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Cheap replacement video card?

I've been looking to replace my 8400 GS (don't say anything about it, I know it sucks), and sites like gamefaqs just bash me repeatedly for not having a $500 dollar card. I'm looking for something around $100, and the 9800 GT looks pretty good, but I was wondering if there's something better. Someone recommended this 9600
as well.
Go bargain hunting if you want to, but for real gaming, the video card is the absolute most important part of the computer, so if you are a gamer, don't skimp on it; you'll regret it later.
I try my best not to, but I really don't have enough money to get a really nice card.
For $100, a 9600 GT is about your best bet. Besides the 9600 GT, the only decent ones I can think of in a sub-$100 price range is the Radeon HD 4670 and HD 3850, however both are slower than the 9600 GT as far as I can recall. You may be able to get a G80 based 8800 GTS with 320 MB, but that was slower than the 8800 GT, which is a little faster than the 9600 GT. I'm not too sure of the performance difference between the two. I know a G92 8800GT/GTS is faster than a 9600 GT, but I'm not certain about the G80 8800 GTS. I'll have to look into that.

Now, if you want to spend a little more than $100, you have a number of options. For example, you could get a 9800 GT from XFX for $110 after mail in rebate here. There are a number of other companies that also offer the 9800 GT in the same price range.

And, I just saw this. An HD 4830 for $100 after mail in rebate. Not bad. Performance is in about the same territory as a 9800 GT, plus I've heard it's a decent overclocker.

Personally, I'd suggest going a little over $100 and getting either a 9800 GT or an HD 4830. Neither one are slouches by any means and they will meet the desire of nearly every gamer.

Good luck!
Ok, sounds good, although I don't think I'll be doing any overclocking o_O. I was wondering if maybe I should get the 9800 GT from eVGA instead of XFX, as I've heard they're slightly better in terms of service and warranty (overclocking doesn't void it if I actually decide to try it).
eVGA and XFX are both excellent choices. eVGA has the step up program (which allows you to upgradeto better cards in a period of 90 days by simply sending in your current one and paying the difference) and XFX has the double lifetime warranty (when you sell the card, the buyer gets lifetime warranty as well). You really can't go wrong with either one, although I agree eVGA is slightly better in terms of service and warranty.

As for overclocking, it really is no big deal, but neither of these cards really need overcloking to comfortably play the latest cards. However, they do have some untapped potential.
Hmmmmm. I've been looking around, and a lot of people say to make sure that you have enough power for the 9800 GT. Know if just the standard power supply from an Antec case (not sure exactly what kind, but it's one of the ones that make it almost silent) will work? I might be opening my computer up in a few days to install more ram so I'll give you the voltage readings and stuff like that soon. Also, do you think it'll be necessary to add any more fans? There's a rather large one in the back, as well as a smaller one above it, and some more air holes at the bottom.

*Edit* I decided to open up my case for a second anyways because the screws are so large that I can just unscrew them with my hands. The power supply is giving out 450 watts, and someone who has a card said that you should have a 400+ watt supply, so I think I'm good on that. However, I was wondering if my motherboard would support the PCI Express 2.0. The computer's about 2 years old, so I'm not sure that the motherboard would have a 2.0 slot =( (Wikipedia says that 2.0 came out in 2007). I wasn't able to see the model number on the motherboard because there's a large air funnel blocking everything except the power supply, CD drive, and hard drives.

*Edit Again* I was able to barely make out my motherboard model- m2nvp-vm. It definitely doesn't have PCI-E 2.0, just 1 1.0.

*Edit Again Again*After more researching, it looks like 2.0 is backwards compatible with PCI-E X16, just with half the potential bandwidth. I would still like to know if I need to add any more cooling, or possibly just turn the fans up (I think they're on relatively low to keep the noise down)
I tend to not trust generic power supplies, but usually an Antec is decent. Do you know the model of the power supply or perhaps how much amperage is on the 12 volt rail? Generally speaking, wattage isn't everything. My 500 watt PSU outperforms any cheap 650 watt one easily. It sounds like you'll be OK though, so long as your power supply is reputable.

Oh and don't worry about PCI-E 1.0 vs PCI-E 2.0. I don't think any graphics card has reached the limits of PCI-E 1.0, yet. As you said, they are backwards compatible, so you're OK in that respect.

As for cooling, as long as your components are running just at a reasonable temperature, more cooling isn't necessary, but wouldn't be a bad idea to enhance it. eVGA's coolers are very nice for being stock coolers. As long as you don't overclock insanely, it will be fine. Are the fans in the case intake or exhaust?

Hope this helps. Very Happy
I believe one of them (the big one) is exhaust, and the smaller is an intake that blows through a duct to the CPU.
As for the the voltage and such, I'll try my best to describe the labels (too faint to take a picture of i'm afraid).

DC Output: +5v | +3.3v | +12v (sub 1) | +12v (sub 2)| -12v | +5v SB
Max: 30A | 32A | 15A | 17A | 0.3A | 2.0A
Min: .5A | .5A | 1.0A | 1.0A | 0A | 0A
Well, it sounds like cooling should be sufficient, but again be sure to monitor your temperatures (especially under load) and see if there's any room for improvement. If so, adding more fans can be very helpful (as long as you don't disrupt the airflow in a couterproductive way).

Now, that power supply seems OK, but a little iffy. Usually if I have a two 12 volt rails, I would aim for 18 amps each. I think your power supply should still handle a 9800 GT, though since I've seen many succeed with PSUs similar to yours. As long as your components aren't drawing a lot of power right now, your current PSU should suffice, however it doesn't leave too much headroom for many upgrades.
Ok, one last question. I know it varies from part to part depending on the quality and such, but in general, what's the safe "max" temperatures for the CPU and GPU/the graphics card in general.
is a picture of my current components without any load. At load, it's generally a little higher, the main difference being the GPU is around 52C, same as the core.
For the GPU, if it idles in the 50s and loads in the 60s, that's fine. Usually when you reach 90C is when you have a problem (although it's better to stay way below that).

For a CPU, they're all rated differently, but I like to keep it no more than 60C. You would probably want to stay in the 40s.

It does vary, as you said. Each company has rated their component for a maximum temperature, but usually loads in the 50s for the CPU and 60s for the GPU is perfectly fine, but lower is always better.
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