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video card recommendation

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 2, 2008 6:39:42 PM

So I'm looking at building a new computer and am wanting some recommendations for a new video card. With gaming video cards becoming so cheap I'm thinking of either getting a 8800gt or hd 4850. I like the 8800 because I can get a dual slot one with increased cooling although I've read on here that a dual slot hd 4850 will be coming out soon so I've thought about waiting until they come out to see how much they cost.

The other reason I'm leaning towards the 8800 is because I'd like a T.V. card and I like the non-ATI chipset T.V. cards more and, unless I'm mistaken, it's better to get both an ATI video card and T.V. card for compatibility reasons.

My budget for the entire build is around $600 but it's sort of flexible. I just ordered a Corsair 550W PSU so I won't need a PSU and I've already got a case and I'll be reusing my DVD burner so those items won't be included in the budget.

I've thought of either buying a E2180 and OCing it to around 3Ghz since it's only $70. I've also thought about going with the E7200 and overclocking that one as well to around 3.1-3.2 ghz. My question is if I go with the 4850, are those processors going to be enough power once they're OCed?

Also, depending on how much my other components cost I've thought about going with a P45 chipset so I can have dual graphics but is my 550W PSU going to be enough for dual 8800s or 4850s?

This may be a dumb question but can I use dual NVidia video cards with P45 chipset? I read they're Crossfire capable which I assume means they're also SLI capable, right?

Thanks a lot for your help.
a c 143 U Graphics card
September 2, 2008 6:54:15 PM

Crossfire and SLI are different things and a motherboard will support one, the other or none. No motherboards support both, except for a few (very expensive most likely) X58 motherboards that haven't been released yet.

HD 4850 beats the 8800GT, but with your budget you'll probably have to settle for the cheaper 8800GT. Either way, they're both good cards.

Yes, the CPUs you mentioned will be good enough.

If you can afford an Asus P5Q Pro ($140) and a HD 4850 ($160 or so) that would allow you to do Crossfire later. The 550VX is good enough for HD 4850 Crossfire. Keep in mind that not all P45 boards support Crossfire. A lot of them only have one PCI-E x16 slot so you can't even insert the second video card.


Edit: just to clarify: you cannot use dual nVidia cards with a P45 motherboard. You will need ATI cards for that.
September 2, 2008 6:56:26 PM

Ok. First, the HD 4850 is an excellent card, and you probably can't go wrong buying it. If you want to go a little cheaper, the 8800GT is also a fantastic card.

Second, a 3Ghz processor should be plenty to drive either card.

Third, you cannot run SLI on a P45, or any Intel board. You have to buy an SLI board made by nVidia for it.
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September 2, 2008 7:36:31 PM

Thanks for your quick replies Dekasav and aevm.

I've been looking a little more at prices and I can get this 4850:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121253 for $153 after MIR and free shipping

or this 8800gt:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130359 for $148. This one is a dual slot cooler but does this really matter?

This 8800gt is only $118 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121263 and it seems to have a good fan on it.

If the price difference is only $10-$15 between the 2 would I be better served to go the ATI route and just get a ATI chipset T.V. card as well?

I think the more I think about it the less likely I am to do CF/SLI. I definitely won't be doing it right now due to budget constraints and probably by the time I have money next year to do anymore upgrading Nehalem will be out and I might just upgrade to that in another year or so.

It seems like if I won't be doing CF/SLI until I upgrade to Nehalem then the P35 chipset would probably best suit my needs.

If I do the P35 route though and forget about CF/SLI for right now will the P35 chipset support the 45nm Wolfdale CPUs (i.e. the E7200). I've heard you have get BIOS updates before some of the P35 MOBOs will support the Wolfdales? Is this true or does it just depend on the MOBO?

I'm thinking about the GA-P35-DS3L but I'd like to see about getting something with e-SATA. I had originally cionsidered the GA-P35-DS3R but I can't seem to find it on the web except from Amazon for around $140 which is really more than I wanted to spend on a MOBO.

Thanks again for your help.
a c 143 U Graphics card
September 2, 2008 8:00:52 PM

Does the dual-slot cooler matter... Yes, if your case has weak cooling. Much less, with an Antec 900 or similar.

P35 is very bad for Crossfire, with the second card running in a PCI-E 1 slot at 4x. Compare that with a P45, which gives a PCI-E 2 slot at 8x to the second card (that's 4 times more bandwidth).
P35 is also bad for overclocking. OK, not really bad, but P45 is better (higher fsb).

$140 buys you a P5Q Pro or a GA-EP45-DS3R at newegg, and both are better than GA-P35-DS3R (higher fsb, and the P5Q even has Crossfire).

Unfortunately, if you absolutely want e-SATA, you might have to pay the $140. I couldn't find anything around the $100 mark with e-SATA.
September 3, 2008 4:16:06 PM

So how do you tell if your case has good ventilation? I have the CoolerMaster Centurion 5 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119068). It seems like it has good ventilation to me as it seems similar to the Antec 900, just with fewer fans.

I think I've decided I'll go with the 8800gt simply because it's cheaper and I can get it for about $115 after MIR and it's a good card as well. This means the P45 chipset will be out simply because it won't do SLI. So should I go with the P35 chipset then? I found this Asus P5K SE board: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131278 for $94 after shipping which seems like a good deal for me.

If I'm playing games like COD4 what is the benefit to having an SLI/CF setup as to not having one? Obviously I'll have higher FPS numbers but will that increase playability if I'm already getting 50-60 FPS on a game?


a c 143 U Graphics card
September 3, 2008 5:01:56 PM

How to tell about the ventilation: read reviews. If you can't find any good ones, at least read the user reviews at newegg. Anyway, that's a good case, no worries.

P35 won't do SLI either. If you want SLI get a 650i or 750i motherboard.

Most LCDs these days have a refresh rate of 60Hz. If you get close to 60 fps in your favorite games then a second card won't add much value IMO. You'd need 8800GT SLI only if you try Crysis at 1680x1050, for example.
September 3, 2008 7:07:09 PM

So is what you're looking for in FPS basically something around 60 since that's the refresh rate?

It seems like if I get an 8800gt I won't really need SLI to game at high resolutions (like 1600x1200 or 1920x1200)? If this is the case it seems like it'd be better to go the single video card route and get a P35 chipset and using the extra money for a future upgrade once Nehalem comes out.

Will a 8800gt play pretty much any game that's out right now at really high resolutions (minus Crysis) and have it be an enjoyable gaming experience? Or would I need a better video card than the 8800GT?
a c 143 U Graphics card
September 3, 2008 8:13:25 PM

Yes, aim for 60 fps or a little more for best results. Mind you, something like 40 fps is already decent IMO.

At 1920x1200 there are games that need a GTX 280 or even a HD 4870X2 to play well. That's a lot of pixels.

Look at these charts:
http://www.techspot.com/review/108-visiontek-radeon-4870/page10.html

The HD 4870x2 should be at the top (trading blows with GTX 280) and the 8800GT at the bottom (about 14% slower than the 9800GTX). For example in World in Conflict at 1920x1200 with 4aAA/16xAF expect 26fps-14%=22 fps with the 8800GT. That's playable but not great. Of course, you can reduce the eye candy level to get better fps (about 40 fps with no AA/AF). Crysis - about the same. In Company of Heroes the situation is a little better. in Supreme Commander even better, again by a bit.



a c 143 U Graphics card
September 3, 2008 8:19:27 PM

Maybe you should forget Nehalem and put your money toward a good video card. Watch this chart:

http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=770&p=5

With the best video card available (HD 4870x2), and changing CPUs, they didn't really get much difference. For example the difference between stock Q6600 and a Q9650 at 3.6 Ghz was only 5 fps and wasted anyway (262 and 267 fps are both rendered as 60 fps on the monitor). This means that in that particular scenario overclocking and faster CPUs were pointless. A $190 Q6600 with the stock cooler at stock clocks would make that game exactly as enjoyable as a $1000 Nehalem with a $100 Noctua cooler and overclocked to the max. Kind of scary, isn't it? OK, that's an extreme example. In other games the CPU does matter more.
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