3/13/08 - AGP or Advanced Graphics Port has been a venerable standard for PC graphics cards for some time, but the rapid adoption of PCI Express has made finding cards that use the AGP standard much more difficult. If you happen to have a computer system that uses this older interface, here are a selection of the best cards based upon my experience and research that you can use.
The AGP graphics market has not had much to really be proud of. Most of the companies are not really producing new graphics cards and the existing cards are starting to stop production and availability. Thankfully ATI and Sapphire haven't completely given up. The new Radeon HD 3850 AGP card is the first to bring Direct X 10.1 capable graphics to the market. Sure, it isn't the fastest on the market, but it does support 512MB and offers good overall performance. The card also uses a single slot design that is a big benefit over the larger double wide card designs. It is about as good as it can get in the AGP graphics market at this time.
The Radeon HD 2600 XT was the top of the line of the previous generation of graphics processors ATI supplied for the AGP market. It boosted some decent overall performance but fell behind the older X1900 series that are no longer available. What it did add though was the first series of graphics cards to support the Direct X 10 application model for Windows Vista. It still rates as one of the better graphics cards for AGP based systems. The 512MB of memory allows it to handle some higher resolution applications and filtering, but it is hampered a bit by the lack of high end performance like that of the PCI-Express market segment. The card also uses a double slow design to fit in the cooling system.
The Radeon HD 2600 Pro is essentially the same graphics core as that used in the 2600 XT, but with a lower overall core and memory clock speeds. This does reduce its performance a bit but also helps reduce the overall cost of the board. It still supports Direct X 10 applications and provides an average overall performance from what is available in the AGP graphics market at this time. Don't expect extremely high resolution with 3D graphics or high levels of filtering detail even with its 512MB graphics memory.
Those hoping for an NVIDIA GeForce based graphics cards are pretty much running out of luck. NVIDIA has halted all production of the GeForce 7000 series graphics processors that were the last to officially support the AGP bus. All of the higher end processors have been used up and about all that is left is the fairly low end GeForce 7600 GS. This board offers decent albeit limited performance and no Direct X 10 support. What it does have to offer though is a graphics board without any active cooling fans.
Diamond Multimedia is a name that people might remember from the early days of 3D graphics boards. The company has been revived and is offer a number of different cards based on the ATI Radeon processors. This version of the Stealth uses the low end Radeon HD 2400 Pro that offers decent graphics support including Direct X 10. The card does feature 512MB of memory but it doesn't really do much in terms of overall performance as it lacks the raw power for much high resolution or filtering that would really take advantage of the memory.