Decent legacy PCI graphics cards?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Gullible Jones, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    I'm looking for PCI graphics cards to put in some aging Linux desktops. Preferably nVidia or ATI GPUs, 128 MB or more of dedicated video RAM, and usable with the open source radeon or nouveau drivers. They needn't be gaming-grade; just inexpensive, fairly recent, and powerful enough to support modern browsing and video playback.

    Note though: I am talking about legacy PCI, not PCIe. The computers in question do not have PCIe or even AGP 8x slots. At least one does not have AGP slots at all.

    Can anyone suggest some graphics card models?

    Thanks...
     
  2. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    Wound up going with nVidia Geforce 6200s. With 512 MB of onboard RAM, and supposedly good support from nouveau, I hope they can't be too bad...
     
  3. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    Update: these things don't work well with nouveau, but they're still a good investment. The nVidia proprietary driver works great with them on Linux, and better on Windows 7, such that browsing is actually quite snappy; and there's less contention for RAM because of all the video memory on the card.

    Edit: I'm typing this on Thistledown, my Powerspec 1405 (purchased ca. 2004). With the nVidia graphics card installed, the bottleneck has shifted from the GPU to the IDE hard disks.
     
  4. Veeshush

    Veeshush Registered Member

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    Wish I saw this thread sooner. I've had great results popping in modern nvidia PCI cards in old systems (my oldest a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Socket_7 ) that only have PCI slots. I've had 6200s, a 9500gt, and two 520s. I found the 6200 had better nouveau support, but the 9500gt and the 520 ran great with drivers.

    This 610 (re branded 520) http://www.amazon.com/ZOTAC-NVIDIA-GeForce-512MB-ZT-60604-10L/dp/B0083Y1YVE
    and
    This 430, with 96 cores http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500221

    ^ Both of those are the fastest you can get right now but they're getting hard to track down. The PCI slot has a 33 watt load limit, so any PCI-E card that draws under that limit could be made into a PCI card. It's just up to the manufactures. That said, we're lucky to even have what we have currently.
     
  5. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    Wowza, didn't even know the high-end ones had PCI versions. Though they're a tad pricey (compared to the 6200s), and the second is out of stock.

    Speaking of wattage limits, though, I encountered an interesting issue with the 6200 card and another computer, an old eMachines model: the computer's onboard NIC stopped working after the graphics card was installed, and resumed working once the card was removed. I'm guessing this was an issue of insufficient power. Really have no idea though.

    Re driver support, I'm surprised you found nouveau support decent on the 6200s; from here it's pretty pathetic. Maybe nouveau is more sensitive to CPU bottlenecks?
     
  6. Veeshush

    Veeshush Registered Member

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    I'd add they might never be restocked either, as I imagine they're kinda niche. You'd have to watch eBay or something.

    It is hard to justify the cost for older rigs, but, I dunno, I've found it worthwhile as long as I plan on keeping my older computers. I learned a lot at least.

    Hmm. Could look around the BIOS settings, or does it happen after the OS loads? Win/Linux? I'll say that while I've never regretted putting in a modern card, cause it does make a world a difference compared to the old nasty onboard video (especially with basic stuff like screen resolution and connections) it's not entirely without issues (I'll get more into it below).

    If you have a spare PSU to test it on, then try it. I think these cards don't need the same beefy PSU requirements as their PCI-E counterparts. With a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_A_Watt then you could get a rough estimate of what your system is drawing. Just remember to measure while at full load, while running a game benchmark. These should work fine under Linux even: https://unigine.com/products/benchmarks/

    Or it's that the driver support is even worse for my 520. I'm talking no desktop GUI acceleration with the 520 on nouveau, yet with the 6200 3D screensavers run fine.

    You're going to get somewhat a bottle neck and it's not going to perform as well as a more modern system with faster hardware. But that said, I find it's more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86 issues. So, in my oldest example I ever tried, the socket 7 rig, I have a AMD K6 III which is a 586. So that while all the hardware may physically and surprisingly work and turn on- the software side of things are more why stuff doesn't always work perfect- and this includes the BIOS. On Windows you may get driver issues, and on Linux similar issues- and mainly cause any bugs aren't exactly going to be caught or fixed compared to more common, newer hardware setups. It's an odd combination of hardware with what we're doing, certainly one Nvidia doesn't throughly test or intend for their cards, and their driver software really wasn't designed for. But CPU instructions are the main reason stuff doesn't go on older hardware, cause when they write drivers and general software they write them for more modern CPUs- for example like SSE2 or something. Generally I've been pleasantly surprised that everything works pretty good, especially with something as old as an AMD K6 III. And that's why I recommend people turning old rigs into Linux boxes to at least try a 6200, or newer just to see. They do help a ton, but just watch for issues and go in expecting some issues.

    I'd say a system from 2003-2004 should be fine though. Just for curiosity, what socket types/CPUs have you tried?
     
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