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Graphics Cards
 
Which Graphics Card?
There's two guys that run this site in the main, and we both sit on different sides of the fence when it comes to graphics, one of us plays NVidia, the other ATi. Admittedly the comparison of the cards is not really fair, one is a 256mb 9800XT ATi card and the other is an NVidia 64mb Ti200, but both play the game to an amicable basic level. When discussing graphics cards in the current market its a very confusing place, there are a number of different brands producing cards based on two company's chipsets, this is all about to change with two new chipsets coming to market and the evolution of on board graphics capabilities.
 
In truth on board graphics will not cut it in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2002/2003/2004, we need to look at this with an element of ruthlessness, the capabilities of on board graphics are primarily aimed at desktop publication and not an awful lot else.
 
As we talk about the options there are a few things you will need to check......

Can I upgrade?
Many look to upgrade first, this is the most cost effective path, but can be quite selective especially for people who have the mainstream manufacturers machines, the likes of Dell's (with the exception of their recently introduced XPS range) make and market their machines for the mainstreams users, not really for the gamer in mind, if you want to upgrade a mainstream manufacturers machine then I would recommend you get in touch with the manufacturer and see what options you have. Specifically things to consider are AGP slot availability, Power Supply capability and case space as these are usually built to meet minimum specifications required of desktop publishing.

nVidia or ATi?
This is a personal preference in all honesty, if you go for the core specifications there is no doubt that the 9800XT wipes the floor with the current Nvidia cards, but there is more to this, the graphics market is ever changing, ATi have a new chipset on the horizon and it should be with us by mid year at the latest, tie with this the introduction of a new slot type, the PCI Express and graphics markets are going to explode as new games hit the market that slowly push the cards, in all honesty the games out there can hardly push the current cards, the 9800XT for example hits over 100 FPS on most sections of the courses available with Tiger 2004.

Conclusion
If you have the money, buy the best you can get, this would currently be the 9800XT from ATi in my humble opinion, of course others may direct you to the FX5950 Ultra card from NVidia, for the mid range buyer there is no doubt here, the 9600XT is the card for anyone right now, if you can still get them then of course as the price drops a little more then the 9800 Pro is definitely where your money should go. all in all its a good time for the buyer, the competitiveness of ATi and NVidia means chip prices drop quicker as more and more cards come to market, if you have the money then buy around April May 2004 as this is when new cores are predicted and the current range toppers will be stupidly priced for the power.
 
 

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