Time for a graphics card upgrade.

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Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Arkesh » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:18 am

With ESV:Skyrim and Battlefield 3 both slated with a November 2011 release, the amount of time I spent in WoW and ESIV:Oblivion will both take fairly big hits. I figure that as I'll be spending more time in prettier places and in a world of DX11 I should probably get shot of my rapidly aging Nvidia GTX260.

However, with a gazillion graphics cards on the market I find I'm in way out of my depth (I know how the Nvidia numbering system works, but that is about it). My budget is around £400 (or roughly ~$670) so I've been looking at the 400 and 500 series and figured out I can comfortably afford 2xGTX460s and run them in SLi (which my mobo can do) or I can stretch the limit of my budget and get 2xGTX560Tis. Does anyone know how much roughly of a differnce I'll see, is it going to be worth the extra £100? I'm guessing two GTXX60s will be better than a single GTXX80...

I know SLi configurations don't get the most bang for their buck in WoW, but come November I'm probably only going to log into WoW to raid and arena.

Just incase it plays a part, my current processor is an AMD Phenom X4 965 overclocked to 3.8Ghz is this going to bottleneck the cards?

As a final sidenote, I wouldn't mind getting a new monitor too, my current 16:10 ratio one is annoying when it comes to converting videos into 16:9. Recommendations are welcome.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Kelaan » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:47 pm

My budget is around £400 (or roughly ~$670)


Tom's Hardware has a monthly column called, "The best graphics cards for the money, ${MONTH}". For any given budget for a card, they explain which are the good ones. They also point out when spending another $20-30 will net you a substantial performance increase.

Just about any card over 250 GBP is likely to be More Than Adequate, and with your budget it's going to be hard to fail at buying a good card. Here's April 2011's best cards list:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card-radeon-hd-6990-geforce-gtx-590,2912-6.html :

"Best PCIe Card For ~$335: None
Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 570"

"Best PCIe Card For ~$420: 2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire

Best PCIe Card For ~$490: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 580
... it's outperformed by dual-card solutions like Radeon HD 6870s in CrossFire and GeForce GTX 560s in SLI"
(And therefore, 2x 570s will be better than a single 580, I expect.)

"At $540, two Radeon HD 6950s will handily beat the GeForce GTX 580, and even come very close to catching the pricier Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 590."

"Best PCIe Card For ~$710: None
Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 6990
Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 590"

It looks like 2x GTX 570 is similar to a single 590 (or worse), or they'd have recommended a crossfire solution. Over budget by $50 or so. Do you have a distinct preference for Nvidia cards, or are ATI ones OK? At some price points they seem decidedly more competitive.

Tom's has top-notch reviews and benchmarks for all of the cards mentioned in the article I linked (April 2011's best GFX cards for the money). You'll likely see comparisons with other SLI configurations, as well as between older and newer models within the same family (590 gtx vs 570 gtx).
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby laterna » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:29 am

Tech mod personal reckomendation, don't go for a 570, go for a 580.


1) no chance of you getting a faulty one
2) Better card, you can SLI it down the road
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Sloath » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:06 am

I've actually been considering a 560ti (MSI frozor II version), whats the actual benefit of the 570 versions over the 560ti? Is it really worth the extra cash to make the jump?
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby fuzzygeek » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:08 pm

laterna wrote:2) Better card, you can SLI it down the road


I've lost count of how many times I've bought a card thinking I could do this "later(tm)", only to be either 1) unable to find a matching card when later(tm) came, or 2) buying the next generation card was Just Better.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby gibborim » Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:41 pm

laterna wrote:Tech mod personal reckomendation, don't go for a 570, go for a 580.


1) no chance of you getting a faulty one
2) Better card, you can SLI it down the road


580s are still going to be monstrously expensive "down the road". By the time you would want to upgrade from a 580 to two 580s, you will probably be better off buying a 760. The problem with the bleeding edge is that you get blood everywhere. Also, I would avoid 2x460/470s in SLI given how hot they run unless you are comfortable that you can handle the heat.

I would spend conservatively on something like this and save my money for a new monitor/card combo when 1440p becomes cheap enough.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby laterna » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:58 pm

gibborim wrote:
laterna wrote:Tech mod personal reckomendation, don't go for a 570, go for a 580.


1) no chance of you getting a faulty one
2) Better card, you can SLI it down the road


580s are still going to be monstrously expensive "down the road". By the time you would want to upgrade from a 580 to two 580s, you will probably be better off buying a 760. The problem with the bleeding edge is that you get blood everywhere. Also, I would avoid 2x460/470s in SLI given how hot they run unless you are comfortable that you can handle the heat.

I would spend conservatively on something like this and save my money for a new monitor/card combo when 1440p becomes cheap enough.


It all depends on the performance you want, and on what "down the road" means to you. For me it means a 9-12 months from now, not 3 years
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Arkesh » Sun May 01, 2011 3:08 am

Kelaan wrote:Do you have a distinct preference for Nvidia cards, or are ATI ones OK? At some price points they seem decidedly more competitive.


Thanks for that I'll have a sit down and thorough read. As for going for the Nvidia cards I believe that my mobo (Asus M4N98TD EVO) only supports SLI and not Crossfire unless there's some third party drivers. I guess I could still run a single ATI card though.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Kelaan » Mon May 02, 2011 10:45 am

fuzzygeek wrote:I've lost count of how many times I've bought a card thinking I could do SLI later, only to be either 1) unable to find a matching card when later(tm) came, or 2) buying the next generation card was Just Better.

Same here. I have a Crossfire-capable board, and a half-gig 4870 card. I can't find half-gig cards anymore, and the cost of getting a 1GB one is pretty close to getting a single card solution of a newer generation. Base your buying on what you can get NOW, and buy it to last. Your mileage may vary, my opinion only, etc etc.

edit:
If you don't go SLI or Crossfire, I don't think it matters which brand you get. My preference is to stay near the current generation, especially if it involves support for a newer version of DirectX or pixel shader specs. Keep in mind I'm a miser and never feel I can spend $700 on a card, though. Tom's guides are well reasoned, IMO, though, and if you have any concerns about Card X vs Card Y, you can usually find a more detailed comparison (in benchmarks and games) in one of the product-specific reviews.

Sometimes "best" is by a large margin, other times it's pretty small. If there are some games you really want to play (Crysis2, etc), you might look more at those benchmarks and compare price and performance. (Performance won't change, but prices are ever-changing.) Also, the price you can get from YOUR preferred stores may be different from those that Tom's uses, so double check the prices you can get. For example, I prefer to spend $10 or so more at Newegg.com rather than shop all over, but sometimes that means that some products are either priced differently or unavailable.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Aergis » Wed May 04, 2011 6:29 pm

gibborim wrote:580s are still going to be monstrously expensive "down the road". By the time you would want to upgrade from a 580 to two 580s, you will probably be better off buying a 760. The problem with the bleeding edge is that you get blood everywhere. Also, I would avoid 2x460/470s in SLI given how hot they run unless you are comfortable that you can handle the heat.


I upgraded my 2 470s to a single 580 for the exact reason that it WILL be more expensive down the road. My logic is that I won't want to SLI it anyway, I'll likely end up with the 580 until Kepler, at which time I will ebay my 580 and upgrade. I was able to sell my 2 470s at $225, so I only paid $50 for the 580 and when the new tech comes I'll have a much more desirable card for the dollar rather than 2 that will likely drop to $150 prices.

Overall though the 580 does kick some ass, quiet and never gets above 60c even doing heavy data processing/rendering. My 470s would easily hit 90c and sound like an airplane was landing every time I did anything with em. Crysis2 maxed is pretty easily handled, never tried with the 470s.


As for the 560ti, one of the 470s was running with better marks than it and cheaper on ebay, though hot and loud like I mentioned.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby fafhrd » Thu May 05, 2011 10:24 am

Arkesh wrote:I know SLi configurations don't get the most bang for their buck in WoW, but come November I'm probably only going to log into WoW to raid and arena.


Just saying, this isn't really something you should worry about for WoW. Assuming you're not displaying WoW across multiple monitors or using a high res 30" monitor, any reasonably modern pair of SLId cards will be enough to max out WoW at resolutions like 1920x1080 - you're more likely to be bottlenecked by your CPU, since WoW while raiding is pretty CPU intensive compared to things like FPS.

On the "I'll buy a single GPU and SLI it later" front, this makes sense if you have some reasonable idea when you'll be doing that buying of the 2nd card. I just went about 3 years between upgrading from my old 9800GTX to a GTX580, so getting a 2nd 9800 wouldn't have been worth it. However if instead of waiting 3 years I only wait 1 or 1.5 years before the next upgrade, buying a 2nd 580 to SLI will almost certainly be better than getting a single 680 or something (although if I manage to resell the old 580 things change, but I don't usually resell my old stuff). But whether I'll actually need an upgrade in 1 to 1.5 years is the question - as long as I stick with gaming at 1920x1080 it's entirely possible that everything I play in the next couple of years will run fine on current system, so I may end up postponing the upgrade too long anyway. I could always get a higher-res monitor to up the demands, but am fairly content with a 24".
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Kelaan » Thu May 05, 2011 2:04 pm

fafhrd wrote:Assuming you're not displaying WoW across multiple monitors or using a high res 30" monitor, any reasonably modern pair of SLId cards will be enough to max out WoW at resolutions like 1920x1080


Great points on the upgrade timeframe influencing your choices, but ... does WoW actually support SLI or Crossfire now? Last I recall, it didn't, but that was before the 4.x upgrades.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby fafhrd » Thu May 05, 2011 2:22 pm

IIRC most of the posts I've seen about SLI not working with WoW were based on not perceiving a performance improvement from enabling the 2nd card, which could also just mean the people testing are CPU bound.

I just tried Googling, and still don't see anything official either way, so you might be right. There are several people saying it does take advantage of SLI, and several saying it does not. Also some suggestions to enable particular NVidia CP or AMD CC/WoW options to make use of it.

Personally I don't see why it wouldn't benefit from SLI (viz. if you're in the SLI mode of having cards render alternating frames, I can't see how WoW could fail to get a boost) so would tend to think it does, but I can't offer any actual confirmation of it so I guess you're right, it's a risky proposition. Perhaps worth finding someone with the SLI configuration you are considering and asking how their WoW performance is.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby fafhrd » Thu May 05, 2011 2:35 pm

[fake edit]

Yeah reading more it really seems like a lot of people saying "SLI doesn't work" just have systems that are either CPU bound or are good enough to not gain any perceptible performance with additional GPU resources. There are a few screenshots of both GPUs taking load, although on systems where the gain is pointless, like going from 150fps to 300fps:

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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby fuzzygeek » Thu May 05, 2011 5:00 pm

fafhrd wrote:I stick with gaming at 1920x1080


Ewww. 1920x1200 or gtfo. :P
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby fafhrd » Thu May 05, 2011 6:37 pm

fuzzygeek wrote:
fafhrd wrote:I stick with gaming at 1920x1080


Ewww. 1920x1200 or gtfo. :P


I'd prefer that too, my laptop used to be that resolution. Sadly they hardly seem to sell LCDs like that anymore.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby gibborim » Thu May 05, 2011 9:38 pm

I upgraded my 2 470s to a single 580 for the exact reason that it WILL be more expensive down the road. My logic is that I won't want to SLI it anyway, I'll likely end up with the 580 until Kepler, at which time I will ebay my 580 and upgrade. I was able to sell my 2 470s at $225, so I only paid $50 for the 580 and when the new tech comes I'll have a much more desirable card for the dollar rather than 2 that will likely drop to $150 prices.


Not everyone is bold enough to sell their things on eBay. From what he said, I also don't think he needs the kind of power/work from his cards that you do as a design professional.

Overall though the 580 does kick some ass, quiet and never gets above 60c even doing heavy data processing/rendering. My 470s would easily hit 90c and sound like an airplane was landing every time I did anything with em. Crysis2 maxed is pretty easily handled, never tried with the 470s.


I'm not sure if I had my Crysis2 set at max or only almost max, but my 470 handled it fine without resorting to jet engine mode. Short of serious video/rendering applications, they should be 70-82c and running quiet. They run hot, but nVidia says that is how they are designed to run. Your 470s shouldn't have been getting to that kind of heat/fan speed while running any recent games. I would be worried if the top of the enthusiast line of cards did not kick ass :)

Unless Skyrim has more demanding specs than I think it does(totally possible) or you plan on running dual-dvi to a 1440 monitor, I see no reason a single 470/570 couldn't last you a couple of years into the next major generation of displays.

[edit: Fixed a sentence I didn't finish before starting another]
Last edited by gibborim on Sat May 07, 2011 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby gibborim » Thu May 05, 2011 9:41 pm

fafhrd wrote:
fuzzygeek wrote:
fafhrd wrote:I stick with gaming at 1920x1080


Ewww. 1920x1200 or gtfo. :P


I'd prefer that too, my laptop used to be that resolution. Sadly they hardly seem to sell LCDs like that anymore.


I know, right? When I was shopping around for my new travel laptop, I was puzzled as to why I could not find something with a screen as good as my six year old laptop's. I was also dismayed that there were almost no options at the 19"+ range >.<
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby valura » Fri May 06, 2011 3:17 am

Personally, I use an MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin-Frozr II/OC, which is quite affordable at about € 260. If you have more to spend, I can suggest going for the 570 at € 350, the 580 at € 420 or the N590 at € 699.

Each of them offer full SLI support, an output of at least 2560x1600, and full (free) software support.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Panzerdin » Sat May 07, 2011 4:23 am

What do you actually want to do? The MSI card mentioned below is probably going to see you through for any resolution up to 1920x1080: anything above that will demand a 580 or an SLI setup. I don't have a current-gen graphics card, so I can't comment on which of those two is better, but unless you have or intend to get a massive resolution screen you're likely not going to need either.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Aergis » Sun May 08, 2011 9:22 pm

gibborim wrote:Not everyone is bold enough to sell their things on eBay. From what he said, I also don't think he needs the kind of power/work from his cards that you do as a design professional.


Yeah, I was just replying to you saying the price of the 580 is a con, but I don't think it should be seen as one. That is, if you're planning to upgrade again in the future... If you aren't ebaying your old hardware when you upgrade to a new stuff what are you doing with it? Reselling it is a great way to keep the costs down and stay up on current gear.

I could see hesitation buying stuff on ebay, it might not work or you might send the money but never get the item. But selling, that's all in your control. You don't ship anything until you have the cash, hard to lose money as a seller.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby gibborim » Sun May 08, 2011 11:40 pm

Yeah, I was just replying to you saying the price of the 580 is a con, but I don't think it should be seen as one. That is, if you're planning to upgrade again in the future... If you aren't ebaying your old hardware when you upgrade to a new stuff what are you doing with it? Reselling it is a great way to keep the costs down and stay up on current gear.

I wasn't saying it was a con. From what he initially posted, I inferred that he wanted something that would be able to play games fairly well for while and that he was in the habit of running his cards nearly into the ground before replacing them. Most people would rather not deal with reselling something just to raise their expected value a bit.

I personally use any hardware I buy for 5-8 years. If I upgrade out of a system, it becomes one of the content servers in the house I live in. I only just recently stopped using the computer I build in college in '03 because it couldn't handle streaming 720p or above.

I could see hesitation buying stuff on ebay, it might not work or you might send the money but never get the item. But selling, that's all in your control. You don't ship anything until you have the cash, hard to lose money as a seller.


I'm guessing you haven't really sold much on eBay since you have this turned around completely. The buyer is protected to an unreal level. All you have to do is file a dispute and you will get your money back.

When a buyer initiates a PayPal dispute for something that never showed up, the seller has two buttons they can click on in the dispute interface: Provide Tracking or Refund

If you get a non-functioning item, they worst you are going to lose is a few dollars shipping it back.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Arkesh » Tue May 10, 2011 10:39 am

Cheers for the help guys, unfortunately due to my car breaking down I've had to eat more than half the budget. So I'll have to put this off until the end of the month, at least it gives me plenty time to decide.
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby Kelaan » Wed May 11, 2011 4:06 pm

Aergis wrote:If you aren't ebaying your old hardware when you upgrade to a new stuff what are you doing with it? Reselling it is a great way to keep the costs down and stay up on current gear.


The Radeon 4870 (512mb) cards on Ebay are either buy it now, have zero bids, or have one bid for around $12. I'm not sure it's worth my time to save $12.

Though, at that price, perhaps I should buy a second one. :D How importance is matching brand? (e.g., Visiontek+Visiontek, or can I safely mix-and-match if they have same chip/memory?)
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Re: Time for a graphics card upgrade.

Postby tullock » Thu May 12, 2011 12:36 am

You can mix brands, and you can even mix in the same family, i.e. a 4890 and a 4870, or a 4870 and a 4850. But whats really gonna bite you about a crossfire 4870 512mb setup these days is that you still only get 512mb of effective vram, not a gig. I dont know exactly how much WoW uses at 1920x1200 because my 4890 doesnt have a tracking tab for it in gpu-z but i also have a pair of 8800gt 512mb cards ive played with over the years, and you can track vram usage with those, and wow uses up the full 512mb and suffers for it at max details with 4x AA and 8x AF.
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