New video card advice.

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kishkumen123
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Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 20

Hi, i am new to this website and i usually watch 3dgameman on youtube.
Right now i have an ATI HIS 3870x2 video card, and it runs BFBC2 perfectly fine, but i tried playing the BF3 demo and after 5 minutes it just freezes. I tried playing it on the lowest settings, as well as lowest resolution and it still freezes after 5-8 minutes. I have close to $400 to spend on a new video card, i was wondering what you guys thought would be the best choice, i do prefer ATI only because it is what i have been buying ever since my first video card, but i do not mind switching to NVIDIA if i can get a better price for the same quality since i am not the richest person in the world at the moment. Also i am hoping it will be something that will last a minimum of 4 years so i wont have to buy a new one every year or so.
would be great if you can give me 1 to 2 of each and a price or maybe a link to a site that compares performance, speeds, rates, and prices.

Thanks.

Finaly would it be possible to run crossfire with any of the cards you are sudjesting with my current 3870x2.

rafik

Warmacblu
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Joined: 05/26/2007
Posts: 155

Welcome to the forums. I would recommend you read this article from Tom's Hardware:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-performance-radeon-geforce,3018.html

Tom's usually publishes one article per month and for the most part, I agree with their recommendations. $400 is a great budget and I would think you could find a nice GTX 570 / HD 6970 that should last for a few years.

Having said that, AMD will be releasing their HD 7000 series (Southern Islands) soon which will be a great low power/heat alternative to the HD 6000 series. nVIDIA will also be releasing their GTX 600 series (Kepler) sometime next year, probably won't be high end parts until Q2 or even Q3 of 2012.

If you want a AMD card, then I would hold of until the HD 7000 arrives later this year or early next year and make your decision based on that. If you want an nVIDIA card, I would highly recommend at GTX 570 or save up a little more for a nice GTX 580 (you can find them for about $470). Don't wait forever though, as soon as the HD 7000 series arrives, make your decision and purchase.

Happy shopping,
Ben

kishkumen123
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Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 20

First off thank you for your advice.
my question now is, when you say GTX 570 or HD 6970, and i look online to see price differences and so on, i see that there are so many different types of the same card and prices could range from 100 to 400, and for each difference there is a very slight change and i am unsure what those changes are.
For example:
1. Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6870 (100314-2SR) 1024MB PCIe x16 Gen 2.1 (costs $189.99)
2. Visiontek AMD Radeon HD 6870 (900338) 1024MB PCIe x16 Gen 2.0 (costs $205.00)
3. Visiontek AMD Radeon HD 6870 (900373) 2048MB PCIe Eyefinity 6 Edition (costs $367.99)

Now i know that the price increases as the ram increases, but other than that there are at least 20 other cards with many different prices and very slight differences in what they are called, yet they are all 6870. I know you suggested the 6970 but i am only using this as an example. so if i get the $189.99 card, am i getting a card that in a way cheap or outdated that it does not hold up to cards from the 4000 series?
or if i get a card from the 4000 series that costs $400 would it be just as good?

Finally, you said wait till the 7000 series comes out. Did you mean to wait for it to come out so the 6000 series would be cheaper and i would be able to get a better price on those? or did you mean that i should wait till it comes out because the 7000 series will range around the same price and i should get that?
when you say soon do you mean with in the next 1 to 2 months? or the next 6-12 months?

Sorry for the bombardment of questions, i hope its not a hassle to answer them. I only want to make sure that what i am getting is exactly what i want.

Thanks again for your help.

Allen86
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Joined: 07/08/2008
Posts: 163

6970 2GB is the best single solution card for your price range. It comes down to whether you want a card that pushes the air out of the back of your case or if you want one with a decent heatsink, but requires you to have good case airflow to get rid of the hot air it pushes out into the case. The 6970 comes standard with 2GB, the difference in pricing on these comes down to the cooling solutions as listed previously.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814129184

The reason that Visiontek 2GB 6870 is so much is because of its native support of up to 6 monitors via mini-display ports. You'd only be buying that card if you were running more than 3 monitors, its basically a "niche, special order" type card, it's nothing a normal gamer would look at buying. It's more for people who need crazy amounts of desktop space for work, multi-tasking with many monitors, etc.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150563

As you can see here, its $210 USD (or 420 for crossfire) for a normal 6870 2GB.

If you can afford it, 2 6870 2GB's would be phenomenal performance for its price. Greatly outperforming single solution cards that cost upwards to 450-500. Here shows a comparison of AMD 6870s in crossfire vs a 400-500 dollar GTX 580 (I'm unsure if they used the 2GB model of 6870, it's unlikely they did, so expect even greater gains):

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/301?vs=305

If you're going to crossfire though, I'd highly recommend going with 2GB models of the cards, because it will only use one of the cards VRAM, not the both combined (so if you buy 2x 1GB cards, it will only still use 1GB of VRAM, not the whole combined 2GB.)

Another option is the 6850 in crossfire, unfortunately these are only available in 1GB models though.

6850 $150, $300 crossfire cost:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102908

Here are some rough 6850 crossfire comparison benchmarks

Comparison against GTX 580:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/302?vs=305

Comparison against 6870 in crossfire:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/302?vs=298

Comparison of similar priced GTX 570 (from $320-380) single card:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/302?vs=306

Comparison of similar priced AMD 6970 single card (from $330-380):

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/302?vs=292

There's plenty of games that are already using well over 1GB of VRAM, and within the next couple years you're only going to see that number increase. Next gen 7000 series AMD cards, the 7850 will come standard with 2GB of VRAM...that should tell you something :) So for only a few more bucks, grab the 2GB version of the card, it'll be worth its cost in frame rates later on depending on the resolution you game at.

I'd be hard pressed to go ahead and recommend you buy a AMD 6950 2GB now, and another later once the prices drop a bit more on them...that's if you need a card now. If you can wait, I'd definitely wait for the 7xxx series and buy one of those, but chances are the ones worth buying (the 7850, 7870, etc) will start at or around 250 if I had to guess. There's rumors the 7xxx series will begin releasing on December 6th, 2011...but it's just rumors and hearsay at this point. Given you want to play BF3 now (and you seemingly can't), it's your call whether or not you want to pull the trigger now..or wait a few months until you can play BF3.

Either way, make sure you get a 2GB card if you're looking for another card that stands the test of time.

No, you wont be able to run your 3870x2 in crossfire with any newer generation cards.

4000 series cards perform no where on par with current generation cards. Infact, your current card outperforms majority of single GPU 4000 series.

For a rough comparison, we'll use this as a reference:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/304?vs=290

This is the 4870 compared with the newer 6870 (series equivalent card), almost double the processing power as you can see.

Also, do keep in mind you'll need to have a good PSU to power crossfire configurations. What is your current power supply?

Q6600 @ 2.4Ghz 4GB DDR2 800Mhz 500GB ATI HD 4850 512mb 22" LCD

kishkumen123
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Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 20

Thanks again for a great post.
I am currently not at home so this information is not 100% accuret, if you want to disregard what i say here and wait for a more specific post later that is fine.
I believe i have a PSU with 750W, and in the case that you wanted the rest of my specs.
1.I5 CPU (unsure of its modle but fastest of its kind when i bought it close to a year ago)
2.4GB ram DDR3 l333 (I believe the 1333 is right might be 1666 or something, but it should be the fastest of its kind)
3.My fans are not the strongest but i have i think 4-5 and can add 1-2 more.
5.i cant remember what motherboard i have but i think its ASUS delux 3 or something.

but i guess all u needed was the PSU.

Also i noticed that the GTX 480 SLI (not sure what SLI stands for) out performes and out prices most of the newer video cards from both NVIDIA and ATI. Any known reason as to why that is?

Allen86
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Joined: 07/08/2008
Posts: 163

SLI is Nvidias 2 card configuration (just like ATI/AMD's crossfire).

It outperforms most the other cards because it was Nvidias previous top of the line model, which is now the GTX 580. The GTX 480 performs onpar with something like an overclocked GTX 570/AMD 6970..so it's still a pretty powerful card by todays standards but it also has higher temperatures and power draw.

The GTX 480 is still a powerful card, but it has also been discontinued and if you wanted one, you'd have to find them used...and you'd still be spending 250+ for a used card (with probably no warranty). In other words, it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle.

A 750 watt powersupply should be okay to power 2 AMD 6950 2GB cards (and allow for overclocking)..for GTX 570/AMD 6970 or higher in SLI/Crossfire I'd recommend at least a good quality 850watt PSU if you're going to be overclocking your system.

Also, it wouldn't hurt grabbing 2x4GB of ram and ditch the 4GB you have. It's only about 50 bucks (or even 40 if you catch them on sale) for 8GB (2x4) of 1600 ddr3 ram. I've noticed quite a few games lately eating a hole in my 4GB of ram, so it wouldn't be a terrible decision just to upgrade that as well while you're at it.

Warmacblu
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Joined: 05/26/2007
Posts: 155

I agree with most of Allen86's post above, however, I am not a huge fan of Crossfire or SLi (nVIDIA's version of Crossfire). It all boils down to if you can wait to play BF3 or not. If you can wait, then see what the HD 7000 has in store and purchase from there. If you can't wait, then there are plenty of options available, just choose a brand you trust and something that is within your budget. Limit yourself to a few (two or three) cards you are interested in and then look up lots of reviews/comparison on them; you can probably do this all in one day.

If you manage to find a few cards you are interested in, we can offer even more specific advice.

Allen86
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Joined: 07/08/2008
Posts: 163

Well, I'm just offering information for SLI/Crossfire because it looks like what he's interested in doing at some point ;)

Also, heres some leaked specs on the AMD 7000 series, so its about what you can expect (notice how the 6970 and 7870 have the same specs, but they've cut power consumption in half! unreal!):

amd1.png amd2.png
Warmacblu
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Joined: 05/26/2007
Posts: 155

You won't see much of a performance increase with the HD 7000 series, but you will see a more efficient card. If I were thinking about purchasing an AMD card, I would wait just on that fact; saving money in the long run on power and less heat dumped into the case.

Allen86
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Joined: 07/08/2008
Posts: 163

You're looking at it wrong. There will be a performance increase if you look at the scope of card equivalent. The 7850 (which would be considered their entry level mid range card) performs on the same level as today's 6950 which is todays upper mid range card.

If you look to the actual equivalent of the 6950, the 7950, you'll see it has 500 more cores, more texture units, plenty more bandwidth, XDR2 VRAM and running their newest architecture that's supposed to help even more with desktop type tasks as well as play all the latest games (nothing more has really been released about the nature of the architecture)...I guess you get the point.

Less heat, Less power consumption, more overclockable (also come with high stock clocks).

Also, The whole AMD 7000 series will support PCI-E 3.0 as well.

Note: Only the 7900 series will have AMD's new GPU architecture. The 7800's and lower will be built on an obviously updated and refined 6900 architecture.

You're right though, those power consumption numbers are hard to ignore...it's just quite literally ridiculous. I've been putting my trigger finger on hold ever since I saw that chart a bit over a month ago.

kishkumen123
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Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 20

I dont know if i want to wait until a 7850 comes out, because that could end up being another year, and im kind of interested in playing BF2 as soon as i can get my hands on a video card or CF that would last me 3-4 years.
I am interested in going crossfire with: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150563
and it would work pretty well since you said a 750W would be fine as long as i dont overclock witch i dont intend to, i always worry about burning my card out + i have never done it before and never really found the need to since it seems like it will give me more than i need.

but if you tell me that these cards should come out in the next 2 to maybe 3 months then i would consider it more, and honestly its not about just BF3, lately i have been feeling my card getting week and when ever i look at its temperature, since i have 2 GPU's on one card the one further away from the fan always gets really hot and sometimes reaches 80c+.

Warmacblu
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Joined: 05/26/2007
Posts: 155

I don't really trust any numbers AMD puts on paper, considering their awful job with Bulldozer; we'll see how they perform when they actually arrive. There's also a chance their new tech will be immature, which may make the initial GPU's undesirable.

Nevertheless, it is still worth it to wait for them if you are looking at AMD cards. At the very least, wait a few more months for more details to arrive; who knows, the cards could be pushed back to early next year. What's more likely is that they could release from the bottom up, selling the lower end cards at the end of this year and eventually shipping out the higher end cards sometime next year.

Allen86
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Joined: 07/08/2008
Posts: 163

If you want to go ahead and upgrade now, you wouldn't be dissapointed with the performance of 6870's in Crossfire. There's no hard evidence indicating the cards are releasing this year, so you might land up waiting 2 months for nothing..then having to wait another month or so because you already waited 2 months for the cards to release lol. Either way, I'm going to hold out until black friday and see what kind of deals spring up personally. If I don't hear anything from AMD about a release date by then, I'll be picking up a 6950 2GB.

kishkumen123
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Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 20

and just to make just as a final note, my 750W PCU should run that card on crossfire as long as i dont overclock anything correct?
also, any idea if there are other websites i could buy from? or any good store names i could check out?
nothing wrong this newegg i would just like to compare prices and such, unless you think newegg generally has the better prices.

Warmacblu
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Joined: 05/26/2007
Posts: 155

A 750 watt PSU would be the absolute minimum for Crossfire; assuming it is still running at 90 or 80% efficiency. If you are worried about it then only buy one GPU and spend the other $200 on a nice 850+ watt PSU.

I prefer Newegg to other sites but here are some other pretty good ones:

LogicBUY - kind of like Kayak.com for the PC world.
TigerDirect - always a good alternative