View Full Version : Low Budget Graphics Card

17-07-2011, 09:13 AM
Hi all, I run a gaming club at the school I work at. I've recently bought an old backup server with ok specs (2.4Ghz Athlon 64, 4GB RAM for 60) but it's graphics card has gone kaput. So what I'm looking for is a cheap graphics card for it. I really am not interested in running anything at top settings, just enough to run a game made in the last 5 years at 30FPS with the settings as low as they need to go.

The budget I have for my club is very limited and likely most of the cost will come out of my own pocket (a small price to pay for getting the next generation hooked on PC games!). So definitely under 100 but the lower the better and I don't mind getting it 2nd hand.

Another way of asking is do any of you guys and gals have an old graphics card that lets you play games at a decent FPS that I could find cheap online now?

17-07-2011, 09:53 AM
If it's a few years old, is it a PCI-E or AGP card you're looking for?

17-07-2011, 10:24 AM
It might be worth looking at a 2nd hand 4890 or similar. You could probably pick one up 2nd hand for 50-60 and it would run everything and probably at pretty high settings. It would be comparable to something like a 5830/6790. I guess a similar card from nvidia would be something like a gtx275/280. The only thing with these older top end chips in they have pretty massive power requirements. According to AnandTech (http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/175?vs=169) the system be drawing 3-400w under load so a good 500w PSU would be a minimum. Any idea what you've got in there now?

As a side note is that Athlon 64 just a plain single core one rather than an FX or X2? If it is it might struggle rather.

17-07-2011, 11:32 AM
This is a really good card going on the cheap I had one of these quite happily playing crysis on mid, happy coping with UT 2004 and BF2 and only had to get rid of it due to wanting dx 11

all in all a really good card for under 50

17-07-2011, 12:42 PM
Best Graphics Cards for the money July 2011 (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,2964.html)

Of course, second hand might be some use to you as well.

Colonel J
17-07-2011, 01:26 PM
If it's an AGP motherboard, which it may be with the processor, then there are still a few places that sell new AGP cards

Or look for a second hand ATI X1950 Pro 512MB in AGP which shouldn't cost you much at all. I have one of these in one of my old PCs with a similar Athlon single core and it holds up fairly well, will still cope with Portal 2 very well for example, though forget about anything that relies heavily on multiple cores.

Edit: And if you do have a single core Athlon then I'd suggest it isn't worth blowing 70+ on a new 1024MB graphics card, getting the best in your budget range won't make that much of a difference to game performance as the CPU will be your biggest limiting factor in newer games anyway.

17-07-2011, 02:45 PM
If you do only have a single core and an AGP slot it might be worth replacing the CPU and mobo as well. This thread over at Bit-tech might interest you (http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=204670). A 100 PC from 2nd hand parts that is pretty capable. Given you wouldn't need a case, RAM etc you could probably emulate it for a bit less (I think the relevant parts came to 64). That should handle anything pretty comfortably.

That said the X1950Pro Colonel J suggested would be a good budget option if none of the games you're interested in are multiple core hungry and can be had for 20 to 30.

17-07-2011, 07:34 PM
Thanks all. The CPU is dual core, I may have mis-remembered the name but the components were all new from 2008 era.

I think based on the Tom's Hardware article I'll go with a Radeon 5670. At just under 50 it sounds ideal :)