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Sapphire Radeon R9 280X 3GB vs x2 XFX Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition 2 GB

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August 12, 2014 1:34:31 PM

Hi. So I wanted to upgrade my computer but I am not sure what the optimal option for me is. My motherboard is Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3:
http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=...

My choice is between Sapphire Radeon R9 280X 3GB and two XFX Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition 2 GB in Crossfire
Radeon R9 280X specs: http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?pid=2...
Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition specs: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thoughts? Thanks!
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 1:44:10 PM

If you can go with a single card, go with the single card. Crossfire, although generally giving good performance, has some driver issues in certain games, where you get a lower FPS than a single card. If you already have an HD 5970, you can simply buy the other one. But if you have to buy two of them, definitely go with the R9 280X. The card is newer, has more features, and you leave your upgrade path more open since you can put another one in if required.
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August 12, 2014 1:51:18 PM

NightAntilli said:
If you can go with a single card, go with the single card. Crossfire, although generally giving good performance, has some driver issues in certain games, where you get a lower FPS than a single card. If you already have an HD 5970, you can simply buy the other one. But if you have to buy two of them, definitely go with the R9 280X. The card is newer, has more features, and you leave your upgrade path more open since you can put another one in if required.


Thanks for the quick respond! Will it be a problem that my motherboard only has PCI-Express 2.0 instead of PCI-Express 3.0 as the R9 280X uses?

Money is also kind of tight, so I don't plan to upgrade my computer anytime soon (might be several years). Will R9 280X give better performance on my motherboard then x2 HD 5970? Can you think of any other ATI cards that would give a better performance for my motherboard (my budget is around 450$) then those two?

My specs are:

MB: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T
RAM: Corsair 8GB 1600Mhz
Power supply: Corsiar 850W
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a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 2:06:54 PM

One 280X is just a bit faster than a single 5970 (it varies depending on the game, and how well crossfire scales). When it comes to two 5970s things get a bit more complicated, as each 5970 already contains two GPUs running in crossfire (two 5870s). Trying to run two 5970s together, and thus four gpus in crossfire is a recipe for heartache and frustration.

Very few games work well with 4 way crossfire, and even fewer show decent scaling, as you certainly don't get anywhere near double the performance of a 2 way crossfire setup. Throw in the increased noise and heat, and all in all you'd be better off opting for a single 280X.

As for the PCI-Express issue, don't worry, the slots and cards are backwards compatible, so a 3.0 card will work happily in a 2.0 slot.

The good news is that the performance difference between 2.0 and 3.0 for a full 16 lane x16 PCI-E slot is negligible, particularly with a 280X, as it doesn't come close to saturating the interface.

If you want alternative to the 280X, with $450 the best you could do is a good R9-290 like this one, but obviously that's quite a step up in cost, so only you can decide if it would be worth it or not.
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a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 2:07:32 PM

It will not be a problem. Even PCI-e 2.0 has enough bandwidth for the card. Even if you put the PCI-e 2.0 on x8 instead of x16 the performance will still be roughly the same, so that's nothing to worry about.

The R9 280X will actually give slightly worse performance than the HD5970 in crossfire, assuming crossfire is working correctly. I don't think your power supply will be good enough for HD 5970 in crossfire though. Assuming you won't be gaming at anything higher than 1080p, crossfire is a real waste since its benefits are mostly seen at extremely high resolutions. And if you don't want to upgrade your power supply, the R9 280X is still your safest bet.
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August 12, 2014 2:17:33 PM

Alright, thanks for the answer! I'll probally go for the R9 280X or maybe R9 290. What one do you think I should go for when it come to my other specs? I'm mainly using my computer for gaming.

MB: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T
RAM: Corsair 8GB 1600Mhz
Power supply: Corsiar 850W
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a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 2:22:23 PM

If you can afford the R9 290, go for that one. It's an even better value for money than the 280X.
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August 12, 2014 2:29:38 PM

NightAntilli said:
If you can afford the R9 290, go for that one. It's an even better value for money than the 280X.


Alright :)  But do you think my CPU and RAM might limit my computers performance with the R9 290 and not be able to use it to its fullest potential? If so, there is no point in buying a too good graphics card, right?
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a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 2:37:00 PM

It's true that the jump in performance between the 280X and the 290 scales pretty well with the increase in cost, so a 290 certainly isn't a bad choice.

I'm sadly not as familiar as I'd like to be with the Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T, but I'm aware it holds up pretty well even now (it's of limited use, but the hierarchy chart on Tom's hardware has it as more or less equal to the 8350 as far as gaming goes), so CPU bottleneck shouldn't be an issue. Your memory is fine also.

If it was me in your position, I'd probably go for the 290. I'm a big fan of the Sapphire Tri-X OC version I linked earlier, it reviewed well and seems to be worth the slight premium over similar 290s.
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a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 2:39:03 PM

The RAM is more than fine. No bottleneck there.

As for your CPU, it's a little on the old side, but it can still hold its own and won't limit you too much, if at all. If you look at this;
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-o...

They generally advise to upgrade if you're going three tiers higher. There's currently no processor that's three tiers higher. There's only a single tier. Your CPU will hold out for a few years.
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August 12, 2014 3:00:15 PM

Ok, i suppose I will go for the Sapphire Radeon TRI-X R9 290 4GB OC, but what about the 290X? Any point in going for that or will my CPU not be able to keep up when its at its highest performance?
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a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 3:07:22 PM

It's really not worth the significant increase in cost for what is a pretty small increase in performance.
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August 12, 2014 3:10:41 PM

Ok, thank you for your help :)  I appreciate it !
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a b V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
August 12, 2014 3:14:37 PM

No worries, glad to help :) 
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