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Athlon X2 2.7GHz with ATI 4870 a good idea?

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September 11, 2009 4:09:43 PM

I currently have an Athlon X2 5200+ (2.7GHz) with a GeForce 8600 GT.
I'm planning on getting the ATI 4870 since it is dirty cheap (512MB @ $130; 1GB @ $150).
Right now, I can't afford a mobo and CPU and porssibly RAM upgrade (my mobo is not AM3 friendly :(  ).
So, I KNOW the 5200+ will be a bottleneck to the 4870, but I prefer to have extra FPS due to: new CPU + bottleneck removed; when I get a Phenom II or Core i5.
I'm quite sure I'll see a big improvement (8600 GT --> 4870) in all games.
Should I go for the 4870??

PS: I can't overclock the Athlon X2 due to thermal problems.
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September 11, 2009 4:22:32 PM

You will undoubtedly see an improvement from the 4870, and for 130 bucks, you can't really go wrong. Unless of course, they drop the prices even further with the release to market of the 5xxx series. Just be prepared for the extra heat and power demand of the 4870.
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September 12, 2009 1:18:48 AM

I'll get an Antec EarthWatts 650w and a card that blows air out of the case (so that my CPU's temp doesn't rise).
Do these cards run really loud? Will a 4850 be much quieter?
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September 13, 2009 3:49:21 PM

They can be loud under heavy load, as by default they have a temp based fan speed. But if you go in the CCC (catalyst control centre) under the Overdrive setting, you can manually set the fan at a set speed. I have had mine at 45% for a long time (with Overclocks too) and have never seen my temps break 90c (110c is approx temp limit apparently). My case is well vented and my ambient temps are rarely higher than 25c though, so you would have to trial and error to see what fan setting you would need to keep the temps and the noise down.
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September 14, 2009 12:01:07 PM

sanchz said:
Do these cards run really loud? Will a 4850 be much quieter?

Yes, they are really loud. You won't hear anything else in the computer over the noise of the HD4870.

And no, the HD4850 is just as loud. As suggested, set the fan to a lower speed that keeps it cool enough.

The HD4890, on the other hand, is much quieter with no need to manually set fan speeds.

Moving from the 8600GT to any number of cards will be an improvement. I think the HD4850 or 4870 will be still good with the processor you have, but when you do buy the PII or i5 you'll wish you had the HD4890 instead.
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September 14, 2009 8:52:38 PM

seabreeze said:
Yes, they are really loud. You won't hear anything else in the computer over the noise of the HD4870.

And no, the HD4850 is just as loud. As suggested, set the fan to a lower speed that keeps it cool enough.

The HD4890, on the other hand, is much quieter with no need to manually set fan speeds.

Moving from the 8600GT to any number of cards will be an improvement. I think the HD4850 or 4870 will be still good with the processor you have, but when you do buy the PII or i5 you'll wish you had the HD4890 instead.


When I do upgrade my CPU, it'll be time for a GPU upgrade as well, so I'll get the 4870 and live with it.
Thanx for the answer.
I'm just troubled with non-reference models (like Sapphire's) which run quieter but dump heat into the case.
I've got 2 80mm side fans, the 120mm PSU fan (top) and a rear 80mm fan; and a 80mm front fan wich doesn't suck much air. Will this be OK? XFX's 4870 blows air out of the case but can be really loud as I read...
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September 14, 2009 9:09:47 PM

Don't worry about the "fan is loud" comments you see on newegg. You can control the fan speed manually and make it quiet or loud yourself. I can run most games on 40% fan speed (with a sapphire) and stay under 70c, and I can barely hear it. 50% for crysis and such games and its barely loud. These cards are actually cool for the power they bring and it sounds like your case is plenty ventilated.
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a b à CPUs
September 14, 2009 9:23:43 PM

The 4850/4870 are loud at default levels (ie, 100%), but not particularly hot. Of course, manually reducing the fan speed will increase the temperature some, so if you're happy with the noise level I wouldn't worry. You also have plenty of fans in the case to help out.

I think people leaving those comments on newegg just haven't altered the fan speed to suit their application.

If you are concerned about any gpu coolers that just add their hot air to the inside of the case, you could go with a PCI fan. They are usually cheap, sit in the next slot near the video card and extract air directly off the card and out of the case.

Regarding the GPU upgrade, I was thinking the same. When you go for the PII or i5 you'll probably buy another card anyway. Unless the 4850 is well priced it appears the 4870/512 at $130.00 remains a very good choice. Don't get the 1GB, buy the 512MB.
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September 14, 2009 11:54:55 PM

seabreeze said:
Regarding the GPU upgrade, I was thinking the same. When you go for the PII or i5 you'll probably buy another card anyway. Unless the 4850 is well priced it appears the 4870/512 at $130.00 remains a very good choice. Don't get the 1GB, buy the 512MB.


Just curious, why shouldn't I get the 1GB version?
I game at 1440x900 (roughly the same as 1280x1024). I just think GTA 4 will like the extra 512mb...

Raidur: What sapphire version do you have? Toxic, vapor-x, reference (red) cooler, normal black...?
How loud does the automatic fan speed get?


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September 15, 2009 8:33:01 AM

sanchz said:
Just curious, why shouldn't I get the 1GB version?
I game at 1440x900 (roughly the same as 1280x1024). I just think GTA 4 will like the extra 512mb...

Higher resolutions requires more memory. Pick a gaming benchmark and look at 512MB and 1GB cards. At the resolution you're using there will be no difference in performance (fps), but go 1900x1080 or larger and the extra memory will help.

At 1650x1050 4AA, the total fps from Tom's:
4780 2GB = 413
4780 1GB = 416
4780 512MB = 407

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-cards-charts-2009-high-quality/Sum-of-FPS-Benchmarks-1680x1050,1470.html

There's hardly any difference (9fps total spread, 2.5fps average) at 1650x1050, so I'd expect almost identical frame rates at 1400x900.

At 1920x1200 4AA, the total fps from Tom's:
4780 2GB = 328
4780 1GB = 341
4780 512MB = 317

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-cards-charts-2009-high-quality/Sum-of-FPS-Benchmarks-1920x1200,1472.html

The spread now is 24fps total across six games (I think it's six), so that's an average of 3fps between the slowest and fastest card.

Note how the 2GB gives you less fps than the 1GB at these resolutions. It may not have any impact until 2560x1600. Between 512MB, 1GB and 2GB the difference between the fastest and the slowest may only be 1-2fps at 1400x900, everything else being equal.

Save your money and go with the 512MB.
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