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Graphics Card Recommendations for Newbie

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November 27, 2009 5:05:02 PM

Allright all you Graphics Card experts out there, I'm looking for some advice....

OK my son & I are building a gaming desktop PC for him for Christmas, primarily with the intention of playing Starcraft II when it comes out, but also because his Pentium IV 2.4 GHZ with older ATI Radeon AGP high end graphics card can't keep up the requirements for Call of Duty: World at War.

So far this is what we've ordered....
Case: Thermaltake Element G VL10001W2Z Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
PSU: Thermaltake Black Widow W0319RU 850W ATX 12V 2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power
Mobo: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX
RAM: OCZ Obsidian 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3OB1600LV4GK
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
OPTICAL DRIVE: LG Black 8X Blu-ray Burner - Bulk Model WH08LS20K

Now for the most important part, I want to get a single graphics card that will work with the Mobo but also give me the flexibility to go Crossfire in the future...

I am considering the SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 but when reading the Mobo spec's it says it can go Crossfire with 2 x8 cards only and this card is x16?

I really need some help with what Video Card to go with that will complement the AMD Phenom 2 x4 processor and work with the Thermaltake Black Widow PSU & ASUS Mobo that I've chosen.

Also if anyone knows if I screwed up with my configuration so far, I'd really like to know now...

Will I need a CPU cooler?

Thanx to whoever takes the time to read my post and reply!
November 27, 2009 5:08:19 PM

One thing I forgot to mention is that my son's Monitor is about 1 yr old 22" Widescreen Samsung Touch of Color and is limited to 1680x1050 resolution, so please keep this in mind when making video card recommendation.... We don't plan to add another monitor, but hey maybe I should plan for this possibility too....
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a b U Graphics card
November 27, 2009 5:17:15 PM

That is a sound build imo, very similar what I am planning on building in january. It will also lend you flexibility in upgrading, given AMDs slot compatability strategy, DDR3, and crossfire.

No cards are known to completely saturate the PCI-E x16 slot. The difference between crossfiring GPUs on x8/x8 and x16/x16 is a very small, and generally unnoticable to anyone but hardcore benchmarkers. For gaming, it shouldn't be an issue. A 5770 would actually be a great candidate for crossfire on x8/x8 slots, as it is a great performer, coming close to the levels of the best last gen offerings from ATI, but won't be hampered by an x8/x8 crossfire configuration. A 5870CF might be limited in that setup, but not 5770s.

Editted to comment on the resolution.

A 5770 are a great choice for 1680x1050, and even up to 1920x1080. Crossfired 5770s will be usable for much higher resoltions and multiple screens, should you plan to go that route in the future.
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a c 360 U Graphics card
November 27, 2009 5:18:45 PM

The HD 5770 is not really fast enough to even use 8 PCI-e lanes so X-Firing them won't be an issue. If you want, you could attempt to search for those rare HD 5850 cards, it's probably overkill for SC2, but I don't know what else you son plays and it should last a few years if he's not insistent on play every single game with maxed graphics. However, you can always add another HD 5770 down the road for X-Fire if you stick with your original idea of buying a HD 5770.

An 850w PSU is way overkill, but you already bought it.
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November 27, 2009 5:30:27 PM

Yeah I had a hard time researching what PSU I need to power both graphics cards in the event I would go Crossfire, so I went with this Thermaltake (partically because it is the same manufacturer for his case), but because it has power feed for both cards and is Crossfire compatible. How many watt PSU do you think I really need for this system (maybe I can call Newegg and downgrade to another PSU that will work) and is it based upon basically the power needs of just the CPU & Video Cards or do you need to add everything else (HDD / Optical Drive / etc.)?
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a b U Graphics card
November 27, 2009 5:33:42 PM

All the components have to be taken into consideration. But the largest impact on system draw come from the CPU and Videocard. I think considering your future upgrade considerations, that 850 isn't too much overkill. You could probably get by with a good 650w, but if you take into consideration how PSUs degrade in their power delivery over time, and the possibilty upgrading further in the future with newer CPUs and GPUs, 850 seems fine to me, not a negative thing at all.
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November 27, 2009 5:41:42 PM

Could I get away with this PSU:
Thermaltake Purepower W0121RU 600W ATX12V V2.0 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply --- it is running only $40 AR compared to $110 AR for the "Thermaltake Black Widow W0319RU 850W ATX 12V 2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power" that I already ordered.

I could then apply the $70 I would save toward the $180 Video Card.

I was mostly concerned with correct no. of pins to power the PCI-Express video cards. Will both of these work fine?
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a c 376 U Graphics card
November 27, 2009 6:10:12 PM

Nah, that 600w has a weak +12v rail for crossfiring. I would get the Corsair PSU obsidian linked.
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November 27, 2009 6:18:01 PM

That is a sweet deal for the Corsair --- I think I'm going to call Newegg to see they will let me switch from my Thermaltake Widow to the Corsair, now that I know from you all experts that it will work with my configuration. This is an awesome forum --- I'm getting quick responses to my questions all the while learning.
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November 27, 2009 6:19:52 PM

what kind of dad builds computers for child, god i wish u were my dad. btw i wouldn't recommend SC2 for anyone below 13, unless he likes 2 get bashed all the time.
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November 27, 2009 6:27:38 PM

My 11 yr old son wants to know what you mean by that... he consider himself an advanced player in the starcraft world (his username is slimyslimy[IK]). He wants to know if you play starcraft what your username is on battle.net and if your ready to get bashed!!!! :o 
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