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ATI AMD Brand Bingo and Driver Dilemma

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 20, 2008 2:48:37 PM

Now that the price gouging on the HD3870 cards is easing up I'm considering replacing my 1950XTX. I've always been a brand whore and so I always bought the ATI -branded cards rather than the partner products, but that is no longer an option with the HD3000 series cards, so I have a question or two...

I don't want to end up ventilating the GPU heat into the case, don't mind a dual-slot design, and I'm trying to keep overall power and heat in check so I'm figuring on sticking close to the reference design. I'm just wondering how folks here feel about the various brand options in that category and their respective merits, i.e. Diamond, HIS, VisionTek, GeCube, Sapphire, etc. Quality of the hardware? Support?

Also, in this multi-vendor scenario what's the story with drivers? AMD/ATI continues to maintain their own drivers, and each partner vendor has their own drivers. Which would I or should I use, and why?

Thanks for any advice,
-B
February 20, 2008 7:10:07 PM

I use a Sapphire and it runs excellently.
February 20, 2008 7:23:48 PM

Sapphire is great. HIS is also, and they usually have some extras (better cooling etc)
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February 20, 2008 8:03:15 PM

I second the HIS option, usually have the best cooling solution either tweaking reference or doing their own IceQ solutions.

Pretty much all HD3870s should be dual slot and should vent outside the PC, their HD3850 have both option with the single slot venting inside the PC.
February 20, 2008 8:03:53 PM

I wouldn't waste my money upgrading from a 1950XTX to a 3870. Even with the announced price drop, you will only get like a 20-30% increased in performance. That like going from 40FPS to 48-52FPS. You really wont notice that much of a difference for the price you are paying.

Generally unless I see atleast 100% increase in performance from what i have, i wouldn't think of upgrading.

Just my opinion:) 
February 20, 2008 8:18:31 PM

Cinsidering it's half the price that the X1950XTX was selling for, I think expecting a 100% boost is a little much. Getting a 50% boost for half the price sounds pretty good.

So depending on the settings it might be a good upgrade.
February 20, 2008 9:45:12 PM

babybudha said:
You really wont notice that much of a difference for the price you are paying. Just my opinion:) 

Thanks for your concern about my disposable income. The benefits of the upgrade in consideration depend entirely on the software in use, and since I didn't mention what that was, there's no way anyone can make accurate assumptions about the benefit of upgrading.

Now that we have that out of the way, do you have any personal experience with the HD3000 cards?? If so, which, and what were those experiences?

I'm still waiting to hear about brand experiences and their respective merits. TheGreatGrapeApe and jaydeejohn had interesting contributions.

And everyone is mysteriously silent on the driver question... Is it a mystery to all?

Thanks,
-B
February 21, 2008 2:47:09 AM

Have you guys seen Asus 3870x2 design? Slated to have twon fans, one for each GPU. That one looks nice. Sapphire is usually the better of the partners in my opinion. They usually have the basic design or a better one every now and then.

HIS does have their IceQ series I believe that has a better HSF for it. But even with the basic cards you will not see much of a rise in the temps as most of the heat is pushed through the back of the PC in the second slot.

The partner drivers are the same as ATIs. They may have their own version of CCC but the actual drivers are the same. Trust me I know as I have had a ATI Radeon 9700Pro, Sappire ATI Radeon 9800XT, ATI Radeon X850XTX and my latest Sapphire ATI Radeon HD2900Pro 1GB.

So for drivers just use the ones on ATIs website. They work just as good. If you don't mind not having CCC though you can use the Omega drivers which I have heard are better than ATI's but its up to you.
February 21, 2008 3:00:46 AM

jimmysmitty said:
Have you guys seen Asus 3870x2 design? Slated to have twon fans, one for each GPU. That one looks nice. Sapphire is usually the better of the partners in my opinion. They usually have the basic design or a better one every now and then.

HIS does have their IceQ series I believe that has a better HSF for it. But even with the basic cards you will not see much of a rise in the temps as most of the heat is pushed through the back of the PC in the second slot.

The partner drivers are the same as ATIs. They may have their own version of CCC but the actual drivers are the same. Trust me I know as I have had a ATI Radeon 9700Pro, Sappire ATI Radeon 9800XT, ATI Radeon X850XTX and my latest Sapphire ATI Radeon HD2900Pro 1GB.

So for drivers just use the ones on ATIs website. They work just as good. If you don't mind not having CCC though you can use the Omega drivers which I have heard are better than ATI's but its up to you.

Interesting that Sapphire gets all the respect when Diamond seems to have better polish at the outset. Thanks for the input, much appreciated!

Thanks especially for the info about the drivers - that had my scratching my head the most. I'm on the fence a bit about things like CCC. It seems like the control panels from ATI and Nvidia have just grown into enormously fat monstrosities. The move to coding on .Net 2.0, oh my god, that couldn't have been worse than if they re-wrote the whole damn thing in Java. I just took a look at the Omega Drivers wiki and home page. Looks interesting as long as you don't mind having core driver versions that are a bit behind.

Thanks,
-B
February 21, 2008 6:11:06 AM

You don't need CCC , you can download just the display drivers (something still not offered by most) and then put AtiTrayTools overtop of them and get pretty much all the functionality without alot of the bloat somewhat required by the 'masses'.
February 21, 2008 7:52:06 AM

i have Geucbe, and i must say, i am extremely happy with it's perofrmance ^^. though i'd say sapphire or HIS; they get most of the press
February 21, 2008 8:55:09 AM

I have a Sapphire 3870 (blue PCB single slot cooler) and i must say that its fantastic. Temps playing crysis (Very High vista 64) its 65C. Im trying to get a 3rd party cooler to do some xtreme clocks but dunno what one would suffice, any suggestions? thinking Zalman GV-1000.
February 21, 2008 10:55:02 AM

Here this should make things a little easier for you. Its got almost all the different branded versions of the 3870.

http://techreport.com/articles.x/14120

They recommend the Visiontek version. Over here in the UK they don't exist so I bought the HIS version without the overclock. Its my 3rd HIS card with the Iceq3 cooler and I have nothing but praise for it. Its silent and the temps are excellent. Some of the cheaper versions e.g Powercolor don't have fan throttleing so the fan sits at 100% all the time and cannot be changed. I don't care if HIS only offers 1 year warranty. If it doesn't fail in the first 6 months it is unlikely it will fail for at least another 3 years by which time it will be obsolete anyway.

How gutted am I though. Ordered it yesterday and the cut the prices today. I knew the price cut was comming up but I have been waitng for a year and a half to buy a new card so I finally took the plunge and look what happens. LOL
February 21, 2008 12:38:03 PM

thats pretty sickening lol. Put that 1 down to experience.
February 28, 2008 3:06:10 PM

I second the gecube nomination, but haven't tried the other brands. Sapphire's been around forever, as have Diamond (my very first video card after the switch to PCI archetecture was a Diamond Stealth VRAM... quality card)
February 28, 2008 3:29:35 PM

I have the same X1950XTX card and I just purchased a SAPPHIRE 100225TXSR Radeon HD 3870 512MB Toxic.

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

The reason for my purchase is to get a second video card in my machine. Its going to drop them to PCIe 8x instead of 16 since I will not be running crossfire. I need the additional card to power multiple monitors. At some point I will try to sell the x1950xtx because its not directx 10.

I have not received the card yet but I will let you know what I think once its installed and running.
February 28, 2008 3:59:33 PM

I'd be interested in purchasing that x1950xtx.

EDIT: Also, for what it's worth, I've owned a few Sapphire cards and been extremely pleased with them. I have not, however, owned any of the HD3xxx series.
February 28, 2008 4:20:05 PM

I haven't used the 3000 series cards, however, I did have a sapphire card I was pretty happy with. Also had a diamond way back in the day, when they were making the old s3 savage video cards, the 32 mb versions. That was a good card, now I can't speak for diamond as they quit making cards for a while, then started making them again.
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