I'm (in the process of) building a new system, based on the current specs:
Athlon 64 3000+ s939 Venice
Jetway 939GT2-ULTRA-G NForce4 Ultra mobo
Thermaltake Big Thyphoon HSF
2x512 MB CL2.5 PC3200 DDR RAM
250G WD SATA HDD
Aerocool Turbine Power 450W modular PSU
Windows XP Pro x64 (yes. I'm nuts. So what?
Damn. I know I couldn't have picked a worse time to upgrade to a new graphics card. I was hoping ATI would release/announce their midrange cards at the same time as the X1800 series, but it looks as if they won't be seeing the light of day until Nov 30 - much too long for me to wait.
So looks like I'll be settling for something "this gen" :/
Currently, I'm looking at the Leadtek 6800 TDH 256 MB PCIe for RM975 (~USD250). Unfortunately, since I'm living in Malaysia atm, I have to put up with high prices due to low volumes
I plan to use my computer for CAD/CAM work and some occasional gaming - currently playing Fable on my parents' obsolete P4 3.0 + GF5700LE, and hoping to play F.E.A.R. when it comes out later this year.
Here's a rundown of my other options:
1. Radeon X800 GTs are available for around RM700 here (USD185), but their OpenGL drivers suck, which is going to be a big problem for CAD work. Also, despite their competitive performance against the 6800, I've swallowed enough of nvidia's marketing to want a SM3.0 card. So this limitation applies to the other X8xx boards as well. Lastly, I'm under the impression that their 64-bit drivers are not as robust as nvidia's, although the situation is improving.
2. GeForce 6600GT - also around RM700, my concern is memory bus (128-bit vs 256 on the 6800) and shader capabilities. Since I plan to be overclocking my system, every extra MHz I can squeeze out of a 6800 will be more profitable than a comparable OC on a 6600 GT, due to the larger number of pipes and shader units on the 6800. Also, using a 17" LCD monitor more or less forces me to use 1280x1024 res, which can hurt the fillrate and memory bandwidth of a 6600.
3. Getting an el-cheapo Hypermemory/Turbocache grafx card, then upgrading to the next gen - not an attractive option, since the money I'll be spending on the cheapass card is liable to go down the drain, and I won't be saving the cost of the card on my next purchase. Also, there's the matter of not being able to play any games for the next 3 months...
4. Finding a 2nd-hand PCI grafx card, and holding out till November for either:
a. X1600 series
b. 6800 price cuts
c. a "7600" card
The problem with option 4 is going to be driver support with Windows x64. If I can't find OpenGL drivers for the card, that means I won't be able to use my computer for any meaningful CAD work...
So, any advice? Am I on the right track with the 6800, or will I just have to bite the bullet?