver (or in Windows for that matter), it all seems to work much better.

    Other things seem slow, too, such as basic web browsing, especially on complex pages. I don't remember the 7300gs being this bad, although admittedly, I wasn't really looking for these kinds of problems.

  9. #9
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    8500 is a lowend card. Best try 169.12 driver for that one.

  10. #10
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    I have an 8600 GT and it works great for everything so far.
    You can probably get one for as cheap as $75 but they tend to average nearer to $90.

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