What else to consider when choosing a GFX card?


I've been out of the loop now for a good 4 years, as my computer gaming disappeared after the fateful BF1942 tournament years... well I've found gaming again, and am about to do a major system over-haul.

I'm currently in the process of picking out a new video card or cards... and I can see price\performance comparisons .

I was looking at the highend (280?) GeForce or a Crossfire 4850 setup, because I intend for the system to play all games right now, and I only use my computer for movies, games, and online FOREX trading.

But I will be using a 22" inch wide screen monitor, and tend to not upgrade my computers... just build them every 4-5 years.

Is there any high end GFX cards I should toss of the list because of this, or maybe should consider buying judging on how I have historically updated my systems? I'd like to be able to play all new games coming out for at least the next 2 years... I mean, my ATI 9600 pro was pimpin Half Life2 Ep. 2, and STALKER, but not as much as I'd like anymore.

Also, within the upcoming years I may get a flat screen and try to hook up my computer to that for a giant game experience... so IDK how much a GFX card may affect that\interact with TV capabilities... heheh.

thanks for any pointers.
11 answers Last reply
More about what choosing card
  1. The best cards available right now are HD 4870 X2, HD 4850 X2, 9800GX2, GTX 280, HD 4870 1GB, etc in this order. Of course, there are exceptions, like GTX 280 cards doing better in Crysis or ATI X2 cards better in CoD, but in general I'd say that's the speed order based on various benchmarks I've seen.

    A huge flat screen TV will run at 1920x1080 (1080p). A 22" monitor runs at 1680x1050. The cards I listed above should handle those resolutions decently. But then nobody knows how demanding future games will be...

    So, if I understand correctly, you are not the kind of guy who would buy a video card now and add another later for SLI or Crossfire. All right, then I'd stick with a single video card but a very good one, and a P45 motherboard. P45 is a very good chipset, way better than SLI chipsets, and almost as good as the much more expensive X48 chipset. That is, a P45+ HD 4870 X2 will cost about as much as an X48 + HD 4850 Crossfire and will in fact beat it. P45 + HD 4850 Croosfire is a bad idea because of PCI-E bottlenecks.

    Anyway, to cut the long story short. Try something like this:

    MB: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P or Asus P5Q Pro
    GPU: Visiontek HD 4870 X2, Sapphire HD 4850 X2, eVGA 9800GX2 or GTX280
    PSU: Corsair 750TX or PC Power & Cooling 750W
    Case: Antec 900 or CoolerMaster RC-690
  2. Thanks for the reply and help...

    Yeah, what happened was, I would always hand pick my components witht he idea of upgrading maybe in 2 years... but instead, something would happen where I'd need a lot of extra stuff to work the upgrade, and I'd end up hanging onto my current build another 2 years... for example, this time I wanted to up my GFX card... but it was AGP or whatever, not PCI, so then I had to get a new CPU, MOBO, etc...
    I can only expect in 2 years after this next setup, I'll need to throw in for a lot more than just "a better GFX card" or whatever I'm lookin for.

    OK, back to business though; I was looking at the Antec 650W, based off its price, and how it performed in the Tomshardware PS article, and $1200 dollar system setup. Why the 700W+ power supplies?
  3. Basically because an overclocked quad core, a 4870x2, a pair of fast hard drives, and a decently high end motherboard can easily pull 600W under load, and if you add a second 4870x2, you could exceed 700W of actual draw.
  4. Yeah. Also, if your parts need 500W or 600W then a PSU rated 750W will actually consume less than a PSU rated 650W, all other things being equal. That's how PSU efficiency works, it's best between 40% and 70% load or something like that, depending on model. The closer you are to 100% the less efficient the PSU is, and the noise and heat increase too.
  5. aevm is right; but it depends a lot on what percentage of the time you're at full load. If you're frequently at full load, then buying a PSU with around twice your load capacity is generally *can be* the most efficient (assuming decent PSUs). Of course, if you idle the computer a lot, you want a PSU with less headroom, as you might want to optimize idle power consumption.
  6. With your budget and upgrade pattern, I think you should consider a i7 system:
    i7 920 $300
    X58 mobo $300
    6gb DDR3 $200
    GTX260-216 | 48701g $260
    Quality 750w psu $100
    sata dvd burner $ 25
    Case $50
    velociraptor 300gb $200
    Total $1435

    There are places you could cut.

    You get diminishing returns on your dollar by getting a vga card/system that costs more than $300 today.
    The nice thing is that with the X58 mobo, your vga upgrade can come from either sli/crossfire, or by replacing the single card with the next greatest single card.
    A quality $100 psu would be able to handle two vga cards.
    The 920 is trivially easy to overclock to 965 speeds.

    ---good luck---
  7. thanks again for all the awsum advise... I think I might look to cut some costs on all of that... but if the MOBO does allow another card later on, that might be worth it... wait maybe a year or 2 for prices to drop... although I'm no expert... or even novice yet on the performance enhancement of dual cards.

    I think the hard drive I might skimp on, since I already have a 300 gig and 70 gig, and fast gaming load times actually is one of my smaller concerns... I suppose an upgrade is still needed considering how old mine are though...

    I may go for the GTX 260 based on the fact I believe Newegg is selling some with a game package. we shall see!
  8. No doubt, the velociraptor is a bit of a luxury. Where it helps most is doing the ordinary things where lots of little files get written. Boot is a bit faster also.
    The price seems to be coming down, and I suspect thet SSD's will be getting very much better and cheaper in the next year. Since you already have a hard drive you can use ,
    you can wait and see what develops.

    Look for Sales on the EVGA GTX260-216 cards. They currently come with far cry 2. I figure that is a $50 value if you were going to buy it anyway.
    With EVGA, you preserve your option to "step-up" to a better card within 90 days.
  9. EVGA is some sort of warranty upgrade feature? whacked.
  10. J2FcM said:
    EVGA is some sort of warranty upgrade feature? whacked.

    EVGA has a "step-up" program where you can get credit for your purchase price on a trade-in on a more expensive card within 90 days of purchase. Go to the EVGA site to check out the fine print.
  11. word.. OK, I knew not much about the i7 920, my original plan was take on the Dual 8500 for spending effeciency, but I'll re-evaluate based on recommendations.
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