Here are some more thoughts from a demented mind in Central Florida: I've finally thrown down for Counter-Strike Anthology 1 with my relatively-new PC. The only problem that I seem to have with it is that, during parts of playing Condition Zero, I'll get serious slowdown. And it's not just online, but also during single player mode. I'm using an Acer Aspire E380, with an Athlon AMD 64 X2 +4200 (high 1.8-low 2.0 processor speed), 4 GB of DDR2 RAM, Windows Vista Home Premium Edition. The only thing that I'm thinking might be causing the slowdown is the graphics card, which is currently the one that was included with the PC - the NVIDIA GeForce 6100 nForce 430 (which I think might be a 256 MB). Does that sound like the problem, or is there something else I may have overlooked?
Also, if graphics card is the problem, then I'll be getting a new one fairly shortly. I want to try to get one with 512 MB, but keep the budget to about $130-$170 for the card. Obviously, it needs to be Vista compatible or Vista ready. Some of the cards I've been looking at include the VisionTek Radeon X1550; the VisionTek Radeon X1300; the ATI Radeon X1650; or maybe Diamond Multimedia's Viper X1300. Which do you prefer? Any good ones that I don't have listed?
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Why yes, I am both a musician and a lawyer. Thanks for asking. :)
Nforce 430 is your motherboard's chipset. Your actual card is the NVIDIA GeForce 6100. And yeah, it stinks for gaming. It's built into your motherboard which means it's very likely stealing from your main RAM instead of having it's own dedicated, which slows it down even more. So the 256MB is basically a lie.
Whatever you get make sure it does not say anything about "shared" memory. That's the typical wording for "this board has no memory of it's own. You want dedicated RAM.
Getting a 512MB card for that price is not realistic. Well, you can find them but they're crap cards for the most part. As for cheap cards with good reviews, check out eVGA stuff. Specifically the e-GeForce 7600 GT KO. Pay attention to those extra letters cause it does make a difference. That's a card that can be had for less than $150 with 256MB RAM. I've used a eVGA 6600, 6900 and now have dual 7900's and been impressed with the performance and the pricing can't be beat.
Btw, when looking at cards I start with review sites. Check out www.pcworld.com and look at their rankings. They have top fives for power, budget and mainstream. The one I mentioned is their current top budget by a longshot.
If you're trying to compare video cards, try this comparison page. In the graphics card letters game avoid cards labelled LE (nVidia, ATI/AMD) or XT (nVidia only) as they are slower than the vanilla unlettered cards.
Getting a card for CZ, or any version of CS really, just because it has 512MB memory is overkill; 256 MB (or even 128 if you don't have much money) is enough. That much memory is only useful when you're playing at very high resolutions with decent amounts of anti-aliasing or v-sync. I would rather look at clock speeds...or just try the link above. :)
You Mac users probably know about this already, but in case you didn't, go here: http://www.macheist.com/ There's a bunch of software that they normally charge for, only it's freeeeeee for the next few days.