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Not sure which video card for this build

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April 23, 2009 2:22:55 PM

Hi guys, I had a question here. I'm making a new pc build for my main computer which I use for both work and play but im unsure which graphics card to add to this system. From what I hard the gtx 285 is godly but a friend recently brought up how well the 4870 x2 works with the AMD chipset and that its a better card for gaming. I wanted to get some more opinions, as i definitley trust his opinion I just want to hear what you guys say as this is new technology and I really want to get the best for my buck without having to buy a new pc in a year. Here is my current build which includes both cards, any advice? thanks a bunch

-Tony :bounce: 

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

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a c 376 U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 2:34:55 PM

First off if you are spending that much anyway I would definitely be putting together an i7 based system.
As for the video card if you are looking for bang for you buck there's a monthly article on this site dealing with exactly that;
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-gtx,...
As the article says nothing really makes sense in a cost conscious sense over a HD4850x2 right now.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 4:35:53 PM

Depends on the monitor. If you are playing at 22" or below then get the 285gtx, at 24" you can make a case for both and at 30% you would definitely want the 4870 X2.

i7 is not worth it for gaming. It's great if you do a lot of other stuff but for pure gaming the Phenom II's just cannot be beaten on price/performance.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 4:59:01 PM

He clearly states the system will be general purpose, not just pure gaming and those cards only make sense from a pure performance perspective.
April 23, 2009 5:02:42 PM

Heya well, I work as a web designer so I will use this for photoshop and zend studio as well. But i do play lots of games, especially call of duty hehe. Thanks for the inputs, I priced out i7 systems and it just looked like more then i want to spend. I built my system top of the line about 2 years ago with an 8800 gtx and never regretted it, its only now that I cant play some of the newest games in super high quality. really want to see how empire total war looks in super high quality
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 5:06:42 PM

A 4870 X2 and a Phenom II will easily beat an i7 and 4850 X2 in any game you find. If he's doing a lot of intensive graphic work on the pc then the i7 might be a more reasonable choice, just don't expect it to perform like the Phenom II in gaming.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 5:09:48 PM

First off, what kind of work do you do on it? Are we talkign heavey data analysis or using word?

If you are compiling, rendering, dealing with massive files to analyze and process you will really be better off with an i7 if you are interested in a top tier price segemnt.

If we are talkign light gamign with word, AMD would be great.

Also, looking at your list there,you have a triple cahnnel kit. You only want a double channel kit for an AMD based system.

As for the video card. Up you you, both would be great for gaming. However, if you are getting a Crossfire motherboard, I would strongly suggest you get a crossfire capable card in the situation you want to have an easy upgrade down the road. (a 4890 is a great choice if you overclock, almost equal to the 285 with a simple OC)
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 5:09:56 PM

You can play Empire Total War at ultra high settings on a 4870.
a c 376 U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 5:23:23 PM

An i7 is $25 more than the processor you already selected. There are fine motherboards for it that are $20-30 more than the one on your wishlist. If you count mail-in rebates that price difference basically disappears.
Can't see how that could be a factor when you are looking at video cards in the $400 area.
If it was just for gaming then sure the AMD chip is the way to go but for a main system you want to last for years i7 is the clear choice imo. Have you read the article on the front page of the site? Here's an excerpt from the conclusion;

"We’re still not looking at a Core i7-killer (or even competitor) here. After all, AMD’s fastest offering isn’t able to match even the slowest i7 chip, unless you count gaming, where most of these quad-core chips perform so similarly that it isn’t worth factoring in the tenths of a frame."
April 23, 2009 5:53:36 PM

I have to agree with jyjjy. If you are looking for a system that is going to last a few years and still be upgradeable you need to be looking at an i7. And assuming you are gaming in 1920x1200 or lower the 4850x2 is going to play everything smoothly....sure the other cards will get more fps, but you won't SEE them in 90% of the games...and when the games finally do catch up you can add another 4850x2 which will be even cheaper by then, and be good for a few more years.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 5:55:33 PM

You would have him buy an i7 and a 4850 X2 for small increases in work productivity at the expense of small decreases in gaming performance.

I would go with a better gpu and a lesser, cheaper cpu.

What we are really talking about is spending $200+ more on being able to render a screenshot 10 seconds faster every how often? If that's all you do every minute of every day then yes clearly the i7 makes much more sense. It would have to be doing it most of the day to justify the extra cost.

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=18149&page=9

$200+ more for 20-30 seconds faster on tasks taking 4-5 mins each? The i7 is not worth it unless you are doing that stuff constantly all day. If you're gaming and don't have money to throw away, ignore the i7 and get a C2 Quad or Phenom II.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 6:17:17 PM

The gaming performance od a Phenom II is almsot exactly the same as a core 2 quad and an i7. It is ONLY with absolute top notch gpu configs (quad or triple CF) that the i7 is able to ever so slightly creep ahead makign it a tab bit of a wste at this moment in time, but rest asured that games will come along that will take full advantage of the i7 eventually, that just isnt the case today.

As for work.. I spend a lot of time running data through pretty simple code where brute force wins. If that is what you need to do at home get an i7.. but frankly I only ever have to do the real brute work here at , well, work.. and that is what a massively parallel specialized "super computer" is for...
April 23, 2009 6:40:35 PM

I think you are missing my point...in reality you are looking at about $100 difference, and the difference between needing to upgrade the whole system in less than two years, or having viable computer for 4 or 5 years that you can make small, economical upgrades to as you need.
And I don't dispute the 4870x2 is faster, but in almost all games you will get maybe a 10% increase over the 4850x2 for the $150+ price difference. And in 90% of the games at 1920x1200 you will never see those increased frame rates. Once you hit around 60fps our eyes can't tell the difference any more, so if the 4850x2 can play a game at 80fps, and the 4870x2 can play it at 88fps, and you can't see the difference is that worth the extra $150? If all you play is crysis or a similar gpu choking game engine, then the 4870x2 might be worth it, but if all you play are system killers you'll get more bang for your buck by doing a quad crossfire 4850x2 for just $100 more than a single 4870x2.
Bottom line, if you want a system that will last and keep up with the advances that are coming you should get an i7, If you like to build a new system every year or two then by all means go with a phenom II. ...
But back to the original post and his question...what will give him his best bang for the buck without having to replace it in a year...In my opinion an i7 with a 4850x2 fits that bill nicely...not only will he not have to replace it in a year, but it should last several years with the only needed upgrades of adding another 4850x2 at some point and overclocking with a better cooling solution at some point. All that for under $100 more than his original build.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 6:59:05 PM

I would get a 4890 or some 4870 variant instead of a 4850x2.. the 4850 x2 will very quickly dissapear over the next few months since sapphire is the only one making them. As soon as something like a 4770x2, or the 5000 series comes the 4850x2 will be long gone, perhaps the support for it with it.

As for the CPU, an i7 will surely last longer. If you do go i7 there is no point wasting it with a weak gpu, get a couple (or 3) 4890's or 275's (if the price is right).
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 7:04:32 PM

I'm not quite sure how you figure a Phenom II will last less than 2 years while an i7 920 will last 5 years tbh. There isn't a 5 year old cpu that you'd use now for gaming or anything taxing and the i7 will be no different.

Like most people, he wants the best for his buck. Phenom II with 4870 X2 or i7 with 4850 X2 - In two years time both will be struggling with the most modern games but I'd still rather be playing on the Phenom II and 4870 X2. It's the better gamer now and it will be the better gamer in 2, 3, 4 or 5 years time, relatively speaking.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 7:17:35 PM

I think belial2k is talkign about platform longevity. It will be easier to pop in a faster cpu in the i7 board than the am3. What with tripple channel memory and the like.

But IMO buildign a computer for 2 years from now is pointless. Build it for today, replace it when you ahve to replace it. You cant predict how long it will last accurately. The only sure thing is that whatever you buy today will be obsolete in two years.
April 23, 2009 7:52:52 PM

you got my point..the platform will last, and with overclocking the 920 can stay around for a long time. Intel will not be releasing an upgrade for the i7 for over a year when they will release the six core processor. And it takes about 2 years for new technology to become "mainstream" ...see all the people who are still building their core 2 duo computers that will still perform fine in most games. Most programmers program for the mainstream...so you have another 2 years before you become obsolete again. There is how I arrive at 4-5 years. It would be like you got in early on the 775 core2duo platform. If you bought well then you could still have a very viable computer, all these years later with just video card upgrades and overclocking or processor upgrades.
And the build cost is not that different, even with a 4870x2, even though I don't think its worth $150 more than the 4850x2 if you are playing normal games at normal resolution. My point on that is the marginally better performance is wasted because in most games you cannot SEE the difference. Here is the i7 brother of his proposed build...price difference is only about $50 with a 4870x2, or it comes out $100 less with the 4850x2.
Qty. Image Product Description Unit Price Savings Total Price .

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Update19-115-202

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
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G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL8TU-6GBPI

G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL8TU-6GBPI - Retail
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SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
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MSI X58 Pro LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

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April 23, 2009 7:58:26 PM

the only other note I would make is that its true only sapphire is making the 4850x2, but it uses the standard drivers, so future support is not really an issue unless you are just talking about availability, and then even if they stop making it there will be plenty on the secondary market for even cheaper.
a c 376 U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 7:59:54 PM

i7 is new architecture and will be the dominant one for years to come. Before long games will be optimized for it and it will be even more of an obvious choice. Factor in its already superior performance in every other area, superior upgrade options and minimal price difference($25-50 for i7 vs the AMD build he picked out.)
You don't need to skimp on a video card to chose i7 over AMD. I simply suggested the HD4850x2 because it's clearly the best card for the money at the moment. There's a good reason why the section discussing more expensive cards is entitled "Past the point of reason" in this months video card article.
April 23, 2009 8:03:15 PM

Hi guys seems like a sparked a berlin wall type of debate here lol, I appreciate all your comments and thoughts and all of it is weighing on my decision. I am not heavily using photoshop, I just use it to make a design and then i use zend studio or dreamweaver to design it which does not take up that much processing power. But sometimes I am running like 7-10 programs at the same time, weather its a database administration program, image editor,text editor,ftp program,pidgin. I just always have lots of programs running and yes I want to think about the future but not to far into 2 years. I understand I will need to upgrade in a few years but I just want the best of the best untill that 2 years is up.

Another thing my buddy mentioned is its better to stick with ATI if your using AMD since AMD makes ati chips and nvidia for intel, what are your thoughts on that?
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 8:08:50 PM

"Past the point of reason" really depends on the buyer:D 

I have not followed the 4850x2 much, but I do frequent the ati forums. I have seen people with issues in windows 7 with ati release drivers. I can't say that will remain the case, but if you do get a 4850x2 I would do a lot of raedign to be sure it will last if you plan on getting into the win 7 thing.

I recommend a 4890/275 instead simlpy becasue the price is really similar, it offers similar performance and superior overclocking (for teh 4890 at least) all in a single GPU. (A single GPU is always more stable)
April 23, 2009 8:20:25 PM

that is somewhat true if you are using a MB with onboard graphics, but as long as you are using a board that will support both platforms there should be no real difference...in fact there was an article on toms not to long ago that showed a very slight increase in performance when you went the other way around and used ati with intel and vice versa, but I think there was not enough solid data to form any real conclusions.
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 8:23:12 PM

The had an update to that article today. Seems that the nvidia drivers are not working corerctly with i7 for whatever reason. ATI cards provide much better scaling on i7 currently.
April 23, 2009 8:26:09 PM

btw...I was replying to the original poster, not daedalus685. I really can't speak to windows 7 issues, but I have used the 4850x2 in several vista ultimate 64 builds without issue. I think the best thing for the poster to do is figure out what resolution he will be using, and what games he'll be playing....then go with the cheapest card that will give you a solid 60fps in those games at those resolutions. Anything else is overkill. When games catch up or you go up in resolution, its an easy upgrade to add another card.
April 23, 2009 8:28:29 PM

ok well right now im using 2 19" monitors at 1440 resolution - but i do plan on upgrading those to 2 22" or even 2 24" monitors soon.
April 23, 2009 8:32:52 PM

what games do you play?
April 23, 2009 8:35:55 PM

Right now only playing call of duty world at war, empire total war, rome total war (tried to play new crysis but is was really bad quality). I like to play any games that look really nice and rival ps3 graphics. They are mostly fps and strategy games, plus i want to make sure im nice and ready for modern warfare 2 in november
a b U Graphics card
April 23, 2009 8:36:27 PM

If you plan to get 22", get a 24" that suppots 1900*1200. Or wait a bit for the 22" that support 1900*1200 to see more retail shelves.
April 23, 2009 8:52:17 PM

Unless your taste change or you get into a game with a really difficult game engine, a single 4870 or gtx260 would work at your current resolutions. If you step up to a 1900 x 1200 monitor you will want to go with either a 4850x2 or a 4870x2. The 4850x2 can handle any of the games you mention at those resolutions (except crysis), but if you find a game that is a more gpu intensive you will need to add a second 4850x2 or go to the 4870x2 or gtx295. For a point of reference, your current card is a little under the performance of a single 4850...so you might be able to use that to scale where you want to be.
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