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Graphics card choice

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Graphics card choice

Postby Diogones » Thu May 06, 2010 12:12 pm

For my new computer, I need to decide which GPU to get. Now while I want to be somewhat future proof and be able to play games in a couple of years, I don't need anything top of the line by any means. I also don't play any high fps demanding games like the infamous FPS such as Crysis, Far Cry, etc. The reason I am asking you guys is, as a major WoW forum, I am hoping some of the more technically savvy users can point me in the right direction. I do want to be able to play WoW at max settings at a resolution of about 1920x1200, and of course I will be playing Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 when they are available as well. Similarly, the other games I play are RTS, strategy based games, etc. I have heard that the GTX 275 is good, but that something like the Radeon 5850 or higher would be needed for me to get the best results. What does everybody here think? Thank you for taking the time to read this, and any helpful replies are welcome! 8)
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Korola » Thu May 06, 2010 12:23 pm

ATI Radeon HD 4770

In our Core i7-920 test rig, the HD 4770 averaged a playable 33fps in Crysis at 1600 x 1200 with high detail. Even in the challenging high-resolution Call of Juarez test it scored 30fps. Naturally, these scores don't compete with the HD 4870, which scored 42fps and 40fps in the same tests. But, interestingly, these results are identical to those of the HD 4850.


I too, am looking for a new graphics card. This one runs about $150 and I was wondering if anyone had some feedback.

Thanks.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby smiter » Thu May 06, 2010 3:32 pm

I actually just bought a new computer last month that came with a Nvidia GT 2200 card (don't quoute on the exact name as I am going of the top of my head here). has 1GB ram for the graphics card. I-5 processor at 3.2Ghz 8GBDDR3 ram and I run a 1900-1200 widescreen resolution on a 32inch LCDTV at highest video settings...all I can say is AMAZING. Even in 25man raids my fps are still pushing 60 at highest settings! flying around northrend farming i am pushing 200fps at times. and I spent 800 ont the computer at bestbuy for just the tower. It's a Dell inspirion with windows 7 and 1TB hardrive. Machine is a beast, I could not see how spending $3,000 for a top gaming tower would be any better...I feel this machine has great performance for the money.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Belloc » Thu May 06, 2010 3:53 pm

I use the Geforce GTX 260 (the one with MOAR SHADERS... there are two models) and it works fantastically. I play at 1080p (so 1920x1080, I believe) with everything maxed out. GPUs aren't really where WoW is stressed the most.

If you want to have a look at what my system can do, check out my youtube page.

Of particular note are the AOE video and the 10-man LK pt.2 video. They should give you an idea of what you can expect from that card, as long as the rest of the system is capable (I use a core i7 with 6GB of ... DDR3? RAM). There is slowdown on the AOE video for obvious reasons (the fact that I'm recording... and the massive amount of AOE, increased beyond in-game maximum settings via an add-on).

Keep in mind that this video was recorded with fraps and processed with windows live movie maker, so it's not identical to what I see in-game.


As far as other games go, I've had no hitches in Modern Warfare 2, Starcraft 2 Beta, Left 4 Dead 2 (or any source engine game), Stalker, or anything I've thrown at it, really. Cryostasis was the most taxing on my machine... and that's because it's a beast of a game.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Santcuff » Thu May 06, 2010 4:04 pm

How do you know if a new graphics card would work with your computer?
Like are there requirements for graphics card to work better?

My computer only has 2gb RAM so would that make it harder to find a good one?
I've always been confused by graphic cards and I really need a new one.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Belloc » Thu May 06, 2010 4:15 pm

2GB of RAM is getting to be on the low side. Generally, your processor will be the determining factor. If your processor is too old, newer graphics cards will be bottle-necked. If your graphics card is too old, your processor will be bottle-necked. It's a good idea to get a completely new computer every 4-5 years, to be perfectly honest. Upgrades are rarely worth it.

But, if you really want to know, let us know exactly what you're using as far as processor, RAM (quantity and speed... like DDR, DDR2, etc), and graphics card.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Diogones » Thu May 06, 2010 4:40 pm

Not so fast Belloc; upgrades can certainly be much friendly on your wallet than a new computer - it just depends on which type of computer you already have. For example, if you own a computer which runs off of the P55 chipset, then yes, it will be costly to upgrade to a quad core CPU. If however you happen to own an X58 motherboard and you wish to upgrade to a 6 core CPU, then only the CPU has to be replaced, and the mobo can be left alone. Of course, it also depends on what you are doing with your computer and how much horsepower you really need. Since my computer is like yours in that it has 6GB tri-channel memory, I will not need an upgrade/replacement for several years, as I usually have low RAM applications running anyhow.
Now if you are looking at the quality of the computer and the components, then that is an equal arguement as well. If you bought a computer from Best Buy that came right out of the box, chances are it will probably have parts failure or performance issues within 5 years anyway (this explains why many big brand computer companies only have a 1 year warranty on most of their products). But if you or another invidivdual built a computer with the proper know and selecting only the highest quality components, or if you are willing to shell out a great deal of money to a custom, botique computer building company, then the odds are good that computer will have a much lower failure rate, owing to the quality of the build and parts.
Granted, computers will always become obsolete over time, even top of the line machines. But whether it is better to replace a $900 computer every 4-5 years or consistently upgrade a $2000 computer, or something in between, I will leave to the consumer to decide.

To get back to the topic at hand, I would like to thank everyone for their prompt and helpful replies! No matter what GPU you buy, Belloc is correct: make sure your computer is compatible with the new part, otherwise you won't see any performance gains. Since I realize now that WoW is more of a CPU intensive game, and not so much GPU, I can hold back on buying a really nice but expensive card like the 5870 or the 480. While overclocking your graphics card can certainly help, just remember more often than not that it will shorten the life of the part in question, and it will produce more heat.
That is a helpful remark about the 5770 Korola, but the quote you inserted is describing the card's performance at 1600x1200, wheras I'm looking for a card that can handle 1920x1200.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Santcuff » Thu May 06, 2010 6:30 pm

# ntel Core 2 Duo E6300 Desktop Processor
# 2GB PC2-5400 DDR2 Memory
# 320GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
# 16x DVD+/-RW DL Burner and 16x DVD-ROM Drives
# Dell UltraSharp 2007FPW 20" Widescreen LCD
# NVIDIA GeForce 7300LE Graphics with 256MB TurboCache
# Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic Audio with Dell AS501 Flat Panel Monitor Speakers
# v.92 56Kbps Modem and Gigabit Ethernet
# 10 USB 2.0 and One FireWire Port
# Windows XP Media Center 2005 and Corel Word Perfect

These are my specs I think
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Daeren » Sat May 08, 2010 5:16 am

If it's a budget computer, make a list of what's important in your computer.
Atm, you would probably want to see a bit ahead with DirectX 11, and OpenCL, so newest generation cards are an excellent choice.

The first question, how much do you need your computing power? If it's only for gaming ,and those games mentioned, a dualcore would be enough for now, but a quad or hexacore isn't that much more expensive, and might be more useful ahead. If we look at the newest generation of CPU/motherboard, there's one question
If you want to spend 350$ or less on motherboard and CPU, go AMD. If you want to spend more, go for Intel.
Reason is that AMD at budget range and normal computer buys offer much more for your money spent, while if you want the best computing power, and you're willing to cash out for it, go for Intel. Most reviews say the same thing on that part. Also, AMD motherboards are cheaper than Intel motherboards (especially the i7 ones)

Ram is ram. You buy as much as you want to. Personally, I went for 8 GB of ram, because I could afford it, and it's always nice to have tons. Difference between 4-6-8 gb of ram while playing games is non-existent. The same ram is used for both systems

GPU: Go AMD Radeon for latest generation. They are simply awesome. I did buy a pretty expensive 5870 with custom cooling, but in any case, you would want to go for the Radeon. They offer the most computing power per $, while nVidia has the most powerful single card, it draws about 300w of power, and then you'll need a more powerful PSU, not to mention the noise and heat. And to top it off, it's so expensive it's not worth it. Go Radeon 5xxx for power efficiency, less efficiency and more power. nVidia clearly won the race vs 2xxx, less so against 3xxx, ended up pretty equal with 4xxx. and they were simply too late vs the 5xxx, which has all the benefits.

In short:
If you have unlimited cash, go Intel i7. If you're on a budget, go AMD.
GPU: Go AMD, unless you're going to need alot of tesselation.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby tlitp » Sat May 08, 2010 8:44 am

Budget CPUs and the "bang4buck" factor
Near to the $100 price threshold there is one Intel option (i3 530) and three AMD options (X2 555, X3 720, X4 635). Comparative benchmarks can be found on AT, for instance :
bttp://anandtech.com/bench/Product/118?vs=NNN&i=XXX
Replace "b" with "h", "NNN" with the CPU code (120 for X2, 83 for X3, 122 for X4), and "XXX" with the benchmark type :
- 43.46.56.57 for generic Windows apps
- 25.26.27.28.29.30.31.32.33.34.35.36.37.39.40.41.42.44.45.53.54.58 for heavily-threaded apps
- 47.48.49.50.59.60.61.62 for games
- 63.51.64.52 for power consumption
Code: Select all
http://anandtech.com/bench/Product/118?vs=120&i=63.51.64.52
will output a comparison between i3 540 and X2 555 regarding the power consumption.

The conclusion is rather straightforward :
  1. go with AMD if you're focused on heavily-threaded professional apps (encoding/image processing/rendering etc)
  2. go with AMD if you want a more future-proof platform (Intel's LGA 1156 platform, on which the i3 540 is based, will die in 2011), being a person that upgrades his/her PC on a somewhat regular basis (say once a year)
  3. go with Intel for anything&everything else
Bluntly put, Intel's i3 530 outperforms AMD's most balanced option on this price segment, the X3 720.
Special mention : the less "computer-savvy" persons are usually deceived by something that is merely a marketing trick - "it has more cores, it must be better". Don't get fooled by this. Software parallelization is, both now and in the close future (say two-three years), remotely available to the regular PC user. Such a person will have a hard time differentiating a two-core from a six-core (ceteris paribus).


GPUs and World of Warcraft
- AMD/ATI 4770/4850/5750, NVIDIA 9800 GT/GTX or GTS250 for resolutions up to 1680x1050
- ATI 4870/5770, NVIDIA GTX260/GTX275 for 1920x1080 (1920x1200)
One does not need the newer hotshots (ATI 5850/5870, NVIDIA GTX470/GTX480), unless playing on extremely high resolutions or multi-monitor setups. OpenCL/CUDA/PhysX (and even the DX11 compliance, to a certain extent) are marketing tricks - at least as far as a regular PC user is concerned.
Special mention : TH's benchmark of SC2B likely configures the hardware requirements of the Cataclysm expansion pack.
  1. scaling with CPU clock frequency
  2. scaling with CPU #cores
  3. scaling with GPU
Sounds familiar ? :P
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Santcuff » Sat May 08, 2010 9:52 am

Wow thanks for all this great info. Time to start saving up money so I can afford this stuff.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Daeren » Sat May 08, 2010 10:00 am

The funny thing is that as I mentioned earlier, you won't notice anything above 2 cores since both WoW and SC2 are programmed for 2 cores atm (SC2 might get upgraded to utilize more cores)

@tlitp:
Not sure he was referring to sub 100$ CPUs. But I'm amazed over how good the i3 performs on WoW. It just might be the best buy if you're only using your computer for gaming, AMD simply has nothing on it.

If you're going for more expensive CPUs that have better overall performance and good gaming performance:

Example SC2 test:
The only thing is worth mentioning that while the closest to 3,5 GHz would be the unlocked 3,4 GHz Phenom II X4 that costs 186$ on Newegg, while the i7 2,66 GHz costs 279$. For nearly 100 bucks less, you get a quadcore that's unlocked, and you can squeeze more power out of it without having expensive memory nor motherboard (except if you're clocking real high, and you need a really good power supply for the CPU).

If you do a WoW comparison:
http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,693737/WoW-Wrath-of-the-Lich-King-CPU-benchmarks-with-Phenom-II-and-Core-i5/Practice/
Running at stock speed: The i5 is slightly better than the Phenom beating it by 1 FPS, and costing 13$ more and not to mention that still the Intel LGA 1156 motherboards are slightly more expensive than the AM3.
So, while the difference isn't huge, the AMD wins out here

GPU:
GTX 260 896 MB 199$ (the 179$ has a much lower memory clock speed)
Radeon 5770 1GB around 170$
Radeon 5830 1GB 214$
Radeon 5850 1GB 304$
Radeon 4870 1GB 159$

Also, to note:
http://techreport.com/articles.x/18521/10
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and noise:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-4870,1964-16.html
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And here's average frame rates during tests:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-4870,1964-19.html

A direct WoW: WotLK test:
http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,697202/Ati-Radeon-HD-5770-reviewed-DirectX-11-Mid-Range/Reviews/?page=11

The GTX 260 is a good buy, but the 5770 is a better buy if you're thinking of WoW. In SC2, 260 pulls slightly ahead of the 5770, but at a slightly higher price.


So, if you want a good affordable gaming PC, buy an Intel i3 530 with a Radeon 5770 1GB card. Thanks tlitp for heads up on the i3.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Melathys » Sat May 08, 2010 10:38 am

So how much of a hassle is it to install a new gpu? I'm thinking of getting the new HP desktop. (It has the 6core processor). But I don't know whether I should upgrade the gpu as I order it, or get the default one and upgrade to a new one, which I gather will be coming later this year.

And if I do upgrade from factory, which should I get? I would link it myself, but I'm typing this from my phone. Just look at the new HP, which starts at $1800ish. It seems to be a lot of computer for the price, which is also what CNET seemed to say when I watched their review of it.
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Daeren » Sat May 08, 2010 12:17 pm

If I may ask, why a HP desktop? The computer shops usually have their own partially built for less of a price, or they can custom build one for you if you don't want to assemble it yourself.
And what graphics card are you waiting for? I don't remember any huge releases coming later this year? And in that case, you wouldn't want to have a prebuilt computer without sufficient power for the new card. The work of installing a new GPU isn't much IF you have the sufficient space for it inside your case and the necessary power connectors, which may not always be the case in a factory built computer.

If you buy from HP, buy with an already installed upgraded graphics card, then you get the warranty. If you want either cheaper, or to be able to upgrade, order customized by shop/assemble it yourself.

Non-brand computers pros:
Noise, quality of components, choice of components, general well supported hardware, a casing of your own choosing, no crappy shit programs preinstalled on your computer.

Brand computer pro:
Warranty
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Re: Graphics card choice

Postby Melathys » Sat May 08, 2010 1:07 pm

I've always been amused at the hostility ppl who build their computers have towards pre built computers. Its not usually an indifference, but seems like actual hatred, lol.

But I see what your saying about gpu, guess I'll have to figure out which is better, the nvidia or ati one.

Default is ati radeon hd 5570. Can upgrade to radeon hd 4850 or geforce gtx 260. The nvidia card is more expensive, but that doesn't always mean better.
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