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Best nVidia GPU for $300-380? Single vs. SLI?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 4, 2010 6:53:20 PM

Yes, I've read the sticky about SLI :)  I've also gone through Tom's Hardware's Dec. 09 roundup of GPU's.

Here is my potential system:

Intel Core i5-750
4 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3 PC1600 RAM
Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P motherboard

Now, my budget for my GPU is at max, $380. I know SLI is best at resolutions above 1920. I really want max performance for my budget, as this is primarily a gaming/media PC.

So, I've considered one of these options:

1.) GIGABYTE GV-N26OC-896I GeForce GTX 260 896MB 448-bit in SLI mode (aprox $370)

or

2.) GIGABYTE GV-N285UD-1GH GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit (just the single card). This runs about $370 as well.

What would be the better performing system for most standard game? (L4D2, Crysis, Borderlands, Fallout 3, etc etc)

If you guys recommend a GTX 285 rather than the SLI system, which manufacturer would you suggest given that price range?

Thanks guys!!
January 4, 2010 7:10:55 PM

I think that you should consider buying 5870 it's around 400 but it's better option than 285 ATM, less power usage better performance.

January 4, 2010 7:11:27 PM

at that price why not go the the radeon 5850 your board supports crossfire
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January 4, 2010 7:22:50 PM

Sorry guys, forgot to mention. I don't want to go the ATI route. Just personal preference from previous use of ATI cards. I'm a diehard fan of nVidia and would like to go that route for my next build.

Also, my budget is very much limited to $380. I've squeezed every penny elsewhere. I'd really like to keep it at that or under.

Thanks!
a c 212 U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 7:32:41 PM

I'd say save some money and buy twin 260's for the $330 price below but demand on these things has prices going up, not down.


http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-310-5970,24...

Here's the "winners" from THG's latest (December) GFX Roundup
Best Graphics Cards For The Money: December '09

$50 - HD 4650
$65 - HD 4670 / 9600 GSO
$85 - 9600 GT
$95 - 9600 GT / HD 4830
$110 - GTS 250 512 MB
$120 - GTS 250 1 GB
$155 - HD 5770 / GTX 260
$200 - HD 4890
$240 - 2 x GTS 250
$310 - No winner (HD 5850 Honorable Mention)
$330 - 2 x GTX 260 / 2 x HD 5770
$400 - 2 x HD 4890
$410 - No winner (HD 5870 Honorable Mention)
$465 - No winner (GTX 295 Honorable Mention)
$625 - No winner (HD 5970 Honorable Mention)

I generally go with Asus, EVG or XFX

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a c 236 U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 7:33:03 PM

As a rule, I like single gpu/single cards where possible. You will have no sli issues, and your psu requirements will be less. At the $370 level, you can get a GTX285 or 5850, either of which will play at 1920 x 1200 very well. A stronger card brings marginal improvements, and the GTX295 gets you not that much useful performance for the money. If a card can deliver a consistent 60fps, that is all you need. We are looking for fermi from nvidia sometime, but nobody knows what it is, or when it will come.

All cards are essentially constructed the same, with the possible exception of optional cooling. I would favor XFX or EVGA for their warranty and customer support.
January 4, 2010 7:47:38 PM

2 x 260's is stronger IMO but will use more power, 1 x 285 allows you to add another later if needed as the system ages and prices go down. Either one is gonna handle what you're looking for.

I've had great luck with my EVGA's but generally they are a little more $ than other brands unless you can find them on a deal. Personally I love my 2 x 260's so I would recommend them but I haven't tested a single 285.
a c 376 U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 8:05:22 PM

If you really must stick with Nvidia I would definitely wait until the new cards are released before dropping that kind of money on an Nvidia setup. At the moment their cards on the high end are simply a bad buy. If waiting isn't an option the SLIed GTX 260s.
a b U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 8:16:05 PM

+1 jyjjy.

If you're a diehard Nvidia fan, just wait until March for the release of Nvidia's Fermi DX11 cards. There is no point in getting an Nvidia card at the moment because they are overpriced and under-performing compared to ATI cards.

If you can't wait, just get two GTX260s, which perform equal to a GTX295 and will demolish a GTX285.
January 4, 2010 8:26:43 PM

So what about driver issues regarding the 5870 Radeon?

I've heard of problems thus far. Do they outweight the performance and price point? I might be swayed.

Regarding Fermi, it seems like they are saying they won't be out until late spring/early summer 2010. I don't really want to wait that long, if possible. And once they are released, it won't make me want to spend over my initial budget of $380 or so anyway.
a c 376 U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 8:37:46 PM

What problems
a c 216 U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 8:43:01 PM

I kind of like the idea of getting a single powerful card that will meet your needs today. While the SLI solution will give you a little more performance now, it prevents you from a cheap easy upgrade in the future.

SLI also has more problems, as some games don't work well with it, making it perform poorly in those games.

Best solution

a c 236 U Graphics card
January 4, 2010 8:44:39 PM
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holycrikey said:
So what about driver issues regarding the 5870 Radeon?

I've heard of problems thus far. Do they outweight the performance and price point? I might be swayed.

Regarding Fermi, it seems like they are saying they won't be out until late spring/early summer 2010. I don't really want to wait that long, if possible. And once they are released, it won't make me want to spend over my initial budget of $380 or so anyway.


I have neen a long time Nvidia user, but I recently changed over to the dark side from a GTX260 to a XFX-5870. I have been reasonably pleased, and am becoming more comfortable with it.
Initially, I had an issue with a jerky cursor after 5-10 hours of Civ-4 and a slowdown in fps from a steady 60 to 50 or so. This included several windows sleep cycles which may have had a bit to do with it. Reboot restored performance. XFX support gave me a procedure to do a clean driver install and a link to the latest 6.12 hotfix which seems to have fixed the issue. Any new vga card will have some driver issues, and I expect that the NVIDIA fermi will be particularly prone to early problems since it is a new architecture.

If you buy from newegg, or some other reliable vendor, you will be able to return the card if it does not work with the particular games you play. At this time, I think the value is there for a 5850 compared to a GTX285.
January 5, 2010 2:35:27 AM

Bah... you people are turning me to the dark side... I'm eyeing the 5870...
a c 212 U Graphics card
January 10, 2010 5:16:10 PM

Bluescreendeath said:
+1 jyjjy.

If you're a diehard Nvidia fan, just wait until March for the release of Nvidia's Fermi DX11 cards. There is no point in getting an Nvidia card at the moment because they are overpriced and under-performing compared to ATI cards.

If you can't wait, just get two GTX260s, which perform equal to a GTX295 and will demolish a GTX285.


The 295 is more often compared with twin 275's
a b U Graphics card
January 10, 2010 5:25:41 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
The 295 is more often compared with twin 275's


The GTX295 is two downclocked GTX275s, so in reality it performs equal to or marginally better than two GTX260s. And the GTX295 is not very overclock-able either...so two actual GTX275s in SLi ends up being much better than a GTX295.
January 17, 2010 12:54:14 AM

Thanks for the input, guys!

I did eventually break down and go with the Radeon 5870. The performance was just too good to ignore, especially after reading benchmark after benchmark comparing the 5870 to GTX285's and 295's. It seems like one heck of a card (and easily overclockable too, which is awesome!) I also went with the XFX card, due to the better warranty than MSI/Gigabyte/Sapphire, etc. I've never bought XFX, so I hope they produce good cards.

It's all installed and ready to go, but I haven't even had the chance to turn on the computer yet, haha!

I really hope this card carries me for a good long time. Maybe when it begins to slow down I can scoop up another one and Crossfire the heck out of them :) 

Thanks again everyone.
!