Updated: May 23, 2015

AGP Card Reviews:

Review of AGP Graphics Cards - The best way to understand how important AGP cards are to our computers it to use an analogy: say you're reading your child a book before bed. You open it up and find white page after white page filled with black text. That's it. Eventually, your child will get bored by the lack of stimulation, and the book doesn't really serve its purpose as a means of engaging your child with language. Now, imagine if that book were to have some color, some graphics, and a few pop-ups. Envision that every page is filled with colorful characters and interesting worlds. This is what will capture the imagination. This is exactly what AGP cards do for computers. Virtually every aspect of our computer experiences is enhanced by AGP, or Accelerated Graphics Port, which helps accelerate 3D graphics. You may need to upgrade an older AGP or replace a faulty video card. It's a pretty easy fix; the hardest part is cutting through the techno terms and getting the right AGP. We'll show you how to choose a new one, as well as your best choices on the market.
agp cards

Is AGP on Its Way Out?

- In your AGP research, you have likely stumbled upon sites telling you that AGP is obsolete. Is this true? Well, yes and no. From the moment anything is released, it is facing impending obsolescence. AGP replaced the PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) bus as a means of delivering video and 3D graphics to the CPU. The PCI was like a bus that picked up passengers from the suburbs to bring them to the city. The PCI bus then waits in traffic to get into the city (CPU) behind all the other buses. AGP changed this and became a sort of express bus. Instead of waiting in line with the other information trying to get to the CPU, it has its own dedicated connection to and from the graphics card to the CPU. You bypass the traffic and get your graphics information much more quickly and efficiently so complex graphics can be rendered. This system is still in use, though today's newest computers are using PCI Express. Instead of a bus, it's a network. The high speed serial connection doubles the rate of data transfer because instead of a bus, it has a switch. The switch controls point-to-point connections with devices where data needs to be sent. Each device, whether for Ethernet, storage, audio, or whatever, has its own connection. They don't have to share the bandwidth like they did with the PCI and do with AGP; so instead of riding a public bus, your data is driving in the fast lane. What all of this means is that newer computers will have the faster and expanded graphics capability, while AGP is going to be phased out. If you have AGP, however, don't worry. You can still get cards from various manufacturers. Choosing an AGP Card - The first step in choosing the right AGP graphics card is to determine if you have AGP at all. How do you do this? The easiest way is to just Google your computer's make and model - unless you want to dig around in the nether regions of your system. If so, just look at your motherboard and see if you have a PCIe slot or AGP slot. You can see a picture here of an APG slot and PCI slots on the same motherboard (http://images.tigerdirect.com/itemdetails/A455-1056/A455-1056COUT.jpg). Here is a picture of PCIe slots (http://images.tigerdirect.com/itemdetails/A455-1056/A455-1056COUT.jpg). Most new computers will have PCIe, but some don't, and if yours is a few years old, it's entirely possible that it doesn't have the newer PCI Express. Another way to check is to open your Control Panel, select Admin Tools, and then Computer Management. Once there, select Device Manager, where you will see your devices listed. Look for Display Adapters and click the + sign to expand the list. It will display your AGP card, if you have one. Once you have that figured out, it is important to look for a few features so you can choose an AGP card that will work with your computer. These are:

*Power. AGP video cards use a lot of power, so make sure that your computer can handle it. They will require about 500w or more. Look on your power supply (you have to open up your computer if you are not sure); it will have a sticker with the watt information.
*Memory. More memory equals greater capability. 128MB is the smallest amount you should consider, and 256MB is better.
*Size. Older video cards were smaller than today's because they had less capacity to handle graphics. If you're replacing an old AGP card, make sure the new one will fit in your computer physically.
*Warranty. Find out how long it lasts and what it covers.

You can browse the best selling AGP cards here.

Best AGP Graphics Cards:

The Sapphire Radeon HD 3850 512MB AGP was selected as the best AGP card by both Buzzle and About.CompReviews. This card, which is the "best of the lot," according to Buzzle, has a 256-bit memory bus and 512MB of GDDR3 VRAM, which allows for excellent performance at higher resolutions as well as smooth gaming. This ATI AGP video card features 4X/8X bus interface, OpenGL 2.0 support, and Microsoft DirectX 10.1 support. About.CompReviews calls it as "good as it can get in the AGP graphics market," which is largely drying up as manufacturers stop producing the cards. The Radeon AGP card can be found used on Amazon for about $95 or other online retailers. Another About.CompReviews top pick is the HIS Radeon HD 2600 XT 512MB AGP. This is not a perfect graphics card: it is slower than the newer PCIe cards. The design makes for slow performance because it has to accommodate a cooling fan. But for AGP, it is perfectly fine, and even great. It offers good, solid performance, optimization for DirectX 10 and Vista, and 512MB of memory for many higher resolution applications. You can find the HIS Radeon 2600 XT for $90. Note: this is not the same as the ATI Radeon 2600 XT, which requires a PCIe-enabled computer. Buzzle chose the Diamond ATI Radeon HD 4650 AGP Video Card as one of the best AGP cards. This Radeon AGP card features 512MB memory, 128 bit memory interface GDDR2 memory configuration, support for DirectX 10.1, 750MHz core clock, 873MHz memory clock, and Hydravision 4 dual link DVI. It is cooler than the previous AGP cards, and it uses less power. It is great for watching HD quality videos and lower-end gaming. You can find this for $80. Other top choices include: GeCube Radeon HD 2600 Pro 512MB, Gigabyte 7600 GS 512MB GeForce AGP Card, Diamond Multimedia Stealth HD 2400 Pro 512MB, and the Asus Radeon HD 3650 AGP Video Card. You can find plenty of help online to learn how to replace the actual card. This is a helpful YouTube video that can guide you through it, as well as identifying the slots (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hwadKB7Imw).