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SLI vs. CrossFire vs. ... Single card

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July 5, 2007 10:01:43 PM

Hi Everyone,

I built a few PCs many years ago when there was little to choose from in the way of video cards. Right now, I'm a little overwhelmed with picking out a new mobo and processor, so to distract myself for a while, I'd like to ask your advice on video cards.

I used to do some heavy gaming (back in late 90's and 2000), but haven't done much since. I'd like to get back into it, but not like a hard-core gamer. I do a lot of app developement and web development, and I'm needing to upgrade, so I figured I would combine the desires into a universal and, hopefully, expansive upgrade, while still sticking to a pretty low upgrade budget.

I'm looking for a video card that I won't have to upgrade in a year or 2, but that will still afford me many of the benefits of gaming.

That said, should I even consider SLI or CrossFire, or should I just stick with the single video card setup? Maybe it would be nice to upgrade in the future?? I'm not sure if I should even be worried about dual video cards. Do only really hard-core gamers use dual cards??

I'd also like to get a card with DX10 (again, so I don't have to upgrade again soon) because I'll be migrating from XP Pro to Vista Business.

And while I'm at it, could anyone give good direction on how to pick out a mobo? Obviously, part will depend on the answer above about dual video cards, but other than that, I'm at a loss on how to decide. I'll probably stick with Intel because of the price drop coming up, but otherwise, I have no preference, and no guidance on how to proceed.

Thanks in advance.

thephatp
July 5, 2007 11:27:43 PM

Hi and welcome to the forum. :D 
As far as graphic cards go most here will tell you to get the best single card available over Crossfiring or SLI-ing lesser cards at similar or higher cost to just the one better card. If you're not a hardcore gamer and depending on the resolution you'll be gaming on, you might not even need the best single card. Post your monitors res/type and what type of games you like for better insight.

Picking out a mobo can be a handfull but again, post what you know as far as CPU preference, brand of vidcard (for SLI/Crossfire chipset if you want the option) Onboard Wifi, special expansion cards you might need for work/hobby, basically all you want and we can guide you in the right direction. Also will you upgrade often or preferably not for a long time and, if you can, a budget for boundaries as we are enthousiasts and can get a bit carried away at times. :p 


Gl.
July 6, 2007 2:35:10 AM

Thanks for the response, morerevs.

Once I started writing, I figured this was a little more of a loaded question than video cards, but I didn't want to be too off topic in this particular thread category. But since you asked... :)  I'll respond, but if I should move this to another category, feel free to say so!

This is my current setup:

FIC VC19 Motherboard / 133 FSB
Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz
Kingston 1.5 GB PC2100/DDR 256 RAM
Asus NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 -- 64MB
Creative SB Audigy 2 Platinum
Antec SL350 (350W)
Antec Sonata Case
2 Seagate PATA drives


I'm fine with keeping the my sound card and the Antec case (if I can), but the others I need to upgrade (I'm assuming this includes a power supply).

Quote:
Picking out a mobo can be a handfull but...

Yeah, I have no idea here. Alot relates to what I mention below (which is why you asked :lol:  ). How much should I worry about FSB, especially with the idea of being able to upgrade later?

Quote:
...a budget for boundaries...

I'm looking to try and spend no more than $750, if at all possible.

Quote:
...special expansion cards you might need for work/hobby...

Not sure, but I will primarily be programming and doing web design initially, heavily using Adobe CS (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive) and perhaps Dreamweaver and Flash. Also, I may be doing some rough recordings with Sonar Home Studio (Cakewalk), but the sound card I have will do for the time being.

Quote:
...Onboard Wifi...

No special need for this, but if it comes with it, then fine, but I don't imagine using it. I could add a card later if needed.

Quote:
...will you upgrade often or preferably not for a long time...

I'd like to be able to get back into gaming soon without having to upgrade again, hence why I'd like a solid video card to start with. I also do not want to have to upgrade anything else for a long time, which is why I'm thinking a MoBo with future expansion and a solid (albeit budget) CPU.

I've had my current setup for a few years now, and it has lasted just fine. But with getting into more web design and wanting to get back to gaming, I have to step it up a bit.

Also, how much RAM should I look at getting to start with? I'm thinking 2GB, and move up to 3GB later when necessary.

Quote:
...what you know as far as CPU preference...

I'm not stuck on one or the other, but I lean towards Intel for two reasons: (1) I've always used intel and have never tried AMD (lame reason, huh?), (2) because I've heard the Core 2 Duo outperforms the AMD chipset with desktop apps and programming (but this was probably a year ago, so things could have changed), and (3) Because Intel will be doing a price cut later this month, from what I've read.

Otherwise, no real preference. I just want the best bang for my $$. Just FYI, I've been thinking about the Intel E6600, but any suggestions/advice is greatly appreciated! Also, how much should I worry about cache?

Quote:
...brand of vidcard (for SLI/Crossfire chipset if you want the option)...

I don't have a preference here, either, except that I've been very happy with my previous nVIDIA cards. I do want a card that is DirectX10.

I would like to have the option for SLI or Crossfire later, but only if it really makes sense. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to call myself a hardcore gamer again, but what about as my system gets dated? At that point, will I wish I had gone the dual card route, or could I just upgrade the single card and probably be fine? I'm really lost with this (evidenced by my first post) because I don't know anything about dual cards and when you'd want to have them. I also don't know the comparisons of dual verses a solid single card, and I don't know the cases when I'd want to consider one over the other.


So that's where I'm at. Any help? Advice? Suggestions? Comments?

Thanks!
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July 6, 2007 3:36:40 AM

Forgot two things:

Quote:
Post your monitors res/type...


Currently, I'm at 1280x1024, but I'm hoping to get a widescreen at some point in the near future, so probably 1680x1050. I've also thought about just getting another 17" like I have and running dual screen, but I hate the break in the middle. I think I'd rather go for the widescreen.

Quote:
...and what type of games you like for better insight...

As far as games, I like FPS's (like Half-life, UT, Quake, etc.) and I like online multiplayer like WOW, TFC (Team Fortress Classic/TF2), etc. I'm not into RPGs.


Does that cover it? :) 
July 6, 2007 10:26:45 AM

Hi, sorry I don't have time to go into it right now cuz I'm of to the movies!!
But seeing as this is going a bit deeper than just vidcards you might try to get it moved to the general homebuilt section. There you will get a lot more answers plus great recommendatiions. Just PM a mod and they will move it for ya!

GL.
July 6, 2007 11:39:00 AM

Crossfire/SLI is only really useful if its one 1card with 2 gpu's or if you have the best card available and need more power.
July 6, 2007 2:03:51 PM

cpu- Intel is the performance leader atm, but if you're waiting till the 22nd for price cuts then you might want to look and the E6750 instead of the 6600. It will be just under $200 while the e6600 will stay at $220, I believe.

mobo- If you're going with Intel then you'll probably want a p35 chipset. The Gigabyte DS3R is probably the most popular p35 board atm for only $130. It's also one of the top performers & overclockers.

gpu- The X1950XT is a great card for $150 after rebate and will play all of your games as high quality. I don't know how "future proof" the 8800 series actually is. There's been quite a bit of talk that it doesn't perform that well in dx10. Not to mention there won't be any dx10 games out for awhile.

sli- Don't do it. Just get the best single card in your budget. It will perform better than 2 other cards for the same price.
July 6, 2007 2:55:24 PM

Quote:
sli- Don't do it. Just get the best single card in your budget. It will perform better than 2 other cards for the same price.


Not nessessarily, 2x 2900xt and a single GTX :D 
July 6, 2007 8:20:02 PM

Quote:
sli- Don't do it. Just get the best single card in your budget. It will perform better than 2 other cards for the same price.


Not nessessarily, 2x 2900xt and a single GTX :D 

GTX < $600; 2x2900xt > $800. Hardly same price.
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