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Upgrade from 8800GT to latest available technology

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October 19, 2009 7:43:50 PM

Hey Tom's community!

So for the past couple of years i have been using the 8800GT, which i bought as it was a cheaper alternative to the GTX which was the top of the line card at the time as far as i recall. Since purchase i have fitted it with one of those Accelero passive coolers, which is fantastic.

So i recently decided to not move to Australia this year, and instead wait a year for various reasons. I now have a bit of money saved to play with, a sudden lack of pressure on me to scrimp, and for once would like to purchase the current top of the line card, instead of the cheaper yesterday-card.

I'm stuck with a debate between the EVGA GeForce GTX 295 Co-Op Superclocked http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX... and ATI's Radeon HD 5870.

I'm quite interested in the idea of switching over to try ATI for once, as i've never used their stuff in the past. However, i am very familiar with Nvidia, i know where their drivers are at, i know what constitutes good performance for me while using their cards, and i am also ventured into the after-market cooling department. Switching to ATI feels like quite an exciting and potentially risky move for me seeing as i don't even know what makes a good ATI card.

I have been looking at this one: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...

My basic system is as follows:

Q6600 2.40Ghz processor
4Gb Black Dragon quad channel RAM
600Watt PSU
GA-P35-DS3L Motherboard
Windows Vista x64

I'm sure it's still a bit early to really compare them both for the long-term, with regards to reliability etc, so this isn't so much of a "which is better, which should i buy?" thread, but if anyone could kindly give me their opinions on both the cards and/or their experiences with ATI i'd be grateful.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read my post!
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 7:51:57 PM

The 5870 is DEFINITELY the better buy, for several reasons.

A).
Direct-X 11. ATI's new 5XXX series has made the jump into new technology, and Direct-X11 is where it's at. This new API will be more-used than DX10, so don't worry.
B).
It's a single-GPU. It can be quad-fired, or even crossfired and have better scaling.
C).
It's cheaper. Period.
D).
It uses MUCH less power, and outputs MUCH less heat.
E).
Supports three monitors
Related resources
October 19, 2009 8:06:31 PM

5870, there is no point to buying a GTX 295. +1 to Shadow187
October 19, 2009 8:12:16 PM

And that's a single card versus a dual GPU.
October 19, 2009 8:13:36 PM

If you don't have to buy right now, wait for GT300 as you seem more comfortable with Nvidia products. But if you're buying now, the 5870 vs. the GTX 295 choice is obvious.
October 19, 2009 8:14:12 PM

shadow187 said:
The 5870 is DEFINITELY the better buy, for several reasons.

A).
Direct-X 11. ATI's new 5XXX series has made the jump into new technology, and Direct-X11 is where it's at. This new API will be more-used than DX10, so don't worry.
B).
It's a single-GPU. It can be quad-fired, or even crossfired and have better scaling.
C).
It's cheaper. Period.
D).
It uses MUCH less power, and outputs MUCH less heat.
E).
Supports three monitors


Those are good points, thankyou. As for B, wouldn't dual-GPU be better than single? If that is how i understand it right. To be honest i only recently learnt that cards existed which weren't single-GPU.

Cor, these two cards are quite confusing when looking at their specifications. They are very hard to compare.

By the looks of things, the 5870 has four times as many cores as the 295, and a higher overall clock speed. The quantity of memory of the latter card is much less than the 295, but is also more advanced, and over double the frequency. On face value it appears the 5870 card eats the 295 for breakfast, but from what i've read, the 295 is actually slightly faster than the 5870, and has higher framerates all around. Is this due to power consumption?

obsidian86: Why is that?
October 19, 2009 8:23:51 PM

I guess i took too long to reply, thanks everyone else for your suggestions. I am leaning more towards the ATI card at the moment, waiting for the GT300 isn't really on my agenda, i am quite impatient when it comes to that sort of thing. I'll probably use whichever card i buy now until the GT300 has been around long enough for me to gauge the impression it has made on other gamers around the internet. If it really is the Fantastic Mr Fox that places are claiming it to be, i could just sell off my existing card and get it then.

ominous prime, i am checking out your links currently :) 
October 19, 2009 8:25:39 PM

Quote:
Cor, these two cards are quite confusing when looking at their specifications. They are very hard to compare.


Thats because you shouldn't compare them through their specifications. NVIDIA and ATi utilize their specs in a very different manner and a literal comparison does not give you any indication of actual performance difference.

Read some reviews, just about every one of them has covered the 5870 vs the 295 and the results are close. Yes, the 295 is a workhorse because it does have 2 cores, but its scaling isn't the best along with the other differences already mentioned.

What it comes down to is that you've been using an 8800, which was a good card -- but either of these cards are going to blow your previous performance away. The argument for the 5870 is the price/performance value.

You didn't mention what resolution you play at, or the monitor size, either of these cards are good for 24'+ (not that you should game with anything larger).
October 19, 2009 8:34:43 PM

hardwaretechy said:
Quote:
Cor, these two cards are quite confusing when looking at their specifications. They are very hard to compare.


Thats because you shouldn't compare them through their specifications. NVIDIA and ATi utilize their specs in a very different manner and a literal comparison does not give you any indication of actual performance difference.

Read some reviews, just about every one of them has covered the 5870 vs the 295 and the results are close. Yes, the 295 is a workhorse because it does have 2 cores, but its scaling isn't the best along with the other differences already mentioned.

What it comes down to is that you've been using an 8800, which was a good card -- but either of these cards are going to blow your previous performance away. The argument for the 5870 is the price/performance value.

You didn't mention what resolution you play at, or the monitor size, either of these cards are good for 24'+ (not that you should game with anything larger).



Well that explains a lot, i was kind of hoping someone would tell me that, i get quite finicky when it comes to comparing specs, it's nice to know i don't have to bother.

Also sorry i knew there was something i'd forgotten, I always play at my monitor's native resolution, which is 1680*1050.

I have actually already read a few reviews, and i've also perused a few forum debates, but they are pretty useless as they are mainly fans of one company yelling at other fans of the other company, interspersed with knowledgeable people throwing benchmark numbers around.

Incidentally, what is scaling exactly? And what is its importance?

Thanks!
a b U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 8:39:24 PM

Purple, taken simply here is what you're looking at:

The HD 5870 is new technology. It has DirectX 11 support, ATi Eyefinity support, comparable performance, and is considerably cheaper ($80 less in the US); It outputs less heat, consumes less power, and is, overall, more efficient.

The GTX 295 is old technology. It has DirectX 10 support, but not even DirectX 10.1 support, let alone DirectX 11. It has CUDA support, and is better at Folding@Home. It uses 50% or more power under load, and considerably more than that at idle. It is two chips stuck together, making it equivalent to a 4870X2 part, if you're familiar with that -- essentially two GPUs stuck together for CrossFireX/SLi performance in one card for people with only one PCIe slot. It performs better, sometimes, by small margins, for a large amount of tradeoffs. Also, its drivers are mature so it won't be seeing many performance increases, and some games still crash because of incompatibility at maximum resolutions (e.g. Crysis in Tom's benchmarks).

I really think it's really hard to justify a GTX 295 purchase in the US with the prices. It is not $80 worth more of performance (which is sometimes less anyway), and Quad SLi with it is horribly inefficient and power hungry. The HD 5870 offers to be matched with three more cards, all scaling roughly 70%/50%/30% respectively. Scaling is the amount of performance you gain when adding a card, so when adding an additional HD 5870 (a total of two) you see a 70% increase in most games, when adding a third, 50%, etc. I really don't even think Quad SLi with a GTX 295 (And it's quad because each card is two) is even a rational option.
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 8:39:28 PM

purplefire said:
Those are good points, thankyou. As for B, wouldn't dual-GPU be better than single?
The two GPU's nVidia uses aren't even that great. SLI'd GTX275's are better than the dual-GPU GTX295. And remember, if you REALLY wanted to say that the GTX295 has a better performance, nVidia had to use two cards to achieve it.
If that is how i understand it right. To be honest i only recently learnt that cards existed which weren't single-GPU.

Cor, these two cards are quite confusing when looking at their specifications. They are very hard to compare.

By the looks of things, the 5870 has four times as many cores as the 295, and a higher overall clock speed. The quantity of memory of the latter card is much less than the 295, but is also more advanced, and over double the frequency. On face value it appears the 5870 card eats the 295 for breakfast, but from what i've read, the 295 is actually slightly faster than the 5870, and has higher framerates all around. Is this due to power consumption?

obsidian86: Why is that?
Never read white-paper specs. Sometimes it helps, but is generally misleading. Both companies have different ways of utilizing the hardware in their GPU's (nVidia has a much lower memory clock, but they usually have higher buses, etc. Also, remember than nVidia's cards are generally bigger in the die size, which is why they're more expensive.

Nom.
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 8:42:20 PM

purplefire said:
Well that explains a lot, i was kind of hoping someone would tell me that, i get quite finicky when it comes to comparing specs, it's nice to know i don't have to bother.
Yep, don't leave everything to the white paper!
Also sorry i knew there was something i'd forgotten, I always play at my monitor's native resolution, which is 1680*1050.
Lol. The 5870 will rock your world in every game you play.
I have actually already read a few reviews, and i've also perused a few forum debates, but they are pretty useless as they are mainly fans of one company yelling at other fans of the other company, interspersed with knowledgeable people throwing benchmark numbers around.
Welcome to my world!
Incidentally, what is scaling exactly? And what is its importance?
Scaling is how well the card does in SLI or CrossFire configuration. Every CF/SLI setup loses performance. For instance, CARD A gets 100FPS in GAME A. But 2x CARD A only gets 180FPS in the game; it has 80% scaling. The HD4770, IIRC, has some of the best scaling.

Thanks!


Don't ask why I do this...

*Edit
Maybe because some good soul will come along and give me their old card to put me and my integrated graphics out of misery T.T
a b U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 8:51:56 PM

xfx offer double lifetime warranties on their graphics cards
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 8:55:29 PM

obsidian86 said:
xfx offer double lifetime warranties on their graphics cards

As we're talking about brands...

XFX is good for their warranties, true.
EVGA has some precision overclocking tool, and I think they use a step-up program; though I also think it's limited to nVidia.
Sapphire has a great cooling system, codenamed Vapor-X.
HIS is another one, with an IceQ system.
MSI has a Cyclone system.
Visiontek -- Good warranty --Obsidian86
Palit did something with their 4850 that made it work better than others...no idea...
PowerColor does some different cooling systems...they'll be the ones that drop in price first.
Diamond has great support --Obsidian86
a b U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 8:57:38 PM

+1 for shadow (and I actually clicked the button too).

I'd definitely get ATI 5870 over the GTX 295. We're talking DX11 vs DX10, and a single GPU with similar performance to the GTX 295's dual GPU performance. I'd rather have 1 card that runs that fast, than 2 cards to get the same results.

a b U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 9:00:53 PM

visiontek also has a good warranty option i think and diamond has great support Sapphire also have some of the most wickedly overclocked cards namely toxic and atomic
October 19, 2009 9:06:43 PM

You guys are great, thanks for all your help, it definitely looks like i'll be going with ATI then. I've always wanted to check them out.

Now to figure out which brand to go with, and find a British site that actually has any in stock for that matter.
October 19, 2009 9:09:47 PM

Well all of them are reference cards, so they should be identical except for the sticker, and of course warranty. Try to get an XFX if you can, double lifetime warranty comes in handy. No such luck finding an XFX in the states, had to pull the trigger on a HIS 5850 the other day. Best of luck Purplefire I know you'll be happy with the 5870.
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 9:10:28 PM

purplefire said:
You guys are great, thanks for all your help, it definitely looks like i'll be going with ATI then. I've always wanted to check them out.

Now to figure out which brand to go with, and find a British site that actually has any in stock for that matter.


What do you mean you guys are great? IT's all ME!

Kidding.

As for brands, XFX probably has the best right now with it's warranty. In a month or maybe less, companies will ship their own cooling styles, and prices will start to vary a bit more.
October 19, 2009 9:13:36 PM

shadow187 said:
What do you mean you guys are great? IT's all ME!

Kidding.

As for brands, XFX probably has the best right now with it's warranty. In a month or maybe less, companies will ship their own cooling styles, and prices will start to vary a bit more.


[:mousemonkey:1] All HAIL!!

But really, so modest Shadow :p 
October 19, 2009 9:15:55 PM

shadow187 said:
What do you mean you guys are great? IT's all ME!

Kidding.

As for brands, XFX probably has the best right now with it's warranty. In a month or maybe less, companies will ship their own cooling styles, and prices will start to vary a bit more.


Dang, a month you say? I'm unsure if i can wait that long. Although everywhere seems sold out anyway, i may have no choice.
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 9:15:58 PM

Just your average kid learning your bit of technology that he can take into his career which will either be in engineering, software development, or website development.

Might find a couple of better cards in a month though, and knowing how the 5870 can cook up, you might want to wait for a cooler!
October 19, 2009 9:23:31 PM

shadow187 said:
Just your average kid learning your bit of technology that he can take into his career which will either be in engineering, software development, or website development.

Might find a couple of better cards in a month though, and knowing how the 5870 can cook up, you might want to wait for a cooler!


Mind if i ask what the after-market cooling solutions are like for ATI cards? They are numerous for Nvidia, as i discovered when i researched and bought the Accelero. I wouldn't mind buying a stock card and then a separate cooler. I enjoy dismantling things and having a hands-on approach. Hands are earthed of course.
a c 130 U Graphics card
October 19, 2009 9:34:58 PM

shadow187 said:
As we're talking about brands...

XFX is good for their warranties, true.
EVGA has some precision overclocking tool, and I think they use a step-up program; though I also think it's limited to nVidia.
Sapphire has a great cooling system, codenamed Vapor-X.
HIS is another one, with an IceQ system.
MSI has a Cyclone system.
Visiontek -- Good warranty --Obsidian86
Palit did something with their 4850 that made it work better than others...no idea...
PowerColor does some different cooling systems...they'll be the ones that drop in price first.
Diamond has great support --Obsidian86


:) 
October 19, 2009 9:40:38 PM

Ah, i assumed that was a list of what the various established brand cards have been known to come with, cheers
October 19, 2009 9:49:28 PM

Has anyone thought that a 5850 might be better suited for a Q6600 and a 1680x1050 resolution?

Not that a 5870 is a bad choice. It's the best card out there. But a 5850 seems more...say...balanced for your system.
October 19, 2009 9:58:25 PM

If that is the case, then it's probably better i do go with the 5870 over a 5850, as my system tends to go through phases of upgrades every time i deem technology has advanced enough for me to splash out. If a 5850 would be good for my current system, then perhaps a 5870 would future-proof my computer for when i do a system-wide upgrade sometime soon?
October 19, 2009 10:02:11 PM

OK, fair enough, go with the 5870...I certainly am a bit jealous. A 5870 can definitely go into your new system (actually, it is probably going to be the only thing in a potential new system), get crossfired and rule the world of gaming for another 2 years (or a bit less).

By the way, consider overclocking your processor to fully utilize your 5870 (and enjoy your 150+ fps in games)!
October 19, 2009 10:06:21 PM

agree with someone here that said if you're comfortable with nvidia than wait till end of November . If you are buying now and can't wait ati 5870 is definitely the right choice. :) 
October 19, 2009 10:28:20 PM

Thanks guys, top advice. And thanks carpenter20m as well for considering my current system. I would love to get a crossfire/SLI system up and running, but there is absolutely no way i could justify buying a second one of these cards, let alone a new motherboard capable of it. Not now at least, and by the time i probably could get that type of set up, i will probably decide i could use that GT400 :p 
October 19, 2009 11:26:10 PM

Wow, Vapor-x technology looks amazing! Look what i found http://www.techpowerup.com/104447/Sapphire_HD_5870_Vapo...

I've searched high and low and cannot find a date for when it'll be released though, real bummer.

Edit: Ah apparently deliveries of this card began on September 23rd, that means any day now it should appear on shelves! I bet it'll be pricey.
!