One of the things that goes along with marriage, mortgage, and a kid is the fact that I do not get to buy myself a new computer as often as I did in my single days.
Still, my three year old Alienware isn’t so bad, even by today’s standards. My only real problem with it is that I bought it just before PCI-Express became common, so I am stuck with AGP video.
This did not seem like it was going to be an issue in the first year. Cards still came out in both PCI-E and AGP flavors at about the same time with about the same level of performance.
When EverQuest II came out I upgraded the nVidia 5700 Ultra that came with my machine to an ATi x800XL card. This gave me a serious boost in performance for a moderately priced card. My hopes were raised that I could continue to keep my Alienware system going a few more years.
However, once the next generation of cards started to show up, PCI-E seemed to be the only option. AGP appeared to have fallen by the wayside. Sure, occasionally I would see something, like an AGP nVidia 7900 card that performed like crap compared to its PCI-E breatheren. Or the ATi x1600 AGP cards, which were no upgrade at all from my current model.
All of this just seemed bizarre to me. There are a huge number of people with AGP systems like my own. Is there so little value in the upgrade market that nVidia and ATi (now AMD) can afford to treat it with such disdain? Are we AGP monkeys so unlikely to spend money on a new card versus a new system?
Judging from how nVidia is doing, that might well be the case. I work across the street from nVidia HQ and they seem to be having a party or some other event out in their parking lot every time I glare out the window at them. They have overflowed their current building and are starting to stash people in our building complex.
Meanwhile, ATi up the road is now part of AMD, who is just a little farther up the road, so they are sitting pretty.
With this being the state of affairs, I was happy to see on Tom’s Hardware a review titled “The Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money: October 2006” that actually included both PCI-E and AGP selections.
Unfortunately, for the cards that would give a significant boost in performance over my current card, the recommendation is to buy a motherboard that supports PCI-E and a PCI-E based video card.
Such is life in the AGP lane.