I'm building a new i5 system and I had originally plan to get the Radeon HD 4870 for it. But now I realized that my current monitor's maximum resolution is only 1280x1024, so am I wrong to think that a 4870 would be quite an overkill? Radeon HD 4650 seems to give good performance at that resolution. I'm using it for both gaming, Photoshop CS4 (I think they use the GPU too) and a bit of video editing.
In any case, I'm wondering whether I should take a 4650 which is around 50$ and upgrade the GPU at the same time as I upgrade my monitor, or if the 4870 is worth getting at the discount price of 125$?
Well if you are gonna play games, it is an easy choice. If you want to play the most current games, and with a smooth FPS then the 4870 is the way to go. Especially for how low the HD 4870 is going for i would definitely get it.
My question is, with my monitor resolution being at 1280x1024, is the 4870 going to make enough of a difference to justify the price difference? Or is the 125$ (after mail-in-rebate) price tag a good enough bargain that I should get it anyway?
The other option I have would be to wait to upgrade for maybe a 57xx or 58xx when (and if) the price drops when I buy a new monitor in the future...
Get yourself a used 4830 or 4850 off ebay for ~$65-$85 - that'll hold you until next year when the GT300 is released and the 5xx0 series drops in price. Then sell your 4830 and get the newer card. Or just get a 4870...
An HD4870 is overkill for that resolution but an HD4650 is a bit weak(especially because the DDR3 version is MIA.) What you want is something in the middle. For that res an HD4670 will give you pretty good performance or an HD4770 would be great and let you max out almost every game.
If you intend to game, I'd honestly go for the 4870 out of the two. Some of the more graphically demanding games with eat a 4650 for breakfast. But a 4650 will still get you playing at your resolution but at lower settings.
You can always get something in between. An ATI 5750 would do you just fine and it supports DX11 and consumes less power than a 4870. A 4870 has more raw power, but at your res a 5750 would do you fine. It's a smaller, and is the new gen of cards. The 4xxx series are out, or on their way out. The 5xxx series are in. The 4xxx series were GREAT, but in all honestly on a new build I would go with the new stuff.
Its up to you. I think I'd trust an open box before ebay or anything. That is a good deal if you are looking for some cheap performance. Sounds like that is what you are looking for, so I'd say go for it. The 4850 will run great at your res, I have a buddy using a 17" and a 4850 and plays all modern games no problem. He can't crank the latest ones, but the worst is you have to tone down the AA and AF settings.