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Please help me decide on which video card

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Last response: in Graphics Cards
October 15, 2008 5:16:41 PM

Hi all,

I picked up a GigaByte X48 DS5, Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83MHz, and a Tuniq Tower 120.

Now I need to decide on a videocard. The motherboard is CrossFire ready, so it seems silly not to get ATI. Price is *almost* not an option. I kind of don't want to spend 530 bucks on a video card (it seems excessive) so the Radeon HD 4870 X2:

is out (what does the X2 mean?) However, looking at pricewatch:

these are certainly possibilities:

$299.86 - radeon hd 4870 1gb
$249.99 - radeon hd 4870
$159.99 - radeon hd 4850

I don't want to blindly pay the most amount of money for something that won't give me real added benefit to gaming and graphics programming (I dabble in OpenGL development). I can't conceive of a graphics card having 1GB of VRAM... does this amount of VRAM really make a noticeable difference?

I guess what I'm asking is: I don't mind paying $300 for a video card if it really enhances the gaming experience, but I definitely don't want to pay for something I won't notice or can't perceive. Which card would be best for me?

I don't plan on buying a 2nd card just yet, but I almost certainly will in the near future.

The machine will be a Linux / WinXP dualboot. Can Linux use any of these cards for graphical acceleration? What's the status of Linux and these cards?

Lastly, I crunch vast amounts of data for work, fun, and personal profit. Numerical stuff -- calculating time series data, diagonalizing covariance matrices, interpolation of series, etc. I've heard of people using their video cards for super-fast number crunching. The idea seemed pretty simple -- the difference between OpenGL rotating a graphical scene by multiplication of a rotation matrix is actually no different than any other kind of matrix rotation, even if that matrix happens to be a variance/covariance matrix. I don't know the nitty gritty details of how this is done, but I want to learn Can these video cards do that sort of thing?

Oh, my LCD monitor is 1920x1200 native, so that's the resolution I'm forced to play in. Many other resolutions (but not all of them) definitely have an unsharp look to them.

Many thanks!

More about : decide video card

October 15, 2008 6:01:25 PM

well from what i know if u must play at 1920... then yeah i would say 4870 or the X2 version ,X2 means u get two in one
a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2008 6:10:34 PM

yeah 4870x2 means it has 2gb ddr5, two graphic cores...basically what they did is stuck two cards under one package
Related resources
a c 109 U Graphics card
October 15, 2008 7:07:00 PM

The X2 is basically two 4870s with 1GB of RAM each on a single PCB running in crossfire. Generally it's significantly cheaper than two 1GB 4870s, and you can add another X2 so that you are basically running 4 4870s with 1GB of RAM each in quad crossfire.
a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2008 7:31:09 PM

I'd say a HD4870 1GB, but like everything else you'll need to check out reviews.
Here's a couple of reviews that might help about the HD4870 1GB and the HD4870x2. an enthusiastic endorsement of the Palit 1GB 4870
then a negative review of the Palit 1GB 4870

also one about CPU scaling with the HD4870x2

good luck
a c 143 U Graphics card
October 15, 2008 8:15:04 PM

I'd get the HD 4870 1GB. At 1920x1200 the extra RAM pays off. For somebody playing at 1680x1050 I'd recommend the 512MB version, but in your case it's worth it.

Here's a quick example:

Age of Conan, 1920x1200, 35.6 fps vs 32.3 fps (look at the table under the chart, not the chart)

LOL, dirtmountain found the same review I did, and lots of others, and got there first too. Man, you're fast :) 
October 17, 2008 9:17:00 PM

I agree with aevm the 1 GB version is better for you @ 1920x1200.
October 18, 2008 5:13:41 PM

LOL 2.83MHz? You are gonna be doing alot of overclocking ;) 

Id get one or two hd3850s, it's a much better price.

You can run 960x600 with equal sharpness to 1920x1200 since it's a linear scaling by 2x replication.