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Upgrade path and thinking

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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August 5, 2014 6:35:29 AM

I have a question about having an upgrade path in mind when new graphics cards come out every other week.

Let's say I buy a X79 or new X99 set up where I have 3 maybe 4 PCI-e x16 lanes and I go-ahead and buy one relatively high-end graphics card, cause that's all I can afford right now. When I go to upgrade and add another graphics card to my system they no longer manufacture that high end card anymore, and it's hard to find a second one. For example I have a AMD 7970 in a Z68 setup. If I go X99 I can't just buy the same 7970 and put it into crossfire, I have to buy a new graphics card and then by the time I am able to afford the second one, something new comes out and they don't manufacture the older one anymore. What can I be doing in my "upgrade path thinking" to help me achieve my end result system and keep me from breaking the bank all at once?

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a b U Graphics card
August 5, 2014 6:39:51 AM

You sound just like me a few months ago. I kept worrying about upgrading when I looked at what I was doing and found out that I don't need to upgrade. I just wanted to not be outdated. I've accepted my fate now that I'll have to stick with what I have for a while. I wouldn't upgrade from sandy bridge. I'd just buy a second 7970 and wait. Intel doesn't really change much in the desktop sector so only thing to do now is upgrade your graphics horsepower.
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a b U Graphics card
August 5, 2014 6:48:41 AM

First, you do not have to have the exact same card to Xfire/SLI: you have to have a compatible chip. For Nvidia the tolerances are tighter: you can't mix and match a GTX 660 with a GTX 570; while you can, within limits, mix and match AMD models.

You can probably find straight AMD 7970s used on e-Bay or even old inventory if you do not wish to chance mixing in a AMD R9 280X, but the 280X should be compatible in Xfire.

If I were planning a gradual upgrade I'd chose a card I can afford and plan to buy compatible mates for it later. I'd recommend Nvidia over AMD because the AMDs are used in mining and can be abused if not properly housed and cooled. But, if you want a recommendation using the 7970 I'd go with new AMD R9 280X.
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a b U Graphics card
August 5, 2014 6:57:27 AM

You could crossfire with an R9 280x for around $300 or you can crossfire with another HD 7970 for $155 from ebay in used condition.
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August 5, 2014 7:15:15 AM

Ebay is a great option as well but be careful not to buy anything with a no return policy. It's an easy way to get screwed.

Also if want to go x99 and Haswell-E and you can afford to by all means do. Although, as previously stated, Sandy Bridge should be current enough to last you another year or two if you want to wait.
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August 7, 2014 9:11:06 AM

Yea I'm just looking to get on the Crossfire/SLI band wagon and go x99 and also get out of PCIe Gen2, eventhough I know it's not much of a difference...this way it's easer to ease in on 4k in the future when I'm ready...Thanx for the eye opener on the 7970 r9 280x. For the longest time I though it had to be the exact same card.
Another thing that just bothered me is the preliminary articles on PCIe 4 coming out and how it's going to have doubled x16 lane bandwidth..I guess that's a much bigger jump from 2 times 8x=16x..it would prob be smarter that wait for an upgrade like that than an upgrade with CPUs
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