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General GPU questions; More Clock speed over V-Mem, best bang-for-buck

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July 4, 2013 6:38:07 PM

Hello Tom's Hardware!
I'm new to the forum, as this is my first post, but I've been benefiting from the answers and discussions here for quite a while, so I though I'd give it a try. I want to build my first gaming PC. It won't be the first PC I've built, I did a little messing around with computers when I was 10, but I set that one on fire. No plans to do so this time. This time, I want to do it right, and I want to do it AMD style. At my school we constantly have people bashing AMD, saying that Intel and NVIDIA are better brands. I believe strongly in AMD systems, and being in need of a gaming desktop...

I currently plan on using their flagship CPU, the FX-8350. I haven't picked RAM yet, but the motherboard looks like it's going to be the Asus Crosshair V formula-Z. Power supply is also still under debate, but that'll have to wait (I need to know my draw first) Size won't be an issue, I'm going to use a Roswill THOR V2 case. My goal with this build is to introduce liquid cooling on my CPU, and hopefully migrate to the GPU. Which is why I'm here... I can pick the right GPU.

I would prefer one that is under $300 (350 is the absolute maximum). I like the look/price/performance of the Sapphire series, but I find something a little odd. I've been ogling the 7850, since it seems to perform the best bang-for-buck among the upper end of the AMD GPUs (7850, 7870, 7950 and 7970), it even seems to beat a few of it's competitors on 3DMark with everything stock. I can't factor in overclocking and different models (HIS iceq, Sapphire, etc) because there are too many. So my question for you: What do you think the best card in my case is? I've been looking into different amounts of RAM, I think I'll need 3GB, but am willing to settle for two if absolutely necessary, or if modification is achievable.

One last little thing: My goal for the future (as in when I have more money) is to crossfire two of these GPUs, that said, it shouldn't drive me to buy a lesser awesome GPU.

Thank you for your time.

~Cuthbert Nibbles
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July 4, 2013 8:16:11 PM

If you're willing to go to the full $350, a Sapphire Vapor-X 7970 GHz will destroy anything you throw at it; 3 GB of VRAM and a 384-bit memory bus means that it will also run multiple monitors quite well. Plus, this means that (a few years from now) you can throw another $250 or so at it and have a rig that will really wreck anything.
However, if you plan on doing CFX in the future, I recommend getting a PSU like the Corsair HX850; a bit excessive, but provides you with OC headroom on both the cards and the CPU.
In terms of RAM, just pick 8GB (if you're a gamer) or 16GB (if you're an editer) of 1600 MHz, low-profile RAM; Corsair Vengeance LP is a great model. Low-profile RAM also allows you to use aftermarket coolers.
One thing I will tell you is this; unless you are spending $120+ on a water-cooler to get a 240mm radiator, the air-coolers will perform just as well. Getting something like the Corsair H60 would, in fact, be a a bit of a waste, when you could spend half as much and get the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO air-cooler and get almost identical performance.
As for the case; I actually recommend a Corsair 500R for the case. The Thor V2 is quite clunky, and getting at the inside of the case takes quite a bit of work. Also, the 500R gives you a lot of options, as the left panel houses a slot for a 200mm fan. This case will provide you with room for any liquid/water cooler, as well as a whole lot of airflow as well.
Also, great job challenging the status quo ;) 
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a c 87 à CPUs
July 4, 2013 8:29:45 PM

I know you don't want to hear this, but if you are spending this much money on a system, you are better off with an Intel CPU. I can see buying an AMD CPU if you can't afford the comparable Intel setup, or if you already have the AM3+ board. I can't see buying an AMD CPU out of spite or to prove other people wrong.

If you got $300 I hear the 7970 is down in this price range now. Great GPU for the money. You can also consider the GTX680/770. Should all perform about the same.
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July 4, 2013 8:33:59 PM

4745454b said:
I know you don't want to hear this, but if you are spending this much money on a system, you are better off with an Intel CPU. I can see buying an AMD CPU if you can't afford the comparable Intel setup, or if you already have the AM3+ board. I can't see buying an AMD CPU out of spite or to prove other people wrong.

If you got $300 I hear the 7970 is down in this price range now. Great GPU for the money. You can also consider the GTX680/770. Should all perform about the same.


The 680 and 770 are both $400. And yes, the 7970 is down to about $330. I recommended the 7970 GHz Edition, which is at the $350 limit of OP. Both the 680 and 770 surpass that limit.
Also, in terms of Intel being better; OP specifically said that they wanted AMD (I know that you saw that, just reminding :p ). IMHO, it takes a very specific game anyway to show the differences in the two, and I think that it's fine to go AMD on a build. The FX-8350 is still a great CPU, and the AMD motherboards tend to be cheaper.
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July 4, 2013 8:55:09 PM

dannyboy2233 said:
If you're willing to go to the full $350, a Sapphire Vapor-X 7970 GHz will destroy anything you throw at it; 3 GB of VRAM and a 384-bit memory bus means that it will also run multiple monitors quite well. Plus, this means that (a few years from now) you can throw another $250 or so at it and have a rig that will really wreck anything.
However, if you plan on doing CFX in the future, I recommend getting a PSU like the Corsair HX850; a bit excessive, but provides you with OC headroom on both the cards and the CPU.
In terms of RAM, just pick 8GB (if you're a gamer) or 16GB (if you're an editer) of 1600 MHz, low-profile RAM; Corsair Vengeance LP is a great model. Low-profile RAM also allows you to use aftermarket coolers.
One thing I will tell you is this; unless you are spending $120+ on a water-cooler to get a 240mm radiator, the air-coolers will perform just as well. Getting something like the Corsair H60 would, in fact, be a a bit of a waste, when you could spend half as much and get the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO air-cooler and get almost identical performance.
As for the case; I actually recommend a Corsair 500R for the case. The Thor V2 is quite clunky, and getting at the inside of the case takes quite a bit of work. Also, the 500R gives you a lot of options, as the left panel houses a slot for a 200mm fan. This case will provide you with room for any liquid/water cooler, as well as a whole lot of airflow as well.
Also, great job challenging the status quo ;) 


The Corsair Carbide 500R is a nice looking case, and it seems to be pushing greatly for pure raw functionality. It was a grand wake-up call for me, since I previously saw Corsair as cooling, RAM and peripherals only. I never looked into their cases, which was a (noob) mistake. That said, the THOR brings slightly more real-estate to the table, as well as eye candy, and I looove shiny things :pfff: (noob). Again, the THOR has some pretty oddly placed grommets at the back, they claim they're to be used for liquid cooling, but where on earth am I to put the radiator? On top there are the fancy fins, and you don't mount a RAD on the side, it'll either suck in hot air or blow hot air into an intake. I guess my case hunt continues.

As for the GPU, where did you find that GPU for 350? the best I found was 480! In the mean time, I also found this:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
As you may have figured out by now, I like over kill, and 4 Gigs of video memory... Any thoughts?

Thanks again!

4745454b said:
I know you don't want to hear this, but if you are spending this much money on a system, you are better off with an Intel CPU. I can see buying an AMD CPU if you can't afford the comparable Intel setup, or if you already have the AM3+ board. I can't see buying an AMD CPU out of spite or to prove other people wrong.

If you got $300 I hear the 7970 is down in this price range now. Great GPU for the money. You can also consider the GTX680/770. Should all perform about the same.


I think the reason I'm so bent on getting the AMD is my experience with intel CPUs. I've had a Pentium II and it fried beyond considerable usability, an i5, and it's practically fried. They may be more powerful CPU, but I know somebody who has been running an AMD in their machine for almost 10 years, and it's still in near-perfect condition. Once you cut through the 6 or 7 inches of baked dust. And guess who was chosen to do that... XD

But thank you for the tip.
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a c 78 à CPUs
July 4, 2013 9:21:33 PM

Do not spend $280 on a 7850. You can get a 7870 XT (which when overclocked is comparable to a 7950) for $259. This is card will be massively faster then that 7850 and cost considerably less. There is a faster card available from Nvidia if you are open to one of their cards. It is the GTX 760 and that is $269 and is one of the best values right now. All the same if you have $300-$350 you might as well just get a 7970 Ghz Edition as it will be faster than both of the above mentioned cards. I somewhat agree with the above suggestion that if you have the money and Intel setup will offer more performance and draw less power but if you really want and AMD system, there is nothing wrong with that and it still will be very powerful. Here are a few links to the graphics cards that I suggested above.

Powercolor 7870 LE Myst edition $259.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte GTX-760 $269.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Sapphire 7970 Ghz Edition $349.99 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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July 4, 2013 9:25:20 PM

cmi86 said:
Do not spend $280 on a 7850. You can get a 7870 XT (which when overclocked is comparable to a 7950) for $259. This is card will be massively faster then that 7850 and cost considerably less. There is a faster card available from Nvidia if you are open to one of their cards. It is the GTX 760 and that is $269 and is one of the best values right now. All the same if you have $300-$350 you might as well just get a 7970 Ghz Edition as it will be faster than both of the above mentioned cards. I somewhat agree with the above suggestion that if you have the money and Intel setup will offer more performance and draw less power but if you really want and AMD system, there is nothing wrong with that and it still will be very powerful. Here are a few links to the graphics cards that I suggested above.

Powercolor 7870 LE Myst edition $259.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte GTX-760 $269.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Sapphire 7970 Ghz Edition $349.99 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



That Vapor-X is a dream. Any idea how long the sale will go on? I might not buy the components for another few weeks, I don't want to lose out on this one!
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a b à CPUs
July 4, 2013 9:31:58 PM

Cuthbert Nibbles said:
cmi86 said:
Do not spend $280 on a 7850. You can get a 7870 XT (which when overclocked is comparable to a 7950) for $259. This is card will be massively faster then that 7850 and cost considerably less. There is a faster card available from Nvidia if you are open to one of their cards. It is the GTX 760 and that is $269 and is one of the best values right now. All the same if you have $300-$350 you might as well just get a 7970 Ghz Edition as it will be faster than both of the above mentioned cards. I somewhat agree with the above suggestion that if you have the money and Intel setup will offer more performance and draw less power but if you really want and AMD system, there is nothing wrong with that and it still will be very powerful. Here are a few links to the graphics cards that I suggested above.

Powercolor 7870 LE Myst edition $259.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte GTX-760 $269.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Sapphire 7970 Ghz Edition $349.99 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



That Vapor-X is a dream. Any idea how long the sale will go on? I might not buy the components for another few weeks, I don't want to lose out on this one!


It was the one that I recommended... available from NewEgg.
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July 4, 2013 9:35:35 PM

dannyboy2233 said:
Cuthbert Nibbles said:
cmi86 said:
Do not spend $280 on a 7850. You can get a 7870 XT (which when overclocked is comparable to a 7950) for $259. This is card will be massively faster then that 7850 and cost considerably less. There is a faster card available from Nvidia if you are open to one of their cards. It is the GTX 760 and that is $269 and is one of the best values right now. All the same if you have $300-$350 you might as well just get a 7970 Ghz Edition as it will be faster than both of the above mentioned cards. I somewhat agree with the above suggestion that if you have the money and Intel setup will offer more performance and draw less power but if you really want and AMD system, there is nothing wrong with that and it still will be very powerful. Here are a few links to the graphics cards that I suggested above.

Powercolor 7870 LE Myst edition $259.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte GTX-760 $269.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Sapphire 7970 Ghz Edition $349.99 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



That Vapor-X is a dream. Any idea how long the sale will go on? I might not buy the components for another few weeks, I don't want to lose out on this one!


It was the one that I recommended... available from NewEgg.


I couldn't find the 'sale' model, I just found the 'original' which was $90 more. No idea why. Like this:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
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Best solution

a b à CPUs
July 4, 2013 9:38:09 PM

Cuthbert Nibbles said:
dannyboy2233 said:
Cuthbert Nibbles said:
cmi86 said:
Do not spend $280 on a 7850. You can get a 7870 XT (which when overclocked is comparable to a 7950) for $259. This is card will be massively faster then that 7850 and cost considerably less. There is a faster card available from Nvidia if you are open to one of their cards. It is the GTX 760 and that is $269 and is one of the best values right now. All the same if you have $300-$350 you might as well just get a 7970 Ghz Edition as it will be faster than both of the above mentioned cards. I somewhat agree with the above suggestion that if you have the money and Intel setup will offer more performance and draw less power but if you really want and AMD system, there is nothing wrong with that and it still will be very powerful. Here are a few links to the graphics cards that I suggested above.

Powercolor 7870 LE Myst edition $259.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte GTX-760 $269.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Sapphire 7970 Ghz Edition $349.99 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



That Vapor-X is a dream. Any idea how long the sale will go on? I might not buy the components for another few weeks, I don't want to lose out on this one!


It was the one that I recommended... available from NewEgg.


I couldn't find the 'sale' model, I just found the 'original' which was $90 more. No idea why. Like this:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...


Find it on "pcpartpicker.com" and take a look at it there; $349.99. :) 
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