…and upgraded my gaming rig video card for the second time. When I originally built this computer, I put a GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB in there with the option of adding another in the future via SLI. I ended up getting a second 6600 GT later, which helped performance-wise but it wasn’t as big of a performance increased as I had hoped for. I then did more research on SLI (which I should have in the first place) and determined that cost-wise, it’s a better choice to just buy a better next generation card than run two cards in SLI mode. More bang for the buck, so to speak. That’s when I upgraded to a single 7600 GT 256 MB, which exhibited a noticeable performance increase.
The 7600 GT has been great for my usual FPS games: CS:S and BF2. Heck, much lower end cards will run those games just fine. I still haven’t spent much time playing Oblivion, though, because I want to experience it properly, without having to sacrifice video quality. IIRC, the highest resolution I could run Oblivion at was 1280×1024, with HDR enabled and everything else on medium, generally speaking. My CRT monitor, however, can do 1600×1200 @ 85 Hz, so I was not getting the most of out my hardware due to the bottleneck that was the video card. Granted, I suppose it could be the CPU, an Athlon 64 3700+. I wonder how exactly one can determine which of the two is the bottleneck.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the new DirectX 10 video cards, namely the 8800 GTS 320 MB version. You get the same GPU core as the 640 MB version for about $100 less. After reading some roundups/reviews, I determined that the EVGA 8800GTS 320MB Superclocked offered the best value – an overclocked DX10 card for under $300. The 6 and 7 series cards I had were both XFX brand, which I experience no problems with, so I hope that this EVGA one works out fine as well. EVGA seems to be reputable, from what I can tell, and this will be the first of their products to get in my hands.
As much as it hurts to spend this much money upgrading an existing component (as opposed to getting a hold of a completely new product), I’m at least somewhat “future proofing” my gaming rig. I’ll now be able to run Vista, if/when more interesting DX10 games start showing up. It’s also nice that I’m still able to get the most out of my existing motherboard, before I’m forced to upgrade the heart of the system (mobo/CPU) and join the Core 2 Duo bandwagon, unless, of course, AMD has a better answer when that time comes.