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Upgrade to Radeon 5850/5770, old nVidia card still useful?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 21, 2010 9:13:08 AM

Having recently bought Bioshock 2, it's now become painfully obvious that a GPU released in 2007 may not be the most appropriate choice (nVidia 8600GT). I'm running XP with a i7-860, p55 mobo and a 750W PSU, with a 1920x1080 monitor. I would like to crank up the AA and AF as far as I can, but recently I've made concessions in order to actually get my games to run.

I'm looking at buying a Radeon 5850 ($399 AU), which I'm sure is still in very short supply, or a 5770 ($198 AU). I really hoped that Fermi might have been a more tangible option, but it just isn't, so I'm swallowing my green pride :cry:  and making the smart decision.

From what I can tell, the 5850 is twice the price of the 5770, for roughly 1.5 times the hardware specs, and about the same in terms of performance. I've never run a dual setup before, so I was wondering whether buying 2 5770's and adding a $30 Crossfire bridge would be any good. I've read plenty of forum posts that say just getting a single 5850 is the better option because it has the option of expanding in future, rather than filling both PCI-e slots with lesser cards now.

My main question is, given all these modded drivers out at the moment, will my old old (old :pfff:  ) 8600GT be of any use as a dedicated PhysX for games like Batman: AA? Any thoughts on the ATI cards will also be appreciated.
February 21, 2010 10:47:28 AM

mohsentux said:
yes but you will experience fps drops.but in games with less physx (not for advertising ) you can use this link.follow it
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...


When you say 'less physx... not for advertising', do you mean games that aren't developed with PhysX effects as a major selling point for the gameplay?

I was sort of expecting fps drops, but when you look at Batman: AA benchmarks with PhysX enabled, every ATI card drops to about 12fps anyway, so anything above that is just gravy. What would you say the fps would get to with a dedicated PhysX card - 20, 25?

Either that, or I just have to do what I did before and not use PhysX until either upgrading to the next nVidia card or nVidia selling the exclusive rights to PhysX in order to recoup whatever losses Fermi may make. :cry: 
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a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2010 11:04:04 AM

So far, the only game I can think of that uses PhysX is Batman:AA. I know for a fact that the game wants nVidia cards on your system. It will refuse to enable AA if a non-nVidia card is detected. And PhysX only really works best with nVidia cards. The reason why all ATi cards drop to 12 fps with PhysX is because the CPU is doing all the physics, and therefore the game becomes CPU-bottlenecked. PhysX is a proprietary technology; personally, I don't expect much from it. Something more open like DirectCompute (supported by any card capable of DX11) or OpenCL will be embraced by game makers, since they do not risk alienating users of non-PhysX capable cards.

If I were you, I'd go for the 5850. Since you did say you didn't want to wait for "Fermi", the Radeon 5000 series is the best choice. Why not 2x5770? Because this way, any and all games recently released and soon to be released will work properly, without any dual-card scaling issues. You can just overclock that 5850 for better value.

As for using the 8600 as dedicated PhysX, that's a no-go if you mix it with the ATI cards. nVidia disables PhysX functionality if the main display (that is, the graphics card outputting the screen) is not an nVidia card. If you want to use the 8600 as dedicated PhysX processor, you need an nVidia card. Something like the GTX 260 or 280. However, I don't suggest that. The 200 series of nVidia is last year's technology, and I doubt you'd want to do that.

So, either get a 5850 and do away with the 8600, or wait for Fermi so that you can enjoy PhysX with your 8600 as the dedicated processor, for what good PhysX is.

Of course, this is all opinion. You still get the final say. I'm just giving you a better view of things.
February 21, 2010 11:17:01 AM

gracefully said:
So far, the only game I can think of that uses PhysX is Batman:AA. I know for a fact that the game wants nVidia cards on your system. It will refuse to enable AA if a non-nVidia card is detected. And PhysX only really works best with nVidia cards. The reason why all ATi cards drop to 12 fps with PhysX is because the CPU is doing all the physics, and therefore the game becomes CPU-bottlenecked. PhysX is a proprietary technology; personally, I don't expect much from it. Something more open like DirectCompute (supported by any card capable of DX11) or OpenCL will be embraced by game makers, since they do not risk alienating users of non-PhysX capable cards.

If I were you, I'd go for the 5850. Since you did say you didn't want to wait for "Fermi", the Radeon 5000 series is the best choice. Why not 2x5770? Because this way, any and all games recently released and soon to be released will work properly, without any dual-card scaling issues. You can just overclock that 5850 for better value.

As for using the 8600 as dedicated PhysX, that's a no-go if you mix it with the ATI cards. nVidia disables PhysX functionality if the main display (that is, the graphics card outputting the screen) is not an nVidia card. If you want to use the 8600 as dedicated PhysX processor, you need an nVidia card. Something like the GTX 260 or 280. However, I don't suggest that. The 200 series of nVidia is last year's technology, and I doubt you'd want to do that.

So, either get a 5850 and do away with the 8600, or wait for Fermi so that you can enjoy PhysX with your 8600 as the dedicated processor, for what good PhysX is.

Of course, this is all opinion. You still get the final say. I'm just giving you a better view of things.


Yeah, out of all of my games, Arkham Asylum is really the only one that would seriously be hampered by an ATI card, and the easy solution is simply to disable PhysX. That anti-aliasing thing is a bitch, though. According to mohsentux, there are workarounds for mixing with ATI.

The main games I want to set on Ultra High or equivalent are Far Cry 2, Bioshock 2, Batman: AA (yes I know, this won't happen with an ATI card) and some other games which I bought on Steam over Christmas which run at <10fps just on the menu screen (Riddick: Dark Athena and Overlord II).

From what I can tell, if I can get my hands on a 5850, it will serve me well for a fairly long time, and if I absolutely must have a GTX400 series when they finally come out in bulk, I suppose there is a market for second hand Radeon GPU's (not for my 8600, though :(  :D  )

Also, according to PC Powerplay magazine, there's a new technology in the works called the Hydra engine, from Lucid, which seems to be a Crossfire/SLI hybrid, which bridges an nVidia and an ATI card without much problems. I think it's still a fair way down the line, though.

Okay, so it's a 5850 if they're available, if not, maybe I'll just hold off until they come into stock rather than going for 1/2 GTX 260's or 5770's.

Any other thoughts?
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2010 11:28:32 AM

There is a motherboard, MSI's Big Bang Trinergy, which has that Hydra engine. However, results from mixing ATI and nVidia cards aren't very nice at the moment. Also, it's the Hydra engine that's giving the cards the graphics instructions. That means the Hydra driver is what's being told what to do. You know where this is going. If you want PhysX, you have to use the nVidia card only, because the Hydra will not recognize card-specific features. If you mix DX10 and DX11 cards well, I don't want to imagine what would happen if you tried a DX11 game. :) 

You can set Batman:AA on its highest settings, except you can't enable AA at all. The PhysX effects, well, I won't recommend turning them on with an ATI card. The 5850 should be capable of running all of your games at 19x12 with very high settings.

The workaround for making PhysX work with a mix of nVidia and non-nVidia cards involves messing with the drivers. If you absolutely want PhysX (which only Batman:AA can use so far, anyway), then either use the patch or download older nVidia drivers. The older drivers don't restrict PhysX functionality with non-nVidia cards as the primary GPU, so they should be fine. Also, the 8600 is old enough to be able to work with those drivers.

That's all I can think of.
February 21, 2010 11:43:54 AM

Yeah...

Maybe the best idea is just to get my hands on a 5850, install it in place of my 8600 and just play the damn games.

Quick question. I know I have to remove all the nVidia drivers in order to get an ATI card anywhere near working, but can I install the ATI drivers with the nVidia display driver still on the system? If I take that off, won't my monitor stop working?
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2010 11:54:27 AM

You can uninstall the nVidia drivers first before installing the new card. After uninstalling the drivers, your screen will revert to the "Basic" theme, a sign of 3D-acceleration absence. Then you shut down, and replace the old card with the new one. After that, install the newer drivers, and you're done.

I suggest you get an upgrade to Windows 7, though. I promise you'll love it. Besides, DX11 only works with Vista and 7, and right now, 7 is a better option. It's just to make sure that future games can enjoy the power of your DX11 card.
February 21, 2010 11:58:44 AM

gracefully said:
You can uninstall the nVidia drivers first before installing the new card. After uninstalling the drivers, your screen will revert to the "Basic" theme, a sign of 3D-acceleration absence. Then you shut down, and replace the old card with the new one. After that, install the newer drivers, and you're done.

I suggest you get an upgrade to Windows 7, though. I promise you'll love it. Besides, DX11 only works with Vista and 7, and right now, 7 is a better option. It's just to make sure that future games can enjoy the power of your DX11 card.


Yeah, I've heard that 7 is nowhere near as... I believe the technical term is "f'ed up"... as Vista, but I'm just nervous about changing my OS. I'm kind of attached to XP. I know that really doesn't make much sense from a tech standpoint.

I suppose I should get W7 soon. :( 
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2010 12:01:45 PM

It's a relatively painless experience. You just install Win7, and it even puts your old files which are on the same partition/hard disk as you're installing to in a "Windows.old" folder. Just make a backup to be sure, and you have your brand new OS look and feel, with minimal risk. There isn't a straight path to upgrade from XP to 7, so a fresh, clean install is necessary. If you empty and format the partition you will install Win7 to, you'll be finished in about 20-30 minutes.
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2010 12:14:56 PM

Don't let all these guys rag on the 2x5770 It is a very valid option for those not wanting to shell out 370-450 for a 5850 or a 5870. I have 2 in crossfire that out perform a 5870 total cost of $300, CrossfireX scaling this generation has gotten much better.
February 21, 2010 12:20:47 PM

nrnx said:
Don't let all these guys rag on the 2x5770 It is a very valid option for those not wanting to shell out 370-450 for a 5850 or a 5870. I have 2 in crossfire that out perform a 5870 total cost of $300, CrossfireX scaling this generation has gotten much better.


Well yes, but you probably have a very strong component market where you live.

In our cheapest store (which also happens to be the best, surprisingly) the difference between 2x5770 and one 5850 is $3 for the HIS brand, and it costs $9 more for 2xASUS 5770 than 1 ASUS 5850. Not really much point when a few tweaks to the clock speeds can supposedly push a 5850 up to around the performance of a stock 5870, with room for another card if I ever get a small lottery win.
a b U Graphics card
February 21, 2010 12:25:11 PM

Skotavus said:
Well yes, but you probably have a very strong component market where you live.

In our cheapest store (which also happens to be the best, surprisingly) the difference between 2x5770 and one 5850 is $3 for the HIS brand, and it costs $9 more for 2xASUS 5770 than 1 ASUS 5850. Not really much point when a few tweaks to the clock speeds can supposedly push a 5850 up to around the performance of a stock 5870, with room for another card if I ever get a small lottery win.


I didn't want to suggest it until someone else did, but what nrnx said is true.

By the way, 2 5770s perform on par with a 5870, not a 5850. But what you said is also true. A 5850 overclocked can perform as fast as a 5870.
a c 172 U Graphics card
a b Î Nvidia
February 21, 2010 12:47:03 PM

A 5850 will easily be good enough for most people out there and the option of crossfire is a must have. I wouldn't go out and buy two 5770 unless you can do 3 way 4way crossfire. As for the physx you can patch the driver (nvidia) to ware you can use both cards with the 8600gt in a lower slot.
February 21, 2010 1:11:47 PM

gracefully said:
I didn't want to suggest it until someone else did, but what nrnx said is true.

By the way, 2 5770s perform on par with a 5870, not a 5850. But what you said is also true. A 5850 overclocked can perform as fast as a 5870.


nforce4max said:
A 5850 will easily be good enough for most people out there and the option of crossfire is a must have. I wouldn't go out and buy two 5770 unless you can do 3 way 4way crossfire. As for the physx you can patch the driver (nvidia) to ware you can use both cards with the 8600gt in a lower slot.


@gracefully: Yeah, I suppose i did compare CFX 5770's to a 5850, but mainly for price rather than performance. Still, I'm more sold on the idea of pushing the clock speeds by 500MHz or so with ATI software instead of shelling out an extra $190 for a 5870.

@nforcemax: We've discussed the modded drivers and running an ATI card with an nVidia card. According to gracefully and mohsentux, I'd take a hit to performance. Still, I might as well experiment with it once I've got the ATI card up and running.

February 21, 2010 4:12:02 PM

go for the 5850
a b U Graphics card
February 22, 2010 12:14:28 AM

If PhysX is the only thing the nVidia card will do once you get your ATI card, then you can simply install older drivers which don't need to be modded to run PhysX with non-nVidia cards. I think the PhysX software is independent of the driver, so you can update it without affecting the driver.
February 22, 2010 12:17:51 AM

Okay, I am now the proud owner of a HIS Radeon HD 5850 GPU. I had to go to the second best store in town to get one that hadn't been reserved, but I only paid an extra $30 for it - the same price as an ASUS would have been from the top store.

Thanks to everyone for the tips and discussion, it really helped me make a final decision.
a b U Graphics card
February 22, 2010 12:21:56 AM

Congratulations.

I am the proud owner of a Sapphire Radeon 5750. It probably pales in comparison to the 5850, but keeps me happy. It certainly runs a lot of games at 1920x1080 with max settings.

By the way, which motherboard are you using? If you have an ASUS motherboard, the ASUS graphics cards (EAH5850 or EAH_____) is compatible with the EPU-6 software that comes with ASUS motherboards, which means that the software can control the clocks of the card in "Power savings" mode.

Enjoy.
February 22, 2010 12:23:22 AM

I use an ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard.
a b U Graphics card
February 22, 2010 12:28:13 AM

Ah, well, I couldn't find an ASUS branded 5000 series card anyway, so I went with Sapphire. They are pretty much the same, though. Power savings control isn't that big of a deal, anyway. The 5850 already idles at 21-24 W. It's already a very efficient component.
a c 225 U Graphics card
a c 75 Î Nvidia
February 22, 2010 12:32:44 AM

Skotavus said:
My main question is, given all these modded drivers out at the moment, will my old old (old :pfff:  ) 8600GT be of any use as a dedicated PhysX for games like Batman: AA? Any thoughts on the ATI cards will also be appreciated.


Read these articles:

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-ATI-physx-patch...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/batman-arkham-asylu...

Start w/ the video here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/batman-arkham-asylu...

And then see the tests results w/ a 8800 here:

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/batman_arkham_asylu...

Here's other PhysX games you might be interested in

Crazy Machines II
Cryostasis
Dark Void
Darkest of Days
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
Metal Knight Zero Online
Mirror's Edge
Nurien
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea
Sacred 2
Star Tales
Unreal Tournament 3
Unreal Tournament 3: Extreme Physics Mod
U-WARS
Warmonger: Operation Downtown Destruction


February 23, 2010 1:40:36 AM

Just played Far Cry 2 and... it's so beautiful *sniff*.

All settings cranked to Ultra High or High and it doesn't even break a sweat.
Even Batman: AA is fine without PhysX.

Now all I need is an OS with higher than DirectX 9.
a b U Graphics card
February 23, 2010 8:14:56 AM

Make that your next purchase, eh?
!