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Finally going to build a new computer and can't decide on GPU...

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August 17, 2008 5:06:23 PM

Hi there!
About a month ago my Dell computer was hit by lightning and I was going to have the motherboard replaced but after getting next to no word from the wonder "award winning" Dell customer service, I am throwing my arms up, selling each working part from my system on eBay, and building a new machine.

As of right now I am looking at an ASUS P5Q Deluxe mobo, E8400 CPU, 4 GB of 1066 DDR2 RAM (even though Vista 32 won't read it all...), a 250GB Seagate Barracuda HDD, a Sony DVD ROM drive, a PC Power & Cooling 610Watt PSU, and an Antec 1200 case. I'm keeping my good ol' Dell 19" LCD monitor for now (hopefully for a while...).

I am now stuck on whether to get either the:
a) ATI Radeon HD4870 (probably VisionTek? I dunno who's good...)
b) EVGA GeForce 9800 GTX+
c) EVGA GeForce 260 GTX (maybe superclocked, is it worth it?)

I MAINLY play Steam games such as DoD: Source, CS:Source, HL2, and Garry's Mod. I might get UT3, otherwise I'll get it for my 360 when it goes down in price. I DO NOT EVER WANT TO PLAY CRYSIS. Ever. :pfff:  But I do think I want to get COD4, people tell me it's pretty good.

At the moment on NewEgg (the only place I wanna shop because they have done GREAT for me so far...), the 9800GTX+ is the cheapest, then the 4870, then the 260GTX.

I just want something that will let me record in Garry's Mod for machinima, let me play games at highest detail (except Crysis, because I'll never play it...), and give me no lag in future games for at least a few years.

Also, what are some known issues with each of those cards? I know every card has to have a flaw, whether it be in the hardware or the drivers.

I think that's all, thanks for your help!
--Garrett
August 17, 2008 5:09:03 PM

Get the 4870, all those games listed play better with ATI. It also runs much cooler than the GTX 260, requires less power, and it consistently beats the GTX 260 in many games. I would recommend HIS, from what I hear they have the best reputation.
August 17, 2008 5:10:49 PM

A 4870 maxes out everything except Crysis, so enjoy. The only real flaw is that you have to do a simple fan speed mod so that you can get the 4870 down to very reasonable temperatures.
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August 17, 2008 5:28:50 PM

The_Blood_Raven said:
Get the 4870, all those games listed play better with ATI. It also runs much cooler than the GTX 260, requires less power, and it consistently beats the GTX 260 in many games. I would recommend HIS, from what I hear they have the best reputation.

Almost all. UT3 is an exception.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Diamond/HD_4870/17.h...

Also, 4870 runs quite VERY HOT. This has been consistantly documented, ATI admit it themselves, and is beyond doubt.
http://en.expreview.com/2008/06/24/first-review-hd-4870...
Although it also handles high temperatures better. Taking up to 100C without artifacting. Most other gpus would have crushed at this point.

Most importantly, 4870 DOES NOT "consistently beat" gtx 260. Their performance very greatly among games, but overall, it's around the same, with 4870 having an 1.5% edge overall. Not significant. For all practical purposes, consider them to be the same.
http://en.expreview.com/2008/06/24/first-review-hd-4870...
But since you mentioned you can get 4870 for cheaper, there is no point in paying more for less performance, however tiny the difference.

As for 9800gtx+, on average, it performs 20% below 4870/gtx260. It may make sense if you can get it for more than 20% below the price of those cards.

Note that all those cards are pretty much overkill for the games that you listed.
August 17, 2008 5:36:31 PM

Alrighty! So that rules out the 260 GTX...
I am still pounding my head on which to get, the 4870 or the 9800GTX+.
The 9800GTX+ is 100 bucks cheaper than the 4870.
Do any of you know if there have been any driver issues or anything with the 9800GTX+ drivers in Vista (x86)? The last nVidia card I had was a FX 5500 PCI card. How well does the 9800GTX+ do in games like Half Life 2: Episode 2 (TF2 and Portal as well) with HDR on, AA, AF, and max settings? I mean if the 4870 is worth the hundred bucks more to get then I won't hesitate, but GPUs are the only thing about computers that I just don't get.
August 17, 2008 5:51:37 PM

garrettmania said:
Alrighty! So that rules out the 260 GTX...
I am still pounding my head on which to get, the 4870 or the 9800GTX+.
The 9800GTX+ is 100 bucks cheaper than the 4870.
Do any of you know if there have been any driver issues or anything with the 9800GTX+ drivers in Vista (x86)? The last nVidia card I had was a FX 5500 PCI card. How well does the 9800GTX+ do in games like Half Life 2: Episode 2 (TF2 and Portal as well) with HDR on, AA, AF, and max settings? I mean if the 4870 is worth the hundred bucks more to get then I won't hesitate, but GPUs are the only thing about computers that I just don't get.

For old rendering engines like HL2, any of the 3 will get fps in the range of hundreds even at max settings. They're overkill, so it doesn't matter. Performance wise, I wouldn't say 4870 is worth $100 more. The $/fps ratio is too much off. Although 9800gtx+ may not be a good deal either. It's just a die shrink of the 9800gtx, with the same architecture gpu running the same 128 stream processors. The 9800gtx itself is a rename of the g92 8800gts, with identical g92 core running 128 sp and not even a die shrink. Typical Nvidia renaming and reselling old products as something new, and bumping up price with each rename. See here:
http://en.expreview.com/2008/04/03/geforce-9800gtx-revi...

If you want a third option, consider 9800gx2. Prices have tanked recently without getting much attention. At the current $280, it's the same as 4870/gtx260, while performing far higher. Cost much less than gtx280 while performing slightly higher.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The problem is quad sli scales horribly. But if you only intend to run single card, it's the best bang for the buck.
August 17, 2008 6:04:13 PM

Well, I'm not really talking about the old HL2 engine, my ATI Radeon x600 runs the OLD HL2 engine PERFECTLY on max settings, then in Episode 1 I had to lower, and then in Episode 2, well, yea I need a new card for that.

I'm a bit leery about the x2 cards because I'm getting an board with an intel chipset. But I'm probably worried about nothing...

I don't plan on ever doing any dual card configurations because it's too much hassle in my opinion.

I heard from different people about he 4870 fan fix:
1) The fan fix voids your warranty. True or false?
2) The fan fix shortens the life of the card. True or false?

If I got the 4870, should I even bother with the fan fix since I'm getting a well ventilated case (antec 1200)?
August 17, 2008 6:50:58 PM

garrettmania said:
Well, I'm not really talking about the old HL2 engine, my ATI Radeon x600 runs the OLD HL2 engine PERFECTLY on max settings, then in Episode 1 I had to lower, and then in Episode 2, well, yea I need a new card for that.

I'm a bit leery about the x2 cards because I'm getting an board with an intel chipset. But I'm probably worried about nothing...

I don't plan on ever doing any dual card configurations because it's too much hassle in my opinion.

I heard from different people about he 4870 fan fix:
1) The fan fix voids your warranty. True or false?
2) The fan fix shortens the life of the card. True or false?

If I got the 4870, should I even bother with the fan fix since I'm getting a well ventilated case (antec 1200)?

A lot of people have been running the hot 4870 as is. While not ideal, they seems to be fine, so don't worry about it.

There is no problems running nvidia cards, including x2 versions on Intel motherboard whatsoever. It's very common. Of course, your Intel board won't support sli, so you can't upgrade just by adding another card. With ATI card, you can. Although you'll need a x38/48 motherboard for this. Anything less will bottleneck 4000s generation cards in cf horribly.
http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/1472/7/page_7_benchma...
August 17, 2008 7:56:15 PM

Go for 4870. Gets the same performance as Nvidia cards for a lower price.
Remember there's also a 1GB version of the 4870. Not much branches got it already though (Club 3D and Sapphire do). Because of it's memory interface of 115GB/s it might be worth taking the 1GB, especially if you want to game at high res with lots of AA and AF.

And about the temps, I've seen people who have it running pretty cool at stock.
a b U Graphics card
August 17, 2008 8:20:32 PM

dagger said:
A lot of people have been running the hot 4870 as is. While not ideal, they seems to be fine, so don't worry about it.

There is no problems running nvidia cards, including x2 versions on Intel motherboard whatsoever. It's very common. Of course, your Intel board won't support sli, so you can't upgrade just by adding another card. With ATI card, you can. Although you'll need a x38/48 motherboard for this. Anything less will bottleneck 4000s generation cards in cf horribly.
http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/1472/7/page_7_benchma...



y does the performance differ sooo much from p45 to x38/x48??
August 17, 2008 8:24:58 PM

invisik said:
y does the performance differ sooo much from p45 to x38/x48??

P45 can only run pcie2.0x8 each in cf mode, which is the same bandwidth as pcie1.0x16. X38/48 runs at full pcie2.0x16 in cf mode, which is the same bandwidth as pcie1.0x32 (in theory, x32 doesn't exist).
August 17, 2008 8:45:33 PM

Guys, it's freakin' 19"! The GTX+ will be able to max out everything but Crysis, which he has no interest in. Heck, an 8800GT could probably do that. I know that you would marry a 4870 if you could, but look at what fills the need, that's $100 he could put toward his games! (and if you buy nV and get UT3, PhysX are sweet!)
August 17, 2008 9:01:01 PM

4870 runs hot with fan at 20%.. if you put it at 30% it idles around 56 celsius and it's quite silent.
a c 177 U Graphics card
August 17, 2008 10:35:05 PM

Frankly, at 19" (1280x1024?) every card mentioned would be CPU limited even at the highest settings.
ANY X2 card (sli/cf on one card) would be huge overkill , my 4870 runs the games you mentioned at stupidly high speeds, well beyond the 60 FPS my flatscreen can show.
For `new` tech the 4850 will be enough at your rez for some time to come, while a 9800/8800 gt/gts will be more than enough, if you do n`t need DX10/10.1/11.
And why Vista 32 bit? Go for Vista 64 and enjoy that extra ram!
!