What PC setup for what graphics cards?

  The Belarussian Mafia 14:04 04 Apr 2007

Read an article a few months ago (don't remember whather it was in PCAdvisor) that mentioned some high-powered graphics cards are sometimes a waste of time as an upgrade because the PC itself can't utilise the potential.

What is really needed is a webpage or a magazine article that has a table aligning graphics cards with a typical PC or two.

At the moment I'd like to upgrade to a silent graphics card, but don't know at what point the graphics card spec is wasted. (I have no intention of buying a new PC for years to come, so no point in paying for something that is over the top.)

In case anyone out there really knows about these things, my current PC is:

Athlon 3000+ running XP
1.5Gb RAM
200Gb Hdd
NVidia 6600GT

Also have:
Athlon 1900+ running XP
384Mb RAM
40Gb Hdd
NVidia FX5600 (that may or may not be able to suck the juice from the 6600GT if it is replaced?)

(Incidentally, don't want to go SLI with the current card, as that would just add to the fan noise.)

  The Belarussian Mafia 20:30 04 Apr 2007

Somebody must have some thoughts...

  Totally-braindead 21:00 04 Apr 2007

My thoughts. If the computer does all you ask of it leave it alone. I like many others have the constant desire to upgrade but if your PC does all you ask of it theres no point.
The last upgrade I did was replacing my graphics card and upping it to a 7600GS without a fan but I only did this because me previous card was struggling with certain games.

Regarding your main PC the 6600GT is a reasonable card just a smidgen below a 7600GS and unless you're a gamer I wouldn't bother updating it.
If you feel you still want to and you definatly want one without a fan then your choices are limited. I personally haven't seen a card much higher than a 7600GS without a fan and am not sure if such a card exists. If you are willing to except a fan then theres a lot of choice and it depends on how much you wish to spend. The highest card > £250 would perhaps be bottlenecked by the rest of the PC. People seem impressed with the ATI 1950XT which is about £150 and is available in PCI Express and AGP - mention that because I'm not sure what you have.
Others Nvidia 7900GS about £100 - 120 then to me you start to get a bit silly moneywise.

  The Belarussian Mafia 21:42 04 Apr 2007

Totally-braindead: Nice to hear some level-headed advice!

I'm determined to have a very quiet PC as my old Athlon 750 had such a big fan it left me with more or less permanent ringing in my ears. I had to use it all day at the time, for work.

May need to upgrade the graphics card soon, as planning to move from a normal 15" to a 22" widescreen. You are right, choices are limited, although there is slightly more available than you mentioned; e.g. click here

I'm probably looking at a 7600GT or something similar, e.g. click here with a bigger memory than my 6600GT which only has 128Mb.

Not planning on spending silly money. Not planning on spending any money. (My 16-yr old has got plenty saved up from birthday/christmas presents...)

  woodchip 21:56 04 Apr 2007

First things First, You should look at what Graphics slot you have in your Computer, Size of Monitor as no baring on what Graphics card you use

  The Belarussian Mafia 22:20 04 Apr 2007

Hi woodchip. Should have mentioned I've got a PCI Express mobo.

I understood that a jump from 1024 x 768 pixels to 1680 x 1050 would have a major impact on frame rates. As it is the present setup struggles to cope with large armies on Medieval Total II Total War. I'd also expect trouble with Need for Speed Underground, which the current setup copes with fine...

  woodchip 22:28 04 Apr 2007

Yes it will if you do gaming. But you need a good CPU also. You may also need to upgrade your PSU

  The Belarussian Mafia 22:33 04 Apr 2007

Don't tell me that. I've just installed a silent heatsink in place of the CPU fan. (This little baby cost £40 including postage click here ) It is rated to work with a 3400+, max.

  Totally-braindead 23:05 04 Apr 2007

The processor you have should cope with NFS and Medieval Total War 2 in my opinion. The increase in resolution is partly the processor and memory but mainly the graphics card. Thank you for the link to Quiet PC you were right I didn't realise that there were other fanless ones. I have a XFX 7600GS fanless one and its fine, but from the ones you provided the link to I fancy both the 7950 and the 7900.
The last 2 cards I had were MSI and they were good quality cards and I really liked them so would really like to have one again.
Both the MSI cards are still going strong in some of my friends PCs.

woodchip might be right about the processor but I don't think so but hes definately right about the power supply, it depends on what you have of course but the more powerful the graphics card the better power supply you need.

  jam500 09:15 05 Apr 2007

As you are going to be using a big screen then the more memory on the card the better, But be aware that sometimes they but lower spec memory on cards with more memory. So 512mb is sometimes slower than 256mb.

  keef66 10:13 05 Apr 2007

Have a look at Tom's Hardware Guide, they did a series of tests a while ago looking at exactly that; graphics cards in different systems to see which upgrades were pointless because they were cpu limited (I'll look up the links in a mo)

I have to say you're setting yourself quite a challenge; silent pc / decent gaming on large screen / minimal expenditure!

I'd second what Totally-braindead says about MSI cards; they tend to cost a bit more but they do last.

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