Which Graphics card ....

I am building a computer for my family and I am on a strict budget. I would like to put a cheap  but effective graphics card in the computer and have been looking at different cards. I would like to stay in the $70 and under range. Is the Geforce fx 5200 series cards worth a look or should I try another brand? I know that you pretty much get what you pay for and I'm OK with that, but I'd like to be able to build something that my family could play current title games such as halflife 2 etc. Any suggestions wold be appreciated. The system I'm putting together is Asus A7N8X-E with AMD XP 2700+ barton with 512meg Muskin DDR3200 memory. Windows98se. Thank you.
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Mind that some asus MB don't work with some ATI cards (check on google for this).  The GFORCE you recommend is fine, I also like ATI when they are compatible (got a problem once).  For the price you mention, that about all you'll get in branded boards.  And of course a whole range of grey brands, which work also fine.  64MB is ok.
The FX5200 is very weak when it comes to playing any of the latest titles.  You want something that can maintain at least 30 frames per second, so you'll need to step up to a higher card: http://graphics.tomshardware.com/graphic/20031229/vga-charts-09.html

I do know that the nVidia 6600GT is an excellent performance card for the price, exceeding the Radeon 9800 Pro at a cost of $200, and it will play any of the latest games without a problem.

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You say Windows 98 as your OS. I have found that NVidia doesn't really support that OS properly now i.e. you cannot access the full functionality of the card. In this case you may as well go for the 5200 since I'm not sure that you can access all the features on the higher priced cards. I have used a number of 5200's (in Win98, WinME and WinXP and they seem to manage most modern childrens games Sims2/Myst4. Win98 has problems running some modern games, so the graphics card is irrelevant.
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Hi Bigripper

WIn98 se is poorly supported when it comes to drivers. That's also essential for your motherboard drivers(NFORCE2 also NVIDIA).

With FX 5200 GFX you will receive poor performance in all newer games like HL2 and the like.
However if you can tally running 800X600 resolution that'll do, if running on a 17" CRT.

If you want a decent gaming machine you need a better GFX and another OS(WINXP).

This could evt. also lead to needing a more powerfull PSU.

So it really depends on the budget as always

If you are buying an ASUS, why not get one with the integrated geoforce 4 video right on the motherboard?  It is a blaster of a video chip, top performance, and if only WIN98SE, it will be blazing fast.

The board you want, then, is the ASUS A7N8X-VM/400 -- that is the geoforce 4 chipset by NVIdia, it is faster than most add-on AGP cards, and it costs nothing, as it comes with the ASUS board -- $70 +/- retial.

Note, you can get these boards on Ebay refurbed, sometimes even near new, for under $50.  There, I've just saved you well over $100 in your system purchase.  I use this board for video editing in XP -- can get 64 MB out of the on-board video card, I think, or at least 32MB.  Don't let anyone tell you on-board video is no good -- it is very reliable and robust, fast, and bug free -- as long as you get a good chipset like NVIDIA>

There are lots of good choices here.

The GForce FX5200 cards are a good choice.  Understand, the chip is not the card, however.  You can get "good" cards and "bad" cards, all using the FX5200.  Some will have only VGA output, others will have DVI output, possibly DVI and VGA (2 separate outputs) and maybe even TV output (composite and/or S-Video, in either case a 3rd output).  I've seen good FX5200 cards with multi outputs for as little as $39, so the $70 price target is easy.  The differences in the boards will be in the quality of design & mfgr (hard to judge, unfortunately), the drivers, the cooling and the amount of memory (I'd recommend probably 128megs).

Another option is ATI-based cards.  Starting at the low end, you can find Radeon 7500 cards for well under $50.  Moving up, and attempting to still stay in your price range, you might be able to find an ATI 9600 based card in this price range.  There are 4 versions, the 9600SE, 9600, 9600PRO and 9600XT.  I'd try to avoid the SE, but you can sometimes find 9600's under $100.  This is, for the price, a moderately high-end card that is even suitable for CAD or 3-D gaming, although certainly there are much faster cards (at much higher prices, up to $500).  Again, I'd try to stay with a "built-by" card, where the entire card itself is actually made by ATI, vs. a "powered by" card that isn't made by ATI but which simply uses an ATI chip.  The "powered by" ATI cards can be good, and some are, but some are not.  With a "built by" card, you get uniformly high quality, and far better driver and warranty support.
Bigripper1Author Commented:
What do you think about Chaintech Nvidia 5700? I found one at Newegg.com for $74. According to Tomshardware the performance is somewhat better than the 5200. Sadly the 5200 was second to last out of 35 cards tested. At least the 5700 put up nmbers that were in 40fps range. The 5200 was 15 fps. As far as output I am just interested in VGA output. I'm not planning on hooking it up to anything other than a monitor. As I have looked through the endless number of these cards I notice that some pcboards are wider than others but they boast the same features like 128megs DDR ram. Could there be a performance difference from the size of the board?
For that amount, the 5700 is a lot better, though for Halo it's right at 30 fps. The size of the board isn't important, but the quality of RAM will make a difference how far it can be pushed.  At stock settings, most boards are on a level playing field and the drivers will make more of a difference than anything else.
Hi Bigripper1

This GFX is a 5700 LE, which is a crippled 5700 version. Can not in anyways be compared to the two 5700 cards in the THG test !

model           Core speed          memory speed      memory buswith

5700le            250                       400                       128

5700              425                        550                        -

5700U            475                        900                        -

this card will (estimated) only perform at half the 5700U in THG leaving you with the performance of a real 5200

A card performing like a normal 5700 will be > 100 $ like this


or this


the debate for the best card is pretty much neverending. so i'll try to keep it simple and give some real examples.

Friend 1: athlon2000+, 256MB ram, 5200 -> bought half-life2 and plays it. i think he beat the game.

Friend 2: athlon2500+ 512MB ram, 5600XT (rated at about the same as a 5200) -> also bought hl2, plays it constantly. doesn't lag with settings turned down.

Me: athlon 64 3200+, 1GB ram, 5200ultra -> played half-life2 with all settings on max with absolutely no lag whatsoever.

the 5200 wont make you the envy of all your friends, but for a budget card, it sure gets the job done. to my knowledge, it'll play every game. it wont play them with max settings, but they'll be playable.
Bigripper1Author Commented:
What about the Radeon 9600 pro. THis is a little more expensive but I think I can handle it. ($104). It seems to be a little bit better than the Geforce low end cards.
It is a little better than the nVidia 5700 in some games and worse in others.  It is definitely better in DVD display - the Radeons in general are better for showing movies.
Hi bigripper1

Here is a link to a 9600pro which has ok specs


I have one myself and it is a decent midrange graphics card, but as time goes that changes too, Nowadays I guess Radeon 9800 pro's are becoming midrange cards.

Go for the Radeon 9600 Pro if it is in your budget.  My preference was a 6600GT which is probably around the $170US area or less now and packs a whole lot of UMPFH!

at yourtechonline.com
Bigripper1Author Commented:
Thank you all for your input. I have chosen to go with the 6600GT and spend alittle more. For the most "bang for the buck" I think that this card is well worth spending more on. Thank you all once again. Biggy,
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