what video cards for what price?


May 14, 2003
Reaction score
I've been trying to think about what 3d card I'm going to want to get before this game comes out. I've tried to wade through reviews and the like, but I can't make heads or tails of the weird version numbers of cards and all the different things out there. I've even tried to figure out these questions using cnet's system, but it's not reall yal that helpful.

So, here are my tech questions for any experienced gamers that probably have some of the relevant cards, and know their relative strengths and weaknesses.

1) What's the OPTIMAL set of cards currently available for HL2?

2) What are the best cards under 200$ ?

3) What are the best cards under 100$ ?

4) What are the absolute MUST HAVE features of cards: I hear a lot about athroscopic filtering or something like that. Do they all have built-in bump mapping now?

5) How much memory should the cards have/ bit-rate/ clockspeed?

And don't just give me goofy, off the top of the head "I'm so lEEt" answers like "aw, you just gotta have fifty gazillion migs of RAM with a 20GigHz clock." This is about real people on a real budget, trying to figure out what the best bang for the buck is.
That is a great site to look for cards (any hardware). If I were you I would get a GeForce 4 TI4200 (64mb or 128mb) card. It is the best bang for the buck (floating somewhere around 90-130 bucks).

MSI, Chaintech and Gainward are all quality companies to buy GeForces from. I would suggest MSI tho, because I have a GF4 Ti4200 64mb MSI card and it is SUPERB!

Any questions, post em and I will try to help out.
How does it compare, speed and feature-wise, to the current Radeon line that the HL2 videos were touting? Is it really behind them in terms of features, or just not quite as fast or capable of as high resolution?
Alright buddy, I gotcha covered

1. Optimal card for HL2: Without a doubt, the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 mb RAM(Hottest card on the market). This card is Radeon's answer to the Geforce FX 5800, or the other way around. This card (9800 pro) sells for around $400. Radeon outclocks FX 5800 Ultra by just a bit

2. Here's the real stuff. A good card for bout $189 is the Radeon 9700 pro. Now get this...The Radeon 9700 pro clocks just faster than the Geforce FX 5800 Ultra. Wanna know the price for the 5800? $400+

3. If your gonna go for a good card under $100 your dipping into the previous generation of cards, mostly 64 mb RAM (the 128's cost about 130-170). Apparently the GeForce Ti series owns the field here...but i'm not too sure the Radeon 8500-7000's are half bad...

4. All i'm gonna say is that you must...MUST get a card (especially in previus generation cards) with DDR Ram.

5. I'm not too savy in this area so i'm gonna sum this up by saying that if you are thinking about upgrading your PC to play Half Life 2, don't. Prices will go down over the summer so just sit back and wait. If the time comes to upgrade make sure your Mobo (motherboard) can support your card and has the right slots to hold it. Also If you are gonna put a 128 mb card onto your 133 mhz 64 mb Ram PC, well thats just redicolous. Your PC will crash more than you play, and your PC will bottle neck your card down to a 16mb anyway. If you are buying a new PC remember to check out the Dell XPS (i'm a skeptic of it) and Alienware

(I run a 400mhz celeron, 128 mb RAM, 16 mb ATI Rage vid card rig)
Newegg.com sells video cards cheap, The best bang for your buck these under 100$ is an Ati radeon 8500 le 128meg version which you can oc to GF 4 ti4200 3d mark levels. Its what im getting when i get my new comp.
Thanks for the great info: hopefully this'll help other people too.

The 8500LE and GeForce line look to be about my reasonable range, especially because I'm also going to want to up my motherboard/cpu and memory count (I'm in under the wire for the minimum HL2 specs, but after watching that strider video, I just don't buy it that my computer could really play even an effectsless version of that. But I might be willing to shill out for the 9700 Pro line if it really supports effects that the lower levels can't handle.

Anyone's whose seen the tech demo movie: can you think of any major effects in that that you think older cards would have to abandon to work properly (like, bump mapping on the walls, water distortion, any of those spinning retangle things, the video feed, etc.)?
Well anything older then a Geforce 3 might have problems running some of the stuff imo and a gf 4 mx maybe not sure what they all support.
Newegg.com kicks a$$

Bump mapping would be a definant no-no for a card below 128 mb, and that little trick with the guy made out of water illuminated by fire would just look like a piece of illuminated jello. Also, the difference in drawing water between a 64 and 128mb card is INCREDIBLE, really play morrowind on a PC with a 64 mb card, and play it again on a PC with 128 mb. The difference in water is incredible. The people at ATI and Nvidia obviostly did a lot of work on water distortion

Whatever you do, do not get an MX card. They are crap.
Best video card for under 200 is the Radeon 9700 TX 128mb. Only Dell packages it though. See other post on rigs for specs.
The Radeon 9500 out performs the Ti4600, especially in situations where AA and AF are turned on (it absolutely slaughters the 4600 at max settings)

I'm just not sure it could run HL2 at 1600x1200 with 4x AA...

Right now i have a Ti4200, and am looking to upgrade for the next gen games (HL2, D3, Far Cry (or whatever that thing from crytek is :p )
My graphics card is ok, i have a 9700 pro, but my motherboard and ram is buggered i have 512mb but it only comes up as 128mb which sucks, so i guess new mo-bo and ram before HL2 and if im doing that i might as well do processer too...
Cleric maybe some of your ram is fryed, Buy some new ram and find out if that helps, It'll cost you like 30 bucks for 256megs from newegg.