I'm pretty much a computer hardware newbie. My experience is limited to replacing RAM/Graphic Cards.
I'm considering buying a system from ABS. I was planning on getting an 8xxx series, but I really don't think I'll be able to afford it at this point (plus, DX10 won't be a big issue for me for some time, since I mainly play MMO's).
Anyway, the system I'm looking for at ABS is an E6600 with 2 7600 GT's (256 each) SLI'ed. I have a couple of questions.
1) How do you compare SLI'ed graphic cards to single graphic cards. For example, how would 2 x 7600 GT 256 MB compare to a single 7900 512 MB?
2) If I want to upgrade to a single graphic card in the future, are there any complications from going from SLI to non-SLI?
3) Any thoughts on this SLI setup in general? This is the lowest option for the configurator I'm using, and I think it will run the games I'm interested in (Vanguard:SoH) pretty well. But, like I said, I don't know much - so any warnings/comments about the cards would be apprected.
1) The best comparison could be made with Tom's VGA Charts. The single 7900 will smoke that SLI setup.
2) If you want SLI anyway, going from dual to single is a snap, uninstall the SLI drivers and remove the cards, install the single card and feed your comp its latest drivers for the new card. It's much easier to setup a single card than an SLI configuration.
3) Ultimately, SLI is good for high resolutions and eye candy, somebody (sorry, forgot name) said don't SLI if you're gaming under 1600x1200. That's a good rule of thumb IMO. If you can get a single card that can match another card's performance when SLI'ed, and that card costs as much as two of the SLI'ed card, get the single card by all means. Remember, half the heat will be generated to boot.
I'd really prefer not to have an SLI setup, but it is the cheapest option the configurator has.
4) Do you think the heat is going to be a problem? I don't overclock, so everything will come at the standard clock speeds.
5) Somewhat related question - the system doens't come with a monitor. I'm not really into the widescreen look, no do I feel like I need a huge monitor (17'' would be fine). What factors should I be looking at? I'd like to spend under $150 on this, but want something that has a fairly high max resolution. Is that possible?
Response time is the key factor in gaming LCD monitors try to get one under 10ms, I think you can even 2ms now. If you not getting top end graphics cards I wouldn't go higher than 1280 x 1024 res. Remember anything other than the native res on LCD's look crap normally so your stuck with it. Basically you have to configure your system to be optimal at the monitors native res.
Heat shouldn't be too much of a problem if your looking at stock, I'm speaking from the frame of mind of a DIY'er. You say SLI is the cheapest option in their config page, what are the respective prices of each option (SLI and single card setups)?
Not quite the cheapest...there is a 7950 GT 256 MB card for $12 less. Every other single/SLI setup adds an additional $150 to the machine. Would this single card be better, even though I lose 256 MB of memory?
- By the way, I haven't seen a single review of the 256MB version of the 7950 GT, though I've seen quite a few for the 512 MB version. Any idea how I could find out how the lower MB version would stack up against the other? I'd go with the 7950 GT 256 MB if it's close to the 512MB performance, as it would add 10 FPS in a lot of games according to Tom's chart.
Also, I will probably be upgrading the graphic card by the end of the year. I'm off for college this fall, but I can't start working until this spring - so I have a limited budget. So unless these cards would dissapoint with current gen games (Vanguard: SoH, Oblivion, FPS games coming out this year) I'm not overly concerned about how future-proof they may be. The rest of my system (E6600, 2 GB Ram, 320 GB) should keep me going through college, I'll just have to upgrade the graphic card every now and then.
I know that this is relative to the performance/quality level you're seeking, but is 1280 x 1024 a 'good' resolution? Should I be more worried about getting a better monitor and cut back on the video card/processor, or is the difference between 1280 x 1024 and 1600 x 1200 not as noticeable?
By the way, thanks for those of you who've already helped!
Normally jumping from 1280 x 1024 to 1600 x 1200 requires a significant increase in GFX power and it does normally look a lot better. Dropping how much you spend on a gfx card to get a higher res monitor is suicide. You'll end up with crappy performance in games. If you're going to get a higher res monitor you have to get a higher spec gfx card, otherwise you prob have to turn down some of the eye candy to get decent FPS. And yes 1280 x 1024 is a good res, prob the most popular.
Went to the ABS config page, same one as you (I think, ifthis is it). I would get the 7950GT over the SLI'ed 7600s. I think it will give you better performance, despite the less memory. If comparable ATI cards are any sign, the 256MB version only looses at most 5-10 fps to its 512MB cousin, still head and shoulders above two 7600GTs. Get the 7950, and upgrade it to an 8800 or its die-shrink successor when you're ready.
Actually, I'll be dropping down to the 7600 GT...it saves an extra $150.
Once I get the system, I'll upgrade the graphic card quickly. ABS doesn't offer any payment plans, so it's hard for me to put together a huge sum of money. So yeah, the 8800 GTS/GTX would be great now, but this card will suffice for what I do. By the end of the year though, when my card get's pretty old, I'll be able to afford a much better, new graphic card.
I noticed HP could do a similar system, but with a 350 W PSU and a Motherboard with only 1 PCI Express slot - would I be kicking myself if I went with that? It's a lot cheaper, and the processor and RAM (lower core speed) are the same.
PSU isn't powerful enough really especially if you want to uprgade to an 8800, also you don't what make the mobo is, I would guess a cheap brand. I would stick to the orginal spec they are quality components.