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Harrison
5th March 2008, 18:04
I've just received a PC to repair and quickly discovered that the graphics card was fried due to a broken GPU fan. It is an old system used as a family PC for homework and business (letters, email etc) so it doesn't need to be a powerful system.

The dead graphics card was an old nVidia GeForce 4 Ti4200 so very old.

Therefore any card I buy these days will be better than the card they had in the PC before, but which should I get? I had a quick look and there are some reasonable cards for under 20, with even some being just 11.

F.ex. An ATi Radeon 9600 64MB card for 11.87
A GeForce FX5200 120MB for 17.39
A Radeon 9250 128MB for 14.34
A GeForce FX5500 256MB for 19.04
etc...

I'm not to clued up on the cryptic model numbers of the low end budget cards other than the 9600 which was a good middle of the range card back when it was new. So Which out of the FX5200, FX5500 and Radeon 9250 or any other budget cards currently available for under 20 is the best?

Buleste
5th March 2008, 18:47
At the moment i have a Radeon 9550 and it's a good card but as you know from the random rants thread i have something against ATI when it comes to driver support and would therefore never recommend them as keeping the software up to date isn't worth the hassle. As for the GeForce cards i have no experiance of them so couldn't say. However the 5500 sounds a good deal.

After having read a review of the Geforce 5500 i would say that if you do go for a GeForce card then the 5500 is the way to go as it's faster than the 5200 plus it has more ram.

Bloodwych
5th March 2008, 21:39
First, you could go like for like:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Leadtek-Winfast-Ti-4200-4600-4800-A280LE-FREE-P-P_W0QQitemZ230226505669

The guy is offering free postage or 1st class and the quiet, large custom cooler fitted for 4.99 extra.

I'm going to make your life difficult and go for the opposite of Buleste and shout for the Radeon 9600!!!

Read about the difference between the models here:

http://www.hothardware.com/hh_files/S&V/radeon_9600xt.shtml

Notice how the 9600SE has a 64bit memory bus. Very slow in 3D. The 4200ti was quite a fast card in its time, about the same as the ATI 8500 and both had a 128bit memory bus, so if it's important to keep the same performance level I'd get a 9600 or above (PRO, XT).

I have a fanless creative Radeon 9600 PRO in my Internet/serious use machine and it's superb. DVI output works fine and VGA produces a great picture. Excellent cards for DVD playback.

Since these chips are basically a 0.13 micron 9800 chip with its pipelines cut in half they run really cool too. Fanless ones do exist.

I'll agree with Buleste on the driver situation though - the latest Catalyst drivers are OVERKILL for these older cards running on older machines. The .NET code is bloated and spawn multiple processes in WinXP. I think nVidia did something similar with a .NET bloated interface too. The older drivers always work better on older cards, which kind of makes sense!

I strongly advise you use Catalyst 5.12, which was the last to come with the classic control panel. I've never had one issue in games with these drivers, they support all monitors including strange Flat screen resolutions and are very low on system resources and memory.

Buleste
5th March 2008, 21:50
Don't get me wrong the graphics card itself is great. I've had no problems other than it not allowing me to have a resolution higher than 1024x768 although i suspect this is a driver problem. And that is the area i dislike ATi cards the most. If you want the latest and stable drivers for your graphics card then do not use ATi at any cost. Or at least that is my opinion.

Bloodwych
5th March 2008, 22:09
Don't get me wrong the graphics card itself is great. I've had no problems other than it not allowing me to have a resolution higher than 1024x768 although i suspect this is a driver problem. And that is the area i dislike ATi cards the most. If you want the latest and stable drivers for your graphics card then do not use ATi at any cost. Or at least that is my opinion.

We all have personal experiences that help us decide what's best and it sounds like ATI's drivers haven't been kind to you! I bought the 9600 late in it's life and had the 5.12 drivers to use on a fresh install after trying the latest bloated ones (although they did work fine).

I've never had a 9550 but from what I understand it has the same core as the 9600. I have just setup an old 8500 for my brother on a 1680x1050 flatscreen monitor using the Catalyst 5.12 drivers mentioned above. It works fine, as does my 9600.

If you can find a driver cleaner for ATI cards it may be worth uninstalling your drivers and installing the 5.12's, but don't blame me if something goes wrong! Windows is always throwing up challenges and conflicts to sort out!

I had some horrible issues with nVidia drivers and my 6800GT, so it just goes to show they're all as bad as one another.

Harrison
5th March 2008, 23:33
I can normally sort out any graphics driver issues regardless of the make of card and the drivers being used. Whenever I install new ones I always first boot into safe mode and run a driver cleaner to remove all traces, and then reboot, cancel the auto windows attempt to locate drivers, and then run and install the latest official drivers for a card. Normally works fine with both ATi and nVidia cards, and I have quite a few of both.

I even used to be quite good at getting cards to run when to have a dual monitor setup you needed an AGP and PCI card together in a system. That often took some crossed fingers to make work.

And for a long time I was a fan of ATi cards, buying 9600 and then 9800 Pro cards and I still use both in older machines and they run perfectly.

You mentioned about getting drivers without the Catalyst Control Center. As far as I know you have still been able to do that with all driver versions, even the latest 8.3, where if you look on the official downloads site there is an option to download just the Display Driver, which is what I normally do and that works perfectly well.

The current one can be found at:

http://game.amd.com/us-en/drivers_catalyst.aspx?p=xp/radeonx-xp

Bloodwych
6th March 2008, 18:21
Thanks for the link. :)

What I actually meant was a driver version with the older classic control panel, before it started using .NET and taking several seconds to initialize!

Those drivers are the 5.12's and they rock!

Harrison
6th March 2008, 18:31
Oh OK. I do admit I've had some issues with the .net framework on all computers. Nothing to do with graphics cards, just programs complaining that the wrong version is installed when it is and such like.