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2 $100 cards in sli/crossfire vs 1 $200 card

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July 29, 2009 7:31:43 PM

I'm sure this has been asked before but I can't seem to track it down.

I'm building a completely new system and I have a budget of around $200 (give or take) for graphics. Will one typically get better performance out of two graphics cards at about $100 each, or one graphics card at around $200?

More generally would you typically get better performance out of two cards each purchased at half your budget, or one card purchased with all your budget?
a b U Graphics card
July 29, 2009 8:00:11 PM

The 4850 is 99.99, most 4890's are near $200 (some a bit more, some a bit less)

At stock, 2 4850's will clean up against a single 4890, though teh 4890 has more over clock headroom which could change that.

At least for today, if your budget is 200, it is probably best to get a couple 4850's. Though that brings with it a setup with only 512mb of video ram, and the issues that may come with Crossfire (some older games not liking it)
a c 125 U Graphics card
July 29, 2009 9:22:06 PM

Careful, the games that are being benchmarked tend to run better on SLI and Crossfire than other games.

Many older games can still max out a new medium gaming system.

I highly recommend the NVidia GTX 275 896MB.

I looked at several benchmarks and recent articles. The GTX275 ties with the HD4890 for roughly $200 (if you look around), however the GTX275 has two things going for it. One, it has physics support for those games that support it. Two, you can use SPDIF from your audio if you want full HDMI audio (likely won't use it but who knows?).

Links:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-radeon,...

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,...

I couldn't compare the GTX275 with 2xHD4850 directly but the chart does show a 2xHD4870. This indicates that in some games they will be roughly equal. However, for games that don't support Crossfire the GTX275 will blow the HD4850 solution out of the water.

Benchmarks can be a little deceiving because most people play several older games that don't support multiple GPUs.

Another advantage is you free up some expansion slots (perhaps for a nice sound card like the Auzentech forte).
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a b U Graphics card
July 29, 2009 10:09:54 PM

photonboy said:

I looked at several benchmarks and recent articles. The GTX275 ties with the HD4890 for roughly $200 (if you look around), however the GTX275 has two things going for it. One, it has physics support for those games that support it. Two, you can use SPDIF from your audio if you want full HDMI audio (likely won't use it but who knows?).

Well, yes, the 275 has physx, for all the nothing that brings..

As for the SPDIF, the 4890 has sound built in and does not need it for audio over hdmi, come now...

The 4890 also has miles more overclocking potential.. beyond that though, the point of the thread was whether a 200 card was better than two 100. Which it is not, in any case but extreme overclocking.

It is fine that you prefer nvidia, but that was not the point of this thread, and you didn't help to answer the OP's question at all.. Yes, the 4890 and 275 are about equal in most cases. I simply used the 4890 and 4850 as an example.. There is no reason to argue about which is better in a thread which that has nothing to do with


There are some cons with sli/crossfire, but almost every single game out there now can use it, you wont find many (any) that wont make use of it at all. Obviously pro's and cons.. you take that risk when you opt for a less expensive performance set up.

Please, let me know a game that supports dx9 at least (anything older would never tax any card made in the last 4 years) that does not support sli/crossfire at all. There are some limitations (dx 9 cant run in windowed mode and still use crossfire) but to state many older games don't support it is very misleading.
a b U Graphics card
July 30, 2009 1:54:14 AM

What resolution are you playing at? Anything higher then 1680x1050 i would recommend 1gig card. In my opinion go with a 4870 now then upgrade to another 4870 when the price drops even more.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (4850 512mb)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (4850 1gig)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (4870 512 gig)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (4870 1gig)
July 30, 2009 1:59:11 AM

to simply answer your question.... the best you can get for 200$ is 2 4850's...period
July 30, 2009 6:12:22 AM

I would prefer to go with one 4890 if ATI is the brand you're going for. Sure 2 4850's crossfired will outperform the 4890 by a few FPS, but sooner or later you'll need to upgrade again. I'd rather go with one strong GPU right now and get a second one later when it's much cheaper. If you decide to upgrade later you can spend less money for another 4890 instead of buying a new set of GPUs to crossfire. A 4890 will max out almost ALL games out right now anyway, so why not get just one GPU that will give more stability for all games instead of a crossfire system that will perform well on some games and not so well on others?

If you do decide to go with just one GPU, I would recommend the 4890 over the 275, but only if you go with higher resolutions. The 4890 performs between the 275 and 285 and is about the same price as a 275.

Pros of 4890: More DX11 compatibility (DX10.1), beats Nvidia in some games
Pros of 275: PhysX + Cuda, works better in more benchmarked games than 4890

***Edit: If you plan to get DX11 cards sometime next year, then I would just recommend the 2 4850's in Crossfire, if not, then just get a single 4890 for now and Crossfire them later.
a b U Graphics card
July 30, 2009 1:58:05 PM

I always say it is far, far better in the long run to buy the best single card you can afford. Less heat, less power consumption, and not all games respond to Crossfire and SLI the same. 2 4850's? Can you imagine the heat these things are going to crank out? They are notorious for running hot anyway in a single card configuration.
Generally, never buy 2 lessor cards over putting all your cash, plus maybe $25-$50 more on a higher end card. Why buy 2 (thats 2) lessor cards?
You know they only keep going downhill. In a yearor so, you pretty much have 2 slow cards. Nearly have to give them away to get rid of them, not worth anything, and you start all over spending a sizable chunk to get up to par with performance, again.
July 30, 2009 2:16:07 PM

xc0mmiex said:
to simply answer your question.... the best you can get for 200$ is 2 4850's...period


or two volt modded 4770's.

dual 1GHz cards :D 
!