Good mid-level 3D cards
Considering that an Xbox 360 is about $300-400 and works great, I'm not really interested (nor would my wife let me) in a $300-400 Video Card, as nice as they might be. That said, I just run the new 3DMark06 DirectX 9 Benchmark on my main system, and could barely eek out 5 frames per second (fps).
The system is a P4 Socket 478 3.00Ghz with 2 gigs of RAM. However, I have a Radeon 9800 Pro with 256 megs. This was a great card two years ago, and still runs Doom, Guild Wars, etc, with around 15-20 fps. However, I can barely find my way around in Age of Empires it's so slow.
Here's my absolute requirements:
- I need a video that's dual head (that means 1 DVI and 1 VGA) and can run a 16:10 ratio LCD off the DVI at 1680x1050 and a 4:3 ratio LCD off the VGA at 1600x1200.
- It should have all the latest DirectX 9.0c shininess in the hardware.
- It should work with (or replace) my Hauppauge PCI Tuner and Beyond TV.
Here's my "kinda" requirements:
- It'd probably be an ATI, just because I suddenly (not sure why) trust their drivers more, but as long as it has a unified driver model, it's all good.
- It should be "Vista-ready" in that I can't be buying another card just to get cool Alt-Tab effects.
- It shouldn't take up two slots because it's a fat-ass or cause my already-hot-computer-that-runs-with-the-cover-off-and-two-fans to burst into flames.
Dear reader, what's a good card for my little AGP motherboard? Is it possible for sub-$200? Or should I just "swap the brains" and go all out with a new Mobo, CPU, RAM and PCIx Video Card?
P.S. Man, back in the day, before Anandtech, I used to know all this stuff. You needed an RLL hard drive put in, I was the guy. Had Norton Disk Doctor in my back pocket. You needed some DIPPs put in to take your system to a meg, call Hanselman. I was even good up until the P4. Now, I don't know my North Bridge from my Piggly Wiggly.
P.P.S. Z is now 7 weeks and 10 pounds, 8 oz., gaining 1.5 oz a day. At this rate he'll be 175 lbs (as big as me) in 5 years. Madness. ;)