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Debating between 3870,8800GT,2900PRO

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January 2, 2008 12:47:24 AM

So I'm looking to buy a video card. Its the last part of my setup for my new computer. Well, besides a new DVD drive, but that hardly counts:)  I just installed all my new components. I've had my ATi Radeon x1600 Pro for awhile and its done me well enough, bu I'm moving on up in the world. At the current prices on Newegg, it seems the eVGA 8800GT is the overall best. My problem however is I run dual monitors. One is a 40" LCD that runs at 1920x1280 and the other is a 21" LCD that runs at 1480x1020 or whatever it is... point is.. lots of pixels. My board is Crossfire enabled. I also don't have time to wait around for awhile, as I promised my video card to someone else already :p  So, here is my short list of questions

1) With how large a resolution I run at, does that effect which card may be better? I noticed the 2900 series has a card that has 1GB of ram built in. Would that give that card an edge considering my set up? It doesn't seem especially powerful though. I am running 32bit windows and have 4gigs of ram installed (only getting 3.2 once windows takes it share, and my video card has 512), so a 1gb card would eat in even further.

2) With the current price poins, the 8800GT seems a clear choice over the 3870... since I have Crossfire though, would the 3870 be more useful once the next ATi comes out to pair with it? Or is pairing two generations of cards in Crossfire not too beneficial? I know its possible, but is hard to find benchmarks for different crossfire combinations. Also, my mobo is only x16/x4

3) With Crossfire enabled, can I even use dual monitors? Or will I have to disable crossfire when i'm not gaming o have both monitors run?

4) Finally, where would you buy the card you recommend from? I love newegg, and I buy almost exclusively from them, but here are the cards I like in each category... all sold out.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My configuration:
CPU: Intel C2D E6750 (not done messing with OC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 Rev 2.0
RAM: 2x2gb g.Skill DDR2-1000 PC2-8000 F2-8000CL5D-4GBPQ
PSU: 700 watt Hippro HP-W700WC3
Case: Alienware MJ-12 (aka Chenbro SR209)
HDD: RAID10 - 4x Seagate Barracuda 320g ST303204N1A1AS-RK
Case fans: Thermaltake 120mm A2018 & Antec Tri-Cool 92mm 761345-75093-6
Heatsink: Rosewill 92mm RCX-Z3
GPU: ATi Radeon x1600 512mb PCIe Pro
CD and DVD Drives: Junk
January 2, 2008 1:03:25 AM

Get the 3870, I don't think that crossfire or sli supports dual monitors YET but Im sure they will soon. Or Crossfire at least. If you play games on your 40in then you need crossfire but if you don't play games or heavy 3D apps and only run 2 monitors then all you need is one card.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
3870 $135 after rebate. Its not like you are running 2560 1600 so you don't really need 1 gig.
January 2, 2008 1:12:32 AM

I do intend to play games, although its unlikely (yet altogether possible!) I'll be playing Crysis or something like that. I am currently playing The Orange Box, although it does have some problems trying o run at 1920x1280 on my poor x1600... :p 

and its 235 after rebate :p  just a typo. I'm not real sold on GeCube though... I like Sapphire. Is GeCube solid?
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January 2, 2008 1:25:31 AM

Honestly, with those choices, you can't go wrong. All are great cards for the price.

The 2900Pros are around $160
The 3870s are around $250
The 8800GTs are around $280

Do whichever your budget allows. All are very good for their price points.
January 2, 2008 1:28:35 AM

Yea get gecube. i recently won 3rd prize in one of their Australian competitions, it was a 1gb stick of Power memory pqi. I've never ehard of that kinda memory but yea. i got a hd2600xt of them and it hasnt skipped a beat yet
January 2, 2008 1:34:05 AM

The 8800GT > 3870 it seems. The thing that makes me not make up my mind is that will that CrossFire support make the 3870 much more attractive? Or if I got the 3870, then next year bought another Crossfire card... would having it Xfired with the 3870 even make a difference at that point? Or will my 3870 be junk like my x1600? Although, the x1600 is still okay... its just the crossfire has gone internal and my 1600 still uses the dongle :p 

My problem with the 2900PRO is that its benchmarks aren't great... but I wonder if running at 1080p resolution will hurt the 8800GT and the 3870 more since they only have 512mb but won't affect the 2900 as much with its 1G making it suddenly amazing for the price...?
January 2, 2008 1:42:54 AM

go with the 3870 - for the dx10 games and new games. even though i bought 2 2900pro's i would go for the 3870 and crossfire it.
January 2, 2008 1:45:34 AM

I also forgot to mention I run Windows XP 32bit. Obviously, at some point I'll be forced to downgrade to Vista... but hopefully that'll be after a solid Service pack. So, DX10 isn't important to me yet... but it will be someday.

Price isn't a problem, although value is. I won't spend big bucks just because I can. Although I did drop $1500 for my two monitors, so I want them to look nice... >:) 
January 2, 2008 1:54:29 AM

Da3vid said:
The 8800GT > 3870 it seems. The thing that makes me not make up my mind is that will that CrossFire support make the 3870 much more attractive?

My problem with the 2900PRO is that its benchmarks aren't great...


My general advice, and take it with a grain of salt as I don't do two cards in Crossfire or SLI configuration is this:

If you have an SLI board, go Nvidia GPU. If you have a Crossfire board, go ATI GPU. That's because you'd end up giving away, or selling, one card and buying two to get the advantages down the line. With a 3870, you can go Crossfire when you can afford another 3870. R700 isn't due out till 2009, so I think you'd get some use out of a 3870 Crossfire setup.

The X2900 Pro shouldn't be any faster than a 3850, as that's the replacement for the X2900 XT. I would not get it. Besides, it's scalped at Newegg. I don't know why it's more expensive than the 3870. It also runs hotter.

Da3vid said:
I also forgot to mention I run Windows XP 32bit. Obviously, at some point I'll be forced to downgrade to Vista... but hopefully that'll be after a solid Service pack. So, DX10 isn't important to me yet... but it will be someday.


You'll need 3870 in Crossfire mode for DX10 the way things are going with DX10 games. The 3870 x2 is arriving, but I doubt you could do Crossfire with one 3870 and one 3870 x2 until ATI gets their drivers up and running for those configurations.

Right now, they've been pushing either two 3870's or 3850's and promising 4 3850's in their Spider platform, so they might be planning a "triple Crossfire" with a 3870 and a 3870 x2 as well.

People can correct me if I'm remembering wrong, but the 3870's a bit better than the 8800GT at the high resolution's he'll be working with, right?
a c 105 U Graphics card
January 2, 2008 1:58:45 AM

Goto tiger direct. Check out the Palit 8800gt with a gig of memory. running resolutions that high you're going to need all the video memory you can get.

Then google them. Tiger is 50 or so dollars higher than elsewhere.
a b U Graphics card
January 2, 2008 2:04:46 AM

Thats a hard choice. Just to add more to the fray, shouldn't nVidia be coming out with some new cards soon? I know it isn't one of the cards you are considering (since the 3800's are better), but my 2900XT has been an excellent card (though AA is still a little weak, it has improved a lot though) except for the heat (I have to open my case and put an 8 inch fan on it to keep everything happy) and power consumption (separate GPU power supply). Since the 3870 fixes those issues, it should be a great card.

I think that this is one of those decisions that is so difficult because either way you will be happy (both should be big improvements over your 1600). Just flip a coin (or compare more benches) and enjoy.
January 2, 2008 2:14:20 AM

8800 gt for sure
January 2, 2008 2:34:50 AM

Like I said get the Gecube I posted earlier. Don't worry its a solid card. They had a HIS 3870 for 229 but it disappeared. <_< You have a crossfire mobo so later when prices drop down below or w/e you can get a second one which you WILL need if you want to play crysis somewhat well @ 1920 1280. Also It has better video decoding (UVD) than a 8800GT. Also at 235 Dollars or less I don't think paying 50+ more dollars to get a card that is a little faster is worth it. Like I said 1080p will run fine on a 3870. Plus Crossfire scales better than nvidias SLI so thats a plus. Anandtech shows 2 3850s performing similar to the 8800GTX. So get the 3870.
One more thing is that the 3870 is a great Overclocker. The core usually gets around 850 and mem around 2600mhz.

OR if you can wait till the end of this month or beginning of next month you can get the 3870X2. It will be on a single PCB not dual like G92X2.
BUt if you can't wait then Getting the 3870 now and another later is the best option for you.


BTW I recommend you play COD4. Its a amazing game. It plays well on the 3870 @ 1920 1280.
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3175&p=6

R700 is coming out this year (march or april) I don't know where people got that it will come out in 2009. ??
January 2, 2008 2:49:19 AM

swifty_morgan said:
Goto tiger direct. Check out the Palit 8800gt with a gig of memory. running resolutions that high you're going to need all the video memory you can get.

Then google them. Tiger is 50 or so dollars higher than elsewhere.

Thats a waste of money. 1920 1280 is not really a super high resolution. Its not like he's running dual 30in @ 2560 1600. Also he's not going to run 2 monitors in a game so he won't need it.
January 2, 2008 2:51:05 AM

Hm, it seems the votes are in favor of 3870 so far...
January 2, 2008 3:04:17 AM

One more thing I want to tell you. 1 gig on a gfx card right now is useless unless you are playing games on 2560 1600. And if you were then you would need a card with a High memory bus like the 8800GTX or 2900XT. So even if you have 2 high resolution monitors, you would be fine with a INTEGRATED graphics chip. But you play games so that is only reason you would need a 3870 or w/e.

and "I am running 32bit windows and have 4gigs of ram installed (only getting 3.2 once windows takes it share, and my video card has 512), so a 1gb card would eat in even further."
What? Is your X1600 hypermemory or something? Why would it take ram from the computer?
January 2, 2008 3:46:38 AM

Any of those cards are good.
If you care about performance (like me), just wait a few months for the next-gen big release.
So, just get a card to keep you happy for now.
January 2, 2008 4:06:02 AM

Warranty is something to consider too... I was in for 3870 before when it was 220$ straight... but now a 30$ difference between the GT and 38xx is sort of pointless since you get a faster card, and a lifetime warranty with most GT's. I had a PowerColor 1950pro go bad on me on the first weak (my friend as well, his on 2 month) so I wasn't too happy with ATI's products...

So from personal experience... If you're going for an expensive card, make sure it's got good warranty.

The 2900 runs really hot, and uses a lot of power, and you'll be running it on a large monitor, be sure it will be working hard! I'd ignore it.
January 2, 2008 7:46:55 AM

Man im in the same Debate as you! its all insane and i really dont know what to get im a Nvidia fan but with the 2900PRO so cheap it is tempting, i tried out the HD 3870 but returned after 2 days because i ended up having ALOT of problems with the fan and the card would OverHeat.

I really really want the 8800GT but its not in stock anywhere for a sane price 270<

Right now im leaning toward the 2900PRO because of its great price and performance while somewhat lower than the 8800GT, the 8800GT doesnt justify the +100 more price tag over it simply the 2900PRO may not get you 150 FPS and only say 100FPS but then again, if it runs anygame over 60FPS on high settings than it is a good card.
January 2, 2008 1:35:57 PM

aznstriker92 said:

and "I am running 32bit windows and have 4gigs of ram installed (only getting 3.2 once windows takes it share, and my video card has 512), so a 1gb card would eat in even further."
What? Is your X1600 hypermemory or something? Why would it take ram from the computer?


My understanding is 32bit OS can only run 4 gigs memory max, all included. Architecture limitation. This includes all video ram. Then, Windows takes its own little dedicated slice. Windows is taking 256 from me, my card is using 512, which makes my limit 3.2. Even though I have two 2 gig sticks in there, my system only reports 3.2.

At least, thats my understanding. Until I change to 64 bit, I'll continue to have that problem. But 64 bit doesn't have the drivers to power my fancy hardware, so until that changes... here I sit :) 




By the by, the 3870 is in stock at Newegg as of right now. I found an 8800 GT in stock at some random site http://www.alwayslowest.com/AL/index.cfm?fuseaction=sho...
but I've never heard of them. Newegg has the 3870 for 5 dollars more, but its newegg. Although I did find a 3870 Sapphire from a random retailer for 230. The random retailer above has that evga8800gt for 245.

The EVGA lifetime warranty and step up program is nice, whereas the 3870 just has a 1 year parts and labor limited warranty. I guess the big question is...

when the next good ATi card is released, will Crossfiring it with the 3870 net me good results, or will it even be possible? Or is there even any way to know? :( 
January 2, 2008 4:59:13 PM

Your system reporting 3.2 gigs is wierd. It should report 2 gigs. Graphic cards never share system memory unless the graphic card is HYPERMEMORY or TURBOCACHE. Those tend to be the lowerend also. Also I don't think that the system even counts the video ram as part of the system ram. They are 2 different things. Somebody confirm me on this!!

I would'nt trust random retailer what if you can't return the cards? I think it will be possible crossfiring the 3870X2 with a 3870. Because right now it is possible to crossfire a 3850 with a 3870 and they are all in the same series. I bet it will have good results.

My reason is, right now the success of the 3870X2 and R700 depends on the Crossfire drivers. Thats because the 3870X2 is 2 3870s and the R700 is a multichip card. So if ATI ever wants to compete with Nvidia then they need to get a kickass driver. Already you can see the crossfire driver scaling very well.


BUT there are soo many factors, pros, cons w/e for each card so My ultimate suggestion is wait for 1 more month and see if which card (G92X2 or 3870X2) is better and has a better price/performance.
January 2, 2008 5:01:48 PM

Bear in mind that while the 2900Pro has dropped a crazy amount lately, you need to budget it against buying your very own power station to feed it and a liquid nitrogen cooling system from Japan, or NASA, or aliens, to keep it from drowning in its own sweat.

If you can get those cheap then the price is real tempting even against the reduced performance... but if you were that worried about cost why don't you get a 3850 and overclock it? Yeah, only 256MB but it would need far less power or cooling when heavily OCd than the 2900 would need at stock ;) 
January 2, 2008 5:15:17 PM

Why won't it let me edit my posts?! :pfff: 

Quote:
Also I don't think that the system even counts the video ram as part of the system ram. They are 2 different things. Somebody confirm me on this!!


Certainly not normally, no. The problem with Winblows is that at a very basic level a 32bit OS can only "see" and use 4GB memory TOTAL - RAM and VRAM combined. So if you have a 512MB card and 4GB RAM, Windows can only address the first 3.5GB RAM as the video card prevents it from addressing the rest. :non: 

Still not sure about how 3.2GB came up though! Sounds like there's another 256MB coming out somewhere outside of main memory, and that can't be the X1600 because I thought it could only address 512MB total. It could be an enhanced low-end or cut-down high-end with 256MB dedicated and 512MB parasitic (ATI really went crazy with the X16xx series memory allocations even though the GPU didn't have the sheer power to fully utilize much over 256MB in the first place! :pt1cable:  ) but I doubt it...
a b U Graphics card
January 2, 2008 5:38:34 PM

Solitaire said:
Bear in mind that while the 2900Pro has dropped a crazy amount lately, you need to budget it against buying your very own power station to feed it and a liquid nitrogen cooling system from Japan, or NASA, or aliens, to keep it from drowning in its own sweat.

If you can get those cheap then the price is real tempting even against the reduced performance... but if you were that worried about cost why don't you get a 3850 and overclock it? Yeah, only 256MB but it would need far less power or cooling when heavily OCd than the 2900 would need at stock ;) 


I have a HIS 2900Pro and am running it and the rest of my stuff(in my sig + 2 Optical Drives) on a 550w PSU with no issues.
As far a temps go..From everest just now
Quote:
Temperatures
CPU 20 °C (68 °F)
CPU #1 / Core #1 21 °C (70 °F)
CPU #1 / Core #2 22 °C (72 °F)
GPU 45 °C (113 °F)
GPU Ambient 40 °C (104 °F)
GPU VRM 41 °C (106 °F)
Maxtor 6Y080L0 13 °C (55 °F)
Seagate ST3320620AS 25 °C (77 °F)
WDC WD1200JB-00FUA0 24 °C (75 °F)


Those temps are better than my 7900GT KO. Lowest Idle i ever saw was at or around 50c
Load is close to what my 7900 was running idle mid 60's. GT load was in the the 70s

So the theory that they are hot and need a reactor to run are over exaggerated

Hmm It turns out the power setting i was using turned on Cool-n-Quiet and my processor was running @ 1ghz its temps are now in the low 20's I updated my temp readings in the quote box to represent the new readings.
January 2, 2008 5:43:20 PM

Hmm... Maybe it's just the 2900XT that's responsible for 90% of global carbon emissions... :D 
January 2, 2008 5:44:37 PM

Windows is to blame for that extra 256mb missing, not ATi. The x1600 is using its 512 as promised.


Well, I bit the bullet on the EVGA 8800GT from Newegg. When I saw the Sapphire 3870 available and the EVGA 8800GT unavailable this morning, I find myself wanting the 8800GT. When I saw it was backwards this afternoon, I went with my gut feeling and went with the EVGA 8800GT.

The reason I went with the 8800GT is that I don't think I will need to Crossfire two 3870s, and the new cards should be coming out in the next couple months... so if something really awesome comes out and my 8800GT isn't powerful enough, I can take advantage of eVGA's Step Up program. Ideally, I think it would've been better to just wait... but I don't have that kind of time. So, the 8800GT was my decision, despite the cheaper price of the 3870 and my board being Crossfire enabled... here's hoping I don't need to purchase ANOTHER fan for my case because of it :) 
a b U Graphics card
January 2, 2008 5:47:47 PM

Well I'm also running stock pro clocks 600/800. That could explain the difference in temps and power usage.
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
December 31, 2008 3:59:43 AM

Personally, I'm never buying anything from ATI again. I have a 3870 and after less than 5 minutes in a game at 100% fan speed the chip hits over 100 degrees C. That is ridiculously hot, it was OK under XP but even with serveral driver updates it is consistantly hot with Vista. After consulting ATI's technical support I was told that in fact my card was not overheating and that their shipsets run cool and quiet. I can barely hear my TV over the fan in my card, which is especially irritating considering that it doesn't appear to even do anything.

My card being defective and possibly detrimental to other components in my PC is one thing, being told it wasn't in fact peaking at 105 degrees before my system disables it by ATI is another, seeing many others with the same issue with no attempt at a solution from ATI makes it unacceptable.
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