Thursday, January 24, 2008

Looking to buy 8800GT

How hard is it to buy a graphics card for your desktop? Easy right? Hardly!

In my previous post I casually mentioned that my Dell E1705's GPU burnt up. I will probably write how that happened in my next post. But for now it suffices to say that I need a GPU fast to continue playing my Need for Speed, Age of Empires and Command and Conquer. I know these are not very demanding games but I still want to buy a powerful graphics card, not for my fried Dell e1705 (the GPU was nvidia Go 7900GS) but for my media center desktop. My desktop has always been used as a media center. It is connected to my music system and LCD TV. It has over 1TB disk space to store my HDTV recordings and ripped movies/music. However since I only planned to use it for playing media, it has a cheap nvidia 6100 GPU (on board). It has 1 GB of RAM which is pretty good for media center needs. But now I need to upgrade it to replace my gaming laptop. My plan is to install a powerful GPU and run games using wine-hq from linux. The media center PC runs Gentoo linux and Freevo to record and play media. So if I can just start another X and run games on the side I have a super cool PC. Freevo can record while I play games.

Nice but then there are 3 problems. First I need a powerful GPU because wine eats some GPU cycles since it does not run at 100% native speed of windows. I have my eyes set on nvidia 8800GT 512MB. Next I need a memory upgrade. 1GB just won't cut it. So I need at least another 1GB, may be even 2GB who knows. Finally I need a wireless mouse and keyboard because I don't want to sit right in front of the TV and look at the 32" screen up close while playing games.

I want to do all that with a $300 budget. Here is how I am planning to distribute the funds. For 1GB memory I allocate $30, for wireless keyboard and mouse I allocate $40. So I am left with $230 for GPU. I tried to allocate the maximum to the GPU. Makes sense right. Now I don't want to sound cheap but one thing I definitely want to steer clear is to look stupid. I know there are deals out there to buy the GPU for less that $230, but they come and go. I have to find it. I would be stupid if I just buy the card for $270. That is not challenging at all. The task for me for this week is to look out for deals to buy the components at the cheapest possible price without having to wait for back orders or using mail in rebates (god I hate those). Can I do it? Let's find out. Let me go look up some deals and then update this post.
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