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Which Video Card Should I Purchase?

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November 26, 2009 7:33:19 PM

I've been thinking about building a new system and so far I've decided on
Intel i5-750
Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (7-8-7-8-24, 1.6v)
COOLER MASTER Silent Pro 700 RS-700-AMBA-D3 700W

And now I'm just looking for a video card. I've already bought a 1.5g 7200rpm WD and I'm going to use my current case. My current system is an AMD 3800+ (939), 3gb DDR, with a Nvidia 9600 GSO with a 550w PS and I run Windows 7 64.

The most intensive things I do is gaming, screen capture and video editing. Though I don't play it anymore, one game I would like this computer to run particularly well is Darkfall Online.

Darkfall Online does not take advantage of SLI/Crossfire, nor does it take advantage of multiple-cores or threads. I like eye candy, but I will always sacrifice it to be more competitive. My current computer ran Darkfall reasonably well except in large raids (100+ people) or even smaller ones (20+), in which I would drop to 1-6fps.

Anywhere I can save a few dollars without a significant performance drop is okay with me. Being around computers all my life has taught me that it is better to save $100 and spend it 6 months down the road, than to try and 'future-proof' by spending it right away. At the same time, spending $600 on a system that will lag and be uncomfortable to use is a waste of $600. The issue of functionality vs diminishing returns is ever present.

As for video cards, I have looked at benchmarks for hours and I was hoping to ask some people who have these cards or who know more about video cards to help me choose between them.

My low end card of choice is the Nvidia 250 GTS. It works out to $125 after tax and delivery. Very cheap, and it's not a bad card.

But is it worth spending an extra $75 to buy an Ati 5770? It's faster, but it also takes advantage of Direct X 11. Still, will DX11 be useful to me right now? In 6 months? In a year? I'll probably buy a new video card a year from now.

I have, many times, come across games that prefer Nvidia over ATI. I've read that sometimes games prefer ATI over Nvidia, but I've never noticed that myself. The biggest mark against ATI for me happened years ago playing a game called Neverwinter Nights (the first one). Here, ATI cards crashed in the editor endlessly. I heard rumors that ATI cards perform worse than Nvidia cards in Darkfall but I could never prove those claims. Has the landscape changed much? I don't know.

Other than performance and the program's preference towards Nvidia or Ati architecture, there are two other things to consider. One is overclocking ability, and the other is power consumption. I've read conflicting views on just how good various cards are to overclock. To add to the confusion, the company that makes the card the chipset is on also matters. And worse, still, each company has different models...some have better fans, or heat sinks, some are pre-overclocked, etc. I'm not too sure I even want to overclock my GPU. I might do it a bit just so I can learn how its done but I'll probably be running it at stock or close to it.

I will absolutely be attempting to overclock my CPU. Still, if I don't need the extra speed I'll probably drop the OC down to save on my electricity bill. I leave my computer on 24/7 and over the course of a year or two this could add up.

Some basic price vs power consumption (TDP) numbers (prices are approx prices in CDN shopping at newegg.ca after tax and delivery are taken into consideration):

(TDP sources)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce_200_Series
http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=88&pgno=1

$125 - GTS 250 --> 145W
$250 - GTX 260 --> 171-182W
$325 - GTX 275 --> 219W
$450-500 - GTX 285 --> 183W

$215 - HD 5770 --> 110W
$200 - HD 4870 --> 150W
$250 - HD 4890 --> 190W

$300? (not in stock) - HD 5850 --> 151W
$450? (not in stock) - HD 5870 --> 188W

Price wise, the GTX 285 and 5870 are out of the picture.

TDP wise, I don't like the 4890, GTX 275 or GTX 260 but this doesn't rule them out.

If DirectX11 might be useful to have, even if the card will be underpowered (especially a year from now when DX11 games/applications start to pop up) then the 5770 looks impressive. Otherwise, That GTS 250 is CHEAP. It's a PNY (brand) which doesn't impress me like the Gigabyte or EVGA brands do but...the EVGA version of the same card costs about $180. There is an ASUS version that costs maybe $140 though.

With so many things to consider I could use someone's help making a decision.

Thanks!

More about : video card purchase

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a c 232 U Graphics card
November 26, 2009 7:50:01 PM

I just left a thread where 250 was under $100 with MIR

If changing GFX cards before "the ball drops" on 2012, DX11 is a non factor. If PhysX is of interest, that's another consideration. See this if you're not sure:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/batman-arkham-asylu...

I'd plug in my budget to this:

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

and go shopping.....keep in mind that most prices have gone up for the category "winners", not down since this article was written.

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November 26, 2009 8:34:50 PM

The dedicated card as a physx card is interesting but it has some problems. For one, it makes me want to buy an ATX mb with two 16x 2.0 PCIE slots. If I put it in this current mb, the second card works at 4x and I'm completely confused at how all this works. Something about the card with fewer shaders going even slower than it should...
plus some games don't even use PhysX. I guess in the end of the day you're going to lose out on something no matter what you choose.

Also, I noticed the 5000 series ATI cards seem to be able to do Eyefinity. I'm not sure if that means I can use my 25" 1920x1080 with my 19" 1280x1024 together without them screwing up like they do now. Also, I hear that Softth is a software program that lets you do the same general thing as Eyefinity with a Nvidia card.

I don't think this is useful to me right now but in the future I'd definitely want the visual immersion. :) 
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November 26, 2009 8:54:56 PM

Another can of worms...
PhysX vs Havok.

Havok is sort of like PhysX but it's owned by Intel (well, the company was bought out by Intel but still maintain independence).

Recently, AMD(Ati) has begun to partner with this Havok engine for their version of PhysX.

Also, some random guy figured out how to enable PhysX on ATI cards and got himself a job at Nvidia -- and Nvidia began to be open about PhysX to ATI.

Could these be related? Is Nvidia in trouble? Is this also why they are focusing on this GPGPU thing and beginning to compete with Intel?

Well it's all very interesting. It looks like Intel/Ati are the strong pair right now.
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November 26, 2009 9:29:30 PM

(Crysis)
1920x1080 High Detail No AA

4890 - Max: 52.89 Min: 26.95 Avg: 43.68
5850 - Max: 66.39 Min: 32.02 Avg: 51.675
Dual 5850 - Max:85.20 Min: 27.46 Avg: 58.68

1920x1080 High Detail 4xAA

4890 - Max: 44.52 Min: 25.44 Avg: 36.77
5850 - Max: 54.14 Min: 20.90 Avg: 44.99
Dual 5850 - Max: 77.93 Min: 28.14 55.775

1920x1080 Very High Detail No AA

4890 - Max: 29.51 Min: 14.98 Avg: 25.39
5850 - Max: 36.6 Min: 13.42 Avg: 31.21
Dual 5850 - Max: 54.44 Min: 12.93 Avg: 43.495

1920x1080 Very High Detail 4xAA

4890 - Max: 25.24 Min: 16.42 Avg: 21.795
5850 - Max: 30.64 Min: 13.69 Avg: 27.01
Dual 5850 - Max: 46.54 Min: 19.35 Avg: 38.355

Maybe I should wait for the 5850's to get in stock and drop in price...probably sometime in Q1 2010. Until then I suppose I could just fiddle around with my 9600 GSO a little longer while enjoying the new i5-750.

I really don't intend on doing any kind of SLI/Crossfire with this PC. Maybe the landscape will change in the future, what with more games supporting SLI/Crossfire as well as PhysX dedicated cards and GPGPU. The potential is there but the market can go in all kinds of directions. I don't presume to be able to predict the future so instead I'll be reactive instead of proactive.

I did see some examples of DirectX 11 on youtube. Namely this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR40GwRtFyw
Which knocked my socks off.

Now I just wonder if I should get that 700W power supply or not...it's on special but if I wait I could look for a boxing day sale. Although, boxing day sales usually only sell trash. On the other hand, maybe my 550W power supply will be able to handle my new PC.

My current 3800+ processor has a TDP of around 90W
The i5-750 TDP is 95W so everything will be about the same. The micro ATX board I'm buying probably uses less power than the ATX one I have now..even so the power consumption of both machines should be about the same.

The difference is that when I start overclocking I'll approach the limit of this PSU almost certainly.

On the other hand...I planned on using the computer for at least a month before overclocking just to make sure there's nothing wrong with the CPU. Just so I don't invalidate my warranty.

The 5850 or possibly the 5870, if I wait long enough, look like the next card I'll buy. On the other hand, Nvidia is yet to throw their curve ball -- the 300 series. The more I look into this the more I think I should wait for the dust to settle before dropping $300 on a video card.
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November 27, 2009 3:25:12 AM

I installed a gts250 in a pc the other day and ran some benchmarks. I was impressed. It wasn't too far from one of my gtx260's. Anyway my first instinct is to tell you to go with the 5770 and DX11 with HW tessellation, etc but I've always run Nvidia and they have phys-x & cuda going for them as well. Either way really you'll pretty much achieve the same result.
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November 28, 2009 7:05:10 AM

I waited too long and the 250 gts for super cheap is gone. Add another $25 to the price minimum.

That being said, I think DX11 and the low wattage of the 5770 is kind of impressive. I'll probably keep an eye out for a good card at a good deal and pick it up soon.

With Christmas around the corner that might be difficult to do. Low supply and high demand...

Regarding ATI board manufacturers, are any of them extremely bad?
In my mind I'm seeing things this way from best to worst keeping in mind that some of these are ties:

Gigabyte
Diamond
Asus
Ati
Sapphire
His
XFX
Powercolor

What do you think?
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